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.