Jim from Maple Grove, MN
Vic, Chatty seems to like Green Bay's chances this year. Was he just pandering to the home crowd? What do you think about his comments on the team?
I think he believes what he said but I also think his Wisconsin roots sensitized him to the Packers' offseason moves. I'm OK with that. Do I think the Packers improved in the offseason? I do. I think they solved their problem at cornerback, and that'll go a long way toward improving the defense. Do I think the Packers improved more than any other team in the league? I don't. If the Browns aren't that team, then John Dorsey's got problems.
Steve from San Diego, CA
Vic, my definition of denouement is the "Ice Bowl." Do you agree?
It was certainly a dramatic conclusion to the Lombardi era of Packers football. What if the Packers had lost that game? Would Lombardi have resigned as coach? Would the Lombardi Trophy bear another man's name? As I've written, one play changed the course of history in a lot of ways. For that, I give the credit to Bart Starr, but credit and blame ultimately belongs to the head coach. Yeah, I agree, the "Ice Bowl" defines the Lombardi era of Packers football and, in many ways, the NFL's rule of professional football, just as Super Bowl III dramatically defines the rise of the AFL and the subsequent merger of the two leagues.
Derek from Eau Claire, WI
Which team that missed the playoffs last season is most likely to make the playoffs this season?
The 49ers would be the consensus choice, but I think there are some other contenders. How about the Texans with DeShaun Watson back under center? How about the Raiders with Jon Gruden in control? In the NFC, I expect the Cowboys to be improved and I look forward to seeing what the Cardinals can do with a settled quarterback situation. And what about the Bears? Opening day in Green Bay looms large.
Karl from Albuquerque, NM
Vic, why are there no more Howard Cosells?
It's because the current craze in second-in-the-booth broadcasters is for them to be ex-players who can tell us how to attack cover two. Cosell called it a long time ago. He predicted the "jockocracy" in which we now live. He described it perfectly: Players reporting on players. Cosell was an entertainer with a broad knowledge of sports and a grasp of the big picture that allowed him to cut to the heart of the issue, instead of hiding behind cover two and minor details. TV doesn't have the courage to give us another Cosell. It continues to pander to an audience that wants to affix strategical blame, instead of understanding the real meaning of what they've witnessed.
Tom from Charlottesville, VA
Vic, how does your blog's current viewership level compare to when you wrote the column for packers.com? Thanks for doing what you do.
It's a fraction of what it was with packers.com, but so is the number of columns I write each week. Readership has far exceeded my expectations and that's why we're going to increase the number of columns per week. It's time to find out how fast this car will go.
Derrick from Rockaway, NJ
What is the funniest thing you ever saw in a locker room while covering your teams?
It was while covering the Steelers, during the controversy of the female reporter in the Patriots' locker room. The league ordered its teams to provide locker room access to female reporters. Chuck Noll was outraged women would be permitted to meander about a room full of naked men, so he devised a dress code for the following Sunday's postgame locker room. When the Steelers' locker room door swung open and the media walked in, all of the players were standing in front of their locker stalls wearing white, floor-length, terry cloth robes. Media and players burst into laughter. I don't remember seeing the robes the following week.
Richard from Jacksonville, FL
As a connoisseur of the running game, how long do you think (if ever) it will be until someone breaks Ladainian Tomlinson's single-season touchdown record set in 2006 (28 rushing and 31 total)?
The record will be broken when some team finds the next Sam Cunningham and makes that player their touchdown leaper. Pro football is a game of specialization. I'm surprised that player hasn't emerged (Marcus Allen was good at it and so was John Henry Johnson back in the '60s.) What's special about Tomlinson's record is he was an every-down back.
Jason from Honolulu, HI
Could you share some of your favorite quotes from the head coaches you covered?
Chuck Noll: "Leaving the game plan is a sign of panic, and panic is not in our game plan." Also, "Pep talks last until the first time you get knocked on your ass." Bill Cowher: "Rush the quarterback!" Tom Coughlin: "I don't want people walking around here with smiles on their faces." Jack Del Rio: "We will stop the run." Mike McCarthy: "At the end of the day ..."
Tony from Onalaska, WI
Do you think players of yesteryear were less injury-prone than the players of today? Has 21st century football lost its toughness? If so, when did it disappear?
Players of yesteryear had to be tougher than players of today or they were out of work. It's that simple. An injury would get you cut. I remember covering a player named Tom Brzoza. He sued for having been cut while recovering from a shoulder injury. He forced an injury settlement and that created a new sensitivity for releasing injured players. It also inspired the players union to seek more CBA protection for injured players.
Mike from St. Petersburg, FL
I still lament the narrowing of the hash marks by the NFL. Do you think that change also led to an increase in successful field goal percentage?
It almost certainly did. Moving the hash marks toward the middle of the field effectively widened the goal posts.
Allen from Zephyrhills, FL
We've heard you talk before about moving the hash marks and the explosion of thousand-yard rushers, when it was intended to create more passing. How and why do you think they missed the mark on this evaluation?
The head slap wasn't outlawed until 1977, and offensive linemen weren't permitted to use their hands in blocking and defensive backs weren't forbidden to chuck receivers more than five yards beyond the line of scrimmage until 1978. Those were the changes that stimulated the passing game. In 1972, when the hash marks were moved toward the middle of the field, the first thing an offensive lineman did when the ball was snapped was to grab the front of his jersey with his hands. At the same time, the defensive lineman was using a hand to strike the offensive lineman in the head. If the offensive lineman got his hands the least little bit away from his body, it was holding, and holding was a 15-yard penalty back then. Drive over! Meanwhile, receivers were having to deal with bump-and-run coverage from oversized cornerbacks who were downright nasty. Until '78, the rules favored defense.
John from St. Augustine, FL
Given that the draft is so homogenized, what in the world would cause a team like the Jaguars to draft a guy like Matt Jones in the first round? I feel like everyone except Razorback fans thought it was dumb.
Not true; a lot of fans loved the pick. I remember Jones making a one-hand type of catch late in a preseason game in his rookie season. The crowd went wild. Frankly, I didn't think it was anything special, but I understood the fascination with Jones. He had a country boy flair to him that was popular with Jaguars fans, and as wide receivers go, he was the great white hope. Was it a dumb pick? I think it was a desperate pick. The Jaguars were throwing receivers at Byron Leftwich, in an attempt to make the new regime's first pick the centerpiece of its rebuilding. When you consider Jones was picked ahead of Aaron Rodgers, it becomes a pick that defines the new regime's failure.
0.J. from Tampa, FL
Vic, do you believe Jerry Rice could come back today and be productive, as he has stated he could?
Louis from Columbus, OH
Vic, your idea about single bar helmets got me thinking. Do you think CTE existed in earlier generations of football? Was it undiagnosed, or did slower, smaller players just have less of it?
John Mackey is thought to have suffered from CTE. Mackey was big and fast, in any era. The disregard today's fans show for the players of past eras angers me.
Tucker from Juddville, WI
Vic, I may be wrong but if I had to guess I would tag you to be a Paul Newman guy. If so, what's your favorite movie or performance of his?
It's Slap Shot. I think it's the definitive sports comedy.
Leo from Dallas, TX
I've been watching football for (let's say) 15 years and both college and NFL games can be ruined by a taunting penalty. What was it like in the '70s and '80s?
If you taunted in the '70s, you were going to be the victim of payback. I didn't begin seeing taunting on a wide scale until the late '80s. I remember Greg Lloyd slapping the ground three times in counting out Al Toon following a knockout hit. I don't remember seeing stuff like that in the '70s. Cheap shots and intimidation, yes, but not taunting.
Skip from Wisconsin
If we have to accept a decline in play in the first few games of the regular season, can we then expect a decline in ticket prices for those first few games?
Will you agree to pay more for tickets to big games in November and December?
Keith from Springfield, MO
After all of the years you have had to watch the NFL, what has been the biggest on-field change to the game rules did not intend to implement?
It was moving the hash marks toward the middle of the field in 1972. The intent was to stimulate the passing game. The result was an explosion of thousand-yard rushers and a continued decline in the passing game.
Mike from Chicago, IL
Vic, do you think the NFL would ever consider an inter-conference playoff system? If so, how could teams be seeded? It just seems to me there are many years either of the conference championship games are the true Super Bowl.
In the '70s, the AFC title game was often the true Super Bowl. The Raiders' Super Bowl title ring from the 1976 season, for example, includes the score of their AFC title game win over the Steelers, in celebration of what Al Davis considered to be his team's true championship win. In the '80s, the NFC title game was often the true Super Bowl. Those days of conference dominance have ended. Parity has been achieved. Free agency has helped create that parity, but I think it's mostly the result of an homogenization of draft opinion. The grading of draft prospects seems to have been narrowed. It's almost as though there's a uni-board. In that kind of system, the inverse draft order has a true leveling effect. In terms of creating competition, the management of the game has never been better. I don't see a need to change anything about the game's structure.
Derrick from Rockaway, NJ
It appears there are a number of refs leaving the NFL. Is the NFL devaluing refs and these men see that? While it's most likely a combination of a few things, what do you believe is the biggest factor?
It might be the result of disillusionment. Why did Dean Blandino leave? That one stunned me. He had climbed the mountain of his profession. Have we made the game too difficult to officiate? Has the eye in the sky become overwhelming? Are expectations and criticism too much to endure? The money TV has to offer is a huge factor, of course, but I can't imagine Jim Tunney or Tommy Bell taking off the stripes to go to TV, and I believe men such as Blandino and Gene Steratore possess the same love and dedication for their profession Tunney and Bell did. The use of video replay to officiate football could become the worst decision in the history of the game. It has depersonalized a sport built on human confrontation. Here's one more thought: The NFL created personalities with all of the explanation rhetoric, and now TV is stealing those personalities.
Dave from Chippewa Falls, WI
Do you have any good Jim Kelly stories to share?
He's one of four Hall of Fame quarterbacks -- Johnny Unitas, Terry Bradshaw and Dan Marino are the other three -- whose final game I covered. I'm proud of that distinction. Kelly is as tough as any quarterback in the history of the game. I'm proud of his Western Pa. roots: Kelly, Marino, Montana, Unitas, Namath, Blanda and more. He resurrected the football program at the University of Miami. I don't think that's acknowledged often enough. My favorite Kelly story is from a scene from a spring press conference with Terry Bradshaw. The Steelers PR man brought Kelly into the room to introduce him to Bradshaw. The PR man introduced Kelly as a local kid on his way to Miami. Bradshaw did his best Bradshaw imitation, fawning over Kelly and pretending to know of him. When the moment had passed, Bradshaw turned to me and said, "Who is that guy?" I explained and Bradshaw said, "Big kid." Memories make us rich.
Brian from Tiffany, WI
I recall semi-pro teams existing in the '60s and '70s. Can you envision semi-pro ball coming back, playing real football to fill that niche?
Men risking injury for nothing more than love of the game and a burning desire to block and tackle? I don't envision that kind of football returning.
Jeff from Yorktown, VA
When will you start the additional weekly "Ask Vic" posts?
I'm thinking the preseason might be a good time to start.
Mike from Somerset, WI
Vic, what in today's era of football do you see as special/ unique on the field that did not exist in previous eras?
The management of the game on the field has never been better. Quarterbacks are coaches and coaches are strategical geniuses. I'm in awe of the ability to implement strategy as the play clock ticks toward zero and 70,000 fans howl.
Tom from Brookfield, WI
In true Vic fashion, no special teams on the dream team. If you had to add a kicker, punter, returner and gunner, whom would they be?
Kicker -- Gary Anderson. Punter -- Bryan Barker. Punt returner -- Louis Lipps, Randall Cobb (tie). Kick returner -- Maurice Jones-Drew. Gunner -- Montell Owens.
Adam from Wausau, WI
How would you have persuaded Kordell Stewart?
Kal from Redondo Beach, CA
You don't feel like football is already the sport of gambling? Ninety-five billion dollars a year is the number I hear.
Symbolically speaking, if the day ever comes the NFL is able to put a little box on top of our TVs for us to place a wager as the kicker is about to begin his run up to the ball, pro football will become the most lucrative business in all the world. Nothing would be real and our culture would collapse into moral decay. That's the power football gambling possesses.
Nick from Fairfax, VA
I’m having a rough day. Could you tell me a true football story?
Johnnie Dirden is my all-time favorite football story. He sat in a darkened room and looked through a slightly opened door to see who was knocking on it. "They can't cut you if they can't find you," he told me. That's my kind of football.
Jim from Rockford, IL
Surprised to see T.J. Lang as one of your picks for guard. Lang over Sitton? In your opinion, what makes Lang the better guard?
He would've been the better tackle.
Jimmy from Vero Beach, FL
Can you give us the behind-the-scene scoop on what happened in 2003 with Phil Savage and the Jaguars non-hiring? Would Phil have passed on Terrell Suggs for Leftwich? Reggie Williams over Roethlisberger? The Jags could have avoided the dark years.
Savage was standing off to the side. It was a foregone conclusion he was going to be introduced as the Jaguars' new personnel boss, at the press conference that announced Jack Del Rio as the team's new coach. Apparently, Savage and the Jaguars couldn't get together on money, and the Ravens sweetened Savage's role in Baltimore, and the Savage/Jaguars deal shockingly fell apart. What if Savage had taken the Jaguars job? I tend to believe he would've drafted Suggs, which might've left him to draft Roethlisberger the following year. Wow! Think about how that might've changed pro football history. I have, often. It might've changed my life dramatically.
Sean-Luc from Oceanside, CA
In 2000, the Packers had 51 scheduled practices for training camp. This year there are 15. Have the CBA practice rules weakened football as a product? Which teams benefit from this change?
When I began covering the NFL, training camp was nine weeks long. It began shortly after the Fourth of July. There were two-a-days every day, and they were always full pads and full contact. Nine-on-seven drills were a staple and the Oklahoma drill was a tone-setter. Roster sizes were unlimited, the preseason was six games long and the starters played more as the preseason droned on. Relative to that regimen, training camps don't exist any more. They're glorified OTAs. Yet, today's fans are steadfast in their belief today's players are better than those of the bygone era, which means either the NFL doesn't need training camp, or the league has done a sensational job at deceiving the fans.
Mike from North Hudson, WI
Vic, it came as a surprise to me the new Packers GM doesn't have the authority to hire and fire the head coach. What are your thoughts on this?
I think a head coach needs to be all things to the franchise he's going to lead, which means he needs to satisfy more than one segment of the franchise's criteria. A head coach needs to be a good fit in all ways and for everyone, not just not for one man's needs.
Mark from Madison, WI
Where do you stand on centers?
An accomplished center is of critical importance to the running game and success against 3-4 defenses. If you're playing in a division with a butt-kicking nose tackle, you better have a butt-kicking center or you've got a big problem.
Bill from West Chester, PA
Vic, Green Bay has had many busts on first-round picks the past 10 years. I think the Packers should identify the top 50 players in the league, excluding QB, and go to the teams those players play for and offer the first-round pick they got from New Orleans for that player. To me, a proven, top-quality NFL player is worth more than a first-round crapshoot. Your thoughts?
Players, not plays, and picks, not players.
Rich from York, PA
Vic, do you think Kordell Stewart could have been taught to be a more proficient passer?
I think Stewart and the Steelers made a big mistake in changing his role from a "Slash" to an every-down quarterback. Stewart should've never insisted on being a quarterback. He was unique. He was the first of a kind and nobody was as good at it. He might've become the greatest big-play receiver in Steelers history. He also might've become the greatest big-play rusher in Steelers history. His combined run, pass, catch ability is the greatest of any player I've ever seen. It was Bill Cowher's greatest display of coaching genius to make Stewart a "Slash" in his rookie season. If he had been retained in that role, the Steelers could've patched in an ordinary every-down quarterback and made Stewart the centerpiece of what would've been the most unique and intriguing offense in the league. I fault the Steelers for not persuading Stewart to accept that role.
Jimmy from Vero Beach, FL
Would a pitch clock (similar to a basketball shot clock) help speed up the game of baseball? Watching the pitcher hold the ball for long stretches is the epitome of boring.
I'd like to see what would happen if one ball was eliminated from the game: Three balls and you walk. How would that speed up the game? Might that force pitchers to nibble at the corners and waste pitches up and in less often, and might that create more action in the game? What if baseball experimented with three balls you walk in spring training, or in a minor league? Why does baseball have to be so stubborn to change? Vic to baseball: Do something. You're dying!
David from Boise, ID
Vic, did the Packers' less-than-satisfactory performance last year warrant the organizational changes?
Time demands change. It was time for the Packers to be new. They had gotten old on many fronts.
Dave from Rochester, MN
Vic, what are your thoughts on the Packers' structure for management? Murphy is the clear head of the organization, with Gutekunst, McCarthy and Ball in a triumvirate beneath Murphy.
In my opinion, football had created a cozy, self-protective fiefdom that needed to be penetrated by management. In other words, the walls needed to come down. I think that's happened and if Mark Murphy is the leader of this movement, the Packers' future is in good hands. Murphy is one of the most impressive football men I've ever known.
Ben from El Paso, TX
What were the results of the survey?
Five days a week is the clear winner, but there is strong sentiment for three days a week during the offseason. I'm thinking of this: Three days a week until about midseason, then go to five until after the season is over, and then go back to three a week in the offseason.
David from San Francisco, CA
Vic, how can we evolve this site to take questions from fans of every team and not so heavily tilted towards the Packers? I love my team but I want to recommend your site to my friends.
The survey confirmed most of my readers are Packers fans, but I was surprised by how many "NFL in general" results I received. How does the column evolve? That's up to the readers. I don't ask the questions, I just answer them. That's why I say the readers write the column.
Nathan from San Diego, CA
Vic, I recently read an interview with Coach McCarthy in which he was echoing your opinion about the decline in the quality of the first few regular season games. He said he was trying to address this by giving younger players more opportunities, which he is doing by excusing vets from mini-camps. Do you think this is an effective approach?
I think McCarthy was using the decline-in-quality issue to tell you what he's going to do in the preseason: Rest his starters. In other words, the decline in the quality of play in the first few games of the regular season is just something we have to accept because risking injury to frontline players is something McCarthy won't accept.
Todd from Milwaukee, WI
Where does free agency fit on the scale of what's depersonalized football? It's about the money, as you say. If it's not personal for the players, why should the fans feel a personal loyalty to the individual and their confrontation, rather than to the team? It's all gotten to be so mercenary, it's discouraging.
It's always been about the money. Why did Jim Taylor finish his career with the Saints? Any fans who think money isn't the driving force of professional football are either naive or intentionally deceiving themselves. Frankly, I think pro football's mercenary quality is its charm. It's play for pay. It's a cold and harsh philosophy, and something about it warms me.
Cindy from Los Angeles, CA
Vic, as football has grown in popularity, how would you characterize the change in the fan base? When it was a niche sport, was there more of a connect between fans and the reality of the game? I dislike fantasy because there are no points given for things that matter in the game of football (blocking and winning), and the focus on stats over the game really distracts fans from the essence of football.
Fantasy football, video games, jersey sales, etc., are all part of a leaguewide marketing approach that has transformed football from a regional to a national sport. TV, of course, has played the biggest part in this. I think the creation of Monday Night Football is a perfect example of the movement toward creating fans across team lines; the entire country watching one game. When I was a kid, I saw the Steelers and the Colts; that's all we saw in the two-team network that was Pittsburgh-Baltimore. Pete Rozelle negotiated a leaguewide deal with CBS and the national movement was on. That's the major change in the fan base. We are as familiar with other teams' players as we are with those of the team in our own market. It's all part of Rozelle's leaguethink approach, and fantasy football has taken it to levels not even Rozelle could envision.
Josh from Tucson, AZ
What are your thoughts on the crowds at the U.S. Open? It is to the point where I have to mute the TV because the constant "get in the hole" after every drive, amongst other stupid phrases, gets tiresome after the first half hour. Give me tinny music and azaleas in the spring; at least the Masters will boot folks who insist on acting foolish for the benefit of being heard on camera.
TV created this problem and I think TV has an obligation to fix it.
Matt from Iowa
If you could build an offense/defense with players from the Steelers, Packers and Jags from the years you covered those teams, who would be the starters?
Tackles--Tony Boselli and Leon Searcy; guards--T.J. Lang and Gerry Mullins; center--Mike Webster; receivers--John Stallworth, Lynn Swann and Jimmie Smith/Keenan McCardell (tie); quarterback--Aaron Rodgers; running backs--Franco Harris and Fred Taylor.
Defensive linemen--Joe Greene, Ernie Holmes, L.C. Greenwood and Tony Brackens; linebackers--Jack Lambert, Jack Ham and Clay Matthews; cornerbacks--Mel Blount and Rod Woodson; safeties--Charles Woodson and Donnie Shell.
Mike from Dacula, GA
I went to college in Charleston and have vacationed every summer in Hilton Head, while growing up in the Green Bay Area. Just got back from a week down at the beach with my wife and daughters. After many trips over the years, I am still in awe at the serenity, charm and natural beauty of the SC low country. My favorite (and the kids, too) is spotting alligators around the many lagoons and ponds. The primitive look of them has captivated me since I was a kid. I’m curious as to what attracts you the most to the sea islands of the SC low country?
People like you.
Dave from Savage, MN
You have written you don't plan to ever write a book, fiction or non-fiction. If you wrote a novel, do you have a theme or a premise or a setting or a character or a style you would start with?
If I wrote a book, it would be about me, not because I want others to read it, but because I'd want to read it. I think it's important for everyone to read about themselves, which is a way of saying examine ourselves. Football would be the biggest part of what I'd write about myself. It's dominated my life, and maybe that's not such a good thing.
John from Vacaville, CA
Vic, I’m curious about your take on the Phil Mickelson putting drama on the 13th hole Saturday. His comments immediately afterward indicated he intentionally broke the rule because in his mind the two-stroke penalty was a better outcome than the likely result if the ball rolled off the green. The commentators seemed particularly distressed about Phil’s reputation and the integrity of the game, however, I don’t see his actions any differently than a cornerback grabbing a receiver when he knows he has been beaten for a touchdown. Your thoughts?
I'm not buying his explanation. I think he just lost his cool. I think he tried to embarrass a course that was embarrassing him. He made himself look foolish. That's his penalty.
Dave from Madison, WI
Vic, do you feel optimistic for the future of football?
I love football and I worry about its future. I think the CTE thing is real and I don't think football as I've known the game can survive. I think it has to undergo radical change, and I'm not sure its popularity can endure much more softening. What worries me most about the future of football is the potential for it to become the sport of gambling. It would be a perfect fit and the money would flow like water. Gambling could save football, and that's what worries me most, because gambling would surely destroy whatever remained of the most meaningful game I've ever known.
Matt from Eau Claire, WI
Vic, what are your thoughts on Blake Martinez? Opinions on his play seem to vary considerably.
Martinez and Jake Ryan are the same guy. They need to play next to a thumper. They need a big guy next to them who would jam the inside running lanes and allow them to chase the ball.
Nathan from Prague, Czech Republic
If a team from this decade played a team from the '70s that was of equal standing in the league, which team would win?
If the game was played according to today's rules, the team from this decade would win by a lopsided margin. If the game was played according to pre-1978 rules changes, the team of the '70s would win, 10-7, or something like that. The big corners of that decade would get up on the receivers, jam them, force the quarterback to hold the ball and take deep drops, which would allow the rush to take the quarterback down and take the quarterback down hard. Neither team is built to play in an era other than the one they're in.
Ben from El Paso, TX
Why do you enjoy golf?
I like hitting a ball with a stick. I especially enjoy being able to do it at my age. Golf is a game played in beautiful surroundings. I enjoy its rules and its code of honor. I enjoy its rub-of-the-green mentality. As a spectator, I enjoy its travelogue quality.
David from Hilliard, OH
Is it fair to say if the Rodgers era ends with only one Super Bowl trophy in Green Bay, it indicates Mike McCarthy was overrated as a head coach?
Only someone who lacks a feel for the game and whose sensitivity to it has been dulled by the mania to be No. 1 would make such a ridiculous claim. McCarthy is a great coach. In my opinion, he's one Super Bowl win away from the Hall of Fame.
Jeremy from Lethbridge, Canada
Vic, I'm a viewer who largely missed the Marino era. Given his stats and highlight reels, it seems he should have had more playoff success. What happened to him and the Dolphins during his run to hold him back?
The Dolphins lacked defense and a running game. They were a one-trick pony. Sound familiar? I guess Don Shula is an overrated coach.
Greg from Cuenca, Ecuador
Vic, I agree division games in September don't sit right. Still, here we are. So isn't it incumbent on the coaching staffs to change their preseason routines? I would think the veterans would be required to take more snaps in the preseason. This, of course, would come at the expense of giving the new guys more opportunities.
Coach McCarthy will find ways to get his team ready to open the regular season, but I don't think increasing play time in the preseason for his frontline players will be one of those ways. The risk of injury is too great. Coaches just aren't willing to accept that risk.
David from Jacksonville, FL
Vic, how are you feeling about the situation between Rob Rogers and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette?
The newspaper is shifting its editorial position to the right. Rogers' cartoons have been critical of the current POTUS. Cartoons are editorials. Rogers and the newspaper are a bad fit. This isn't something new.
Kal from Redondo Beach, CA
Do many South Carolinians identify with the Carolina Panthers as their team?
South Carolina is college football country. Frankly, there's not much identity left beyond Clemson and South Carolina.
Mike from McFarland, WI
If the players saluted a North Korean soldier instead of kneeling, would the NFL fine them?
The outrage would know no bounds. Left and right would finally agree on something. I'm sad for Otto Warmbier’s parents.
Steve from New Britain, CT
An op ed writer thinks fantasy football has hurt NFL team loyalty since it promotes viewing players as individuals rather than as team members. He also claimed this leads many fans to not really appreciate watching a football game as intended, since it was meant to be a team sport. Does fantasy football rub you the wrong way?
I think fantasy football has desensitized fans to what football is, which is to say a human confrontation. Fantasy football has turned the game into love of stats. Similarly, video football has turned football into love of strategy. It's turned football for video game lovers into plays, not players. I think it ultimately hurts the game because it depersonalizes it.
John from Philadelphia, PA
Have you ever seen the movie The Program?
Yes, it's the worst football movie ever made. About halfway through the movie, I was hoping James Caan was going to get gunned down, again, at the New Jersey Turnpike entrance.
Matt from Madison, WI
I recently read an article about Big Daddy Lipscomb. It made it sound like some details of his death were very sketchy. Did you ever hear anything about him possibly being murdered? It sounds like some of his teammates thought that was the case.
There was a feeling Big Daddy was murdered. Here's what I believe to be true: He was one of the three or four best defensive linemen I've ever seen; he might be the best ever. He could take over a game like no player I had seen until Joe Greene came along. Reggie White possessed that same quality. Now, we're seeing Aaron Donald do it.
Scott from Milwaukee, WI
Vic, reading that you are considering having more content on your site made my week. I don't ask a lot of questions, but I read everything you write because I appreciate your honesty and factuality. Will writing more cramp your style during your retirement?
I don't think it would because writing this column is an early-morning activity for me, and that's what I enjoy most about this column. I like getting up early and feeling my fingers on the keyboard as a fresh cup of coffee sits comfortably to my right. I like having done something before the rest of the world wakes up.
Matt from Oshkosh, WI
Vic, do you ever spend time upstate? I loved road tripping to the Atlantic as a kid (Savannah and Tybee Island being my favorites, by far), but the Greenville/Asheville area is easily one of the most beautiful slices of the country, with a great mix of hip and history.
I'm vacationing at Lake Lure, NC, this week. I live in the low country and I love spending time in the high country. It's the best of both worlds.
Dave from Chippewa Falls, WI
If you were growing up today, what would your first tattoo be?
I don't like tattoos. I think they're ugly and I don't understand the concept of using one's skin to make a statement. What if your opinion or taste changes? There would be no first tattoo.
Mike from Somerset, WI
Vic, Terrell Owens is taking a knee to speak out against the writers. I am OK with it. The writers rarely take into account the background of these men that take the field. They are quick to shame athletes that have had to overcome far more than most. Many of these men will never overcome their early informative years. Where is the compassion?
Wait, I'll get my violin.
Greg from Cuenca, Ecuador
Vic, if it's not whom you play, but when you play them, I'm glad the Packers are playing the Bears first.
Because the Packers will be getting the Bears before they become a contender? OK, but the site of the game, Lambeau Field, makes it a must win for the Packers, in my opinion. I'm not a fan of playing division games in the first few weeks of the season. In my mind, the league is still in preseason mode in the first couple of weeks, and division games are too important to be wasted on teams that aren't in regular season shape.
Clark from Boise, ID
Vic, just watched "A Football Life," featuring Charles Woodson. Amazing athlete and person. How does he stack up with the Deion Sanders?
Sanders did two things exceptionally well: cover receivers and return punts. Woodson was a more complete football player. He was a good enough cover man to play cornerback, and a good enough tackler to play safety. I acknowledge Sanders' greatness as a cover corner, but his unwillingness to tackle was a big turnoff for me. I have greater respect for Woodson as a football player.
Chase from Sunnyvale, CA
Is it safe to say when expectation becomes hope, you're in need of a new coach?
Usually, that means you need new players, but the team usually fires the coach because to admit it needs new players means it doesn't even have hope. Teams fire coaches for the purpose of resurrecting hope.
Eric from Green Bay, WI
Vic, Cowboy fans booed the team when they drafted Zach Martin instead of Johnny Manzel. Martin is now the highest paid guard in NFL history, healthy and dominant. Manzel is a backup in the CFL. What lessons should fans derive from this story?
The lesson is: Get the big guys early.
Bill from Sheboygan, WI
What are your plans for the dead zone?
I'm going to vacation a little, and I'm also going to make some decisions about the future of "Ask Vic." I've gotten a lot of emails from readers wanting the column to publish more often. A survey will appear in the column, asking readers to chime in on the subject. The column's numbers are strong enough to warrant an increase in publishing volume. I'll look at the survey results and then announce my plans.
Dave from North Potomac, MD
"The Packers want to run the ball, but they always seem to fall back on the pass." Vic, is this due to a lack of commitment in play-calling, lack of execution of the runs called, or a quarterback going to a pass audible too often?
It's the result of poor defense. You can't run the ball if you can't play defense. The best Packers running game I covered was in 2014, which just so happened to be the best Packers defense I covered. A good defense breeds patience on offense.
Omar from 998 Oaks, CA
Deion Sanders and Terrell Owens were the NFL prima donnas of the '90’s and 2000’s. The football era when you were covering the Steelers, there seemed to be none. Why is that? And why is there an explosion of them now?
In the '70's, look-at-me behavior got you cut in half. The star running backs from that era -- O.J. Simpson, Franco Harris, Larry Csonka, Earl Campbell -- were very humble. Lynn Swann was targeted by the Raiders' Jack Tatum and George Atkinson, and I think one of the reasons for it was Swann had some swagger that rubbed the tough guys on defense the wrong way. I remember Swann appearing on Mister Rogers; it's one of the all-time great Mister Rogers episodes. Swann performed ballet. The message to kids was: Tough guys don't have to be bullies, or something like that. Well, Swann's appearance on Mister Rogers rubbed some people in pro football the wrong way. Pro football was a tough-guy game when Swann played, and it didn't like one of its Super Bowl MVPs making pro football look soft. Quarterbacks had to be especially careful of their behavior. They were live to the ground back then. As Joe Namath said, "We're the trophy." Let me put it this way: Aaron Rodgers would not have done "The Belt" back then.
Lori from Brookfield, WI
Vic, what was the greatest story you never wrote?
I got a call one day from a man in a town where I worked for a newspaper. His wife had died, he had lost his job and he and his son we're packing up the house and moving because he couldn't pay the mortgage anymore. In the process of cleaning out the attic, he found a baseball card his grandfather had given him years ago. "Hold onto this card. It'll be worth a lot of money some day," the man said his grandfather had told him. "Who's the player on the card," I asked him? "Honus Wagner," he said. Oh, my, I thought. At the time, I was writing freelance stories for Beckett Football Card Magazine. I knew the people at Beckett and I knew their baseball magazine was the baseball card bible. I told the man who to call. I said he might have something of great value and somebody at Beckett would immediately know if that was true. The man thanked me and I asked him to call me back and let me know what happened. Hey, I wanted to be the first to write this story if, in fact, he had the Holy Grail of all baseball cards. I didn't get a call, so I called him. He told me a guy from Beckett was on his way to Pittsburgh to look at the card. In the meantime, he was told to take the card to the nearest bank and put it in a safe deposit box. He said he was also told not to talk to anyone about the card, which especially included me. I knew what that meant. He had THE card. I was never able to find out what happened, but I have a feeling it's the greatest story I never wrote: Laid off steel worker forced to sell his home strikes it rich.
Beau from Lancaster, PA
Vic, who is your U.S. Open pick?
Jim from Maple Grove, MN
What do you think about the Packers playing one-third of their most critical games in the first two weeks of the season? Would the NFL ever consider scheduling inter-conference games for every team in the first four weeks of the season?
I don't think the Packers can win the NFC North Division title if they don't win both of those games (Bears, Vikings). You have to win your home games. I favor scheduling as many inter-conference games as possible in September, as they count the least toward playoff tiebreakers. I think it can be done and still give TV feature attractions.
Matt from Oshkosh, WI
Vic, someone is reading your site. It looks like the Ravens are experimenting with two-QB sets. How long until this becomes more than just a gadget package?
As college football dumps more "New Age" quarterbacks onto the NFL, the obvious reaction is to feature those players at what they do best, which is to say play in space. Two-QB sets create space. In my mind, it's going to happen, and I think it'll happen sooner than later.
Dan from Utah
Vic, your picture has you looking like you're really enjoying retirement. What brings you the most joy at this point in your journey?
Freedom! Freedom from the pressure of deadlines and expectations. No more reviews. No more writing around the feelings of the people in my stories. Retirement is freedom as I've never known it. It's total, and that's the reward for having endured 45 years of managing freedom to fit the need to earn a living. It's amazing what happens to a person's soul when money is taken out of the equation. First, however, you have to GET the money, so you no longer NEED the money. Then get yourself an LLC and write anything you want.
Tom from Elkport, IA
Vic, I'm not a fan of Lombardi's statue in front of Lambeau Field. To me it looks like a sullen, brooding precursor to Bill Belichick, instead of the fiery, inspiring, emotional taskmaster that has become lore. Why not cast art of Lombardi and Jerry Kramer eye-locked in the thrill of victory as Kramer and Forrest Gregg carry Lombardi off the field after Super Bowl II? What am I missing about the brooding-coach statue?
I think I agree with you. The current statue lacks animation. At least Curly is pointing. Plus, the Lombardi statue makes me feel cold.
Anthony from Milwaukee, WI
I would support fan decisions to kneel during the anthem as their right, however, I would be afraid as a fan to do it. I have a feeling security will need to be extra vigilant come game day.
This issue has the potential to become confrontational. My hope is the POTUS will do something to calm the waters.
Brett from Marietta, GA
I've been intrigued over the years by your contention facemasks are the root cause of the dilemma pro football finds itself wrestling with today. Going back to the future, employing the single-bar facemask, might be the perfect compromise in the "helmet as a weapon/no facemask" debate. Enough to protect, not enough to encourage.
I agree. I recently saw a picture of John Henry Johnson in action. He was a big, punishing running back in the early '60s, and he was an upright runner whose eyes were always surveying the field. Nobody took more hits in a game than Johnson, who played in the run-the-ball, Jim Brown era, when every defense's focus was on stopping the run and middle linebackers were the defensive stars of the game because they were the run-stuffers. Johnson wore a single-bar facemask.
Barry from Hayward, WI
Vic, is it still a "run to set up the pass" league, or is it a "throw to set up the run" league now, and what team will buck the common wisdom this year?
The Eagles were No. 3 in rushing and No. 1 against the run. Clearly, the run is still important. The Packers want to run the ball, but they always seem to fall back on the pass.
Logan from Lino Lakes, MN
Vic, us hockey fans love no teeth and bloody faces. We love the grit. I think it also helps us humanize the game and really appreciate what these guys do. Why not a hockey style helmet with no facemasks for football?
If a sport that arms its players with sticks can do it, football can.
Kirsten from Madison, WI
"I have a feeling we're going to see some fans take a knee this coming season, in support of the players." My siblings and I plan to kneel during the anthem during any games we attend this year, including the season opener, in support of the players' First Amendment rights. My question for you: If (a fair number of) fans kneel, do you think the TV broadcasts will cover or ignore it?
TV would show it because it's news, big news. If it gets to that, all hell is going to break loose. At that point, concerns for fan safety would replace those for player safety.
Johan from Pembroke, ON
Vic, you frequently mention this is "a tough game for tough guys." Even though it is a very small sample size to compare with, based on several comments and interactions made by players and media members, do you think Mike Pettine brings toughness to a defense that Capers didn't have anymore?
Dom Capers' problem was he didn't have the talent to run the sexy schemes that are his hallmark. I think Pettine is confirming that fact with the streamlining and simplifying of the Packers' defensive playbook. Capers' scheme has always focused on disguising rushes and coverages, and that means having athletes with the speed, athletic ability and instincts to cover a lot of ground. The Packers haven't had that kind of speed or those kinds of athletes on their defense in recent years. I think Pettine has identified that deficiency. I think Pettine's scheme will also be aided by the addition of two rookie cornerbacks and a big-time defensive lineman. Coach Noll said, "Some coaches pray for wisdom. I pray for 260-pound tackles. They'll give me plenty of wisdom."
Scott from Alaska
I have profound respect for you as a journalist. You take obvious care about seeing and telling the truth. Public perception of your profession has declined precipitously in recent years. Journalists are not seen as they once were, as truth-seekers, as brave, articulate voices speaking truth to power. Across the spectrum of bias, it seems most see journalists and newscasters as mouthpieces of ideologies, as people that use whatever facts they can get to tell the stories they already wanted to tell for political reasons, not necessarily the stories that are actually unfolding. Vic, are you watching your former profession as attentively as you watch the NFL? Can you tell me what you see?
I see examples of great reporting. I see reporting of Watergate quality. The challenge is knowing it when you see it, and that requires the reader deny his own prejudices. Niche media exists because readers prefer regurgitative reporting. Readers want their thoughts and opinions to be regurgitated to them, so they identify outlets that'll accommodate, and they block out those that won't. Who's to blame, the media or the reader? I know responsible reporting when I see it. I won't read or watch the other.
Lori from Brookfield, WI
Vic, what is the best article you ever wrote?
There's one story for which I have greater recollection than I do for the others. It was from a Steelers-49ers game in 1984. It would be the only game the 49ers would lose that season, which gives the story bite, but there's much more. The return flight to Pittsburgh was delayed a few hours, which began an all-night odyssey that heightened my sensitivity to the game I would spend my adult life covering. It was a big upset win that culminated with the winning touchdown being the result of a play drawn up in the dirt, so to speak, but the big play in the game was a long pass completion to a rookie tight end named Chris Kolodziejski, who suffered a knee injury on the play. It would be the final play of his football career. Kolo, as he was known, was in terrible pain after the game. First came the flight delay, and then the cross-country flight, and then the announcement fog would prevent us from landing in Pittsburgh, so we had to land in Cleveland and bus in. When we arrived in Cleveland, we discovered the Bills had faced the same fate on a return from Los Angeles and had commandeered one of the Steelers' buses. We all crowded into the buses that were left and sneaked out of Cleveland in the middle of the night, Kolo's injured leg stretched out across the aisle. A long stretch of railroad tracks coming out of Cleveland Hopkins Airport was too much for the kid. He moaned and the Steelers trainer ordered the bus driver to pull over. "Dr. Steele," the trainer called out. From the back of the bus the doctor came, holding a needle in the air as he walked past us. There was a deafening silence as the needle fell onto Kolo's knee, and the kid followed with a deep and chilling sigh of relief. That night, on the other side of the railroad tracks at Cleveland Hopkins Airport, I became one with the game I covered. That night, I got it. I can remember liking the story I wrote.
Eric from Silver Lake, WI
I think hockey has proven guys can get a messed up face through sport and still get money and girls. I'm with you on this no facemask idea.
I like the soft, form-fitting headgear they're using in the college recruiting/evaluation camps. If the goal is to change the culture, it has to start at the high school level.
Vincent from Seattle, WA
Vic, what did you think of Terry Hanratty the quarterback and locker room teammate?
I first saw him play in high school. He was the quarterback of a powerful Butler (Pa.) High School team. I'll remember his career at Notre Dame for getting injured and having to leave the Michigan State game early. In my opinion, the Irish would've blown out the Spartans if Hanratty hadn't been forced out of the game. He was a talented guy. As late as for a game in Cleveland in the middle of November in 1974, the Steelers' first Super Bowl season, Hanratty was the starting quarterback, not Terry Bradshaw. It would suggest Chuck Noll was still undecided. It would also suggest he made his decision to reinstate Bradshaw as the starter based on that game. Hanratty was liked by his teammates. A lot of players thought he was a better option than Bradshaw. That opinion changed when Bradshaw began winning Super Bowls.
Mike from Des Moines, IA
Vic, in your professional opinion, what should be the consequences for a journalist who pairs an out-of-context picture with a story in an apparent attempt to mislead?
If it was intentional, the reporter's loss of credibility and esteem is punishment enough. FOX has suffered a terrible loss of credibility and esteem. The fair and balanced thing is beyond laughable. FOX is niche media. You go there with a preconceived idea of what you'll see, and they never disappoint. I seldom watch TV news anymore. I get my news from the news app on my phone. It gives me a full digest of news outlets, from FOX to CNN, and I know how to pick and choose. For example, I read a fascinating story recently about a scientific breakthrough that allows carbon dioxide to be taken from the atmosphere and converted into gasoline, affordably. The next day, a story from a niche media explained how the breakthrough supported a certain political opinion on global warming. That's the kind of story I try to avoid.
Andrew from Minneapolis, MN
I've sometimes wondered if Lombardi had any political aspirations. Are you aware if he did and if his move to Washington was related?
Lombardi was a Democrat and the Democratic party was in desperate need of a strong presence coming out of the McGovern loss in 1972. I think Lombardi could've been persuaded to run for office.
Marge from Kenosha, WI
Morning sexy! Should the visit to the White House be about the (POTUS), or about the White House? What other events are included with the visit?
I don't know, but I like being called sexy.
Mark from Yucaipa, CA
Vic, where does your trip to the White House rank among your memories?
It was OK; nothing more. I'll remember it for the banter between Charles Woodson and President Obama. It was a ceremonial event of little news value, therefore, it's not at the top of my list of memories. A reporter enjoys covering real news. For example, I have vivid memories of the 1987 players strike and the replacement players whose stories I found to be so intriguing and entertaining to write. Most fans have forgotten and don't want to remember those players because they represent a bitter memory, but it's not like that for a reporter. The '87 strike was a seminal event in pro football history. It was a game-changer and that made it memorable to cover. The White House visit is a non-story, and I've tired of the whole Trump feud with the NFL/anthem thing. It's fake news.
Mitch from Winston, GA
Thanks for continuing your attempt to bring perspective to the Rodgers contract. Rodgers may want the Packers to show him the money, but the team has every right to see if he can still make all the throws and take hits in a game. Opt out? Rodgers is very intelligent. Do you agree this is merely an example of positioning?
He should do everything in his power to squeeze every dollar he can out of his great career, and the team should do everything in its power to protect its financial future. That's the player vs. team confrontation that makes professional football the cold and calculating business it is. It's the charm of a game that's about the money, and if that bothers you, either pro football isn't for you or you need to ignore the business side of it.
Blaine from Menomonie, WI
Vic, the rumors of your demise on packers.com are greatly premature. It has been explained all of the archives beyond last year are being moved with a lot of old content. It will just take some time to get it all moved and placed properly on the new site. Wes and Mike verified the "Ask Vic" archives will be there, as well.
Memories make us rich.
Lori from Brookfield, WI
Vic, Clay Matthews recently took off the mask, the ball was launched in the air and he landed in the emergency room with a broken nose. OK, so he was playing charity softball. If the NFL removes the masks, won't there be more broken noses?
Yes, but people don't die of a broken nose. Lori, with all due respect to your desire to protect the players from getting boo boos, football is not a game you play if you don't want to get hurt. If you play football, you will get hurt. It's not if, it's when and how often? Some years ago, when I was in Jacksonville, Jack Del Rio concluded a practice with a kicker's challenge. If the kicker made the long field goal try, the coaches would run sprints. If he missed, the players would run. The kicker made the try and what I witnessed is something I'll never forget. The coaches, all of whom are former players and some not so old, limped, hobbled and wobbled across the field. It was painful to watch. It's the price they are paying for having played the game. I think most players are willing to accept that cost. What they're not willing to accept is dementia and suicide, the ravages of CTE and repeated blows to the head. Please, let's not put broken teeth and noses into the same category as CTE.
Ben from Chicago, IL
With the dearth of real football news, I clicked on an article regarding the 2015 draft. I noticed the raves the Vikings received for drafting Eric Kendricks and Danielle Hunter. Did the Packers leave better players for their rivals to pick?
In retrospect, yes, they did. Kendricks and Hunter are better players than Damarious Randall and Quinten Rollins. The crystal ball didn't work. It often happens that way.
Chris from Portland, CT
Vic, I have to think the league doesn’t want to remove the facemask because of blood. They’re probably afraid if we, the viewing public, see blood on the field, we will be turned off by it. For the record, I think they should remove it.
Are you kidding? Blood sells. Blood rings the cash register. I lived for the final two minutes of every game, when Bobby Layne's nose would begin bleeding as he was moving the ball down the field against the clock. I loved the arm-length bloodstain down the right sleeve of his white jersey -- all home games were blacked out back then -- from wiping it across his face. The league's popularity was built on blood. The bloodstains on Jack Lambert's pants from resting his bleeding elbows on his legs help define his toughness. How about Y.A. Tittle's bloody, cracked-egg bald head? It's an iconic picture. A bloody nose is good. Internal bleeding is bad.
Richard from Clearwater, MN
The Eagles being uninvited to the White House: In your mind, big issue, little issue or no issue at all.
The POTUS made himself look silly on this one, and I have a feeling it has the league regretting its most recent position switch on the anthem issue. This issue isn't going away. It's big and it's going to get bigger. I have a feeling we're going to see some fans take a knee this coming season, in support of the players.
Kabir from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL
How did the events of May 4, 1970, shape your view of the importance of free speech and peaceful protest?
They were singing a song, and then they were shot. Yeah, it shaped my view. So did the old man in the barber shop who said they should've shot more.
Jerry from Savannah, GA
Vic, have you lost any respect for Aaron Rodgers?
Absolutely not. He's the best quarterback I ever covered and he should do everything possible to get a new contract.
Dave from Madison, WI
Vic, any stories about Tony Dorsett? What made him a great running back?
I knew about him, as he was coming out of high school. He would've been the five star of all five stars, but they didn't have that stuff back then. At the Pitt media day, I sought him out to see what kind of talker he was. He barely spoke. He looked frightened. I didn't get the sense he was ready to be a college star. Then he spoke with his legs. I've never seen a running back burst through a hole with his speed. Every time he broke the line of scrimmage cleanly, I would think to myself, "He's gone." He's the fastest back I've ever seen. He had a bent-at-the-waist lean and quiet upper body that made his style unique. It made him appear as though he was sitting on a legs machine. What he did to Notre Dame in four seasons just didn't happen back then. The first play in the 1976 season opener at South Bend wasn't to be believed, except it happened. In the national title game against Georgia, he couldn't be stopped. I remember Keith Jackson saying, "And he's gone again." He's the only back, and I am a running backs connoisseur, who ever made me feel as though he could take it the distance on every touch.
John from Sioux Falls, SD
Vic, sports are the ultimate meritocracy. You earn your keep. But sometimes I wish the fates were more fair. For example, wouldn’t it have been great for the Earl Campbell Oilers to have gotten by the Steelers just once and won a Super Bowl? If that had happened, I think “Luv ya blue” and those cool helmets would still be a part of our present and not our past.
I'm glad there are teams in Nashville and Houston, but I don't like the cost. Bud Adams said build me a stadium. Houston said no, so Adams took the Oilers to Tennessee. Then Houston built a stadium and got a new team. What was lost? The Oilers' glorious history, which includes the George Blanda years as well as the "Luv ya blue" years. Oh, the history is still there, but it's not celebrated the way it should be because the old Oilers aren't the Texans and they didn't play in Nashville. Yeah, it's a shame.
Braden from Milwaukee, WI
Has money ruined football?
Money eventually ruins everything, because it's the currency of greed.
Shaun from Milwaukee, WI
Is "Johnny Football" good for the CFL? Will he draw more interest?
I doubt it. His story of misconduct has gotten old and his talent doesn't warrant tolerance or special interest. As I wrote back when he was a rising draft prospect, Manziel was a bubble screen college quarterback. He was Tim Tebow light.
Steve from Eau Claire, WI
What offensive opportunities does putting Graham and Lewis on the field at the same time provide to the Packers?
The answer is the Packers should be able to run and pass with equal effectiveness, but I have a feeling you're hung up on the two tight end thing, and I don't think that's the issue here. Defenses will cover Jimmy Graham as a wide receiver. They will not view him as a tight end. He'll likely cause the defense to be lighter up front -- and more vulnerable to the run -- because it'll cover him with a defensive back, but that would be the case with any wide receiver on the field. Mike McCarthy will find ways -- I'm sure he already knows how he'll do it -- to create mismatches with Graham, but it won't be because Graham will be perceived as a tight end, it'll be because Graham is a big, tall receiver who can play higher than most defensive backs and can outmaneuver most linebackers. Don't get hung up on the position name. It's not about position, it's about function, and Graham's function is to catch passes. He does it with atypically soft hands and speed for a man his size. Players, not plays. The defense has plays, too.
Brent from Dubuque, IA
Vic, don't get me wrong. I'm grateful Green Bay has the talent they have at quarterback. But an opt out clause if someone ends up making more money? Does Vic the GM agree to this?
What's the rush?
Nick from Chicago, IL
Vic, your idea of removing the facemask intrigues me. But if we remove the facemask, then will we see more facial injuries when one player's helmet impacts another player's face? Do we also have to go back to softer helmets? Or no helmets?
Nobody dies of a bad smile, but CTE is a killer.
Cindy from Los Angeles, CA
Vic, what are your thoughts about cheerleaders in the NFL? It seems to me the NFL should either discontinue the practice or enforce some type of standards for pay and working conditions. This perennial scandal is long past embarrassing.
I had a cheerleader moment in Jacksonville during the Eagles-Patriots Super Bowl. My office was in the hallway that leads to the two locker room tunnels. I opened my office door to go into the hallway just as the Eagles cheerleaders were passing single file past my doorway. I stood there and smiled and nodded at each girl as they passed by, and they smiled and nodded back. I thought to myself, "Are they doing this just for me?" Those are the only thoughts I have on the subject.
Abhi from Rockville, MD
Vic, FIFA World Cup is starting soon. Since the U.S. did not qualify for this World Cup, do you think there will be any interest this time? Was it just a fad during the last World Cup?
I don't know.
Loftur from Columbus, OH
The World Cup starts on June 14. Are you going to be new and watch some games?
No. Thanks for the alert.
Aaron from Wausau, WI
Why is NFL tight end such a hard position for players to transition to from college?
It's not, other than the competition is significantly better. A high draft pick at tight end should be expected to make an immediate impact, or you picked the wrong guy.
Nick from Seattle, WA
Vic, not much of a question, but something you may be interested in. ESPN ran an article asking all of the ESPN team reporters to state whether the team they cover will get more or fewer wins than what the predictive system gave them. Only three team writers predicted they would win less than the estimate. I guess the offseason truly is the time for optimism.
I think most beat writers favor the team they cover, especially during the offseason hype period. I think media has an obligation to treat the team it covers in a fair and friendly manner, and raining on the team's hype is mean-spirited. My attitude was I'll help fans see the positives, as long as they're realistic expectations. I'll caution when I believe necessary, but I won't do anything to dull the suspense and excitement for a new season.
John from Peoria, IL
Vic, just today, packers.com took down the "Ask Vic" pages as part of their web refresh. You left no shadows.
That must've been that little stabbing pain in the back I felt while I was kayaking.
Steve from North Hudson, WI
The season of hope is upon me, Vic. Every change to the Packers is spun as an improvement. Can you give me a little perspective to keep my hopes in check?
About three months from now, the kicker will begin his run up to the ball in the season opener, and we'll say to ourselves, "The baloney stops now," except we won't say baloney. Until then, it's just baloney.
Neil from Dallas, TX
Vic, when did the facemask get implemented in the NFL and why?
Paul Brown created the facemask to protect a gash on Otto Graham's face. It changed the game and now it's threatening to destroy the game.
Nick from Toronto, Canada
Further to your observation about empty ballparks, ESPN recently published a list of the 100 most famous athletes for 2018. It's based on endorsement deals, Twitter followers and Google searches. Seven NFL players made the list, although Tom Brady was the highest at just 38. No MLB player made the list. How has baseball been so bad at marketing its players, and is this the reason it appears to be struggling?
If baseball is struggling, it has nothing to do with social media and everything to do with baseball continuing to be a slow, dull game that plays way too many games for any of them to have true meaning. Baseball just doesn't fit the modern sports eye. There are too many pitches that don't result in action. I'd love to see a test game in which three balls you walk and two strikes you're out. I want to see less dead time in a game.
Jamie from Brooklyn, NY
Vic, have you ever thought of writing a sports story again and posting it to your blog?
Maybe I'll do that next season, if I go to the Steelers at Jacksonville game, as I intend to do.
Greg from Cuenca, Ecuador
Vic, here are the stats regarding the length of baseball games: 2014 -- 3:09, 2004 -- 2:51, 1994 -- 2:58, 1984 -- 2:40, 1974 -- 2:29, 1964 -- 2:35, 1954 -- 2:31, 1950 -- 2:23. I'll let you and your intrepid readers draw their own conclusions whether this is a major factor affecting baseball's popularity.
I don't think time of game is the issue. I think action is the issue. There's just too many gaps between action moments.
Jim from Maple Grove, MN
I attended a Twins game a week ago. To my surprise, I found myself getting restless at the breaks in the action and the generally slow pace of the game. I don't blame baseball, but myself. Could it be that we have become a frenetic people and we can no longer enjoy slowing down?
Yes, but there's more. We're spoiled. A trip to the ballpark isn't a big deal anymore. When I was a kid, I filled the dead spots in the game with wonderment as I absorbed the sights, sounds and smells of Forbes Field. It was a magical place for me. It was awash with color, and I especially liked going to night games and watching the daylight fade as the big lights blacked out what lay beyond the outfield wall and made this the only place on earth. I couldn't imagine anything more beautiful. Do we still feel that way today? We see so many games on TV I have to believe our senses have been dulled.
Isaac from Nashville, TN
Vic, how did the Steelers maintain such a consistent identity for so many years?
It wasn't by accident. They hired coaches who believed in a physical approach to the game. A scout told me Bill Cowher said, during a lean-years period in the middle of his career, "When did we stop drafting tough guys?" They then started drafting tough guys again and they began to play Steeler football and won a couple of more Super Bowls. I think we're going to see Mike Tomlin get back to playing Steeler football this coming season. I think the franchise is embarrassed by its inability to stop the run on defense last season. That's not Steeler football and it must be corrected.
Mike from North Hudson, WI
Vic, take us back in time involving your favorite team, stadium, players in what you felt was the greatest game ever.
Every team I covered was my favorite team, and I covered great games with all of them. The first game I covered in my time covering the Packers, the 2011 season opener, was amazing. I'll always remember it as a walk-off defensive win. The Jaguars gave me several great games, and they so often were in games against the Steelers. I'll never forget the 1997, walk-off-blocked-field-goal-attempt game, and the sight of Chris Hudson running down the sideline and Bill Cowher playfully taking a step onto the field and feigning a punch. If there's one game that goes deeper than any other, it's the 1975 AFC title game. It's the most vicious football game I ever covered. It was the real thing, no hype. The Raiders and Steelers truly hated each other, and they played that game with more than winning in mind. They played to inflict pain. I'll never forget the sight of Lynn Swann being wheeled past me on a stretcher as I stood in the hallway waiting for the Steelers' locker room door to be opened after the game. Swann was knocked cold in the first half and he was still in a semi-conscious state two hours later. Two weeks later he'd be the Super Bowl MVP. How's that for toughness? I'll also never forget the sight of Joe Greene going out onto the field, picking Swann up and carrying him like a baby to the sideline as Joe glowered at the Raiders, letting them know there would be payback for this. Game? No, that one was a lot more than a game. What I felt that day I never felt again. I'm glad.