George from Akron, OH
The national anthem and military should not be associated with sporting events. When the national anthem played in the '70s, few paid attention. After 9/11, things changed. Now we are ordered to stand and be obedient by stadium announcers. I find it insulting and want to sit despite being a combat military veteran. Let them play football. If you want the red, white and blue, the Fourth of July is for you. Can we remove or reduce politics from sport?
Sports played on the feeling of patriotism to help build its fan base. There's no taking it away now.
Noor from Jakarta, Indonesia
Vic, if you can pick a quarterback from any of the 32 teams to start a Super Bowl game, who would he be? Why?
It would probably be Aaron Rodgers, and it's because I believe he's the most talented quarterback in the game. I saw some signs of decline in Tom Brady's game last year. I can't help but wonder if the cliff is at hand; it happens that quickly. Age is also the issue with Drew Brees. My last look at Rodgers wasn't good -- he wasn't the quarterback I know in that game in Carolina -- but I'll assume he's back to normal and ready to play at his usual high level. Ben Roethlisberger is a two-time Super Bowl champion and has the crunch-time grit I like. Matt Ryan is a wonderful quarterback but he hasn't gotten it done in the big games and that bothers me. Russell Wilson continues to surprise me but, by and large, I consider him to be limited talent-wise. I like what Carson Wentz and Dak Prescott bring in the way of talent and toughness. I'm not sold on Jared Goff; I need to see more. Why am I not gaga about Cam Newton? I love everything about him, but just when I think he's going to take his team to the highest level, he becomes the reason they lose.
Anthony from Milwaukee, WI
Vic, how would you describe today's QBs compared to the past? Much more analytical, less creative?
Today's quarterbacks are ball distributors. The quarterbacks of the seven- and nine-step drop era were throwers. They looked for the big ball and they had the long-range arm to deliver the bomb. I didn't even know what a check-down pass was until the late '80s.
Craig from Cedarburg, WI
In order to devalue the QB position, do you see contracts like Kirk Cousins' going out of vogue? Guaranteed money like that for solid but not premier talent is dangerous for the cap.
Think supply and demand. To devalue the quarterback position, it needs to be broadened so it includes more men who can play it. Increase the supply of talent and you'll decrease the demand for talent. That's what college football has done. Some ambitious and creative coach will find a way to use quarterbacks in the NFL that will appeal to the abundant supply of athletic types in the college game today. Maybe that'll be accomplished by having a stockpile of those types of quarterbacks on an NFL roster. Instead of two quarterbacks on the roster, how about four or five athletic types who appeal to a variety of formations and design. I think the key lies in design and commitment to it. What team will be the first to commit to a new way? That question excites me most about the future of professional football. I think we're headed for change at the quarterback position. It happened when the move was made from the single wing to the T formation, and it can happen again. Create and commit.
Stephen from Jacksonville, FL
In what ways does Leonard Fournette need to improve from his rookie season for the Jaguars to be a better running team this year? Do you think his less than stellar yards per carry average and the team’s rushing production decrease over the second half of last season are as concerning indicators about him as some have suggested?
I don't want to see him get lighter. I like him the way he is. He's a naturally big and pounding running back. If that changes, he's not Leonard Fournette. I think he needs to talk to Fred Taylor and get a tutorial on diet, conditioning, lifestyle and embracing the attitude of a professional football player.
James from London, UK
Vic, do you think the Patriots' success in running the ball by committee and continually making a success of it means teams like the Steelers are unlikely/unwilling to pay Bell or the other premier backs the money they seek?
Contrary to popular belief, the Patriots did not invent professional football. Specialization and replacement at running back has existed for a long time. Samkon Gado anyone? Le'Veon Bell is a rare talent. He's a big back who runs with finesse and is at his best in space. When he gets into the open field, he can drop his pads and flatten defensive backs. Bell is a powerful goal-line runner who smells the chalk and moves the ball across it. His only weakness is short-yardage running, and I think that's more by choice than design; he looks for the big run too often. The Steelers recognize Bell's talent and worth, but the simple fact of the matter is he's not a quarterback and it's difficult to pay him quarterback money and pay the quarterback, too. Bell is going to find out the Steelers are in the majority. Running backs are undervalued because their supply is great. At the peak of Sean Alexander's career, the Seahawks couldn't get a third-round pick for him. Yeah, affordability is a major concern at running back. It's a position of specialization and replacement.
Lori from Brookfield, WI
Vic, what is the most important thing for an NFL player to learn early in his career?
He needs to learn to be a pro.
James from Garibaldi, OR
If you could choose two specialist quarterbacks from the last 30 years to have on a team, who would they be and how would they be used?
Give me Kordell Stewart and Kyle Orton and I'll conquer the world. Yeah, I'm being facetious, but think out of the box a little bit. Think of a slash in the same backfield with an average quarterback who doesn't kill your cap. One complements the other. Stewart and Neil O'Donnell did that in 1995 and they nearly took down the Cowboys. I think the Ravens might try to do the same with Lamar Jackson and Joe Flacco.
Blake from Normal, IL
If you could start a franchise with any running back, who would it be and why?
Until recent domestic violence allegations, I would've said LeSean McCoy is the guy. He's everything a modern-day back needs to be. He's quick and decisive between the tackles, has the speed to get outside, stick his foot into the ground and soften the edge, and he's special in the screen and swing-pass game. One more thing: He's tough and will play hurt. He's a truly dependable, every-down back.
Skip from Wisconsin
Talk about no tackling, if Tatum had simply just tackled Fuqua instead of trying to take his head off, the "Immaculate Reception" would not have happened.
Tatum said they called him "assassin." I can think of another name they should've called him.
Milan from New York
Vic, I am old enough to have seen the 1958 game. What I remember is not only Ameche and Unitas to Moore, but the sideline passes to Raymond Berry to move the chains. No one did that before Unitas. Johnny should have patented that.
In the 1958 NFL title game, Johnny Unitas taught professional football how to play quarterback for the next six decades. That's why a case can be made for considering him to be the greatest quarterback of all time.
Scott from Menomonee Falls, WI
Vic, I love the picture of you and the dog you are holding. He/she is gorgeous! What is the dog's name, are you his or her human and what breed is he or she?
Her name is Etta Mae and she's a lowchen. She likes long naps, soft blankets and rotisserie chicken. I dog-sit Etta Mae on occasion, and I'm her go-to guy during thunderstorms.
Old Man from Weatherford, TX
Vic, I'm excited you will be expanding your blog. I think it's the best coverage available today! What are your thoughts about the kickoff rules changes. Seems like it could encourage returns and possibly have the opposite effect the NFL is trying to enable.
I asked myself how many kickoff returns I can remember in my 45 years covering the NFL. I could only remember a couple. By and large, the kickoff is an unexciting and unimportant play. Just put the ball on the 20 and let's go.
James from Columbia, MD
How do you think your life would have been different had you been growing up today?
I doubt high school football would hold the fascination for me it did when I was young, and that leads me to believe I wouldn't have made football my life's work, as Coach Noll would say.
Don from Mascoutah, IL
Vic, I know how to make soccer watchable. It comes down to eliminating flopping. This is radical, but the issue can be resolved with one simple thing: the elimination of penalty kicks.
I have another idea: Sentence the losing team to life in prison. I'll watch it then.
Glen from Eugene, OR
How do I watch a preseason game? You mention it's about talent evaluation. What I see is a third-and-8 with a pass being dropped, followed by another punt. I don't know if the receiver messed up or the quarterback hurried his throw because the guard got beat on a rush. I find these games difficult to watch. Any pointers on how to get more out of them?
Find the one-on-one matchups and watch them. The coaches have created those one-on-ones to help them evaluate talent. The young players who win their one-on-ones usually make the team.