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?