"Ask Vic" will publish on Mondays and Thursdays through the offseason.
Blake from Wausau, WI
Sorry to hear the news about Notre Dame. Embarrassingly, I didn't know the school was named after the cathedral. Not a Catholic, but I feel like I should have known that.
Where are the flying water tankers when you need them?
Kevin from Silverdale, WA
Two opening division games again and six home games before mid-November. Can't say I'm a fan of this schedule at all.
It's a formula for a fast start. Why wouldn't you like that kind of schedule for a team with a new coach? It's the first four games that jump out at me. Three of them are at home. It says the Packers need to be good early but, if they are good early, they could explode out of the blocks. Teams with new coaches tend to have a lot of energy coming out of training camp.
Nate from Pueblo, CO
I used to work at an airport as one of the ground crew. I was stunned when I found out some safety concerns could be overlooked as long as they weren’t combined with other safety concerns. When it comes to player attributes, do you think it’s similar? I remember Gutekunst saying he can accept fewer bench reps for guys with longer arms.
Speed trumps all; it's all-forgiving. If you can run faster than everyone else, somebody will find a place for you on their roster, even if you have a record of violence against women and children.
Dan from Green Bay, WI
Vic, Bradshaw and Brady seem to get plenty of credit for all the rings and are considered elite because of those rings. Why isn't Bart Starr equally revered? The man lost his first playoff game and then never lost again, yet, all we ever hear about is Johnny U. What am I missing?
It's the body of work (stats); it's weak. He never threw for 2,500 yards in a season and only threw for 2,000 or more yards five times in his career. Unitas topped the 2,000-yard mark 13 times and 3,000 yards three times. He put up numbers that became the standard for seven decades. Nobody respects Starr more than I do. He was one of the greatest postseason quarterbacks ever. He was Mr. Crunch Time. I will always be in awe of him going to the sideline and telling Lombardi what play should be run with everything on the line in the "Ice Bowl." How many quarterbacks possess that kind of command? There's a special place in football history for Starr. I call it the Hall of Winners.
William from Farmingdale, NY
Who do you consider to be the greatest golfer of all time? There's a solid case for Nicklaus, Tiger, Snead and Palmer. I'm sure there are a few more names worthy of mention that I may not be aware of, but give me Nicklaus any day of the week teeing off against anyone.
It's Nicklaus. He has the wins and he played against the best competition any golfer has faced: Palmer, Player, Trevino, Watson and more. It was the golden age of golf and Nicklaus defined it.
Steve from Racine, WI
So why not put the play-calling back in the quarterback's hands?
Coaches would tell you the sub packages have become too specialized for quarterbacks to call their own plays. There are so many people running off and onto the field it requires coaches to process the information and react accordingly. In the '70's, when it was common for quarterbacks to call their own plays, sub packages were limited to a third wide receiver and an extra defensive back coming onto the field. The chess game football has become didn't begin until after the rules changes of 1978, when scheme-conscious coaches such as Walsh and Coryell saw what could be done by casting players in specialized roles. Be that as it may, I believe the great quarterbacks of today could call their own plays without a decline in efficiency, but I think they would need help from the sideline in processing the personnel changes. Bradshaw? When in doubt, go deep.
Andy from New York, NY
What was it about Lynn Swann's game that made him the best you ever covered? You've seen some greats over the years.
He was a unique combination of Baryshnikov and Bednarik. He was trained in ballet but he went over the middle with the fearlessness of a waist gunner. Swann's appearance to perform ballet on "Mr. Rogers" angered football purists who viewed it as being too soft for their tastes. The same guy who performed on "Mr. Rogers" was carried from the field unconscious by Joe Greene, was wheeled on a stretcher out of the locker room after the game, eyes closed and still in a semi-conscious state, but two weeks later was the MVP of Super Bowl X. I wonder what the concussion protocol would say about that.
Bob from Kennesaw, GA
With reasonable drafting, how long does a complete rebuild take?
Four years, if you get "The Man." The Rams underwent a complete rebuild, and they got "The Man" and Aaron Donald.
Gil from Lexington, NC
Vic, did you ever get the opportunity to interview Forrest Gregg? I'm hoping you might have from your time covering the Steelers when he was coaching the Bengals.
I interviewed him in conference calls when he was the coach of the Bengals, and I interviewed him in person in Canton, Ohio, when I was there to cover Dave Robinson's Hall of Fame induction. Gregg was always a cooperative interview. He was a great player and an ambassador of the game.
David from Washington, DC
When we will be able to get a feel for what sort of coach LaFleur is? First signs of adversity? Ability to focus team? When he calls spider 2-y banana?
I can remember asking myself the same question of Bill Cowher. The answer came during a moment in training camp, when he stopped practice to huddle his players and show them his jaw for what he thought was a poor practice effort, and during the first game of his coaching career. The Steelers were trailing early in Houston. They were in danger of falling way behind. Cowher called a fake punt, which the punter converted into a first down that began a game-winning rally. With that play, the Cowher era of Steelers football began. What will it be with LaFleur? We'll have to wait and see.
Nick from Owego, NY
What are your predictions for the Raiders next year? Will they turn it around?
The trade for Antonio Brown is either going to save Derek Carr's career with the Raiders, or end it. Brown is really going off the wall with his need for attention. Gruden is facing a major challenge. I like the way the Raiders are positioned. I'm not sure they needed Brown. I agree with Jack Del Rio.
Derek from Eau Claire, WI
How do you handle a situation that is completely out of your control, yet, will affect you greatly?
You prepare for its potential consequences. Coaches do it all the time.
Mike from Milwaukee, WI
Vic, I’ve always liked your “defining postseason moment” requisite for the Hall of Fame. Jerry Kramer obviously had one, but I’m having a hard time thinking of many defining postseason moments for other linemen. What is one you like a casual fan might not know about?
You have to look at the high-profile one-on-ones. Mike Webster had his moments against Randy White. Tony Boselli had his against Bruce Smith.
Nick from Arvada, CA
What are some of the biggest ways the game has changed since Tom Brady played his first meaningful snaps in the 2001 season?
The major emphasis on the chuck rule and the protections being afforded quarterbacks and receivers have changed the game. It's never been easier to complete a pass.
"Ask Vic" will publish on Mondays and Thursdays through the offseason.
Hill from Denver, CO
You called it with Tiger, Vic! What did you think of the entire weekend?
I didn't call it. I merely suggested if he was going to win another major, Augusta would be the likely place for it to happen. Golf got what it wanted. The sport and its fans were begging for this. I don't know what Tiger Woods did to become an underdog, but he pulled it off. I guess he became a forlorn character and the American sports fan has always identified with comeback stories. Now the question is this: Did we witness a Nicklaus '86 moment, or has Woods begun a second run at the top of the golf world?
Nicholas from Appleton, WI
If a tight end can't run-block well, does his body type give an offense any benefit over a WR?
Mike McCarthy wanted a big body in the middle of the field; that's the body type a pass-catching tight end gives an offense. The middle of the field is a violent place. If you don't have a big body that can make the catch and absorb a blow, you're going to have to live outside the numbers.
Mike from Fort Wayne, IN
Can you think of any NFL star player whose son was also a star or even out-performed his old man?
Archie Manning is the obvious answer, twice.
Tony from Colorado Springs, CO
What’s your favorite club in your bag?
It's the seven iron. The problem now is I find myself hitting it less often as age moves the green farther from my reach. Move up? As long as there's a club in my bag that'll get me home, I'm staying back. It's my last stand.
Kevin from Solon Springs, WI
I’m stumped. Where are the Vikings getting all this money?
Teams can create cap room by pushing money out. It's what the Broncos did. You create cap room to sign a free agent by restructuring contracts of other players, converting salary to signing bonus and pushing a portion of the salary onto future caps. It's a cash-above-cap approach that'll usually buy four or five years of living the high life but, when the bill comes due, you're out of business. Teams that take that approach are committing to a live-for-today philosophy that'll almost certainly require a cut-and-gut and a roster rebuild. The Vikings' window is open, but when it closes, they'll likely be facing a complete rebuild. I think they're accepting of that fact. The Packers have long been flat-cappers, but they've become very aggressive with their spending in the last two years. I think they're accepting of the inevitable rebuild they'll face when Aaron Rodgers retires or has to be replaced. Similarly, the Packers' window is open, but for how long? Rodgers will answer that question.
Eric from Greenville, WI
It was a long journey for Tiger. Many of his obstacles were of his own doing for a while. He could have quit long ago and still be thought to be a great. Instead, he chose to battle through all of it for years and years. How sweet this must be. What's more satisfying , the years of heartache and work, or this moment of victory?
The achievement celebrates the pursuit.
Jon from Omaha, NE
So, how would you manage a handful of your unaccountable star players?
Managing your players is a big part of coaching. Mike Tomlin is receiving a lot of criticism for having allowed Antonio Brown to disrupt the atmosphere within the Steelers, but think of all the games the Steelers won because of the big plays Brown made. His amazing sideline catch beat the Packers in 2017. I think Brown is the greatest receiver in Steelers history. You wanna cut that guy because he has an undisciplined personality? Not me. Manage him. I think Tomlin did. He did the same thing with Santonio Holmes, and the Steelers won a Super Bowl with Holmes as the game's MVP. You ride the talent train as long as the player's production warrants it. Inevitably, either his skills will erode (Holmes) or his undisciplined personality (Brown) will become too much to endure. Coach Noll had Joe Gilliam. Coach Lombardi had Paul Hornung. Every coach has a star player whose personality requires special management.
Donovan from Al Qayyarah, Iraq
How come Bradshaw isn't in your top four? He's proven to be a championship QB in both eras, pre and post '78 rules changes. I'm curious, what's the knock on him, the "Steel Curtain?"
Most of his career was spent in the run-the-ball era, when defense dominated, and like so many quarterbacks from that era, Terry Bradshaw's stats just don't measure up to what today's quarterbacks are posting. In other words, he lacks the body of work (stats) to be a top-five quarterback. He has everything else: big plays, rings, defining postseason moments, etc. The rules changes of 1978 are the divide in Bradshaw's career. If what he did in '78 and '79 could be extrapolated over his whole career, I think a strong case could be built for Bradshaw being a top-five guy. As it stands, he enters the debate at top 10.
Nate from Osceola, WI
What happened to Green Bay's defense, which was respectable during the Super Bowl run, to fall off the charts in a 15-1 season?
Age (Charles Woodson), injury (Nick Collins) and free agency (Cullen Jenkins) took their toll. Also, I don't think the Packers' 2010 defense was really as good as its ranking. I think Coach Capers did more with less; that defense gave up a lot of yards, especially on the ground, in the Super Bowl. It's a game of replacement and the Packers didn't do a very good job of replacing the talent that left. That's what I think happened.
Ray from Milwaukee, WI
I was struck by these words in a self-help book I was reading: "I have enough and I am enough." That's it, I thought to myself. For me, that's happiness: contentment.
Christian from Norway
Mike McCarthy relinquished his play-calling duties for most of the 2015 season. How do you see this decision now, in light of the recent article about his relationship with Rodgers?
Maybe he was trying to avoid something that would cost him his job three years later. I promise you, Coach McCarthy does not have a low football IQ.
Nate from Plymouth, MN
Who was the best wide receiver in the league last season? Who is the best you've ever covered?
Tyreek Hill, Lynn Swann.
Bob from Caster a Del Din, Vicenza, Italy
Vic, what are the top two or three things you look for to determine if a draft prospect can make a successful transition to the professional level? There must be several intangible traits that make the difference from everything measured pre-draft, otherwise the draft would be cut and dried.
How about one thing? If I was a scout, I'd be looking for examples of a prospect being capable of playing to a level higher than he did in college. Can he take his game up a notch? That's the question that has to be answered because all prospects have to go to a higher level to succeed in the NFL. Look at the instances when he was up against another top prospect. Does he flash? Do you see something special in your crystal ball?
Dan from Milwaukee, WI
Who else had or has a flair for the dramatic?
That's easy: Bradshaw. From the "Immaculate Reception" to his final game, ol' Brad was nothing if he wasn't high drama. He recovered from and played with injury better than any player I ever covered. How about being knocked out cold on the bomb to Swann that won Super Bowl X? He had to be told what happened. My favorite was his final game, which was the final game in Shea Stadium history. He took so many painkiller shots in the arm before the game he could hardly feel the football, but twice he capped long touchdown drives with weak, wobbly touchdown passes before retiring to the sideline forever. When the moment got big, he got bigger. Four up, four down. I don't want the stats, I want the story.
"Ask Vic" will publish on Mondays and Thursdays through the offseason.
Joachim from Kassel, Germany
Is it fair to assume Murphy already knew the Rodgers-McCarthy relationship was fractured and didn't need SI to uncover that for him? If so, it seems the decision to fire McCarthy was ultimately driven by the fact the QB-coach dysfunction was now in the public domain. Why tolerate it until then? Why not act as soon as the magnitude of the problem became apparent internally?
If, indeed, Aaron Rodgers and Mike McCarthy were at odds and it was creating team-wide dysfunction, I have no doubt Mark Murphy knew about it and was preparing to act on it. Maybe he had already prepared for such a move by limiting McCarthy's contract to one extra year, and by re-structuring the chain of command following Ted Thompson's departure. Maybe he was hoping Rodgers and McCarthy would get the message and the problem would go away. Rodgers' new contract was clearly a statement on where Murphy stood on the future of the Packers. We'll never know all of the facts; all we can do is guess what they are. I'm reminded of what I think might've been a similar situation with the Steelers when I was covering them. Dan Rooney had spoken to the media a few times about the team needing better communication between scouting and coaching. Rooney was indirectly speaking about the relationship between Coach Noll and Art Rooney Jr., the Steelers' personnel director, having become dysfunctional. Following a disappointing 1986 season, Dan fired his brother. It was a classic case of somebody had to go and that guy was the one considered to be replaceable. Ironically, the man who replaced Art was fired a decade later for the same reason, a dysfunctional relationship with the coach. These things happen in an intensely competitive environment. The big boss -- in the Packers' case it's Murphy -- needs to do what he believes is in the best interests of the franchise. That's what Murphy did, just as Dan Rooney did.
Stephen from Belfast, Northern Ireland
Vic, no idea how it’s taken me so long to come across your blog. The consensus is the Jags are selecting the right tackle from Florida. Back in the day, only a left tackle would warrant such a high selection on the offensive line. Has the game changed or is it a reach?
Rushers are coming from all angles these days. If you have a weakness up front, especially if it's on one of the edges, the defense is going to attack it. I have no problem with drafting a right tackle in the top 10, as long as he can pass-block as you would expect of a left tackle.
Chris from Winston Salem, NC
What’s with all the new names for positions? I hear edge, buck, leo, star, etc. They all seem to be different names for undersized defensive ends. Am I missing something?
Mike, Mo, Will, Sam; monster, hero, wolfback. Nothing's changed. It's just sexy terminology for positions with specific functions. Think in terms of function, not position.
Pat from Seneca, SC
What are your expectations for Tiger this week?
If he's going to win another major, I would expect Augusta to be where he does it. He knows the course, the field is limited and it has no rough to smother his errant drives. This might be his best chance to reclaim glory.
Scott from St. Charles, IL
In the old days, a team might have a quality backup at several positions, so a veteran might actually fear being benched or even for losing his job. Today, with the salary cap limiting quality depth, and cap ramifications from cutting a highly-paid veteran in mid-contract, how does a coach hold players accountable?
Accountability comes from within. Find players who hold themselves accountable.
Philip from Sydney, Australia
With respect to teams you've covered, which player went from the fringe to making a contribution due to a change in head coach? Do you think anyone on the Packers is likely to emerge because of the changes?
The one player who immediately comes to mind is Barry Foster. Chuck Noll drafted him and had big plans for him, but it was under Bill Cowher Foster's career blossomed. Maybe Aaron Jones will do the same under Matt LaFleur.
Taylor from Amarillo, TX
Vic, you answered a question about needing a star to pair with Rodgers on offense. Is Davante Adams that star?
He's close, but he's not a run-after-the-catch guy, and I think the Packers need that type of receiver. They need a receiver who can do something big with a small pass. That kind of receiver would help Rodgers become more of a rhythm passer.
David from Fleetwood, PA
Not listing Favre or Rodgers in your top five QBs, on a forum for Packers fans, no less. I see you like to live dangerously.
I didn't give a top five, I gave a top four. It's with No. 5 the debate begins. Some have the body of work but not a lot of rings. Others have the rings but their body of work isn't as strong. By the way, there were no complaints.
Eric from Keene, NH
As a consumer of news, I have mixed feelings about anonymous sources. I understand sometimes they are necessary for reporters to do their jobs, but it is also a tool that begs to be abused and, therefore, puts tremendous responsibility on reporters and news organizations to police themselves. I also think the problem is even worse in the era of Internet reporting. What was your approach to anonymous sources?
Know who to trust and limit your attribution. "Anonymous" is a distinction reserved for a reporter's most trusted sources. A story with too many anonymous sources becomes a rumor. I think readers also need to know who to trust. It's all about relationships. Reporters develop trusting relationships with sources and readers should do the same with reporters' bylines.
Eric from Green Bay, WI
What kind of leader was Terry Bradshaw?
On the field, he was a strong and effective leader. He made big plays at big times and was always supportive of his teammates. I never knew him to point the finger. His teammates respected the way he held up under Coach Noll's demands, and their respect for Bradshaw grew immensely when he recovered from his benching in 1974, regained his starting job and led the team to a Super Bowl title. It was a challenge to which Noll believed Bradshaw needed to respond to become a championship quarterback. Off the field, Bradshaw was a loner, and I don't think that damaged his stature as a quarterback. The lovey dovey stuff is way overrated. Just win, baby. Bradshaw did. Four up, four down.
Dan from Silver Spring, MD
What the heck happened with Mike McCarthy and Aaron Rodgers?
Plays happened. They began confusing plays for winning.
"Ask Vic" will publish on Mondays and Thursdays through the offseason.
Sean from North Fond du Lac, WI
Vic, what should we make of the Bleacher Report article regarding McCarthy and Rodgers? Did you notice any of this during your time?
My last season covering the Packers was 2015. At that time, there was no talk of the kind of intense dysfunction that's being reported now. I detected three instances of friction, which I've cited in this column: 1) the sideline flap in Cincinnati in 2013; 2) Aaron Rodgers' criticism of the late-game play-calling in the 2014 NFC title game in Seattle; 3) a playful but somewhat snippy comment by Rodgers in 2015 that he didn't understand a play call by Mike McCarthy because "he speaks with that Pittsburgh accent." It was obvious Rodgers had an edge for his coach, but Rodgers is an edge kind of guy and that's what makes him the intense competitor he is. Coach and quarterback not being best friends isn't a news flash: Noll-Bradshaw, Shula-Unitas, Landry-Staubach, Reeves-Elway; Otto Graham told me he had to be held back from going after Paul Brown on the sideline, and even Lombardi and Starr had a confrontational moment. The Sports Illustrated story late last season detailed a McCarthy-Rodgers relationship that had deteriorated to the point of being damaging to the performance of the team. After reading that story, Mark Murphy's decision to fire McCarthy was understandable. He had to get rid of either McCarthy or Rodgers; Murphy picked the one who was replaceable. The Bleacher Report story goes into even deeper detail, but it largely tells us what we already knew: Rodgers was warring with his coach. I think the assertion the root of Rodgers' bitterness being the draft-day snub is the most important piece of information in the story. If that's true, the relationship was poisoned from the beginning and McCarthy never stood a chance of earning Rodgers' respect. Otherwise, the Bleacher Report story merely confirmed what Sports Illustrated first reported: There was trouble in paradise.
Brian from Waukesha, WI
Tom Matte said Unitas told Don Shula, “You just take care of the defense and I’ll take care of the offense.” Unitas also told his young head coach to never send plays into the huddle. Unitas and Shula made it work despite their well-documented animosity toward one another. It seems Rodgers and McCarthy did, too, achieving more championships than Unitas and Shula did. And now here comes the future.
Unitas went so far as to call a time out when Shula sent a play into the huddle. The story is Unitas went to the sideline and asked Shula if he wanted to play quarterback, and then said don't ever send a play into my huddle again.
Chad from Troy, MI
Vic, settle an office debate: Does Otto Graham deserve to be rated as a top five all-time QB?
I have him at No. 4 behind Brady, Unitas and Montana.
Jon from Indiana
Why would Tyler Dunne publish a piece that can be so damaging to careers? No great player or coach is without ego. It's their greatest strength and most glaring target when perfection fails. But to seek out ex-players and misleading rumors to vilify the last two years' results is tabloid journalism at best. I have no respect for tabloid journalism.
The fans want it and that's why it's written. Bleacher Report published an Antonio Brown story a day for nearly three months, even though 99 percent of those stories put a new top on old information. Why did they do it? Because the stories got clicks. Readers love controversy and Dunne's story was a unique-visits bonanza. It's OK for you not to like journalism that exploits controversy, but it's unrealistic in the digital-media era to hold non-mainstream media to a higher standard than its readers.
Mark from Wauwatosa, WI
The recent lengthy article from Tyler Dunne in Bleacher Report portrays an animosity between Rodgers and McCarthy that apparently has existed for many years. How does a dysfunctional relationship that, at a minimum, disrupts team unity and reportedly forces players to "pick sides" be allowed to continue for so long? Where is the GM and other management in addressing this?
After what NFC title game did you expect McCarthy to be fired? After a 15-1 season in 2011? Mark, the Rodgers-McCarthy "marriage" put a lot of happy pictures in the Packers' family photo album. The issue was addressed after just two losing seasons, the first of which was the result of the injury that caused Rodgers to miss most of the 2017 season. I think Mark Murphy moved with courageous expedience. Apparently, he knew things we didn't and decided he would no longer allow it to continue.
Scott from Lincoln City, OR
Vic, I've never had it before but somehow I caught OL fever. My son likes Kansas State's Dalton Risner. Who are Tony's top three?
Tony's top three offensive linemen are Andre Dillard of Washington State, Juwaan Taylor of Florida and Jonah Williams of Alabama. "I think it's Jonah Williams at 12. Can play RT/G," Tony said.
Maggie from Kenosha, WI
How do you think the Packers, Steelers and Jaguars are poised in their respective divisions this year?
The Packers and Jaguars were ultra-aggressive in free agency. Anything less than making it into the postseason would be a disappointment. The Steelers did some patching that might make them competitive, but I don't see them making it into the postseason. Their arrow is pointing down.
Dan from Waupun, WI
Vic, I wish the Packers locker room (baloney) would've never surfaced. Modern media sucks.
Packers fans want happiness. They want to believe all is well in the land of Lambeau make believe. That's why I describe Packers fans as being winsome. The reality is the Packers are no different than any other team. Their players would've been other teams' players if other teams had drafted them. Nobody magically changes when they walk into Lambeau Field. Was Jim Taylor happy when he asked Lombardi to trade him? Was Brett Favre happy when he got into a flap with Ted Thompson that resulted in Favre being traded? Modern media didn't create the friction between Rodgers and McCarthy. Frankly, we were slow in reporting on it. The Cincinnati sideline outburst was grossly under-reported, and the Seattle play-calling disagreement should've been an offseason-long story. You want the illusion. Good reporters seek the truth.
Dave from Chippewa Falls, WI
There have been stories about Coach LaFleur's opening comments to his team before the first practices. Here's hoping he doesn't tell them how special it is to be in Green Bay. I'm sick of that drivel. It's special to be playing in the NFL, yes. But if they want it to be special to play in Green Bay, do something special. Just being there isn't anything. What would you be saying to your team?
Say? Talk is cheap. The first full-pads practice would begin with a live-to-the-ground Oklahoma drill. That would make Green Bay a special place to play, right? Complacency ends and accountability begins when the pads pop. Please, somebody complain.
Brett from Lakewood, CO
Is Tyler Dunne's story good journalism? Is it necessary journalism? Where does a piece that tears down reputations fit in with what is expected or required of a journalist?
The truth is the pure defense. I'd just like to see someone not named Anonymous tell us the truth.
Terry from Jaspar, IN
Vic, how will the Bleacher Report article and all of the associated talking-head speculation impact Mike McCarthy’s pursuit of another NFL head coaching position?
I don't think it'll bother the Vikings.
"Ask Vic" will publish on Mondays and Thursdays through the offseason.
Leo from Hamburg, Germany
Could you share some of your thoughts on the ESPN interview with Mike McCarthy?
When Coach McCarthy was fired, I wondered why Mark Murphy didn't wait until Monday morning to pull the plug. What was the rush, I thought? Well, maybe he was afraid if he slept on it he wouldn't do it. Clearly, Murphy wanted to make a change. What does it matter how or when it's done? You're firing a guy! There's no nice way to do it. Hey, the checks keep coming, right? If Coach McCarthy had asked me to advise him following his dismissal -- I'm kidding, of course -- I would've told him to drop out of sight. No ad in the newspaper, no return to Lambeau Field and farewell to the team. Avoid drama, I would've told him. He hates drama, right? Coach Noll said cast no shadows. I've always liked that approach. The interview with ESPN resurrects the whole thing, and I'm not sure that's good for Coach McCarthy or for the Packers. My reaction to the story? The complacency and accountability issue is what chafes me. I'll make sure that at least in this column last year's players are held accountable for this year's results.
Richard from St. Augustine, FL
Vic, would you enlighten your readers about how you came to be in the right place at the right time regarding your career? In Pittsburgh, was it the excitement of the Steelers organization? Jacksonville, the newness of a small market team? Packers, a great tradition and great ending to your career? Low Country peaceful bliss to spend your days reminiscing?
I got lucky every step of the way. At Kent State, a student from my hometown snapped a picture that won a Pulitzer Prize and made a degree from the Kent State School of Journalism look real, real good on a resume. The first NFL team I covered won four Super Bowls in six years and provided me with amazing subject matter. It also happened at a time when the NFL opened its doors to reporters. They were the best interviews and during the best access of my career. The Jaguars launched a new career for me: website reporting. I remember Wayne Weaver asking me if I'd do his website, as a sidelight. A few years later, it was my full-time job. The Packers closed my career by distinguishing it with the pedigree of a special place and a special tradition. Yeah, I spend my days in the peaceful bliss of the Low Country, remembering interviews with Joe Greene, a middle-of-the-night pep rally in Jacksonville, and those final four minutes in Seattle. Memories make us rich, even the ones that hurt.
Enrique from Jacksonville, FL
Vic, why did the Jags draft Matt Jones in the first round as a wide receiver? I still don't get it.
They fell in love with him. They saw a tall, athletic player making one-handed catches at the Senior Bowl and they decided he was the star they needed to bring it all together. They caught wide receiver fever. They drafted Reggie Williams in 2004 and Jones in '05. They kept throwing receivers at Byron Leftwich with the hope of making Leftwich the franchise quarterback they envisioned when they drafted him with the seventh pick of the '03 draft. In Jones' case, I think there was more to the pick than Jones' ability to play football. The Jaguars were struggling to sell tickets and Jones would've been a popular player had he become a star. It was an attempt to catch lightning in a bottle. I never saw the lightning.
Alan from Nixon, Ontario
I saw a news piece that said referee John Parry packed it in. Maybe it's just me but it seems like lately a lot of referees have retired or gone to TV stations. Do you think there's a reason for all of these retiring or ship-jumping refs? Or is this just really a game of replacement?
TV offers a more rewarding career. It's also a good deal for the NFL. They train these guys and graduate them to TV, where they can advance the message the NFL wants to send to fans about rules and interpretations. Officials are a dime a dozen, but men with the panache to stylize their profession are special. Gene Steratore is the best. He's the star of stars. Parry has a reputation for being a good talker. We'll see.
Gregory from Milwaukee, WI
Who have been your all-time favorite athletes outside of the NFL?
Roberto Clemente was my boyhood hero. Sports were different back then. They weren't nearly as national in scope as they are today. Clemente was the No. 1 player in Pittsburgh sports during my youth, and I was in love with his flair for playing the game. I loved the way he ran out from under his hat as he rounded second and raced for third. I thrilled at seeing him chase down a ball in the right field corner, and then wheel and throw, stopping the runner halfway between second and third. I loved the cocked-head batting stance and the basket catch and underarm toss to the infield. I was home from college when I awakened to the New Year's Day headline he had died in a plane crash. I think I stopped being young that day. His last hit was his 3,000th. Some people just have a flair for the dramatic.
Jason from Austin, TX
Is it allowed for a team to trade a player or draft pick for cap money?
No, cap space can't be traded. I think that's why the rules require a player's bonus amortization to remain with the team that trades him.
Greg from Cuenca, Ecuador
Do you have a feel for how many players are first-round talent this year?
I asked Tony Pauline your question and he said he had first-round grades on 25 players.
Ron from Boise, ID
Two website stories caught my eye. One was the plans Dallas has for Cobb and the other was McVay being excited to put Matthews to work. I find these stories a form of a slap in the face. Why do some media publications feel the need to rub salt in the wounds of its base?
Free agency is about re-purposing players and giving their careers newness. It's news.
Steve from Hudson, WI
I agree with you when you point out trading a first-round draft pick for a player is a bad idea. I totally hated trading a first-rounder for a backup QB years ago, but Favre did OK. Can you share a time when you went horribly wrong on a draft or trade prediction? For the record, I also thought over-paying an old DE was stupid, but Reggie was worth it. That's when I learned I would be a terrible GM.
How's that John Hadl trade working for you? And how about that Joe Johnson signing? I stand by what I wrote: "Teams usually don't trade players who are worth first-round picks."
Mark from Wheaton, IL
Vic, I really appreciated your stance last week on Robert Kraft. Would you have been able to make that statement while working for one of your former employers?
I discussed this type of issue in the column that launched this new "Ask Vic." While writing for the Packers, I had to stay away from bulletin board material, for the obvious reason. Commenting on Kraft as I did would've created bulletin board material, and it would've made Mark Murphy's efforts within NFL administration more difficult. Hey, no writer has complete freedom. A newspaper reporter who decides to take on the publication's No. 1 advertiser isn't likely to have his story published. I believe I've been consistent with my fundamental beliefs. I'm a best-available-player guy who has a cynical view of free agency. I believe in players, not plays, and in commitment and patience. All of that was true when I worked for packers.com and it's still true today.
Steven from Doctors Inlet, FL
I don't believe many football fans comprehend "the speed and fury with which the game is played," and the only way to appreciate the violence is to be down on the sidelines. One Sunday, I was on the field standing next to John Henderson and Marcus Stroud while they were rocking the cage before their introduction. These men were frightening. When the game kicked off, the thunder of the attack to the ball carrier and the collisions that ensued were brutal. How often do things not work out for good prospects because they don't have the courage for this type of game?
It happens often. It's not a game for the well-adjusted. If you don't believe me, Google "John Henderson face slap." That's not normal.
Dustin from Pittsville, WI
I absolutely love the draft and have enjoyed your blog's take on everything football. My question is what's your definition of a "big guy?"
I reserve that reference for offensive and defensive linemen, which would include an edge pass rusher.
Nick from Owego, NY
Swann or Stallworth?
Stallworth was more durable and had the longer career. In addition to being a big-play wide receiver, Swann had outstanding punt-return ability. I'm going to say Swann because he was a purely selfless player. If he caught one pass for four yards and the Steelers won, he was satisfied.
Chad from Cooya Beach, Australia
Vic, I’m 32 and my wife is about to have our fourth child. I fear for my children’s future in such uncertain times. Rapid climate change, economic instability, social disconnect, etc. Did you have similar worries when you had children, or do you believe we are on the edge of massive change for humanity?
I'll defer to my mother's generation of mothers, who lived in fear of having a child stricken with polio. It was an insidious disease that struck without warning or mercy. I can still see the kids with the sticks. It's still heartbreaking. And then, suddenly, it was gone; it was completely gone. I think Jonas Salk is the greatest hero of my generation. As you prepare to welcome your fourth child, read about Salk.
Steven from Racine, WI
I think the Packers are three good players away from being legit contenders. What do you think?
Two might do it. They need a star on offense to pair with Rodgers, and I think they need a road-grader on that offensive line.
David from San Francisco, CA
Tell me what I deserve to hear about the AAF, Vic.
It had no chance. It was silliness. Why did anyone think it might actually work? I tried to limit my comments on it because the whole thing was a waste of time. Rich people can be really stupid.
"Ask Vic" will publish on Mondays and Thursdays through the offseason.
Jeff from Dorr, MI
Did the Raiders make a good move trading Cooper for a first-round pick and picking up Brown for about the same money?
It's been my experience teams that trade first-round picks for wide receivers usually lose value, so my belief is the Raiders made a good move in getting a one for Amari Cooper, especially when you consider the Raiders are going to replace Cooper with Antonio Brown for the cost of third and fifth-round picks. Let's not forget another wide receiver trade the Raiders made: a third-round pick for Martavis Bryant, clearly a loss for the Raiders. So, in a year's time, the Raiders have traded away two threes and a five, got a one, lost Cooper and acquired Brown and Bryant. I think they should focus more attention on big guys and less attention on wide receivers; dime a dozen.
Dan from Green Bay, WI
Vic, I am a teacher of eighth grade math whose students often think of math (and school in general) as boring. Your explanation of how ideal fans foster a boring game while the "other" fans promote an exciting one, and how the conversion is leading us into a dysfunctional malaise, is pure brilliance. I'm going to spend my summer thinking about how I'm going to somehow lead students to the conclusion that sometimes boring is the price one pays for an exceptional life filled with interesting memories. Thank you, and I mean that sincerely. What pearls of wisdom would you pass on to 14-year-olds struggling to find purpose?
Don't just get by, aspire.
Jared from Rigby, ID
Vic, the Cardinals are planning to allow cell phone breaks during meetings, reportedly to allow them to get their social media fix. What are your thoughts?
The days of the taskmaster coach are over. The players are in control of the game and all coaches are players' coaches. Coaches are competing for their players' affection. Have we confused affection for respect?
Todd from Brookfield, WI
Now that we're approaching the draft, what are your thoughts on last year's trade with the Saints? We picked a small but really good guy. They picked a big but injured guy. We also got a first-rounder out of the deal.
The Packers clearly won that trade. It was a great start to Brian Gutekunst's draft history. It was a gutsy move. Gutekunst was trading away from a pass rusher, just as Ted Thompson had a year earlier, and the move could've backfired and made Gutekunst appear to be a Thompson clone. Gutekunst stayed true to his board and won the value battle. Tom Coughlin once said to me the draft is all about need. I think it's all about value.
Kurt from Mariposa, CA
Do you think athletes are switching to basketball more and will that ever be a problem? Zion looks like a football player.
Just because he looks like a football player doesn't mean he could be a football player. At the NFL level, the speed and fury with which the game is played is unlike anything Zion Williamson has experienced.
Lori from Brookfield, WI
Vic, what can you teach us about the art of asking a good question?
It's about having a reporter's instincts. You have to know when to ask a tough question and how to ask it. If it's a question that's going to end the interview, wait until the end of the interview to ask it. Ask questions respectfully, calmly, intelligently. There are no hostile witnesses for a sports reporter. Hey, it's sports. If you've cultivated a relationship with the player or coach, he's likely to respect your question. If you're a newbie on the scene, I'm not sure you've earned the right to ask the tough question. Sometimes questions need to be asked in an almost apologetic tone, so the coach or player knows you're not enjoying his angst. Don't back off asking the tough question, but never revel in asking it.
Barry from Hayward, WI
Vic, are you expecting the Packers to make a splash in this year's draft, or to follow the script the experts are projecting for them to take?
No. 12 is usually a high enough pick to get a quality big guy. My hope is the Packers will significantly deepen their pool of talent. Anything less would be a disappointment. That's my script.
Eric from Lansing, MI
Apart from being stupid and enjoying yourself, what is the best thing about being young?
There's a belief that whatever it is, you can do it better. Youthful arrogance is innocent and necessary conceit. Parents want their child to feel that surge of self. It means they did their job correctly.
Nicholas from Appleton, WI
As the Packers GM, if you were offered 24 and 27 in exchange for 12, do you take it?
No. You're drafting the same guy twice.
Daniel from Richmond, TX
Vic, did Ted Thompson's last few drafts under-perform because he emphasized versatility too much, as in we ended up with a bunch of players that could fill in for multiple spots but weren’t starter-quality for any?
I think he tried to get too cute in the 2017 draft. He traded away from T.J. Watt and then drafted a Wisconsin pass rusher a little later. It was as though he was saying, "I got my guy (Kevin King) and got Watt later." I can't imagine a more perfect pick for the Packers than Watt would've been.
Ben from El Paso, TX
What are your thoughts on "March Madness?"
I read on Sunday former Texas football player Limas Sweed is suing the NCAA for not protecting him against the effects of concussions. My first thought was, "Here we go." Long-time readers might remember I said the concussion thing would eventually trickle down to college football because concussions aren't limited to the NFL. Is this the beginning of it? If it is, look out. Basketball could become the No. 1 college sport because it's without the liability football carries with it. "March Madness" is good theater. It's exciting and college basketball is inexpensive enough that even small colleges can play on the big stage.
Scott from Lincoln City, OR
Vic, I just read this text from my son: "We have four players and no coaches left from the Super Bowl team. We only have eight players left from the 2015 season. Something broke after that NFC championship game in Seattle." Besides my heart, what broke for the Packers?
Twenty percent is customary roster turnover from year to year. When you consider the ages of the players on that '14 team, and for how many years the Packers were drafting near the bottom of the order, I don't think the roster turnover since that NFC title game is alarming. It's a game of replacement.
Shawn from Kissimmee, FL
Will the Packers draft a wide receiver this year or do you think they have enough on the roster?
Wide receiver is a need position. The bottom of the first round is a good place to find one.
Steve from Hudson, WI
Is there a difference between an official expectation and a prediction?
I don't like the word expectation because it infers clairvoyance. Prediction is a better word because it suggests an attempt at clairvoyance. I prefer the word hope. My hope for the Packers in 2019 is they'll return to the playoffs.
Tracy from Sioux Falls, SD
I don't know enough about the Packers' new signings. They appear to be young and coming into the prime of their careers. With Clark and Daniels coming back off injury, will the Packers be able to rush four and drop seven more often?
Only a few defenses have the talent up front to play that way. The Giants of 2011 could play that way. The '70s Steelers seldom blitzed. I don't see the Packers as a rush four/drop seven defense. I think they're like most defenses, which is to say trying to find a way to bring a fifth and sixth rusher from unexpected places. They didn't sign the "Smith Bros." to drop into coverage.
Scott from Hamlin, NY
Is there a player for which you'd give up a first-round pick?
Straight up? Probably not, because teams usually don't trade players who are worth first-round picks.