Andrew from Jacksonville, FL
"By and large, football is being played by the poor for the entertainment of the rich." There is a lot of wisdom on this site, but that insight is the first one in a while that stopped me in my tracks, jaw dropped. Should watching football leave a sour taste in our mouths? Does the ethical football fan exist?
It is what it is. It's a tough game for tough guys and, by and large, the game is too physically demanding for the mainstream of our culture to master. The mainstream is too soft. Mothers and fathers fear injury. The majority of the players in the game are products of backgrounds that match football in desperation. The CTE scare that's diminishing the ranks of participation on the amateur level isn't hurting the game in terms of shrinking the talent pool, it's hurting the game by shrinking its future fan base. As young people turn away from playing football and turn toward playing soccer and lacrosse, they also turn away from being fans of football.
Stephen from Jacksonville, FL
What are your thoughts on the new Blake Bortles deal? How will his re-signing impact the Jaguars in free agency, the draft and whether or not they can contend for a Super Bowl next season?
The Bortles deal sends a strong message: He's not "The Man" but he'll do until "The Man" gets here. Bortles' acceptance of the contract also sends a strong message: He's going to continue his pursuit of becoming "The Man" and is willing to compete for the distinction. It's a good situation for the Jaguars as they head into free agency and the draft, and I think it says a lot about Bortles' integrity as a professional athlete.
Tom from Elkhorn, WI
I noticed your house is up on stilts and I'm sure many of them on the island are. What's the highest you have ever seen the water? Ever wish the stilts were higher?
They're more significant than stilts. They're pressure-treated pilings and thicker than telephone poles. They go down 30 feet into the ground and they are many. My house is 13 feet off the ground. Most of the homes have elevators; mine doesn't. Matthew and Irma each brought two feet of water under the house. I had a one-man hurricane party on my steps as I watched the water rise and then quickly recede. Once the power came back on, the cleanup began. It's how we live.
Zahir from London, UK
Tell us the story of that day back in January of 2016. Did you look at the stadium in your rearview? Did you smile knowing that would be the last time you pumped petrol in those temperatures? What route did you take home? Where did you stop for lunch? I want to know it all.
I stopped to take one more look at my office before I closed the door. At that point, all of the looks were forward. I went home, caught a few hours sleep and then pulled away from Green Bay in the middle of the night: Milwaukee, Chicago, Indianapolis, Cincinnati, Lexington, Knoxville (stopped for dinner), a brutal snow storm through the Smokies, Asheville, Columbia, Walterboro, Edisto. I think I arrived at two in the morning. I went to bed, got up early the next day, took a cup of coffee out onto the front porch and said hello to retirement. It felt wonderful.
Tim from Sun Prairie, WI
Vic, your blog brightens my day; thank you for that. I humbly ask you to consider refraining from politics. You have every right to speak on political subjects. I'm pleading with you to abstain because political venom is everywhere and your blog is a sweet refuge from that. Also, people lose their minds in the comments section and all community is lost. Thanks again, Vic.
I'm going to decline your request because I answer questions I consider to be representative of the broad spectrum I receive. That's why I say the readers write the column. I want to adhere to that philosophy. As for the comments section, I am thoroughly impressed at how it evolved and used this platform to unite in thought.
John from Sioux Falls, SD
I value reading your column because it makes me think. I thank you for that. We all need our thinking challenged from time to time. Do you think a young GM like Gutekunst trusts his gut on the initial tough decisions he must make, or is he more likely to listen to his team of advisors?
I have no doubt Brian will trust and process all of the information provided to him by his scouts but, when he goes on the clock, it becomes his decision only and he'll be judged by it. He's made it to the top because of his ability to judge talent. It would be a mistake to let someone else make his picks. I gave an example of this not too long ago. It was an example of a young GM who wanted to be a consensus builder, so he trusted an opinion on LeSean McCoy that didn't reflect his own, and it was a mistake. I doubt Brian will make that mistake. I really like him and he would've been my choice for the job.
Dustin from Orlando, FL
Who is your hero and have you ever gotten to meet him or her?
I don't have a hero, but I have several people I admire and who've made major impacts on my life, including my father (the best newspaperman in the history of the world) and Chuck Noll (the most intelligent and measured man I've ever known).
Ben from El Paso, TX
Do you think football will become what boxing is today?
The NFL won't make the same pay-per-view mistake boxing did. I watched boxing as a kid. The Friday night fights TV show was the best thing boxing had going for it. Then boxing went pay-per-view with its big fights, the Friday night fights left the air and boxing was toast. it happened very quickly.
David from Capitol Heights, MD
Vic, as a journalist, why do you suppose some people don't actually like real journalism? Why is there a segment of the population that would choose to have their opinions parroted back at them rather than understand the truth?
The truth is opinion's greatest enemy.
Johan from Pembroke, ON
Vic, I'm interested if you think the train ever came for the Denver Broncos that won the Super Bowl a couple of years back.
The train had two engines: old players and a fat cap. The combination got them.
William from Salt Lake, UT
Two GOATs from opposite sides of the ball. Fourth and goal at the 2-yard line and a touchdown wins the game. Jim Brown against Lawrence Taylor. Who are you taking? Hey, it’s the off-season.
Cary from Sioux Falls, SD
Vic, just curious, what kind of music do you like to listen to?
I like a wide variety of music. I like the Drifters, Sam Cooke and beach music, the Italian masters (Sinatra, Bennett and Martin), the narcotics music of my college days (Grateful Dead, Moody Blues, etc.), Simon and Garfunkel, Bob Dylan, John Denver, George Benson and more. I'm not a connoisseur of music, but I know what I like when I hear it. I've recently been introduced to an even wider variety of artists, and I like everything I've heard. I've become especially fond of Randy Newman. I need a music mentor or valet. I need someone who knows what I like and matches it to what's out there. Clearly, there's a whole lot more out there than there was when I was young. Music is an explosive industry. I think it's a major threat to football's TV ratings.
Joe from Milwaukee, WI
Vic, I’m not alone when I say you have taught me many life lessons, free of charge. Researching your name, others share the same thoughts. Do you ever try and reflect on how many people you have impacted through your writing?
I hope it's the equal of the number of people who've impacted me. That's the goal, right? Take a bite and pass it on; that's what I try to do with this column.
Michal from Sacramento, CA
Are there any crows in Edisto Beach?
You don't ever have to fight crows in Edisto, as you might going to a Jaguars game.
Sean from North Fond du Lac, WI
Vic, are you a fan of the Olympics? What's your favorite winter sport?
I haven't watched any of it. I respect the athletes and their dedication to their disciplines, but it all looks the same to me. Flying on skis and sled riding might as well be a series of instant replays.
Mike from North Hudson, WI
In review of the Packers roster, it's clear the No. 1 need is for pass rushers. With the current number of draft picks and salary cap, how aggressive would GM Vic be to achieve this?
GM Vic would sit tight at 14 and pick. Drafting pass rushers is even riskier than drafting quarterbacks. The Packers have multiple needs. They are not one player away.
Daniel from Richmond, TX
Vic, are there any good thumpers in this draft class?
I like Jason Cabinda. He reminds me of NaVorro Bowman.
Billy from Tuscaloosa, AL
How do you establish the run in your everyday life? And how has it changed compared to years past?
Biking and kayaking are the run. Riding around in a golf cart and hitting a ball, followed by time in the grill room, is the pass. I bike and/or kayak every day; golf is something I do on special days. In the past, going to work was the run and everything else was the pass. A balanced life needs more run than pass.
Onoree from Oslo, Norway
I've read some articles about star players negotiating team-friendly deals. Is there really such a thing? Or is that just the player's agent being a spin doctor? In this day and age, I find it hard to believe any professional athlete remotely cares about doing a team-friendly deal. Maybe I'm just cynical.
Usually, a team-friendly deal means the player has agreed to take his salary for next season now as signing bonus in a restructured contract, which allows the team to spread that money out into the years that have been added to the contract, thus, creating room on the current year's salary cap by pushing liability into the future. Team-friendly? How about player-friendly? It's almost always a win-win for the player because he gets his money now, in addition to a little something for the effort, and the years that have been added to his contract are usually contingent on a roster bonus that must be paid on a specific date or the contract will be voided. The player is taking no risk. The team is taking the risk of increased dead money on future caps, should the player not be able to play through the length of the contract, or his performance is not worthy of it. Create too many of these contract restructurings and you'll hear the train whistle.
Nate from Pueblo, CO
As each year passes and new generations seek your football knowledge, do you still like teaching the same lessons to them as you taught us?
The game changes, but it always seems to get back to where it was. If I stick to the time-honored principles of football success, I think the lessons are worthy of learning, and I definitely enjoy advancing them. For example, a long time ago Vince Lombardi said football was first and foremost a running game. I don't think that's as true now as it was then, but every team still wants to run the ball, don't they?
David from Madison, WI
How do you feel about college students that choose not to or are unable to arrive at games at their starts?
Student attendance is in decline and students are arriving later and leaving earlier. A survey I recently read claims today's college students don't regard football to be as big a part of the college experience as they once did. If you're looking for a danger sign for the future of football in America, that's it.
Pete from Minneapolis, MN
Disappointing answer on guns, Vic.
I'm not sure what your bent is on this subject, but here's mine: We've got a big problem in this country, and a lot of innocent people have died and more are going to die if we don't fix it soon. It is unconscionable for this issue to be politicked.
Giuseppe from Byron, WI
Can you kindly go back and answer Aaron from Indiana with the wise insight he requested, instead of a wise-you-know-what answer? That is, if Packers were to franchise Rodgers, what are the pitfalls and benefits, in your opinion, of going down this route?
You really need this spelled out, huh? My answer didn't give you a strong idea of where I stand on this? OK, here it is: The Packers have two more years before they have to do anything. The last information they had on Aaron Rodgers' recovery is not good. What's the rush? I don't regard hard feelings to be a pitfall. Football is not a feel-good game. It's a rugged business, and that's it's charm. I see no pitfall, only the benefit of taking their time to make sure they get it right.
Gabor from Budapest, Hungary
Vic, who was the last non-quarterback GOAT?
If you're referring to the overall greatest football player of all time, it's probably Jim Brown.
Eric from Hudson, WI
Are top-tier players making too much money to really care?
In many cases, yes, and that's why it's critical to identify those players before you give them the big bucks. You're looking for the personality type that feels obligated to play up to his pay grade. Entitlement must be avoided. When I covered the Steelers, they took their comptroller with them on road trips. He would sit at the locker room door following the game and hand each player his check as he left the room. They didn't deposit the money to the player's checking account later in the week, they let it burn in his hand while thoughts of his performance were fresh on his mind. The message was: It's play for pay; how'd you play?
Jerry from Kansas City, MO
Justin from Waukesha had a question that made me think a little. I was born in 1983 into a poor family and raised by a single mother living in rural Wisconsin. While I understand hardship to a degree, I have probably known about five truly difficult days throughout my whole life. Can't we all just be happy we got a crack at this thing called life and help the less fortunate if we have the means to do so?
That's what a civilized nation and its people do.
Rosco from Oshkosh, WI
Packers draft needs are pass rush, middle linebacker, tight-end, receiver. We could use any/all of those. What if a potential Pro Bowl defensive tackle fell to the Packers in the draft (Vita Vea or Da'Ron Payne)? Do you take him instead?
If he's the top guy on the board, pick him. You'll never regret picking a quality big guy.
Nathan from New York, NY
Vic, has the unwillingness of parents to allow their kids to play football led to an inferior product of the game which, in turn, has led to worse defense?
No, because football is by and large being played by young men from desperate backgrounds. Nearly everything in their lives is worse than a bump on the head. By and large, football is being played by the poor for the entertainment of the rich.
Anthony from Baraboo, WI
Vic, if the Packers let Aaron Rodgers' contract run out and then franchise tagged him for the rest of his career, how do you think that would affect Rodgers' attitude toward the Packers? Would he see it as just a business move, or would he feel disrespected?
Why is everyone so concerned about Rodgers' feelings? Hey, his union negotiated the franchise tag into the CBA. It's available to every team to use in managing its salary cap and retaining rights to its players. The franchise tag is part of the process; the players agreed to it. I would expect him to be angry, but that's the way it goes. Twenty-five million dollars of guaranteed money isn't exactly a hardship.
Neil from Cheddar, UK
So, with Jerry Kramer finally getting into the Hall of Fame, how good a coach was Vince Lombardi? With 12 players from his time in Green Bay now in the Hall, was it players or plays? This question would not need to be asked if Vince had more years in Washington. I am sure we would have had our answer one way or the other.
This is crazy talk. Lombardi was a great coach and he had great players. No more analysis is necessary, and he certainly didn't need to prove anything in Washington to cement his position in pro football lore.
Adam from Wausau, WI
Why does it seem liberals gravitate to the journalism profession?
I don't think journalism attracts liberals as much as it produces them. Reporters spend their careers covering stories of corruption, injustice and poverty, and I think it's natural for someone exposed to those circumstances to become sensitive to them and campaign against them.
Mike from Niagara Falls, Canada
The Hall of Fame finally righted one of its biggest wrongs with Jerry Kramer. I'm so glad he'll be alive to enjoy this. Do you think Donnie Shell will ever get his due?
Donnie is one of the best players I've ever covered, but I don't think the Hall of Fame is in his future. Today's game is featuring safeties. They're much more high profile. Troy Polamalu is the next Steelers safety to make it into the Hall of Fame; he's the best example of a modern-day safety. If I was on the selection committee and was making a pitch for Shell, I would point to his 51 career interceptions, which is an amazing number for a safety from the run-the-ball era who was known for his hard-hitting run support. His rib-breaking tackle on Earl Campbell is probably the defining moment of Shell's career.
Brian from Yakima, WA
If you could add the next Luke Kuechly, Nick Collins, Derrick Thomas or Rod Woodson in the first round for the Packers, which one do you think helps their defense the most?
John from South Lake Tahoe, CA
Well, it appears the Jaguars will be removing all tarps from Everbank Field for next season. Did you ever think you'd see the day?
I did. My hope is it'll be lasting. It would be a travesty should the Jaguars have to reverse field on this issue and cover those seats again. Momentum would be lost and embarrassment would return. This has to be a forever-and-ever decision or it will have been a mistake. I hope they have solid reason to believe they can sell those seats for the long term, and they're not just thumping their chests in celebration of their success in 2017.
Jerry from Savannah, GA
Vic, what are your thoughts on coordinators being in the booth versus the sideline during games?
It's all about communication. If a coordinator can sit in the booth without compromising communication along the sideline, I think he should. I think it aids the coordinator's thought process to get away from the chatter and sit in a place where he can order his thoughts and access his information. If he needs to feel the game, the sideline is the place for him.
Ben from El Paso, TX
Do you think there is a relationship between black folks being overrepresented among the ranks of college basketball/football players, whose labor is not being compensated monetarily, and their enslaved ancestors who built these universities, whose labor was not compensated monetarily? Aren't the power five conferences essentially operating a modern day plantation economy?
A college scholarship satisfies every IRS criteria for it to be considered revenue and taxable. College athletes are not slaves and they are handsomely compensated with the opportunity to acquire one of the great treasures of civilization, a college degree.
Randy from Medicine Hat, AB
Did you collect football or baseball cards when you were a child?
I was a baseball and football cards addict. They cost five cents a pack and I can still taste the stale sweetness of the gum inside. What I remember most is getting the same cards over and over. It seemed I couldn't buy a pack of baseball cards without Larry Sherry or Roman Mejias being among them. In football season, it was Buzz Nutter. I had a million Buzz Nutters.
Mark from Bettendorf, IA
Vic, do you believe any of the three Minnesota QBs are "The Man?"
We can't know until it's determined to what degree Teddy Bridgewater's knee injury has affected his mobility. Bridgewater was on the way to becoming "The Man."
Joseph from Dillon, MT
Vic, in the past you have said you don't want to be 8-8 because the draft will just keep you there, but you have also said the Packers can get the help they need at No. 14 in this draft. Is the difference the fact they already have "The Man" in Rodgers?
Every draft has a cliff, where the talent falls off dramatically. Based on what I'm hearing, this draft class won't reach the cliff until after the Packers pick.
Bill from Seattle, WA
Do you continue this column out of a love for the game or do you somehow make a living at it? I truly wish it was daily. Your insights and opinions are enlightening and enjoyable. Thanks.
Within the next few days, I'll assemble my tax information to send to my tax man in Jacksonville. I'm soon going to find out how much money I've lost doing this column. Whatever it is, it'll be a minor cost compared to the joy and financial reward this column provided me during my it's-about-the-money days.
Richard from Buffalo, NY
Do you think LeVeon Bell is worth $14 million?
He was certainly worth it in 2017. I think the Steelers need to do a better job of developing James Conner as Bell's pounder complement. I was unimpressed with how Conner was used in 2017. Bell desperately needs a complement.
Justin from Waukesha, WI
When did politics become a sport? When did compromise and humility become pejoratives and signs of weakness to be despised? Right or left, majority or minority, refusing to give up a single yard will be our legacy, to whatever end. Are these politicians but a reflection of us, seen through a mirror darkly? Was Hunter Thompson right? Is football season over for the shining city on a hill?
When did the stock market become gambling instead of investing? The answer to all of these questions is: When life got easy. These are our shiniest days.
Bill from Sheboygan, WI
What would you do to end these mass shootings?
Give everyone a gun so they can shoot back?
Aaron from Indiana
Vic, you recently mentioned one route for the Packers would be to franchise Rodgers. I had also thought that would be an interesting possibility. If they did this, however, it would probably sour relations between Rodgers and the Packers. What are the pitfalls and benefits, in your opinion, of going down this route?
Wait a minute, I'll get my violin.
Jonesy from Pikeville, WV
A few years back, I worked on a project with Jeff Rohrer, who used to be a middle linebacker for the Cowboys in the early 1980s. I asked him who was the toughest running back to tackle. He said it was a tie between John Riggins and Earl Campbell. Which one do you think was the toughest to bring down?
Bronco from Lake Mills, WI
My dad said you could always judge a man by how clean he keeps his car (inside and out). Well, if Vic was judged by his car, what would be the verdict?
I like a white car with black interior. The interior of my car is always pristine. I live on a shell-sand road and the exterior gets dusty very quickly, so I hose it off every couple of days. You will never, ever find a fast-food cup or wrapper in my car. Only cretins eat fast food as they drive.
Dave from Madison, WI
Vic, what do you call Packers beat reporters who were screaming for change at the end of the season, now screaming because it was too much change or not the kind they wanted?
When Coach Noll was asked play-calling questions, he would often answer with: "What you're really asking me is why didn't we win?" It's the same with comments about changes following a losing season. What they're really saying is we don't like losing.
Marc from Hartford, VT
Vic, I just found out today what the hardest job in the entire world is: working at Ed's Barber Shop. Thanks for the insight.
A year ago, I sat down in the chair, the barber asked me how I wanted my hair cut, and I said short on the sides and leave it full on top. The next thing I knew, he ran the clippers over the top of my head and a big glob of hair fell onto my lap. I said, "What did you do?" He said, "You said you wanted it short on the sides and use a No. 4 on top." When I explained to my friends what happened, they expected me to say I'll never go back there again, but what's the chance of that happening again? I just don't use the word full anymore. I just tell him to "make me look sexy." I think he's doing a pretty good job.
Lee from Marshfield, WI
Vic, what is stopping colleges from freeing themselves of this dumpster fire that is the NCAA? What is stopping the athletes from doing something like this?
I think the answers to your questions might begin revealing themselves soon because college football is dying. It was revealed last week college football attendance suffered its worst attendance drop in 34 years this past season, and the most alarming stat is a 7 percent decrease in student attendance since 2009.
Mike from North Hudson, WI
What would be in order for the Packers to return to the upper ranks in the NFL? How would you prioritize pass rushers, speed at receiver, a dominant tight end, defensive backs, offensive and defensive line depth?
In my opinion, the Packers' top three needs are for a pass rusher, muscle at linebacker and big-play ability at wide receiver.
Duwilly from Macon, Canada
What do you think of a person who cheats at golf and/or football?
A person who cheats at football should be punished. A person who cheats at golf should be avoided.
Tyler from Greenfield, WI
Football is a beautiful game. The games unfold in a way that amplifies the drama, far more than baseball and basketball. I think they unfold best when the game is played physically and the ball is run. Do you really think the game is inevitably headed towards basketball on grass?
Run-the-ball football is a game of physical attrition. Pass-the-ball football is a game of strategic chance. I prefer the former, but the game has been moving toward the latter since the rules changes of 1978, and the trend isn't going to change because fans prefer the unpredictable to the expected.
Nancy from Shiocton, WI
I don't get it. You're retired. Why isn't there a new column every day? What else could you possibly be doing?
I read, I ride my bike, I belong to men's clubs, including a breakfast club that's more about giggles than grits. One night I saw a bunch of cars at the civic center, so I stopped to see what was going on. A local woman was giving a presentation on bird photography. I stayed; I had never seen a presentation on bird photography. I've sat through lectures on Lafayette and Lincoln. All of that is new to me, which was my commitment when I left Green Bay in January of 2016, a few days after the Packers' playoff loss in Arizona and following a professional lifetime of covering football. Be new. I am and I'm glad I am. I have a shell collection and I've learned left-valve shells are rare. I caddy and kayak and I'm happiest on a hot summer day when I can coast with the tide. Coasting is good at my age; I got tired of paddling upstream. All of this might seem boring to you, unless boring is what you seek. I was burned out.
Jon from Lynchburg, VA
Would a way to devalue the quarterback position be to have more of them?
Increase the supply and reduce the demand? Yeah, that's the solution, but how do you do it? Well, by making passing the ball easier to do you lessen the skill demand, therefore, increasing the pool of talent available to you. Mike Leach did that at Texas Tech. Or you could revert to the single wing days and make your quarterback the equivalent of a single wing tailback, which also deepens the pool because you bring into play all of the wishbone-type quarterbacks. Here's what intrigues me: Every time a quarterback begins to scramble from the pocket, the crowd rises in excitement. There's something about a scrambling quarterback fans love, and given the sensitivity toward protecting the quarterback and flagging sideline hits, it's nearly impossible to defend against the scrambling quarterback. Somewhere therein lies the answer. The league wouldn't legislate against a player that excites fans, and the deeper pool of talent would devalue the position. I propose the "scramble quarterback offense."
Nick from Detroit, MI
This sounds like a joke question, but it isn't. What do the Packers have to do to revert back to their horrible state of the 1980s? Injuries? Horrible draft? Overspend in free agency? All of the above?
As Coach Noll might say, "How do you wish to die?" Bad drafting is a slow death. The effects of overspending can be delayed by irresponsible cap management, but death is also a certainty. All of the above? Call the undertaker.
Dr. Buford from Iowa City, IA
In terms of value to the team, how would you rank Packers receivers not named Davante Adams?
They're all valuable when they're catching the ball, but receivers are the most easily replaced players on a roster.
Paul from Milwaukee, WI
You have a fine head of hair, but if you didn't, would you shave your head or get a wig?
I'm not a wig guy, but I'm not fond of the escaped convict look, either. I'd probably just keep going to Ed's Barber Shop and tell the guy to "make me look sexy."
Quentin from River Falls, WI
Vic, who would you most like to have dinner with out of Jerry Seinfeld, Larry David, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Michael Richards and Jason Alexander. Why?
I think I'd like to go out on a date with Elaine, play "Desperado" on the car radio, go dancing and then talk about Christmas cards over some lobster bisque.
Eddie from Jollyville, TX
Regarding the famous Bart Starr touchdown in the Ice Bowl, Jerry Kramer's "Instant Replay" book states: “I wouldn’t swear that I didn’t beat the center’s snap by a fraction of a second. I wouldn’t swear that I wasn’t actually offside on the play.” In a variety of places, Jethro Pugh has also said something similar. For example, according to "Packers By The Numbers," Pugh "for years asserted that Kramer was offside on the play and that Pugh was looking for a penalty flag after the play." Why did Kramer and Pugh both refer to Kramer's alleged offense as offside instead of false start?
False start was a term that didn't exist back then. Kramer would've been technically guilty of illegal procedure, but it was also known as offensive offside.
Jason from Jacksonville Beach, FL
Vic, we are remodeling the golf course at Jacksonville Beach. Have you ever played the course, and what advice would you offer to draw our golfers back? Love your column.
I lived in the Marshside development adjacent to the course. I played the course and liked it, but it lacks a marketable/signature hole. The par three (14, I think) on the back has signature potential.
Bertram from Chestershire-on-the-Cormingwell, GBR
My dear chap, as you reside in a southern clime, one would assume you favor propane-powered grill cuisine, as opposed to charcoal-based. Would this be a correct assumption, as charcoal does not bode well in humidity?
I'm a charcoal guy all the way. I haven't experienced any humidity problems with the charcoal. The bag tends to fall apart, but the charcoal stays dry and lights easily. I love the name of your hometown. From now on, I'm Vic from Natrona-on-the-Allegheny.
Chris from Appleton, WI
Vic, be honest. Do you think Kramer came off the ball early?
It appears he did, but it was too borderline to flag and that means it was perfectly executed. All offensive linemen in the run-the-ball-era attempted to anticipate the snap so they could get off the ball a split second ahead of the defensive linemen. It allowed the blocker to achieve leverage. It's a lost art in the dancing bear era.
Mike from New Berlin, WI
Given how much animosity has been created between Roger Goodell and the players, do you think it would have been better for the next CBA negotiations if the NFL had hired a new commissioner rather than extending Goodell?
I don't think it matters. The commissioner has become a titular head. It's money for nothing. The owners are in control. The commissioner is their puppet. He invents nothing. He's unimportant other than to accept blame.
Wallis from Gartrudel, Bavaria
How's the pluff mud?
I live on Scott Creek and I think we have the best pluff mud on the whole island. There's something therapeutic about pluff mud coming up between your toes on a hot summer day.
Eric from Hudson, WI
Vic, I have a theory. That is, once you find "The Man," you hire, if not in place already, a defensive-minded head coach who can give the team that edge. Mike Zimmer has brought this to Minnesota since day one without having "The Man." Bill Belichick knows you need to have speedy receivers who can simply create separation. Then let your system quarterback nickel and dime the opposing defense to death. Green Bay goes with the offensive-minded head coach. Soft. They want to finesse the offense with timing and back-shoulder throws while paying $20 million to Nelson and Cobb, two players I doubt would find much playing time in the NFL without Aaron Rodgers throwing them the ball. All the while, the defense struggles to find its identity, and "The Man" finds himself with one Super Bowl ring. First, find "The Man," then find the defensive-minded coach. This is how a team goes to seven Super Bowls in 17 years with a band of misfit toys.
When you have Tom Brady, you can do it any way you want.
Ben from Alameda, CA
Mike Tice retires from coaching and says players no longer want to be coached. What do you think?
I was with Mike in Jacksonville and I thoroughly enjoyed his views on football. He was a delight to cover. I think what Mike might be saying is a lack of competition has given today's players a sense of security that's lessened desperation and eroded the bond between coach and player. When I began covering the NFL, there were 26 teams, 17 rounds of the draft, training camp rosters were unlimited and regular-season rosters were capped at 40. The competition was intense. Nowadays, only a few players really get cut, and a lot of them find their way back into the league. They might consider their agent to be more important than their coach.
Adam from Boston, MA
Thank you for calling it as you see it. It came to a point where my wife would know when I was reading “Ask Vic” because I’d be reading next to her and then just begin laughing out loud. One question: Which teams think they have “The Man” but don’t, in your opinion?
All of the teams paying their quarterback as you would pay "The Man," but whose quarterback is not playing as you would expect of "The Man," think or thought they have "The Man" but don't. You can figure out the rest.
Brad from Basalt, CO
Vic, the rules created the quarterback. What change(s) would you make to help reduce the need for "The Man?"
I touched on it above. If you want to make it easier to pass the ball, thus deepening the pool of quarterback prospects, then create a rule that forbids defensive backs from jamming or making contact in any way with a receiver until the defender is making a play on the ball. Who couldn't complete a pass in that league?
Andy from New York, NY
Just un-tarp me, baby! The Jags are back, Vic.
The whale has been saved.
Ryan from Stevens Point, WI
Vic, what are your thoughts on hockey? It's been called soccer on ice, but it's obviously a physical sport. Is it watchable for you?
I think playoff hockey is as good as it gets.
Chad from La Crosse, WI
What would SMU's penalty be today? It seems universities are getting away with more today and "death penalties" are not even a consideration.
The NCAA is powerless. It runs a museum; that's about all it does. The power five conferences are in control and they're not likely to weaken themselves by giving one of their members the death penalty.
James from Orlando, FL
Vic, it's insane what QBs are getting in new contracts. I thought it was bad with Osweiler, but the 49ers proved me wrong. It's going to cause cap issues with teams struggling to see who has to be cut to afford what they are paying the QB. Do you think, long term, it's going to hurt the overall quality of the game?
The quality of the game is defined by the quarterback. As I wrote a week ago, everything about the Patriots is ordinary except for Tom Brady. So, no, I don't think the money being spent on quarterbacks is going to hurt the quality of the game, but I'll repeat a prediction I made a lot of years ago: The next great breakthrough in the evolution of professional football is the devaluation of the quarterback position. Somebody is going to find a way to devalue the position. The team that does that will immediately take the lead.
Mike from North Hudson, WI
Vic, the Packers, by most accounts, are in need of speed at the starting receiver position. Currently 20 percent of the Packers' salary cap is tied to the receiver position vs. the league average per team of eight percent. Moving forward, there appears to be four options available to address this: 1) Look within their own roster. 2) Free agency. 3) Trade. 4). Draft. Vic, what option(s) do you prioritize?
It's a dime-a-dozen position at which depth can be achieved in the later rounds of the draft and even in undrafted and street free agency. Find your star receiver early in the draft, accumulate depth in the later rounds, etc. That's my formula for stocking the position. Expensive free agency is out of the question and a trade is unnecessary because that player is likely to be released.
Tony from Onalaska, WI
Vic, are you as excited as I am to watch skiing with guns again?
It's the official sporting event of the NRA. I think the biathlon should be expanded to ski and kill an animal.
Lori from Brookfield, WI
Vic, which winter Olympic events do you enjoy watching?
I like fall down and cry the most.
Brian from Odenton, MD
Vic, a long time ago, Walter Cronkite retired as anchor of the CBS Evening News. CBS had to choose between telegenic Dan Rather and not-as-much-so Roger Mudd. I would like to propose that your "Ask Vic" popularity, for people who value insight and truth, is evidence CBS made a bad choice. My pet theory is this decision was the most dramatic step towards modern news coverage as entertainment rather than as news. So, if you ask me, "Ask Vic" is popular because people really do value news, and if you give it to them they will know it for what it is. Also, no, I don't think you look like Roger Mudd, but I do appreciate your judgement, perspective and appreciation of things that matter and last.
The guy's name was Mudd. He had no chance.
Ben from Hilo, HI
In addition to the catch rule, is there anything else you want the competition committee to consider this offseason?
I'd like to see the NFL adopt college football's application of pass interference. I don't like the fact the NFL assumes the catch. It doesn't assume the interception in situations of offensive pass interference, so why does it assume the reception in situations of defensive pass interference?
Andrew from Minneapolis, MN
Vic, what do you make of this fake walk-through we're hearing about?
If the Eagles truly feared the Patriots would spy on their practice, then the Patriots' reputation for deceit and nefarious behavior has reached the point the Patriots franchise is bad for the game. I mentioned last week I blame the Patriots franchise for orchestrating Josh McDaniels' decision to decline the Colts head coaching job after previously giving the Colts verbal acceptance of their offer. In my mind, the Patriots are guilty of tampering and should be penalized by the forfeiture of a high draft choice.
Dustin from Orlando, FL
I'm curious to hear your thoughts on Richard Spencer wanting to speak at Kent State on May 4. I know you are an ardent supporter of the freedom of speech, but I also know the events that occurred on that day deeply affected you.
I say let him speak. These types of events afford us the opportunity to identify our greatest enemy.
Josh from Dayton, OH
Vic, I disagree with some of your political opinions (though I think we are at least allies on free speech), but I find your football insight to be the best in journalism today, and it's not close. Missed you when you left the Jags and I still have a hole in my cupboard from the "Ask Vic" mug my roommate broke a few years ago; the only mug I really cared about in the whole cupboard. Whether I agree with a given opinion or not, I respect a man who makes his own and speaks his mind with no thought of gain or appeasement. This is one of the best sites on the Internet because of what you bring to the table, and the traffic spike is deserved.
I'm flattered by your kind words. Some of my best friends are conservatives.
Dan from Orlando, FL
Vic, I was comparing the Jaguars all-time stats, and the 1999 defense allowed 51 fewer points than the 2017 defense, despite the '17 team having an easy schedule. Do you remember anything special about the '99 defense?
Dom Capers applied the principles of a 3-4 defense to a 4-3 alignment. He used Tony Brackens as a hand-on-the-ground, 3-4 outside linebacker.
Jerry from Savannah, GA
What is the truth?
The truth is the pure defense.
Jimmy from Jacksonville, FL
Rumor is the Jags will be major players in the Cousins sweepstake. In your opinion, is Cousins "The Man?"
He's borderline on the skill set, but his contract will make him "The Man."
Richard from Clearwater, MN
Packers fans like to worry, so it's no surprise there's concern over Rodgers not having signed an extension at this point. We know Rodgers is savvy and well aware of QB salaries being on the rise, so wouldn't you expect him to wait until the prized free agent QBs sign so he can become the highest paid QB of the week?
I don't get the rush on this. He's under contract for two more years. I'd let the deal ride and if he's still playing at a high level following the 2019 season, I'd franchise him. At his age and given his collarbone surgery, I'd be reluctant to commit to a cap-killing new contract.
Jon from Wright City, MO
I miss your “OK” answers. Thanks for all your insight, knowledge and perspective. I hope you're wrong about Aaron Rodgers, but I feel you’re right, as always.
Josh from Atlanta, GA
Vic, can you please do us a favor? When you pass away, can you have someone write your funeral information on this site? I know this sounds weird, but your funeral might be the happiest one ever, which I mean in a good way.
I'll make a note to myself: "Tell people when I die."
Russ from Chicago, IL
Some friends and I are making a golf trip to Myrtle Beach in April. What courses would you suggest we play?
Grande Dunes, Thistle and Heathland are three of my favorites.
Dan from Waupun, WI
Was this Super Bowl good for modern football?
It was good for women and children. Nobody hit anybody especially hard. The league likes that.
Jim from Oakland, CA
Surely you see the irony of calling Brady the GOAT and then saying you can't compare quarterbacks from different eras.
I think my words were that you can't compare quarterbacks from different eras statistically. I've covered quarterbacks in five decades. Those that played in the pre-1978 rules changes era must be treated completely different from those that have played in the pass-friendly era.
Ryan from Thorp, WI
Vic, can the Patriots continue their great run of success next season given the key coaching departures and Brady being another year older? How much longer can they continue to dominate the AFC?
The Patriots are ordinary in every way except one, Tom Brady. Gronkowski is a Brady invention, just as Deion Branch was. The question is: How long can Brady keep the Pats on top? In my opinion, the Pats have reached the end. I don't think a 41-year-old quarterback should be expected to play at a dominant level. The cliff comes quickly at his age. Joe Greene is the most dominant defensive lineman I've covered. Then, one day, he couldn't get off a block. It happened that quickly and it's happened that way to most of the great players I've covered. An injury has usually done it. With Greene, it was a pinched nerve in his neck. Lambert was a toe, Ham was an ankle, Bradshaw was an elbow, Boselli was a labrum, etc. What will it be for Brady?
Bubba from Pocatello, ID
I don’t believe the Josh McDaniels last-minute succession story. It’s highly unlikely a succession plan developed overnight for the Patriots. Is it possible McDaniels and the Patriots intentionally planned this fiasco with the Colts as payback for "Deflategate?"
The Colts got lucky. What Patriots coach has been successful after Tom Brady got him a head job? Charlie Weiss, Romeo Crennel, McDaniels once already, Bill O'Brien, Eric Mangini have all failed away from Brady, although the verdict on O'Brien is still pending. The game is full of great young coaches. The Colts now have a chance to step back from their obsession with McDaniels and find the right guy for the job. This is a positive turn of events for the Colts. I love Tony Dungy's take on it. He nailed McDaniels for betraying the assistant coaches who were going to join him and now find themselves in a tough spot. Good for Tony, although I don't agree with his opinion on Bob Kraft and the Patriots. I think they're as culpable as McDaniels is in this matter. People talk about the Patriots' way. Well, this is the Patriots' way: Victory without honor, and I think the victory part is about to change.
Ben from Hilo, HI
What will you remember most vividly about the 2017 season?
I'll remember it as the catch rule season. I'll remember it as the year Jesse James was ruled not to have caught the ball, and Zach Ertz was the hero of the Super Bowl for a play that was eerily similar to James'.
Ben from El Paso, TX
What do you think about the XFL being an alternative to college football for players directly out of high school?
If a young man isn't serious about pursuing a college degree, I would rather he not take up space better used by someone with the proper intent. The XFL might be a better place for the player who doesn't want to be a student.
Paul from Cumming, GA
For some reason, this Super Bowl didn't resonate with me. Despite all of the scoring and back and forth, it seemed to lack the physicality and confrontation that define football. Am I justified in feeling this way?
It's basketball on grass and it's the future of football. Steelers-Bengals is the past. Ironically, Steelers-Bengals was a TV ratings bonanza; Super Bowl LII wasn't. As I've written several times, the popularity of pro football wasn't built on safe.
Steve from New Britain, CT
Vic, would you agree that when Pats receiver Chris Hogan was whacked while running downfield on the "Hail Mary" play, it should have at least resulted in one more play being awarded to the Pats without any time left on the clock?
Your question angers me, especially in a season in which the Pats benefited from the wrong calls on the Seferian-Jenkins and Kelvin Benjamin plays. The Patriots have gotten plenty of breaks through the years, beginning with that tuck rule call in the playoff win over the Raiders. Maybe the good times are over, Steve. Deal with it!
Lee from Marshfield, WI
What is wrong with guaranteed money when it comes to premium players like quarterback, left tackle, pass rusher and cornerback? Wouldn't that help the salary cap?
Signing bonus is guaranteed money and it must be divided evenly over the life of the contract. I begin hearing the train whistle when teams convert salary to signing bonus, which is a way of pushing this year out into all of the other years. That's what the Jaguars did. They did so much of it they couldn't have gotten under the cap in 2002 if it wasn't for the Texans expansion draft; the league would've had to begin voiding contracts. Injury is a cap killer for all teams, even those that are cap conservative, and that's especially true at the big-money positions, which you've named. On the cap but not on the roster is dead money, and it means you're playing with less than a full cap. Every team has dead money, but it must be kept to a minimum.
Jake from Knoxville, TN
I finally got around to watching Pettine’s first press conference. Pretty cool to hear he got his start under Johnny Majors. Do you have any stories about Majors from his time in Pittsburgh?
They are some of the best years of my career. Coach Majors was a joy to cover. When the Steelers and Pitt played at home on the same weekend, I'd cover the Pitt game on Saturday. It was an exciting time for a young reporter. I covered the 1977 Sugar Bowl game between Pitt and Georgia. It was that year's version of the national championship game. Coach Majors was leaving Pitt to go back to Tennessee; Jackie Sherrill was replacing Majors at Pitt. In the postgame press conference, after Coach Majors answered the final question, he winked at me and walked out the door with two guys in orange coats. I saw Coach Majors and Sherrill pass each other in the hallway; Coach Majors was walking out, Sherrill was walking in. Those are the kinds of things I remember from all my years covering this wonderful game. Memories have made me rich.
Rudy from Milwaukee, WI
Vic, remember to tell people that with the recent downturn in the stock market they should "always buy, never sell." They will win out in the long run.
It's a motto that can be applied to life.
Paul from McLeansville, NC
So your choice is to grab a pass rusher before a cornerback. I agree. So who would you put as two possible choices for Green Bay with pick 14?
Tony Pauline already gave us one: Marcus Davenport. More names will emerge with time.
Dave from Savage, MN
Now we wait for the tags to be designated.
Lori from Brookfield, WI
Vic, as a football reporter, how did you transition from the excitement of the season to the quieter realms of the offseason?
Back in the '80's, I began a tradition of going to Myrtle Beach to play golf with a group of football writers. We'd leave right after the season ended. The last time I did it was after the Packers lost in Seattle in the 2014 NFC title game. I never needed that trip more than I did that year. The following year, it became a one-way trip to South Carolina.
Chris from Bozeman, MT
Vic, you're all over the place with your assessment of Aaron Rodgers. Do you think the Packers should prepare for a future without Aaron Rodgers now? You have not maintained a consistent viewpoint since his injury. Your flip flops are taking over your opinions.
I think I've been very consistent in my stance on this subject. In fact, I think I'm the first to suggest it, as unpopular as it's been. Yes, I think the Packers should begin considering a future without Rodgers. I don't think they need to force the issue, yet, but if a quarterback they really like is available to them in the first round, pick him. Are we clear now?
Braden from Waukesha, WI
Vic, in my own words, one of the messages you try to deliver often is football is enjoyment, don't take it too seriously. I've slowly started to adjust my mindset when I watch the Packers. I enjoy the victories but I can't affect the play on the field, so to have my day ruined by a loss is childish. I love reading Packers articles and seeing all the rumors this time of year. At the same time, I find myself reading fewer articles since I'm not as emotionally invested anymore. I can't change the roster, the playbook or the play on the field, I can only sit back and enjoy the product. Does your message not push away readers?
It appears to be attracting them to this site. My numbers are exploding and I haven't done anything to advertise the site. Maybe readers seek the truth.
Jim from Madison, WI
Vic, if the NFL wants to change what a catch is and simplify rules, why doesn't the NFL make a catch a non-reviewable play? Simply put, a catch is what a referee deems to be a catch.
If it looks like a catch, it's a catch, and I'm not opposed to using replay review. That's my stance on the subject. We all know Jesse James caught that pass. Hey, he reached out the ball with two hands firmly on it. Reversing that call was the right decision according to the rule, but it was an insult to the fans' common sense. Control should be the only requirement. Once a receiver demonstrates control, it's a catch. I think the league will be successful in revising the rule if it takes that approach.
Don from Oak Creek, WI
I am recovering from surgery and I found your blog. After following you since day one in Green Bay, I'm excited to have the opportunity to read your insights again! With all the changes they have made, is the Packers' arrow pointing up?
It's pointing to the side right now. It's up or down direction will be determined by what happens in the offseason. A lot of teams are in that position. I think the Steelers are one of them.
Rich from Phoenix, AZ
Vic, seeing as you're on the Brady wagon, how do you feel about Brady just exiting the field and not shaking any hands? If I were the GOAT, why wouldn't I want to congratulate a guy like Nick Foles?
I like it. Lombardi didn't hug and kiss; neither did Noll. I want to know it hurts. I want to know what I watched was real.
Nate from New Berlin, WI
Was it a three-phases game or was it Brady vs. Foles?
It was clearly a three-phases game and the Eagles were the winner in all three phases, but the greatness of Tom Brady was still able to make it a quarterback shootout.
Blaine from Bagley, WI
Cousins, Keenum, Brees, Bradford, Garoppolo or Bridgewater? Which of the pending free agents do you consider to be "The Man" for their 2018 team?
With what the 49ers are going to pay Garoppolo, if he doesn't become "The Man," the 49ers will go back into hiding for a long time.
Eddie from Jacksonville, FL
Vic, glad to have you back. I think the reporters got it wrong again. How is Boselli not in the Hall of Fame? I know it's harder to judge offensive linemen vs skill players but come on.
Tony didn't have enough catches and end zone celebrations. He didn't wipe himself on a goal post and misbehave off the field, or throw temper tantrums on the sideline and otherwise destroy team unity. Tony's problem is he just did his job better than anyone else at his position, as did Alan Faneca. I guess that doesn't count in the Hall of Fame of Wide Receivers.
David from Madison, WI
Were the original Jaguars aware of their march toward cap hell as it was happening?
They chose to ignore it. Wayne Weaver blamed it on the quest for the Super Bowl being a powerful opiate. It was so powerful the Jaguars restructured contracts and pushed money out in 2000 and, again, in 2001. I guess at that point it didn't matter; they were dead team walking. When they were finally forced to cut and gut, Wayne said insanity was doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. It was insane all right, but it nearly worked.
Milan from New York
Vic, what happened to defense? I thought I was watching an AFL game.
A few years ago, my haters said, "You're wrong again, Vic. Defense still wins championships." So, what do they think now?
Neil from Cheddar, UK
Nice new picture, but is this you being new? I like the comments section. You can get a feel for what is being said and who is saying it. Please keep it.
That picture is of me being old. It was taken as we were shooting something called a weather video. It was a gameday thing and I loved doing it. I'd duck out of my office and into the bowl and do a 30-second standup in the snow that would give readers a preview of the weather at Lambeau Field. They got big numbers because weather is one of the feature attractions of late-season games at Lambeau Field.
Zach from Green Bay, WI
It appears the key to beating Brady is the sack strip. How come other teams haven’t thought of that?
Chatty, rush the quarterback. Forget about man coverage. The rules don't allow receivers to be covered. The rush is the only defense against a good quarterback. Draft pass rushers. If it's a choice between a pass rusher and a cornerback of equal talent, pick the pass rusher. T.J. Watt should've been the pick because you win with the rush. That's how the Eagles beat the Patriots. With the game on the line, the Eagles rushed the quarterback. I keep seeing in my mind that classic NFL Films clip of Bill Cowher in Greg Lloyd's face, saying with emphasis, "Rush the quarterback." It's never been more important.
Donovan from Baldwin Park, CA
I think it says a lot about Tom Brady how the Patriots tried a swing pass instead of taking two shots from the 50 and how they tried a trick return with the game in the balance. Is the writing on the wall for Tom Brady? I saw a lot of lob ball, great timing and reads, but lob ball nonetheless. Reminds me of Manning his last year.
Your jealousy is making you look foolish. Brady threw for 505 yards (10.5 average), three touchdowns, no interceptions and a 115.4 passer rating, and his pocket mobility was as good as ever; he was only sacked once. His field vision was out of this world; he saw every open receiver, even with a rusher in his face. Yeah, the writing is on the wall, but only because he's old in years. His performance was youthful.
Mark from Madison, WI
Philly won that game more than New England lost it.
I believe that's the proper perspective. The Eagles made the big plays at crunch time.
Scott from Madison, WI
I'm not usually a fan of all-offense games, but this Super Bowl seemed to dish up the drama and suspense in spades. What's your take on the quality of play you saw?
Everything about yesterday's game was high quality, including another masterful performance by Gene Steratore. The NFL is the king of entertainment.
Dustin from North Port, FL
Are punters an endangered species?
Only losers need good punters.
Dylan from Morgantown, WV
How much money did Nick Foles just make? Where do you think he could go, and do you think he will be grossly overpaid?
Foles is a cut above Case Keenum. As I wrote previously, Foles has the size and skill set to be "The Man." If I need a quarterback, I'm interested in him. The Eagles are going to get a nice pick for him. He'll bring at least a two. Then, he'll kill somebody's cap.
Tom from Hamden, CT
Had it not been for questionable play-calling by Seattle and Atlanta in their Super Bowl losses to the Patriots, Tom Brady’s record would be 3-5 instead of 5-3. Would that be enough to reconsider him being GOAT?
Green is an appropriate color for Packers fans.
Patrick from Fort Collins, CO
How’s that new hose winder working out for you?
I didn't play with my hose winder yesterday. I actually watched the halftime show. Talk about being new, I hosted a neighborhood Super Bowl party and I loved it. My house is a wreck today but it sparkled with life yesterday. Within the group was a diehard Patriots fan from Boston and a diehard Eagles fan from Philadelphia. When the last pass fell incomplete, she began to cry tears of joy. "It's been so long," she said as I hugged her, and I immediately thought of Chuck Bednarik and the 1960 NFL title game I watched as a kid. I sneaked a look at my Patriots fan neighbor and saw the disappointment on his face, and then I watched him congratulate his Eagles fan neighbor and all was well with the world. It's how a civil people act. It's how we act in "The Hammocks" on Edisto Island. Memories make us rich.
Zahir from London, England
What is a catch?
My first thought after the ball popped out of Zach Ertz's grasp was if I'm Roger Goodell I'm calling Al Riveron and telling him, "Don't even think about it, Al. It's a catch or you're fired." Can you imagine the national uproar today if Riveron had reversed that call?
Lori from Brookfield, WI
Vic, what is your opinion of Doug Pederson's coaching decisions during the Super Bowl?
In my opinion, Pederson is the No. 2 coach in the league today, not because of his coaching decisions but because of his ability to prepare his team to play. He beat Tom Brady and the Patriots with a backup quarterback! As for his coaching decisions, I didn't like his run/kick decision on third down. He had a chance to clinch the win with one more third-down-conversion pass and I thought that should've been the call. Just win, baby, right? When you win, everything you do and say is right. Pederson won. He's the best new coach in the game.
Leif from St. Croix Falls, WI
Vic, what are your top three needs for the Steelers this offseason?
Linebacker will be their No. 1 need. Running back could be their No. 2 need or no need, depending on what happens with Le'Veon Bell. Safety is a need position and so is tight end, but every team needs pass rushers. Never stop drafting pass rushers.
Jack from Jacksonville, FL
Can you give us your favorite Tony Boselli story?
He called me on a Saturday morning prior to the Texans expansion draft in 2002. He said Tom Coughlin had just left his (Tony's) house. Tony said Coughlin told Tony he would be left unprotected in the draft, along with other veteran players with big cap numbers, and any of those players not claimed by the Texans would be cut. Tony's words stunned me and left a mark on me. This is what happens when you play fast and loose with your salary cap, I thought to myself. It shaped my regard for the cap. By claiming Tony and the other big-cap-number Jaguars, the Texans released the Jaguars from salary cap prison. The Jaguars were on death row; they were dead team walking. Be that as it was, Tony was the Jaguars' first-ever draft pick. He was the poster player for what was the most successful expansion franchise in NFL history, and I'll always consider it a sacrilege for the Jaguars to have betrayed their first born to atone for their reckless spending.
Thomas from Williamsburg, VA
How much would you like to see Brady play back in the 70's, 80's or even the 90's? That's why I could never put Brady over guys like Montana, Elway and Marino.
Tom Brady would've been successful in any era. He has the arm for a seven-step drop and drive the ball into a tight window against bump-and-run coverage, and the touch and command to nibble underneath against defenses designed to bend but not break. Be that as it may, Brady would not have played at the same high level in the '70's. None of today's quarterbacks would've played at the levels to which they are accustomed; not Rodgers, Roethliserger, Brees, etc. It was a different game back then. It was a game dominated by defense. The next time you think about comparing the stats of quarterbacks from then to quarterbacks of today, don't.
Bama from Mobile, AL
Vic, in order for the Packers to sign Aaron Rodgers to an extension, it appears they will have to give him a contract guaranteeing him about $150 million, with major consequences for the Packers' cap. He is aging and has twice suffered major injuries in the last four seasons. Should the Packers take that chance and extend him, or possibly trade him, or just let his contract run out after the 2019 season?
What's the rush?
Tim from Sun Prairie, WI
GM Vic, do you pay Morgan Burnett or let him walk and take your chances with Josh Jones?
It's a young man's game.
Bob from Kennesaw, GA
"The Packers were weak at the point of attack." Could you provide more detail about what that means? Does it mean stopping the run (without committing extra defenders), or is there more to it than that?
The Packers were stopping the run with run-blitz schemes. Coach Capers is the best when it comes to playing run or pass according to down-and-distance and formation. The guessing has to stop. The Packers need to find players who can line up and win the one-on-ones.
John from Indian Trail, NC
Just finished re-reading “The Making of the Super Bowl." I was only eight when the Jets beat the Colts in Super Bowl III, so my memories of the AFL are limited. Do you recall the evolution of your thoughts about the AFL from 1960 to the merger?
Don Weiss was a wonderful guy. He was Pete Rozelle's right-hand man and the triumvirate of Rozelle, Weiss and Jim Kensil drove the league and the Super Bowl to the popularity it enjoys today. I encourage all fans to read Don's book. I was a Ponte Vedra Beach neighbor of his when he died, and I'll always remember the regard he afforded me when I was a young reporter covering conference title games and Super Bowls of which my inexperience were not worthy. Rozelle's men looked down their nose at no one. The AFL? It was regarded as the enemy, but it really wasn't. The AFL was a wonderful creation that opened new football markets in places such as Denver and San Diego. The AFL put the names on the backs of jerseys and gave the players panache. The AFL gave the NFL a youthfulness it had abandoned following the 1958 NFL title game. As a kid, the AFL was my four o'clock league. I will always think of the AFL with fondness. The AFL made the NFL a better league.
Mike from North Hudson, WI
Vic, you're the new Packers defensive coordinator. What is your No. 1 priority?
Get tougher, and usually that means getting bigger and faster.
Mike from Niagara Falls, Canada
Pretty fair assessment on the XFL, however, the failure of that league was then and this is now. The NFL was untouchable in the early 2000's. I’m pretty sure any other football league would’ve folded at the time. Now, the NFL’s arrow is pointing downward. Fans are angry and the NFL keeps making decisions that gets fans even angrier. Now those angry fans will have an alternative. I know we shouldn’t take the XFL as a serious threat, but Blockbuster didn’t take Netflix seriously, either.
The NFL's arrow isn't pointing down and won't point down until revenues decline, and that's not happening because the NFL is woven more deeply into the fabric of America than ever before. We have to have it. This Sunday's Super Bowl is the No. 1 entertainment event of the year. Amazing! Super Bowl I wasn't even sold out. You're right about the fans; they're angry. Americans are angry about everything. They're even angry at each other. Imagine if we had gas lines as we did in the '70's. There aren't enough markets left for a rival pro football league to succeed. The NFL owns football. It is no longer the college game, it is the NFL game.
Jay from Omaha, NE
Vic, please help me understand the trajectory of Eddie Lacy's career. How can a former rookie of the year, who started his career off strongly with two great seasons, experience such a sharp, sudden decline?
In the days prior to the 2013 draft, the Steelers discovered Lacy had undergone toe fusion surgery. He was their guy but the toe surgery revelation caused them not to draft him because they believed it would cause Lacy to have a short career. Did the toe get him? I don't know. Information on it was never divulged, but I considered the possibility it was at the root of his chronic ankle problems. Hey, football is a short-career sport. That's why I say it's a game of replacement.
Mark from Ventura, CA
Do the Cleveland Browns draft a quarterback at both one and four in the upcoming draft, or just one quarterback?
It would be reckless cap and personnel management to draft two quarterbacks that high. At some point the Browns would have to choose between the two. Why delay the decision? Pick now and get on with finding out if you made the right choice. That's why the Browns are paying John Dorsey a big buck. It's his job to know which one to pick. It's a crystal ball business.
Karl from Albuquerque, NM
Vic, given the high number of QB draft picks turning out to be busts, how much of the success of drafting a QB is luck? Is the QB position a harder position to pick successfully than other positions?
Yeah, because the demands of the quarterback position are greater than those of any other position. Successful drafting is all about predicting a prospect's future. It's about knowing what his ceiling is. You know what he is. The question is what will he become? He must be able to achieve a higher level of performance. If this is as good as he's gonna be, he'll be a bust. How about Baker Mayfield? Does he have the look of a guy with a higher level in him, or is this as good as he's gonna be? I'm not sold on him.
Mike from North Hudson, WI
Vic, in regards to the Packers, what will you be watching for heading into the start of the regular season?
First up, I want to see what they do in free agency. Are they going to be more active in it? Next, I want to see them draft. Will they continue to be a trade-back-and-collect-talent drafter, or might they trade up and swing for the fence? Before I can get a feel for what they'll do on the field, I want to get a feel for any changes in philosophy and operation. They have a new GM. He's going to put his stamp on this team. I want to know what that stamp is going to be.
Mark from Bettendorf, IA
Vic, no more Chief Wahoo? When did we stop having fun?
I don't like fun that causes others misery. I support what baseball did.
Marty from Grafton, WI
Vic, you said the Packers would not be here if it wasn't for Pete and the things he did. What other teams would be gone? How many teams would there be? What would the NFL look like now?
It's difficult for me to imagine the NFL not negotiating a leaguewide TV contract -- that's by far the biggest piece of sharing the revenue -- but I'll give it a whirl. For starters, all of the big-market teams would have major network deals. Before Pete Rozelle delivered the CBS leaguewide deal in 1962, each team negotiated its own TV contract. The Rams had a deal with Admiral TV that was considered cutting edge, and the Steelers and Colts had a two-team deal with NBC, I believe it was. Home markets were blacked out back then, so when the Steelers were at home we saw the Colts and when the Colts were at home Baltimore saw the Steelers. It guaranteed an NFL game in the Pittsburgh and Baltimore markets each Sunday. If there was no leaguewide TV contract, I think you'd see a lot of those combination-type deals. For example, CBS would own the rights to the Giants, Eagles, Bears and Rams, and NBC would own the rights to the Jets, Patriots, Steelers and Chargers. ABC, FOX and ESPN would each have a stable of teams, and TNT would probably get involved, too. The Packers of today would certainly be attractive to a network, but I don't think the franchise would've survived as we know it today without the CBS deal Pete negotiated and his share-the-revenue plan.
Jesse from Bonita Springs, FL
So I flew back to Wisconsin this week for meetings at corporate and had to fill the tank. Every time I do this in the frigid cold I say to myself this is baloney, but I don’t say baloney. Has anyone mentioned it’s balogna and not baloney? Thanks for making me laugh at such a mundane task, Vic.
You need to look up the definition of the word baloney.
Kevin from Kenilworth, UK
When you were in Jacksonville, you often mentioned your two dogs in the "Ask Vic" column. Did either of those friends of yours make it to Edisto Beach, or did you lose them in the move?
Kaylee passed in Jacksonville. It broke my heart. Jake made it to South Carolina. He died last winter at the ripe age of 17. Memories do, indeed, make us rich.
Chase from Madisonville, KY
Vic, who was more intense, Jack Lambert or Joe Greene?
Lambert was more intense, but Joe had that scary look that let you know he was experiencing bad thoughts. After a galling loss in Oakland in the 1976 AFC title game, Lambert said, "Give me a six pack and 20 minutes and I'll go out and play them again." Wonderful words! Those are the moments I remember fondly from my career. Jack truly wanted to do more than just contribute. Joe was an easy-going mean guy. You don't get a lot of that combination. On the final play of the first half of a game in Cleveland, as everyone's eyes were following a rainbow Hail Mary by Brian Sipe fall harmlessly incomplete, Joe used the opportunity to punch Browns center Tom Deleone in the stomach. I just happened to see it because the roof of Cleveland Stadium blocked my view of the ball, so I dropped my eyes in disgust and there was Joe punching Deleone. After the game, I said to Joe, "I saw what you did to Deleone." Joe smiled.
Bill from Sheboygan, WI
What did you think of the SOTU address?
I'm ashamed of our leaders' behavior, going back to the Republican butthead who yelled liar during President Obama's State of the Union address, and including the Democrat cretins who booed at Tuesday night's event. What did this to us? If cable news did this to us, which I think it did, then I'm doubly ashamed because I'm media and it is not the job of the media to prey on the emotions of its readers and viewers.
Justin from Titonka, IA
Who are the winners and losers of the Alex Smith trade?
Smith is the only winner. The Redskins aren't good enough for Smith to make a difference, and the Chiefs didn't get enough in return for Smith to make the trade meaningful.
Jesse from Anaconda, MT
Who wins on Sunday?
I'm picking the Eagles. They have a better roster. If they can make it a three-phases game, they'll win. If it's Brady vs. Foles, the Pats will win.
Stephen from Jacksonville, FL
What Super Bowl do you think has featured the best pair of starting quarterbacks? Bradshaw vs. Staubach, Marino vs. Montana and Brees vs. Manning come to my mind as the most obvious top matchups. Who’s the best quarterback Tom Brady has faced in the Super Bowl?
How about Favre vs. Elway? There have been a lot of great matchups. Manning vs. Grossman? That's probably the worst. Kurt Warner was flying high when Brady faced him. I think the Rams coach lost that game. Why did he stop running Marshall Faulk?
Tim from Lancaster, PA
True or false? If the Jags played at the exact same level versus the Patriots as they did against the Steelers, do they win?
No. They gave up 552 yards and six touchdowns against the Steelers and there was no garbage time. The Jags defense fell in love with itself with its performance against Buffalo. It lost its grit and desperation. Celebration became more important than execution. Never sell, only buy.
Nick from Water Mill, NY
So Tarkenton mentions the obviousness of PED use on the part of the Steelers in the mid seventies. You were there, Vic. What's the scoop and how did it mold your view then of the evolution of the sport?
Did Tarkenton also mention steroids were legal to use back then? I did a story in 1974 on this new drug called steroids. Chuck Noll talked about their miraculous healing powers and Rocky Bleier was the example. It wasn't until a few years later we learned they could be used in a negative way. A rookie named Steve Courson whipped Joe Greene in an Oklahoma drill and we all knew something bad was in the wind. I still think it's a problem. I think players are beating the testing.
Isaac from Nashville, TN
Vic, do you remember what you thought when Blount, then with the Bucs, broke off that big TD run in 2011? That was the first moment I began to worry Green Bay could score lots of points but couldn't impose its will.
You da man, Isaac. You get it. That was pure power and my first thought was the Packers were weak at the point of attack. That's been the bottom line. The Packers defenses have been weak at the point of attack. That's been the No. 1 problem.
Braden from Waukesha, WI
What does a fan do to be new?
Packers fans need to adjust their expectations. Stop with the Super Bowl stuff and grasp the fact this is a franchise in transition.
Adam from Wausau, WI
I've spent a lot of years hating Tom Brady because he's better than Aaron Rodgers. By hating him all these years I haven't truly been able to appreciate his greatness. Something happened to me during last year's Super Bowl that changed that. This Super Bowl I will just sit back and truly appreciate the greatness I will be witnessing.
It's called surrender.
Randy from Billings, MT
Vic, if Josh Allen, the Wyoming QB, is available at pick 14, do you draft him or trade the pick, like the Packers did last year with T.J. Watt?
If you really like him, you pick him. I think the Packers have reached that point.
Bob from Sumter, SC
How do you beat Brady?
You rush him. That's how the Broncos beat him. You make him move his feet. He's beginning to sack himself. It's the first sign of age. As Bill Cowher said, "Rush the quarterback."