Todd from Milwaukee, WI
Vic, if the Packers make the playoffs, NFC championship game, Super Bowl, win the Super Bowl (one of these scenarios), do the readers get to admonish you for your prediction this year is a Packers rebuilding year? Or is the ego too damaged?
Do as you please -- I think my ego can handle it -- but first let's get the facts straight. I've gone on record as saying this is not a rebuilding year. That's too strong a word. No team with Aaron Rodgers as its quarterback is rebuilding. My expectation, for lack of a better word, is for the Packers to be a playoff contender. To go beyond that at this stage, in my opinion, would be foolish. This is from the book What Happy People Know: "Happiness depends to a significant degree upon expectations. If you inflate your expectations, you're begging to be unhappy. Happy people keep their expectations under constraint." I consider myself to be a happy person. Why do you choose to be unhappy?
Jonathan from St. Joseph, MO
Who's to blame more for the disconnect between players and media? Coaches or the Internet?
The popularity of the game is to blame. Pro football has become so popular it no longer needs the media to help promote it. Once upon a time, baseball was the national pastime and football was the college game. Back then, the media was treated lovingly, for the obvious reason. "Write anything you want; just spell the name right," was the NFL's PR mantra. These days, the media is treated as an intruder, regardless of what it writes. Football has its own kingdom. It walks through a different door than everybody else. Once upon a time, we all walked through the same door.
Nathan from San Diego, CA
What’s your early take on the talent on Green Bay’s defense this year vs. last year?
It's decidedly better. The Packers spent their first three picks in this year's draft on defensive players, and they added a big-time defensive lineman in free agency. The big difference, in my opinion, is the Packers' first two picks this year were picks 18 and 45; last year they were picks 33 and 61.
Paula from Minneapolis, MN
I found an article about George Atkinson's defamation suit against Chuck Noll. It said calling it a three ring circus would be charitable. Did you cover the Steelers then? Any thoughts you would like to share?
Yeah, I covered the Steelers then and I'll never forget the Monday press conference when I heard Coach Noll utter the immortal words, "criminal element." For the record, Atkinson was just a tool in the legal process. Al Davis was the driving force in the lawsuit. He used he lawsuit to drive a wedge between Noll and at least one of his players, Mel Blount. The league was concerned about the appearance of one team suing another team. It didn't bode well for Pete Rozelle's leaguethink philosophy. My concern was for the No. 1 law of the mass media: Public figures are subject to public criticism (New York Times vs. Sullivan). If the Raiders had won that lawsuit, the precedent could've become crippling for the American free press. Fortunately, justice prevailed.
Nick from Oswego, NY
Just bought my first house, and now I need to buy my first mower? Any suggestions?
Don't buy one with a bag attachment.
Aaron from Wausau, WI
I became a football fan after the 2011 CBA came into effect. You've mentioned it several times, so I'm curious. How have you seen it change the game and the league?
The players gave the owners the money concessions they wanted. The owners gave the players the game.
Mike from North Hudson, WI
Vic, in regards to the Packers, what will you be watching for the most in training camp and through the first three preseason games?
All eyes will be on the defense. I suspect Defensive Coordinator Mike Pettine will test his young cornerbacks with man coverage and in challenging matchups, to see how much they can handle. We should get a pretty good read on the young guys (King, Alexander and Jackson). They hold the key to improvement on defense.
Mike from Somerset, WI
Vic, there have been comments Green Bay's best offseason acquisition has been Mike Pettine. This implies it's Dom Capers' fault for the defensive failure. Did Capers' scheme become outdated?
It was "outdated" long before he came to Green Bay. The zone blitz was fresh in 1994, during its Blitzburgh days. NFL coaches don't need 23 years to figure out how to attack a scheme. When Coach Capers came to Green Bay, Charles Woodson was at the top of his game, Nick Collins was a playmaking safety and Clay Matthews was a new star on fresh legs. That's why Coach Capers' scheme was successful early in his time as Packers defensive coordinator. Why did it begin to fail? In my opinion, there was a sharp decline in talent. Look at the cornerbacks he was given: an undrafted guy with concussion problems, a baseball player who played safety in college, and a basketball player with one year of football experience. Two of his high-pick defensive linemen -- Jerrell Worthy and Datone Jones -- were busts, and the Packers have struggled to find a pass rusher to complement Matthews.
Tim from Sun Prairie, WI
Do you agree with McCarthy that DeShone Kizer would have been a 2018 first-round pick if he had stayed in school last year?
I don't. Lamar Jackson was the last pick of the first round of this year's draft, and I consider Jackson to have been a much better prospect than Kizer.
Kristian from Denmark
Vic, when you say "restorative year," what do you think needs to be done/ added to the team for it to be less dependent on catching breaks, to more reliably move into championship territory?
It needs to get off its Aaron Rodgers dependency addiction. Since the Packers won the Super Bowl in 2010, everything has revolved around Rodgers. The Packers have been a one-man team, but if you look back at the 2010 season, you'll see the Packers held opponents to seven or fewer points six times. Yeah, they won with defense back then, not just with Rodgers. The Packers need to win games with something more than Rodgers' right arm. The Packers need to win with defense and the running game. That's what I mean by restorative. They need to restore the overall strength of their roster.
Chris from Lexington, KY
Yahoo Sports recently released offensive tweets posted by Josh Allen back in 2012 and 2013, when he was in high school. The tweets aren't even on his account any longer. In your opinion, is this fair news, or unethical reporting?
It's mean spirited, but the truth is the pure defense. This falls under the category of "some mistakes we never stop paying for." It also just happened to a young reporter covering the Carolina Panthers.
Mike from Bridgeport, CT
Jags vs. Pats at 4:25 is going to be CBS and Chatty's featured game. It's as good as prime time and will be nationally televised. A fun, challenging schedule for the boys from Duval.
"Boys from Duval" is a reference to the Jaguars and Duval County. I've never understood the fascination with the reference to Duval County. It's kind of goofy. Nobody outside of Duval County knows what it means. You're right about the schedule.
Don from Oak Creek, WI
What was the biggest change in the way you covered stories and/or approached your role as a journalist covering a team from your first years in the business to your final years in the business?
The creation of the Internet allowed me greater freedom in framing a story because I wasn't faced with newspaper space and tense constraints. With the Internet, I could write and post a story now and then replace it with a new, updated version an hour later. During my newspaper days, I had to write in the future perfect tense because stories had to be written for, at the least, a 24-hour shelf life, and I never knew how circumstances might change before I wrote my next story. Sometimes circumstances changed as the newspaper was being printed.
John from Sioux Falls, SD
We've got some time to kill until things get interesting again, so let's go back in time a little bit. What did you think of the book Paper Lion by George Plimpton, when it came out? Great inside look at the pro game of the '60s? Or did you see it as a gimmick? Many thanks.
It didn't interest me a whole lot because it was clearly contrived and wasn't an accurate representation of whatever it was the book was trying to portray. I read it as a kid, but even then I knew the book lacked believability. It was good for people who didn't know the book was baloney. The book reached out to the casual fan, and the NFL needed more casual fans for the league to become competitive with baseball and college football, so I'll give the book credit for helping to drive pro football's surge in popularity.