Stephan from Vienna, Austria
After the draft, in which direction is the arrow pointing for your three teams, in your opinion?
They all addressed need with value picks, and that makes me believe they each have north-pointing arrows. The Packers fixed their cornerback problem, which I believe is the most dramatic cure of the three teams to which you are referring (Packers, Steelers, Jaguars). The Steelers focused on their safety problem and drafted two prospects with one theme in mind: Get tougher. Terrell Edmunds and Marcus Allen are big, physical safeties. The selection of quarterback Mason Rudolph in the third round gives the Steelers' draft home run potential. Rudolph is a run-pass-option quarterback who'll fit nicely in the Steelers' offense and the team's future. The Jaguars drafted a player I believe has J.J. Watt potential. Taven Bryan is a powerful, mauling type of defensive lineman who'll make a strong defense stronger. You can never have enough big guys and the Jaguars needed to get a young cornerstone player for their defensive front.
Dave from North Potomac, MD
All cover and no rush? Does Green Bay already have the rush they need?
You can't draft everybody. The Packers had a choice to make: Pick rush and draft Marcus Davenport, or pick cover and maneuver to select Jaire Alexander. Mike Pettine will try to create a pass rush the same way Dom Capers tried to do it: Create confusion and chaos by disguising coverages and blitzes. By fixing the cornerback problem, the Packers will allow themselves more coverage time to get home with the rush. Be that as it may, I share your concern for the failure to address the pass rush.
Jon from Bloomfield, NJ
I'm rooting for all of the new starting quarterbacks. The current generation of QBs is fairly old, so the NFL really needs the young franchise signal-callers to develop. Has there ever been a QB drought in the history of the NFL, other than times when players were at war?
Other than a few guys at the top, such as Matt Ryan and Matt Stafford, I think the pickings got a little slim at quarterback from 2006-2010. I consider it to have been a mini-drought that caused a lot of teams to waste picks and push some panic buttons at the position. It underscores how fortunate the Packers were to have selected Aaron Rodgers in 2005.
David from White River Junction, VT
Scrolling through Saturday's draft picks, I noticed quite a few kickers, punters and even the Packers long snapper. Is that a reflection of a lack of depth in this draft class or is something else going on?
When teams are picking kickers and long-snappers in an era of declining kicking-game importance, it almost has to be the result of the class having been weak at the playing positions. I couldn't help but notice how quickly this draft ran out of name-recognition players.
Pete from Minneapolis, MN
What if Vince Biegel turns out to be the reincarnation of Deacon Jones?
What if he doesn't?
Vincent from Seattle, WA
What did you think of the new GM's first draft?
It's very original and I like that. Brian Gutekunst was clearly picking from his board and not from popular opinion. It's a working man's draft class. What the class lacks is a sexy pick. It doesn't include a quarterback, for example, or a high-round wide receiver about whom fans can obsess and make wild predictions.
David from Hilliard (wherever that is)
Vic, what is the best thing about this draft for the Packers?
The problem at cornerback has been fixed.
Kevin from Silverdale, WA
Vic, the only draftnik who had us picking Alexander was Mike Mayock. He seems to have a talent for guessing our picks.
Mayock is good. I trust his evaluations. His weakness is his delivery lacks pizzazz. He's kind of a banker/draftnik. I've always gotten the feeling he's used his draftnik status to audition for a GM job. Ultimately, that might be good for him, but his ultra-serious delivery doesn't mesh well with the fun aspect of the draft process.
Dave from Jacksonville, FL
Vic, I grew up in West Virginia about 75 miles southwest of Pittsburgh. As a West Virginia Mountaineer fan, I listened to Jack Fleming call WVU games on the radio. I know he also called Steelers games, including “The Immaculate Reception.” Any thoughts on Jack?
Jack was a friend. He called me "Country Boy," which I considered flattering because Jack was a country guy through and through. In my opinion, Jack's claim to fame as the Steelers' play-by-play man is he's the guy whose voice you hear in replays of the "Immaculate Reception." Curt Gowdy blew the call. He didn't know where the ball was or what had happened. Jack's call was spot on, step for step: "Hang onto your hats, here come the Steelers out of the huddle. Terry Bradshaw at the controls. Twenty-two seconds remaining. And this crowd is standing. And Bradshaw, back and looking again. Bradshaw, running out of the pocket, looking for somebody to throw to, fires it downfield, and there's a collision! It's caught out of the air! The ball is pulled in by Franco Harris! Harris is going for a touchdown for Pittsburgh! Harris is going. Five seconds left on the clock. Franco Harris pulled in the football. I don't even know where he came from!" Jack's "15 minutes" of fame were the result of 17 seconds of clarity.
Joe from Bloomington, IN
Ward went fourth, Mayock had Jaire as his top cornerback, and the Packers get a first-round pick next year in the process. Too good to be true?
If you favor cover over rush, the Packers' draft is a windfall for you. Jaire Alexander, Josh Jackson and last year's top pick, Kevin King, give the Packers a trio of young cornerbacks who should secure the position deep into the future. The extra first-round pick? Maybe it'll be used to draft Aaron Rodgers' successor.
Adam from Oshkosh, WI
Vic, with Gutekunst netting a first-round pick in the 2019 draft from the first-night trades, shouldn't that pick be included in the evaluation of Davenport-Alexander?
It absolutely should be included, but it likely won't because draft classes tend to stand on their own.
Seth from Kenosha, WI
Cornerbacks in the first and second round. Is it any different this time?
It's very different this time around because Alexander and Jackson aren't projections. They aren't a baseball player and a basketball player. Alexander and Jackson are football players and proven cornerbacks.
Joseph from Hollywood, FL
Quote from Jaire Alexander: “I’ve played against bigger receivers who are 6-5. It doesn’t really matter. My mentality is I’m going to beat the man in front of me. That’s just a part of being a student of the game. I don’t pay any attention to size or anything like that.” I like this kid!
Acta non verba.
Dan from Houston, TX
Well, Vic, how did Gute do?
I posed that question to Tony Pauline and this is his answer: "Solid to real good. A lot of potential on the third day, while filling needs on days one and two."
Jeremy from Lethbridge (wherever that is)
Vic, what do you make of the Steelers not drafting a linebacker for the first time since 2009?
It's a shocker, just as it shocks me the Packers traded away from a pass rusher for the second consecutive year. The Packers focused on their problem at cornerback, and the Steelers focused on their problem at safety. I think the message is you can't fix everything. Also, the Steelers might be telling us they plan to use their safeties as hybrid inside linebackers.
Andy from Thompsontown, PA
Vic, how did Jason Cabinda go undrafted? He was great this year. I thought he would fit in as an edge man for someone. I think you even mentioned him in your column.
I was asked about a run-stuffing inside linebacker. Cabinda isn't an edge rusher, he's a grunt, and that's why he went undrafted. The inside guys are two-down players and, therefore, undervalued. The Raiders acquired a lot of value in signing Cabinda as an undrafted free agent. You can find those inside guys among the undrafted.
Matt from Madison, WI
I've read your column since you joined packers.com through to the new "Ask Vic" and I've never had a question that someone else hadn't already asked. Well, I have one now. It seems to me the message sent by the Packers' first-round trades is Brian Gutekunst doesn't think the fix is a one-year proposition, and he'll need more talent than fans want to believe. Do you think he sees this as a two-year fix, therefore, the extra first-rounder next year will pay off more? It would give them a shot at a top quarterback, if Kizer doesn't work out.
I think that's a fair evaluation. I sense patience in Gutekunst's selections. I feel no sense of panic. He had a plan and he executed the plan. I think acquiring value was at the heart of his plan.
Derek from Eau Claire, WI
Can you speak to the evolution of trading draft picks?
Prior to the creation of the salary cap, trading was about talent evaluation. These days, it's also about money.
Mike from Somerset, WI
Vic, another year in which very few mock drafts were even close. It’s laughable the same people that missed on their mock drafts will now assign grades to the experts making the picks.
"Gutekunst will either trade up from 14 or stay put and trade back into the first round. Mark it down." I love the quirkiness of the draft. Why can't we just live with the suspense?
Bill from Staten Island, NY
I'm wondering if Tony Pauline had anything to say about Jaire Alexander either before or after the pick? Your thoughts on leaving Edmunds and James on the table?
Alexander's name wasn't mentioned in connection with the Packers by Tony or any draftnik I had read. Alexander is truly an original pick by the Packers. They targeted him as a possible pick, and I suspect that when other prospects they had targeted were selected in front of the Packers, the Packers traded to where Alexander fit. Without a doubt, he's a need pick, but Brian Gutekunst went to great lengths to pick Alexander where he fit and recoup the full value and more of the Packers' original pick position.
Seth from Kenosha, WI
What does the trade value book say about the net result of the Packers’ trades in the first round?
I don't need the numeric points table to tell me the Packers hit a value home run with their two trades in round one. Ultimately, they acquired a 2019 first-round pick for moving back just four spaces and exchanging some window-dressing picks.
Jerry from Kansas City, MO
The closer I follow the draft, the more I realize I have no idea what is going on. How would you assess the Packers' approach to round one?
It was all about need and value. The two had to meet. What that approach tells me is the Packers have the right guy running their personnel department.
Bret from Milani, HI
So I guess Green Bay chose cover over rush again. Maybe we’ll choose rush twice next year. What do you think of the trades and the pick?
The trades are sensational massaging of the draft process. I give Brian Gutekunst an A+ for his management of round one. The pick, Jaire Alexander, is considered by everyone whose opinion I've read to be a top talent. Most importantly for me, Alexander is a premium-position player. Here's what bothers me: For the second consecutive year, the Packers traded away from a pass rusher. I think it was a mistake trading away from T.J. Watt last year. What will be my opinion of trading away from Marcus Davenport this year?
Ben from Hilo, HI
Which first-round QB has the best chance for success based on the team that drafted him?
I think Josh Rosen is a perfect fit for the Cardinals.
Brandon from St. Paul, MN
What was the most surprising move of round one?
The Browns' selection of Baker Mayfield surprised me. I just don't see him as a No. 1 overall talent. I don't see the size and I don't see the arm. I see a system quarterback. That's my opinion and I will be very willing to say I'm wrong if Mayfield turns out to be the player the Browns think he'll be.
Matt from McNaughton, WI
I was hoping someone would fall to 14 for crazy reasons like QB hunger or need-based drafting. Maybe the playing field is as level as ever. Which, if any, teams got lucky and stole a player in your opinion?
Sam Darnold fell into the Jets' laps. The Bills got their quarterback and then grabbed a playmaking linebacker, Tremaine Edmunds, who I thought would've been a great fit for the Packers. The steal of the first round, in my opinion, is Lamar Jackson. I love his talent. If I'm looking for a new age quarterback, Jackson's my guy. Jackson is going to make for an intriguing comparison to Mayfield: First pick of the draft vs. the last pick of the first round playing against each other twice a year. I think the Ravens got the right guy.
Aaron from Wausau, WI
What do Gutekunst's trades and pick tell you? Seems like he knew how to get the player he wanted for the price he wanted to pay.
Gutekunst's maneuvering tells me he knows how to work the system. It tells me he's a veteran of the draft process.
Roger from Auburn, CA
Do the Packers have something against pass rushers? Last year they passed on Watt and this year they passed on Davenport. Your thoughts?
Davenport-Alexander will define this draft for the Packers, just as Watt-King will continue to define last year's draft. Defense is all about rushing the passer. Passing on the guys who do it is not how you get better at it. It concerns me.
Ray from Port Elgin, NB
Vic, did we miss a golden opportunity to get a blue chip player in Tremaine Edmunds? I get that we got some nice draft capital in the trade, but with how good New Orleans is, chances are that pick will be in the 28-32 range next year. When will we get the chance to pick this high again?
Maybe the Packers saw Edmunds as an inside guy only. Most of what I read about Edmunds projected him to be a playmaker, which means he'll be a featured player who'll stay on the field on third down regardless of where he plays. At the end of the day, it's all about the teams' opinions of the players, not the draftnik's opinions. Based on the Packers' moves, I have to believe they like Alexander better than Davenport and Edmunds.
Morgan from Kaukauna, WI
Vic, what do I feel?
You feel anxiety for what the Packers didn't draft. Remember this: You can't draft everybody. If the Packers had drafted Davenport, you'd be anxious about their need at cornerback.
Tim from Lancaster, PA
The Browns just did the most Brownsian thing imaginable. Mayfield can't hit the honey-hole. What are they doing?
He's not a honey-hole quarterback. He's a magic-wand quarterback. He'll move around, buy time, allow his receivers to come open and make plays with his legs and arm. He's a Russell Wilson type of quarterback, but does he possess Wilson's durability? Quarterbacks who make plays with their feet get hit, and they hit hard and sometimes late in the AFC North.
Randall from Watsonville, CA
"I have a photo on my wall of a game from a long time ago and I'm amazed at how few people are on the sidelines, compared to the crowded sidelines of today." For you to have framed this photo, it must be very interesting. I'd love to see it. I wonder about the story it would tell.
It's from the final game played at Three Rivers Stadium. In the final minutes of that game, my media friends scraped the number placard (37) off the seat I had long occupied and sent it to me, along with a picture from that game. I had the picture and the number placard framed. It sits directly in front of me at the desk in my study. It's as though I'm looking out the press box window onto the field.
Stephen from Jacksonville, FL
Did somebody harpoon the whale on its way back out to sea? The Wembley deal scares me, Vic.
It concerns me, too. I worry that if the Jaguars experience a downturn in fortunes, as they did shortly after I left Jacksonville, London would become an attractive option. I wish the ownership's focus was concentrated solely on Jacksonville. Be that as it may, I love the Taven Bryan pick. A strong defense just got stronger.
Ben from Chicago, IL
Vic, are there any scenarios in which a team intentionally doesn't turn in a pick in order to pick at a later slot? For instance, a team with pick 32 could save some cap money and pay less guaranteed money by picking first in round two.
In 2003, the Vikings had the seventh pick of the draft but twice allowed the clock to expire before they selected defensive tackle Kevin Williams with the ninth pick. Why did they do that? Because they knew the Jaguars at eight were going to select Byron Leftwich and the Panthers at nine were going to select Jordan Gross, so the Vikings effectively moved back two spaces to select Williams, the player they had targeted.
Steve from Montclair, NJ
Now that teams can trade compensatory picks, do you expect more trades by teams trying to find the best values?
Trades have been increasing in number for several years. Why? Because teams are attempting to fit themselves to the player they wish to pick. It's a means for addressing need without relinquishing value. Trading is proof teams are drafting according to the best available player philosophy or, at the least, value is king. When you reach, you pay more for a player than his worth should dictate, plus, you don't get the full value of your original selection.
Lori from Brookfield, WI
Vic, what was the atmosphere like around Lambeau on draft day? Were the experiences pretty similar in Jacksonville and Pittsburgh?
My draft days in Pittsburgh were spent prior to the keep-the-media-out days. While I was in Pittsburgh, the media largely had access to coaches and personnel people between picks when everybody was hanging out in the lunch room. I could get some tips from scouts back then because there was nothing I could do with the information since it was prior to the invention of the Internet. The Internet changed everything. It introduced ultra-stealth to the draft. The media atmosphere at Lambeau Field is largely as it was in Jacksonville during my time there. The media is housed in a large auditorium, where they watch the draft on TV monitors and supplement their coverage with comments from coaches and personnel people who are brought to the media room to answer questions following team picks. I liked it better in my old days in Pittsburgh, but everything about my business has changed and it's never going to be again as it once was.
Dave from Jacksonville, FL
Vic, glad to see you’re coming to Jacksonville for the Steelers vs. Jaguars Sunday night matchup. I’m glad Coughlin, Marrone and company have embraced tough defense, create-turnovers and run-the-ball football. What type of football team are the Steelers trying to be?
The Steelers are trying to be what they've always been, but they lack the personnel to be that team. I think we saw Steelers football last season when they played in Cincinnati, but it wasn't something they could sustain after they lost Ryan Shazier. Identity is not something you can will to happen. You have to have the talent to be what you want to be. The Steelers were soft on defense last season. They need to be faster and tougher on defense.
Mike from North Hudson, WI
Vic, you're the GM. With the exception of the QB position in this year's draft, what would be your top 3-5 players of interest for Green Bay to select in round one?
The Packers need a pass rusher. If they can't get a pass rusher, then get a cornerback. If they can't get a cornerback, then get a tackle. Pick No. 14, especially considering the number of quarterbacks that will be overdrafted ahead of the Packers' pick, is too high not to spend it on a premium-position player.
Sean-Luc from Oceanside, CA
What do you tell a fellow Packers fan who refuses to accept this is a rebuilding year?
I don't think it's a rebuilding year. I think rebuilding is too strong of a word to accurately represent where the Packers are. I would tell a Packers fan to have hope, but be cautious and realistic with your expectations.
Mark from Green Bay, WI
Why does Goodell insist on being in charge of all discipline? I would have a discipline committee: two people nominated by the NFLPA, two nominated by the owners, and an NFL referee. I would have an appeals board. I do not understand why in this country management must always see the union as their enemy.
Here's where I stand on players doing bad things: If they're not in jail, put on the pads. I prefer to leave justice to the people who are trained and paid to uphold it. In cases involving crimes against the game, I support the commissioner having full power to discipline violators as he deems fit.
Eric from San Francisco, CA
Which team do you think could make the same leap the Jaguars did last year, going from a losing record to a playoff run? My pick would be the 49ers, now that they have "The Man."
The 49ers are poised to become the surprise team of the year, though it will surprise few.
Matthew from Stockholm, Sweden
Vic, what are your thoughts on the Packers defensive line? With stars in Daniels and Wilkerson, a budding star in Clark, and Lowry and Adams providing quality depth, I think it is the strength of the defense. Can the front wreak havoc on a consistent basis? I saw it in flashes against the Seahawks and Bucs.
The first thing I need to know before I can answer your question is how will Mike Pettine use his defensive linemen. Will they be used as hold-the-point two-gappers, as they were used under Dom Capers' direction, or as penetrate-and-disrupt gap-controllers? Two-gappers don't wreak havoc, they eat blocks so the linebackers can wreak havoc. I like the Packers' talent up front. I think there's a significant decline in talent from the line to the linebackers.
Adam from Wausau, WI
The new GM needs to make a statement with his first draft. Prediction: Gutekunst will either trade up from 14 or stay put and trade back into the first round. Mark it down.
OK, it might happen, but why does Brian Gutekunst need to make a dramatic statement in his first draft? I think he needs to draft good football players. I think that's the only statement he needs to make.
Maggie from Kenosha, WI
Vic, you're on the clock. Make your first-round picks for the Packers, Steelers and Jaguars.
I asked Tony Pauline your question and this is what he said: Packers--Minkah Fitzpatrick or trade up for Denzel Ward. Steelers--Rashaan Evans or Lorenzo Carter. Jaguars--Will Hernandez or Dallas Goedert.
Karl from Albuquerque, NM
Vic, which saying do you agree with more, and which is more important, a good pass rush will make a secondary look good, or a good secondary will make a pass rush look good? Or is it a egg or chicken argument?
I think a good pass rush will do more for a defense than a good secondary.
Adam from Chicago, IL
What do you make of Jason Spriggs?
He needs to get stronger at the point of attack.
Steven from Montclair, NJ
Is the term "War Room" insensitive to use during this weekend? Or are we being overly sensitive?
I don't see anything wrong with it. Ted Thompson was opposed to it and I thought he was being overly sensitive. Hey, it's the draft. It's a crapshoot. Let's have some fun, OK?
Eric from Wausau, WI
Vic, if you could go back to the mid-1970s and see today's game from your perspective as a beat reporter for the Steelers, in what ways would today's game be unrecognizable?
The size of the helmets and shoulder pads would be laughable. Also, the first time a safety was flagged for a head shot on a defenseless receiver, my mouth would fall open. "What was wrong with that?" I'd say. One more thing: I have a photo on my wall of a game from a long time ago and I'm amazed at how few people are on the sidelines, compared to the crowded sidelines of today.
Roger from Houston, TX
What intrigues you most about this draft?
It's the quarterbacks. What teams will pick them and how might the quarterbacks push better players down the board?
Mitch from Milwaukee, WI
If Aaron Rodgers retired today, who would you consider to be a better quarterback, Brett Favre or Rodgers?
I think the answer to your question is a matter of personal preference, otherwise, the two men have enjoyed parallel levels of success. Do you prefer drama or consistency? I'll take the consistency. Rodgers would be my choice.
Jeff from Alexandria, VA
Is football becoming like basketball, where fans follow individuals rather than teams?
That happened a long time ago, when Fantasy Football became popular.
Roger from Chesterton, IN
My cousin is a construction worker in Chicago and he was recently doing renovations at Soldier Field. They showed up in their hi-visibility vests and Virginia McCaskey told everyone to take off the Green Bay Packers yellow vests, get orange vests, or find new work. Might be snow on the roof, but there's fire in the furnace. Thanks for your writing. You've given me perspective and great understanding that goes beyond football.
I think the Bears might be ready to hold up their end of the rivalry, and that would help re-launch it. As it stands right now, it's the most overrated rivalry in the NFL.
Matt from Christchurch, NZ
Is rugby the future of football?
I attended a dinner this past week at which Auburn Defensive Coordinator Kevin Steele was the guest speaker. Steele has also coached at Alabama, Tennessee, Clemson, LSU, Florida State, Baylor and the Carolina Panthers. He's one of the most respected names in the coaching profession and he's one of my Edisto Island neighbors. I asked Kevin what he thought the concussion thing will do to college football. He said he wasn't sure what the specific impact would be, but the game will be unrecognizable in 30 years. I would agree.
Lori from Brookfield, WI
Vic, a preseason Internet prediction gives the Packers a 13-3 record, a first-round bye, a victory over the Vikings and an NFC Championship loss to the Panthers. How likely is this scenario?
It's possible but that would not be my expectation.
Dick from Watertown, SD
How about next Thursday's column is delayed until after the first round?
I'm going to do a column on Thursday and on Friday.
Stephen from Jacksonville, FL
The Jaguars finally got some teal pants. Does this news make you happy? Is it time to abandon the First Communion look?
I love the all-white and all-teal uniforms and wish those were the Jaguars' only two options. I don't like the black-pants looks and, in my opinion, five options are too many. In my opinion, uniforms are all about identity and the Jaguars need to embrace one. The really good news is the ugliest uniforms in the history of football are gone. The half-painted, primer-paint helmet has been replaced by the clean, shiny model of past successes, and the Jaguars will no longer look like Joe's Bar and Grill.
Jerry from Kansas City, MO
As a fan of Dorsey and Wolf, I am interested to see if their leadership can turn the Browns into a winning team. What do the Browns need to do in the coming season to prove they've turned the ship around?
They need to draft a quarterback and establish him as the future of the franchise. If they can achieve that goal in 2018, they'll be on their way to winning.
Bill from Sheboygan, WI
What do you think of the Packers' schedule?
The first two games are a daunting challenge. They smacked me right in the face. I don't think the Packers can win the NFC North without winning both of those games.
Sam from Saratoga Springs, NY
I've seen a lot of people express the opinion (and even expectation) Pettine is going to whip the Packers defense into shape and we'll see a different animal on that side of the ball. We have a transcendent QB, we have what seems to be a solid running game, we have a great offensive line, we have play-making pass catchers. In your opinion, what are we missing? What is going to be the key to getting back to the Super Bowl this year, and do we have it now or not?
I see a great quarterback. I don't see the rest of that stuff. I see questions. I believe you're thinking with your heart.
Jerry from Savannah, GA
Vic, some would argue it’s not in the Packers’ best interest to have the face of their franchise disgruntled. Isn’t that a valid point?
I don't think it's a big deal. The chatter ends when the playing begins. At that point, the scoreboard talks the loudest. That's why I say the baloney ends, except I don't say baloney.
Mike from Fort Wayne, IN
Considering all the safety concerns with football, do you think baseball will ever become "America's Game" again?
If football changes too much, it'll open the door for other sports to take market share. I think the NFL needs to be very careful about its pursuit of safety. I think the league is at the doorstep of going too far with the rules changes. As I've written, football's popularity wasn't built on it being safe.
Bianca from Brazil
Vic, say you replace Roger Goodell as the next NFL commissioner. What would be your first move?
I would try to establish a relationship with the players that would allow me to appeal to them to help protect the game. I don't think the rules changes and all the fines are achieving their intent. I think it has to come from within, so to speak.
Eric from Baker, FL
Over the years of reading your column, I've found you hold Coach McCarthy in high regards. My question is, what do you think some of his weaknesses or faults are?
I don't think he has any weaknesses as a coach. I think he needs more talent, especially on the defensive side of the ball. That's been his weakness, not enough talent on the defensive side of the ball.
Joe from Los Angeles, CA
Vic, will you ever attend a regular season game again?
I think I'm going to attend the Steelers at Jaguars game on Nov. 18.
Brad from La Crosse, WI
Have you ever been out in your kayak and suddenly thought, "Maybe I shouldn't be out here!"
Yeah, it was a couple of years ago, two days before Christmas. I was paddling on Scott Creek and all of a sudden a dolphin popped up out of the water near my kayak. Its wake made my kayak wobble. I turned around and paddled home.
Amis from Norwich, UK
Josh Rosen might be the most talented quarterback in this coming draft, but his personality is putting teams off because he has opinions. Is it fair (or wise) for teams to avoid him for this reason?
One of my scout friends was working in Kansas City in 1983, which was the year of the great quarterback draft. The coach, John Mackovic, told my scout friend to go to Penn State and work out Todd Blackledge and then go to Pitt and work out Dan Marino. Mackovic was committed to making one of the two quarterbacks the Chiefs' first-round pick. Well, my scout friend worked out the two quarterbacks and reported back to Mackovic Marino was clearly the better prospect. Mackovic agreed with my scout friend but said he was going to pick Blackledge because Marino's personality wouldn't be a good fit. How'd that decision turn out for the Chiefs? Hey, draft talent. Personalities change with maturity.
Frank from Simpsonville, SC
Vic, why are Packers fans and the media so worried about Aaron Rodgers' feelings? He has two years left on his contract and the hope is we rush and make him the highest-paid QB. Apparently, if the Packers don't pay him he will pout through two seasons. Is the media reading him wrong?
The No. 1 question in my inbox since before last season ended is about the Packers negotiating a new contract with Rodgers. My response to those questions has been, "What's the rush?" Why are so many fans and media concerned about this issue, despite Rodgers having two years remaining on his contract? Because he has been so important to this team for so long they can't imagine life without him, so they negotiate for him, campaign for him and even make excuses for him. Does this remind you of another quarterback saga? I think it's time for Packers fans to cut the emotional cord and remember it's all about that G on the helmet. Everything that's decided should depend on only consideration: What's best for the Packers? In my opinion, it's not in the best interests of the Packers to rush into a new contract.
Rich from Manitou Springs, CO
You question how global warming will affect the talent base. I see more and more players coming out of the far north. A hundred years from now teams won't play in the South like they do now. Green Bay will be a paradise to play in, along with Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Buffalo.
It's not about where the temperature suits the game, it's about the movement of people. We've experienced a dramatic shift in population to the Sun Belt. Climate scientists are predicting a counter shift. How will that affect the future of football's talent base? Where will the people move? Will they play another sport? Those are the questions that interest me?
Maggie from Kenosha, WI
It seems like it's harder for players to finish their careers with one team now. Is that an accurate assessment? Why do you think that's the case?
Unfettered free agency created this movement. It allows players to fit their talents and their careers to the teams that covet them. If Joe Greene had played in today's NFL, I doubt he would've spent his entire career with the Steelers. Might Bart Starr have played for a team other than the Packers? It's the unthinkable, but not in today's game. In that sense, I think free agency has been bad for the game.
Ned from Bakersfield, CA
What are some of your favorite movie quotes, besides Christmas Vacation? Mine is the Alec Baldwin scene from Glengarry Glen Ross: "Put that coffee down!"
I love memorable movie quotes. One of my favorites is from The Natural: "I guess some mistakes you never stop paying for."
Leif from Frederic, WI
You mentioned Lamar Jackson as a possible draft pick for the Steelers and putting him in a slash type of role. I would agree that role would fit Jackson quite well, having him be a gadget player you can use on trick plays like when Kordell Stewart had success. But Jackson and his 13 Wonderlic score and his inability to read a defense or run an offense concerns me. Using a first-round pick on a gadget player seems like a waste of a high draft pick.
Hollywood Henderson said Terry Bradshaw was so stupid he couldn't spell cat if you spotted him the C and the A. Maybe Jackson just needs to be coached to play football the NFL way.
Lee from Marshfield, WI
Vic, as I get older, I care less for all the drama and chatter. I feel the love of football slipping away and I don't want it to. What can I do to rekindle the love?
Try living without football. That should do it.
Don from Torrington, CT
I am head coach for the first time after two seasons of assistant coaching my three boys in our local flag football league. I am struck by how different head coaching is, compared to assistant coaching. We start in two weeks and I am looking for some words of wisdom. Got any?
Teach your players to be teammates.
Travis from Tampa, FL
Thoughts on Paul Posluszny?
I love the way he's retired as much as I love the way he played the game. I'm proud to say he's a good, tough, Western Pa. football player. I especially love his line from his Pee Wee football days: Stop crying or get off the field.
Jeffeory from Bloomington, IL
Aaron Rodgers isn't getting any younger and I don't foresee the Packers picking this high for a little while. Is this the year to trade up, back into the first, and start preparing for the back nine?
Haven't I answered this question several times, dating back to last season? If a quarterback the Packers believe can be the future at the position is available when they pick, pick him.
Braden from Waukesha, WI
Vic, In your mind, should a player ever have a say in front office decisions?
Joe from Milwaukee, WI
Vic, imagine you are the GM of a football team. Would your head coach be offensive or defensive minded?
He'd be a leader of men. Assistant coaches coach; head coaches lead.
Warren from Mount Holly, NC
Vic, it's clear you place a great deal of importance in the integrity of the game, and take pride in your personal integrity as a writer. How would you have handled a "Deflategate" type of cheating scandal involving a team you worked for?
Just the facts, ma'am.
Adam from West Bend, WI
Thanks for being my friend.
We all belong to the fraternity of football.
Olle from Herrljunga, Sweden
The phrase "Just win, baby" implies a no holds barred attitude. Being European, I didn't grow up with football as common knowledge, and I`ve learned a lot reading you. Thanks a bunch.
"Just win, baby" is not intended to condone cheating. Its intent is to defend decisions that win football games, such as being down three points and running a quarterback sneak instead of a roll out pass on what would be the final play of the game if the sneak fails to score. As Coach Noll said, "When you win, everything you say and do is right."
Troy from Morgantown, WV
I'd bet Frenchy has written inside that envelope, "Tell you when you get here."
I think the piece of paper inside that envelope says, "I don't know who touched it. Does it really matter?"
Alex from Arvada, CO
Do the Patriots have to draft a QB in this draft? I can't imagine Tom Brady playing more than two more years and also can't imagine Belichick giving his successor anything less than two years under Brady's wings.
Now we're going to find out how smart the Patriots really are. Can they move seamlessly into the next era? Or did they trade away the player who would lead them into the next era?
Sean from Richmond, VA
What do you think about Aaron Rodgers bellyaching about not being consulted for certain personnel decisions. Should someone remind him that while many regard him as the most talented QB in the league, he hasn't been to the Super Bowl since 2010?
I remember Terry Bradshaw complaining about not being taken on road trips and not being involved much in his replacement's development when Bradshaw was sidelined with an elbow injury in 1983 that would eventually end his career. Coach Noll decided it was time to clear the air. "Terry can't help us if Terry can't play for us," Noll said. Noll's words infuriated Bradshaw, but the chatter stopped. It might be time for Coach McCarthy to clear the air.
Jake from Milwaukee, WI
Dez to the Packers? Now that would be a catch no matter how you interpret the rule.
Dime a dozen. Move on.
William from Touqerville, UT
How in the world do players like Tom Brady (the GOAT) and dynamic players like Antonio Brown fall all the way to the sixth round like they did?
The scouts screwed up. It happens. Their crystal ball didn't see what Brady and Brown would become. I think it's especially egregious in Brady's case because he played at the highest level of competition in college and he was coming off a bowl game in which he turned in an undeniably impressive and pro-like performance. I keep hearing about his 40 time at the combine, but that's a lame excuse. When was Peyton Manning ever judged by his 40 time? Brady is the worst scouting job in NFL history and there is no excuse for it. In Brown's case, he wasn't fully exposed at Western Michigan. In Aaron Rodgers' case, he was coming off an ACL and there were shoulder concerns, but he was still a first-round pick. Mistakes happen and they make the draft the intriguing event it is.
Kirsten from Madison, WI
Can we all come live with you in South Carolina? Two feet of snow in April. Clearly, Wisconsin has angered the gods, and we need to be new.
There is no utopia. We have hurricane season, California has earthquakes, the middle of the country is tornado alley. It's a matter of picking your poison. As Coach Noll said, "How do you wish to die?"
Chris from Lexington, KY
If Rodgers gets picked first and takes Alex Smith's path, would he still be the player he is today?
I think he would be. He would've played on some pretty powerful 49ers teams and likely would've won a Super Bowl. Players of Aaron Rodgers' talent define teams, instead of teams defining them. What would the Packers have been without Rodgers?
Pat from Seneca, SC
What are your thoughts on the elimination of the kickoff?
The kickoff has been the bane of football's existence going back to the flying wedge days, when men were trampled to death and it nearly resulted in the game being outlawed. Instead of dumbing up the rules to legislate against the kickoff, I'd prefer to see the league go scrimmage style and just put the ball in play at the 20.
Cindy from Los Angeles, CA
Regarding "Deflategate," what would you have called a just punishment? In my mind, it's similar to using pine tar on a baseball -- a violation but not on the level of PEDs.
Brady's punishment was just, but I thought the Patriots weren't penalized enough. They are convicted serial cheaters and I thought they should've lost two first-round picks instead of one.
Adam from Chicago, IL
Are there any bruising backs in this year's draft class?
Tony Pauline likes these power backs: Nick Chubb of Georgia in the second round, Royce Freeman of Oregon in the third round and Jarvon Franklin of Western Michigan in round six.
Olle from Herrljunga, Sweden
Does "Deflategate" and constant problems with the headsets at Foxboro fit into the concept of "Just win, baby?"
No, they fit into the same concept as "Spygate," which is to say disdain and contempt for the laws and the spirit of the laws of the game. They are violations against sportsmanship and anyone who believes otherwise needs to re-think their concepts of integrity and character.
Leif from Frederic, WI
The Steelers are showing a lot of interest in quarterbacks in this draft. Is it smoke and mirrors or are they considering going QB early? If so, who do you like?
They need to begin looking for "The Next Man." If Lamar Jackson were to make it down to where they are, or if they were able to move up to where he fits, I think he'd be an excelllent choice for them because he's the kind of player for whom a role can be created while he's developing his skills. The Steelers did that with Kordell Stewart in 1995 and it helped take them to a Super Bowl.
Shane from York, NE
Vic, did Tatum or Fuqua touch it first?
Nobody knows. Frenchy says he has the answer sealed in an envelope that will be opened upon his death, but I can't help but think that's just smart marketing by Frenchy. If, in fact, the answer is in that envelope, I hope Frenchy lives forever. The suspense is what makes the "Immaculate Reception" fun.
Steven from Jacksonville, FL
You left Jacksonville in 2011, right around the time the darkest period for the franchise was about to begin. Could you see it coming?
What I saw coming was a draft in which the Jaguars would select a quarterback who would define the next period of Jaguars football. Blaine Gabbert was a bust and everybody died, so to speak, which is what happens when you draft a bust at that position.
Steven from Racine, WI
Vic, the 13-time world champions are going to be excellent this year. Stop hating. They were 4-1 before Rodgers got hurt last year. You are acting like they did poorly with a healthy Rodgers all year. The Bears still suck, too.
Connor from Greenville, SC
What is your favorite time slot to watch a game now that you are retired? Which time zone do you think has it the best?
I'm an old-fashioned one o'clock ET guy, although I became fond of the noon starts in Green Bay. I think the Central Time Zone has it best. Night-game starts are too late in the East and early-game starts in the East are too early for those in the West.
Richard from Sampson, FL
Do you have any Keenan McCardell stories and what are your thoughts on if he will be a good head coach in the future?
Keenan will be a head coach within five years. He has, in my opinion, all of the tools to be successful in the role. He knows the game, has a feel for it and is able to relate to players, management and media. I loved interviewing him because he loved being interviewed. He possesses a playful quality that keeps him young. In the midst of a somewhat unproductive stretch of the season one year, I raised the possibility he might've lost a step. He didn't like that and immediately voiced his defense, which he followed by lighting it up in the next game. He turned a one-day story into a three-day story. I love the old guys.
Robert from Rotterdam, The Netherlands
Just before you left Jacksonville for Green Bay at the end of the 2010 season, you said you would swim across the St. Johns River at it widest point if the Jaguars didn't draft a quarterback in the 2011 draft. Is there any prediction for this year's draft you'd be willing to stake a similar bet on?
I'll swim across Jeremy Inlet in Edisto if the Jaguars don't draft a quarterback this year. In my opinion, they desperately need to address that position.
Ron from Bellaire, WI
Is there any other area in the country that has produced the number of NFL Hall of Fame players as Western Pennsylvania has?
I'm very proud of my Western Pa. roots, but the football talent base has shifted to Florida, Texas and California. The demographics favor those three states now, as they once favored Western Pa. in the steel mill days. Here's what I can't help but wonder: How will global warming affect the next shift in the talent base?
Alex from Milwaukee, WI
When the league switched to letting themselves in New York overturn calls by replay, I was shocked at the lack of outrage. The shadow hand deciding games? Now, after this last season and the absolute ridiculousness of the replay system, I am still shocked not many seem to understand the problem is the league is deciding these things from miles away. Changing the rule for the catch does not solve this problem. Vic, can you explain to us, why is it OK to let the league office referee games from sometimes 1,000 or more miles away?
You're a football purist. So am I. You have a problem with this impersonal approach to the game and so do I. My outrage is for the event. I believe its integrity is being violated. A game in Green Bay should be decided in Green Bay, not in New York. Why isn't our outrage shared by the masses? I think it's because we've learned to treat football with a degree of disdain. I don't think it's as revered by its fans as baseball and golf are by their fans. In my mind, the game is sacrosanct, and that's why I was outraged by Deflategate. In my mind, the ball is the centerpiece of the game and is inviolable. Why were so many football fans not outraged by Deflategate? It's for the same reason they're not outraged by games being decided by people sitting in front of a TV in New York: They don't revere the game, only the result.
Jeremy from Lethbridge, Canada
Vic, with Sports Illustrated on the selling block and its future now once again unclear, how do you think sports journalism needs to be new (if it does at all)?
Digital has replaced ink, and I think it's good for the business side of journalism, but only if we apply the same standards to the digital media we did to the print media. I don't think we have and that's how sports journalism needs to be new. Digital is a wonderful medium. It's immediate and, therefore, easily updated. Now we need to give it stature.
Jensen from Houston, TX
Vic, I enjoy your ability to succinctly describe players and their contributions to the sport. Tell me about Reggie White.
He possessed the size and power of a defensive tackle and the speed and agility of a pass rusher. He was the dominant defensive lineman of his time. There was no weakness in his game.
Jake from Knoxville, TN
I’m all for improving player safety, but it is obviously having some significant side effects on the game’s already skewed competitive balance. I guess there’s a chance the new “see what you hit” rule could be good for defense. Is there any rule you’d like to see the league write to tilt things back toward the defense or against the offense a little?
I would like to see the league legislate against rub routes and pick plays. I think there needs to be a rule addressing spacing between receivers, especially within five yards of the line of scrimmage. Think of it as a kind of reverse chuck rule.
Nick from Water Mill, NY
You were high on Aaron Donald. I remember the general reservation concerning him, however, was his height. Why is height considered so important for a defensive tackle?
The concern is a tall offensive lineman will get over the top of a short defensive lineman and simply push him face first into the ground. Football is a game of leverage.
Justin from Muleshoe, TX
I went to high school with Landry Jones. He was a stud then and a stud at Oklahoma. What about his game didn’t translate to the NFL? He had better college stats than a couple of the guys projected to be top five picks this year.
College stats are meaningless, especially for Big 12 quarterbacks. There's never been one who's been a big hit in the NFL; John Hadl's best years were spent in the AFL. Jones strikes me as a soft thrower. I covered his Senior Bowl and that was my opinion of him then. Also, he seems to lack presence.
Kevin from Silverdale, WA
Vic, the Immaculate Reception was definitely the best "you had to be there" moment. I have a bad feeling the game in Seattle was the worst.
Which game in Seattle? I considered both.
Fearn from Rolling Meadow, IL
What is the reason you are not a fan of Le'Veon Bell's running style?
He hesitates for no reason. I see holes he doesn't hit, and that's why he's not a good short-yardage runner. I want a physical runner who moves the line of scrimmage. Bell's style is hit and miss.
Lori from Brookfield, WI
Vic, what did you think about the Vikings' quarterback maneuvers during the offseason?
Kirk Cousins is an upgrade at quarterback. The Vikings should be an even more formidable team in 2018. I think they're a Super Bowl favorite.
Mike from Niagara Falls, Canada
I like to watch a lot of old NFL footage. One thing I always notice when watching old games from the '70s and early '80s is fans storming the field after a win. Why did this happen and why doesn’t it happen anymore?
It happened because security wasn't as intense. Everything about life in this country changed as events became bigger and the threat of danger increased. The events of 9-11 changed our lives forever. Somewhere along the line, between the Ice Bowl and where we are now, innocence was lost. Nothing is so sad as the loss of innocence.
Bob from Kennesaw, GA
"Every man in that locker room is an independent contractor." Is there a player you've felt genuinely just liked playing the game and the money was an added bonus?
No. It's about the money. Stop fooling yourself.
Alex from Brooklyn, NY
Did you ever meet Phil Coyne?
I never met him but I know of him. When he was a rookie usher for Pirates games, Lou Gehrig was playing first base for the Yankees and Joe DiMaggio was a rookie. Now, after 81 years as an usher, Coyne is retiring at age 99. He's worked at Forbes Field, Three Rivers Stadium and PNC Park. He's worked through 14 presidential administrations. What a great story. Baseball knows now to make itself revered.
Pete from Rescue, CA
Who were the dirtiest players, as incidents proved, as told to you by other players in postgame interviews? I have to imagine some Raiders names might fit in there based upon your Pittsburgh experience.
I didn't need players to tell me what my eyes saw. The dirtiest players in my years covering the NFL are Jack Tatum, George Atkinson and Glen Edwards.
Greg from Cuenca, Ecuador
It's amazing what a 7-9 season will do to a psyche. In previous years, I would eagerly await the schedule, then go down the list game by game, thinking "we can win that, we can win that, we can win that." This year, when the schedule comes out, I imagine myself thinking, "I'm not so sure. Hmmm, that one could go against us. That one will be tough." I know you preach realism. I know you are right. Still, visions of 16-0 were a lot more fun.
Packers fans need some "I'm not so sure." Being new can have a cleansing effect.
Barry from Chico, CA
Did you find it interesting Patrick Reed, winner of the Masters, is estranged from his family? So is Aaron Rodgers. It's a tough game for tough guys, who don't get along well with others?
Just win, baby.
Tom from Iron River, WI
How did 23 teams pass on drafting Aaron Rodgers?
He was coming off an ACL and there were shoulder concerns. Green Bay was a perfect place for Rodgers to allow himself to heal as he learned, and vice versa.
Eric from Appleton, WI
What was the perception of the Green Bay Packers from outsiders in the '70s and '80s? Did people ever expect them to recover from their pattern of losing?
The perception was it was a franchise with a strong fan base but lacking the deep-pockets owner to take the franchise into the future. As it turned out, it was the fan base that took the Packers into the future. The fans are the Packers' deep-pockets owner.
Gene from Milwaukee, WI
Isn't all of the discussion about accountability of the players on the Green Bay defense, more than anything, a huge criticism of Mike McCarthy, even more so than Dom Capers?
Packers fans are different from other teams' fans in at least one unique way: The players are never wrong; it's always the coaches' fault.
Joey from Irvine, CA
Aaron paid a visit to the Dalai Lama and converted him into a cheesehead, so we've got that going for us, which is nice.
If the Lama can't play defense, he can't help the Packers.
Beau from Lancaster, PA
How was your Master's Sunday? Did you watch with the sound off?
It was a good tournament. Patrick Reed turned in a gutty performance the equal of his Ryder Cup dramatics. Rory McIlroy was a disappointment. He melted down again; Reed owns him. I didn't hear nearly as much whiny music. The next improvement I would recommend is pinching the fairways. There isn't enough penalty for wayward tee shots.
Doug from Saint Germain, WI
I agree with your concept the facemask needs to be reduced or redesigned for safety. Don't you feel, though, the process will have to begin at lower levels than the NFL? A player would have been coached and developed one way his entire life, and then would be expected to change his entire skill set and body movements just when he's about to hit the big time.
The evolution of the game is trickling down from the top. The NFL has become the conscience of the game and I think the NFL needs to take the lead on this issue.
Vincent from Seattle, WA
While Tiger Woods is an all-time great, I do not understand, given his current game quality, the intense media coverage whenever he finally makes the cut.
He's a story. People who know nothing about golf know about Tiger Woods. His fame transcends golf.
Mike from Somerset (wherever that is)
Vic, what’s your take on the quarterbacks in this year's draft? Do you see this being a repeat of 1983 that warrants four quarterbacks in the top five?
I don't see any Elways or Marinos in this draft class but, as the pool of prospects shrinks, the demand increases.
Lori from Brookfield, WI
Vic, what is your opinion of NFL mascots and cheerleaders? Why don't the Packers officially have either one?
Mascots and cheerleaders help promote the game and the team. In Jacksonville, the team mascot was out in the community all week. He was a big hit at school events and attracted young people to the Jaguars before they ever threw a football. The cheerleaders were the favorites of girls attracted to modern dance. The mascot and the cheerleaders helped sell pro football in Jacksonville. The Packers don't need to sell themselves. They have one of the largest fan bases in all of professional sports.
Pete from Rescue, CA
Is this the year the wheels come off the Steelers? Big Ben is aging, Tomlin looks tired, egos seem much greater than team, the defense lost a lot when Shazier went down. What is your take?
They're in hang on mode. They might be able to do it for another year or two, but being new is right around the corner.
Chenc from Gent, West-Vlaanderen Belgium
Why do you think the Rams are on a win-now mode?
They need to build a fan base and this is a golden opportunity to do it.
Tom from Eau Claire, WI
Football aside, what did you like most about living in Pittsburgh, Jacksonville and Green Bay? What did you like least about living in each?
Pittsburgh was my hometown. I liked being surrounded by friends and family. Jacksonville was new and exciting. I loved the smallness of Green Bay. Rush-hour traffic was never a concern and I lived close enough to the stadium to go home for lunch. The bad stuff: Pittsburgh -- the traffic, Jacksonville -- hurricane season, Green Bay -- winter.
Bob from Kennesaw, GA
Bill Walsh said a head coach should remain with an NFL team for no more than 10 years. Many long-time coaches have seen their records drop around 10-12 years. Do you think that's a function of a team needing to be new again, or is it their prolonged success has had their teams drafting late and it just caught up with them?
Coaches who stay with a team for 10 years usually have a quarterback who allows it to happen. When that quarterback ages, the coach's record declines. Bill Belichick's success has lasted nearly 20 years because Tom Brady is setting records for longevity.
Pat from Seneca, SC
You are given a chance to play one hole at Augusta National. Which do you choose?
I'd play No. 13. I love par-5 holes and I think No. 13 is the most beautiful hole on the course.
Barry from Hayward, WI
The Patriots' dynasty must some day end. Who replaces them when that time finally arrives?
I don't see another Tom Brady on the horizon. Over the next 20 years, I think more teams will win the Super Bowl than over any 20-year period in Super Bowl history. Parity has never been more distinct.
Mike from Stevens Point, WI
Were you part of the contingent that made the trek to the Cheese League for the Jags' first training camp? Any Stevens Point stories?
It was the summer of 1995 and I was there. It was the hottest summer in Upper Midwest history and we were living in dormitories that didn't have air-conditioning. It was the Jaguars' inaugural season and we were all new to each other; guys from teams all over the league. I remember hearing this low-pitched hum coming from the room next to me, and I could feel cold air blowing out from under the door. I knocked on the door and introduced myself to a man who had rigged up an air-conditioning unit sitting on top of a garbage can. We became the best of friends. For me, football has been much more than a game I watch.
Jeremy from Lethbridge, Canada
Vic, what was your ultimate “you had to be there” moment from your career?
It's probably the Immaculate Reception. Stuff like that just didn't happen back then. Plus, it wasn't your standard Hail Mary kind of play. It possessed genuine intrigue. It'll soon celebrate its 50th anniversary, and still no one is sure what happened.
Leif from Frederic, WI
Vic, the weather in Wisconsin has been awful this year and I am seriously considering moving to Florida. What's your take?
You live where you work. It's that simple. I went from Florida to Wisconsin. Why? Because my job demanded it.
Steve from Phoenix, AZ
The Packers look they have embraced the mantra it's time to be new. I'm excited about the possibilities but the word rebuilding is haunting me. I want to be new and I want to win now. Can Rodgers tilt the field enough to take the growing pains out of a rebuilding project?
Yeah, he can, but I don't think that should be the expectation. Frankly, that's what he's been doing for most of his career; tilting the field to overcome deficiencies in other parts of the team. What's new about it?
Blake from Normal, IL
Vic, how would you measure Mitch Trubisky’s success this year? Like you said on Thursday, he was very steady this past season. How will we know he’s succeeding in year two?
I'll judge him by his impact and the expansion of his role. As he does more, he'll be asked to do more.
Clay from Des Moines, IA
Was the Matt Jones pick a case of a team falling in love with the numbers instead of the tape?
It was a case of the team throwing receivers at a quarterback in whom they had invested their future. The Jaguars had picked Reggie Williams the previous year. Both receivers were wild reaches. In 2004, the Jaguars passed on Ben Roethlisberger to draft Williams. In '05, they passed on Aaron Rodgers to pick Jones. You just can't make those kinds of mistakes and expect not to pay for them.
Pete from Minneapolis, MN
We “require” sports now. What do you mean by this?
Sports are integral in our lives. It wasn't that way when I was young. A high school football game was a big deal back then. Now, the sports calendar is without a blank day. It's planned out so every day features some kind of event. Sports is an industry now. ESPN did it by providing the every-day platform sports needed. ESPN is the greatest thing that's ever happened to sports. I can remember watching the UCLA-Houston (Lew Alcindor vs. Elvin Hayes at the Astrodome) basketball game on TV at 11 o'clock at night. The telecast was horrible. Imagine what ESPN would've done with that game.
Jeff from Houston, TX
You stated, "Every man in that locker room is an independent contractor." Was it that way before free agency?
Not to the degree it is now.
Darren from Brisbane, Australia
Please tell me a story about how you interviewed someone who made it clear initially they didn't want to be interviewed. What magic did you use to get them to open up?
There's no magic. You develop a relationship with a player by earning his trust. You go to him after games and ask him for his thoughts and opinions on what happened. By doing that, you show him you value his opinion. You quote him accurately, responsibly, respectfully. As time passes, he looks forward to conversations with you. You provide him an opportunity to communicate with the fans in a way he appreciates, and he provides you with information that makes your stories good reading. It's easy stuff. It's what I did with Fred Taylor, who was a somewhat reluctant interview when I met him. I saw in him a player who had something to say, and he decided I was someone he could trust with his message.
Jared from Ucon, ID
Vic, which position is the easiest to scout? If you were to pick a first rounder by position that would be most likely to succeed, which position would it be?
I think cornerback might be that position. A prospect at that position needs speed and the ability to flip his hips, and both traits are easily scouted. Plus, cornerback is the one position that can be evaluated in non-padded exposures. If a guy can cover in underwear practices, he can usually cover when the pads are on.
Dallas from St. Ignace, Canada
How many QBs do you expect to be taken before the Packers pick at 14? Excluding the QB position, is this the equivalent of Green Bay having a top 10 pick?
Four? I think your assessment of the Packers' position in this draft is accurate.
Jesus from El Paso, TX
Regarding free agency, what's the best answer to the question why didn't the other team pay him?
In most cases, the answer is the player wasn't perceived to be worth his asking price. Maybe the team had a younger, more affordable replacement in mind, or was positioned to acquire a more affordable replacement. Money is almost always the issue. One man's junk is another man's treasure when one team has a plan and the other team is out of plans.
Barry from Hayward, WI
Are cornerbacks going to be the Achilles heel for the Packers again this year?
Kevin King will answer that question. He has to become the Packers' lead cover man for the position not to be problematic.
Don from Weaverville, CA
I watched women's golf and NCAA basketball last weekend and found both compelling. Do you watch any women's athletic events?
I'm embarrassed to say I don't.
Richard from Clearwater, MN
What piques your interest more, pre-draft speculation on where players will be picked and by what teams, or post-draft projections of the players chosen and how they will fit on their new teams?
I don't see a difference between the two.
David from Madison, WI
It certainly depends on the individual, but what are some of the main differences between developing an NFL quarterback and developing a college pro-style quarterback?
When in doubt, the college quarterback should run. When in doubt, the pro quarterback should throw the ball away.
Ben from Chicago, IL
Vic, do you still think about football every day?
Bill from Sheboygan, WI
Where was your current column picture taken?
It was shot in Edisto Beach State Park, which is famous for its feature attraction, Spanish Mount. Unfortunately, it appears rising waters are beginning to claim the mount.
Simon from Norwalk, CT
What’s going on with the Rams?
They've decided their time is now. This bears watching.
Matthew from Shawnee (wherever that is)
As the best offensive weapon in the league, do you think Bell is worth his asking price?
I'm not a fan of his running style. I would've let him walk.
Jake from Knoxville, TN
Football keeps getting more tilted toward the offense, and home run totals are consistently setting records in Major League Baseball. Does it say anything about our times? Is it just inflation?
We need constant entertainment. Field position football is a thing of the past. Bunting and hitting behind the runner have been replaced by big ball. Four corners basketball would be considered an outrage. I'm glad I grew up when I did. I learned to love sports, not require sports.
Pete from Rescue, CA
Who was the best offensive lineman you ever saw in the run-the-ball era? Who was the best in the dancing bear era?
Mike Webster is the best run-blocking lineman I've ever seen, and the first four years of his career were spent in the can't-use-your-hands-to-block era. Anthony Munoz is the best pass-blocker I've ever seen. He was a post-1978 era player, but he would've been dominant in any era.
Matt from Christchurch, NZ
What is your take on the career of Larry Fitzgerald?
Fitzgerald is the most stylish pass-catcher I've ever seen. It's an embarrassment to the Heisman Trophy voters they selected Jason White over Fitzgerald.
Bill from Staten Island, NY
Your pick to win the Masters this year?
Brett from Lakewood, CO
This question is coming from a guy who watched a little, but not a lot, of Mitch Trubisky last year. He didn't look all that impressive to me. What are you seeing?
He can make all of the throws. He feels comfortable in the pocket and keeps his eyes downfield. He's competitive and possesses stature. Trubisky impressed me with his toughness and resilience. I thought his development last year was even and steady. I didn't see any red flags.
Sam from Sussex, WI
How was the family/personal life side of being a sports writer?
I missed a lot of weddings and family outings in the fall. The bad thing about being a sportswriter is everybody else's leisure time is your work time. When the game ends and everybody celebrates or goes to bed, you go to work.
Fred from New York
Vic, I know you're not much of a uniform geek, but with the Jaguars poised to unveil new uniforms, which of the (too many) Jags' uniform designs over the years are your favorites and what advice would you have given Tom Coughlin and Shad Khan if they asked you to weigh in on the new design?
Go back to the original uniforms and incorporate as much of that look as possible.
Chris from Bozeman, MT
What are the chances Gutekunst picks Josh Rosen? Some mocks have him around at 14.
I don't get the sense the Packers are in the market for a quarterback. My position remains the same: If a quarterback the Packers love is available to them and he's at the top of their board, pick him.
Derek from La Crosse, WI
I got to be in Jacksonville last week for the first time; there is so much I want to ask you. I met some folks who loved their Jags like I love my Packers; we instantly had so much to share. We got on the topic of greatest player from their area. They were all well versed in the rich player history of the area, and they all without hesitation said Bob Hayes. So I looked him up, learned about him and smiled. Any stories of him? And where is your favorite BBQ on the First Coast?
Bob Hayes changed the game. He made football a speed game. I think it's good he was inducted into the Hall of Fame, though it was after he had passed; I don't think you can tell the story of the NFL without mentioning Bob Hayes. I think he would've been inducted into the Hall of Fame while he was still alive if he hadn't put his hands in his pants during the Ice Bowl. Bono's is my favorite Jacksonville BBQ place.
Gregory from Milwaukee, WI
I want my locker room fun to be in when they win and angry with each other when they lose. Most importantly, together against all others. Seems harder and harder to find these days.
What you're describing never existed. It's the myth fans love to embrace. Every man in that locker room is an independent contractor.
Pat from Seneca, SC
What was the biggest draft-day surprise in your reporting career?
Matt Jones. It was an insane pick. Aaron Rodgers was selected three picks later.
Jake from Eden Prairie, MN
Do you really think the Bears are back? Who cares if they’re winning free agency in the NFC North? I thought you always said free agency was a gamble.
The Bears aren't back because they're winning free agency, the Bears are back because they spent a lot of years losing and picking from the top of the draft order. That time at the top has given them a young and talented roster. It's also given them a good-looking prospect at quarterback. If Mitch Trubisky is what I think he is, you won't have to ask this question again.
Tim from Fernandina Beach, FL
If 4-3 pass rushers are so hard to find, why don't all teams go to a 3-4 instead?
It's a matter of personal preference. Some coaches grew up in a 4-3 system. It fits their philosophy of defense and their comfort level in coaching it. One of the big drawbacks to the 3-4 is it's light in the pants up front; it's vulnerable to the run. I thought that was a particular problem for the Steelers last season, and I thought Mike Tomlin, who came out of a 4-3 system, might finally make the move back to the 4-3 during this offseason. Why hasn't he done that? I think it's because he's coached both now and he knows the 3-4 is better for rushing the passer and finding talent deeper into the draft.
Pat from Seneca, SC
Some perspective, please. Does the interior defensive line of Donald and Suh have a chance to be the best such pairing you’ve seen?
I've seen a lot of good ones. Joe Greene and Ernie Holmes in their prime years were the best I've seen. Yeah, Donald and Suh can become dominant. I think Suh's the big winner in this combination because his days of being double-teamed are over. Aaron Donald is going to draw the doubles, and that's going to allow Suh to get back to being the player he was a few years ago.
Mike from Buffalo, NY
Having experienced both, do you prefer the dynasties of the pre-salary cap era or the parity of today's NFL?
Today's NFL allows for more teams and fans to believe they can compete for a title. That's better than three-quarters of the league hopelessly chasing a few elite teams, which is how it was prior to the salary cap.
Dan from Minneapolis, MN
Is the new helmet rule the biggest change to football since the 1978 chuck rule? What do you think?
If the new lowering the head rule is enforced to the letter of the rule, and I think there's a chance the league will do that, it will be the final act in turning football into a hands and feet game. The shoulders and hips will be eliminated from tackling because it's veritably impossible to sink your hips and lead with the shoulders without lowering your head. "Grab, grab, grab, everybody's grabbing out there" will become a good thing. The big negative is tackling will worsen to maddening levels of decline. Defense could become non-existent; it was in the Super Bowl, right? So the question is: How will fans react? I don't have an answer to that question. My enjoyment of the game will fade, but I'm not sure most fans will feel that way. The explosion of offense might propel the league to even greater heights. I need to think on this more.
Matt from San Diego, CA
What single player currently in the NFL do you enjoy watching most?
It's Antonio Brown. I think he's the greatest playmaker I've ever seen, and he makes his biggest plays in the biggest moments of the biggest games.
John from Sioux Falls, SD
The U.S. government decides to create a new day off sports national holiday. Which should it be: Monday after the Super Bowl, opening day of baseball season, other?
I think a Super Bowl Monday holiday would be wonderful.
Brian from Little Rock, AR
Now that the season has started, can you remind us why you didn't care for covering baseball players?
They were bad interviews. They weren't cooperative. I could sit in a football player's dorm room and he'd gladly tell me about his past and the challenges he'd faced and his thoughts on competing for a roster spot, but baseball players got pissy if you asked them anything more than what kind of pitch they hit with the count 3-2 in the eighth inning. I don't know if that's changed -- I suspect it has -- but I think it was one of the reasons baseball lost popularity to football. Baseball got smug and football seized the opportunity to capture the media. Pete Rozelle's personality trickled down to everyone in the game, and the coaches were outstanding in working with the media and promoting the game. I remember sitting in a baseball manager's office after a game when he threw a glass of milk against the door. No thanks.
Nick from Arvada, CO
As the league pushes (or is pushed) to make the game safer, is there a point at which you expect to find yourself unable to watch?
When they eliminate three- and four-point stances, I'm done.
Michael from Milwaukee, WI
Vic, on Thursday you said, "Don't confuse leadership with winning." That was interesting. Who was a great coach and a great leader that never had enough talent under him to win?
Marty Schottenheimer was a great coach and leader, but he never won a title. Bud Grant and Marv Levy were great coaches and leaders and combined for eight Super Bowl losses.
Lee from Marshfield, WI
Vic, I feel the new safety rules around the head will ultimately backfire. You have said for years to make the game safer take away the helmet. Why has the NFL not realized this?
No, I said eliminate the facemask or, at the least, restrict the size of it. I think if the NFL had done that in the beginning, it wouldn't have had to go to the current extremes. I can't help but wonder where we'd be if the last two commissioners had been football men.
Bill from Menominee, MI
Vic, can you imagine two more similar franchises than the Packers and Steelers? Their cities live and die by the team's success level, Hall of Fame QBs, gritty coaches, long and storied histories. I attended the last Packers/Steelers game at Lambeau and although the Packers lost, this was still my favorite game. I felt connected to all the black and gold fans in attendance, and there were a lot of them!
The Packers and Steelers are good for football, and even though they bear similarities, they are good for football in very different ways: The Packers are about resourceful offense; the Steelers' identity is for hard-knocks defense. I am honored to have covered both franchises.
Brad from Jacksonville, FL
Vic, you’re a visionary. You’ve been saying the league just needs to take the facemasks off the helmets to resolve leading with the head. This new rule regarding 15-yard penalties for any hitting with the helmet is going to be too much of a fundamental shift and I feel it will take too much away from the game.
If this new rule doesn't work, and I think there's a chance it'll result in so many penalties it'll turn fans off, the league will have no choice but to begin restricting the size of facemasks.
Alfonso from Brazil
How much is locker room camaraderie overrated? I get that teams and most of the players think a fraternity locker room is a plus, but ultimately all of them are playing for the team, fans and, most of all, their jobs. You still have a job to do regardless of players getting along. Some of the greatest teams had locker room problems. Are these players missing the point, which is to play good, secure a job and maybe win a Super Bowl?
The players aren't missing the point, the fans are. The players know they are in competition with every other player in the league, including the ones in their own locker room. They know they are ultimately judged by what they put on tape, not by how many friends they have in the locker room. Ted Thompson was big on locker room culture. He liked a friendly fit. I prefer an angry fit. I want my locker room to have an edge because football is an edge game.
David from Madison, WI
In my mind, the Packers got their backup QB in Kizer and got rid of a talented locker room problem in Randall. Is that how you're reading it? Did you like the trade?
I like the trade because I get the sense if the Packers hadn't traded Damarious Randall they would've cut him.