"Ask Vic" will publish on Mondays and Thursdays through the offseason.
Doug from Union Grove, WI
The greatest Packer.
Ethan from Ontario, Canada
Please explain in your own words what made Bart Starr so legendary to us Packers fans who were sadly too young to have watched him play.
One play did it. No one man has ever meant as much to one franchise because of one play. I'm not sure Lambeau Field would be standing today if that play hadn't happened. The drama of that moment is that great. One man accepted the challenge of risking his existence by making a decision he didn't have to make. It should've been his coach's call, but Starr made it his. It is, in my opinion, the greatest act of courage in football history. Today's column is dedicated to that man. Without that play, I'm not sure I'd be writing this column, or that I would've ever spent time in Green Bay. As it pertains to the Green Bay Packers, Starr and that one play are the reason for everything.
Jeff from Brooklyn, WI
Do you have a favorite story about Bart Starr?
It's from a conference call interview I did with him when he was the coach of the Packers during a week leading up to a Steelers-Packers game. He requested each reporter identify himself and his publication prior to asking his question. He would then say, "Hi, Vic," and then he would answer the question. I participated in hundreds of conference calls through the years, but he's the only coach who went to the bother of personalizing the call in that way.
Alan from Albuquerque, NM
Vic, I just read a Cliff Christl story on Ron Kramer, which reminded me that Kramer, Max McGee and Boyd Dowler were said to be the best receiving corps in the game during the early '60s. Do you agree and did Lombardi’s run-first offense open things up for them?
Kramer was underrated, but best receiving corps in the game in the early '60s? Better than Berry, Orr and Mackey? The Browns' Warfield and Collins would get my vote as the best pair of wide receivers at that time. Most teams had a run-first offense in the '60s. The Browns with Jim Brown certainly did. The Lombardi Packers were balanced. Jim Taylor rushed for more than a thousand yards in five consecutive years, but the passing totals were still impressive. Yeah, I think the run opened the pass for the Lombardi Packers. Lombardi used the pass to make big plays. The run did the heavy lifting.
Bob from Port St. Lucie, FL
The question about a player taking a lower salary and getting paid by another company got me thinking about Tom Brady. He has always taken a salary well below his value but that has never raised an issue with the NFL office. I wouldn't be surprised if after retirement he will be offered part ownership of the Patriots for less than market value. Could something like that happen?
OK, let's go through this again. Brady has been paid a salary below his value because he has repeatedly restructured his contract to accept a conversion of salary to signing bonus. In other words, he got his money up front so the Patriots could push portions of his salary onto future years' caps. It allowed the Patriots to create cap room in a current year. It also increased Brady's dead money, but the Patriots would've been dead without him, so what did it matter? His dead money topped $40 million in 2016, but since then the Patriots have been unwinding his dead money so as to prepare for Brady's eventual retirement. This year, his dead money will drop to $12 million and his salary will explode to $14 million. He'll be a $27 million cap hit. Aaron Rodgers will be a $26.5 million cap hit this year. When you're talking about quarterbacks, salaries are meaningless. It's about guaranteed money, conversion money and dead money. Tom Brady is not underpaid. As far as Brady getting a sweetheart deal to become a part owner of the Patriots, it would have to be approved by the league's ownership, and I doubt that would happen.
David from Hallowell, ME
"The coaches who are the best talent evaluators see the upside and accept the challenge of teaching the technique." Sounds like the philosophy behind the Rashan Gary pick, yes?
I agree. My guess is Coach Pettine loves the upside he sees in Gary, Brian Gutekunst agrees and is entrusting Pettine with the responsibility of developing Gary's talents so he might realize his full potential. It's kind of what happened when the Packers drafted Clay Matthews. Matthews was Dom Capers' guy.
Mark from Wausau, WI
Vic, how important is team chemistry in the NFL?
It helps a team achieve success, but you can win without it. Bad chemistry is an obstacle to winning because it can become a distraction. I think the Steelers faced that with the Le'Veon Bell issue last season. Bell divided that team. He was an irritant that caused nerves to fray. Teams don't have to love each other to win football games. They just need to be focused, and a peaceful locker room promotes focus.
Ben from Chicago, IL
Vic, I've been reading these do-over draft articles. Is there any value to be gained by reading these?
I think what-if? draft stories are fun. I think they underscore how fragile the draft is. What if the Packers had picked Jim Brown instead of Paul Hornung in 1957? Do the Packers pick Jim Taylor the following year? What would Lombardi have accomplished with Brown in the Packers' backfield? What if the Steelers had picked Dan Marino in 1983? Or what if they hadn't forfeited their third-round pick in 1979 and had drafted another local product, Joe Montana, as they said they wanted to do? How many more Super Bowl titles would they have won? I think the draft is great fun.
Paul from Verona, WI
After Packers games, my most memorable game was the 1985 Super Bowl, Bears vs. Patriots. Stationed a few miles from the Soviet Union, the Army set up a large tent in which the game was projected onto screens. Outside it was dark and snow-covered, inside there were two inches of mud and 400 cheering soldiers touting M-16s. The game was one of my favorites because I am one of the few who enjoy a good defense more than a good offense and the Bears defense was one for the ages. What a cast of characters: McMahon, The Fridge, Singletary, Sweetness, Dent and coaches Ditka/Ryan. To cap off the night, a few hours after the game I was awakened from a sound sleep by the Military Police. Luckily, after my interrogation for a serious crime, the MPs realized I was not the guy they were looking for. Memories make us rich.
Derek from Eau Claire, WI
No more half-line drill? Doesn’t that mean no more practicing football?
The game has changed. It's pitch and catch, not block and tackle.
Graydon from Columbia, SC
Vic, we’re getting a new dog and are looking for some good Packers-based dog names. Do you have any suggestions?
I remember doing a video outside Lambeau Field with dogs named Vince and Curly. Cute! If I was going to name a dog according to Packers legends, I'd lean toward Bart, Brett or Aaron, depending on the dog's personality.
Nick from Owego, NY
Are interior pass rushers becoming more important than edge rushers?
They always have been. Aaron Donald is a special talent to get through the traffic in the middle of the line. He flushes the quarterback into the edge rushers' arms.
Wayne from Beavercreek, OH
You don't think Earl Thomas is a Hall of Fame player? Thomas was the glue that held that defense together. He is the type of player that makes everyone around him better. The difference without him is distinct.
He's borderline, but I think we're falling a little too much in love with safeties. Most of them are centerfielders and ambush hitters. Richard Sherman was the star of that defense. He cut the field in half.
Mike from McFarland, WI
What did playing football teach you about yourself?
How great I wasn't.
Kristen from Madison, WI
The world has enough cruelty. Please don't actively encourage even small amounts. Driving over a kid's soccer ball isn't funny. It's mean. Is it global-catastrophe mean? No. But I'm sure that little kid was heartbroken, and for what? So Luke from Horicon could have a good laugh (at a child's expense) and get a moment of notoriety on some sports blog? Our words and actions matter; even the small ones. Giving Luke's behavior a voice only encourages random acts of unkindness. Everything I've read from you suggests you're better than that. If nothing else, think like a dad. Thanks.
Justin from Eustis, FL
How much leadership does a QB need to provide to be successful? Is it not enough to repeat the right play from the headset, make the right adjustments at the line, and throw an accurate pass? Some articles out there make it seem as if teams need Patton in the backfield to be successful.
Teams need a stable, calming presence at quarterback. Bart Starr is the best example. Ben Roethlisberger got wild last year. He talked too much on his radio show and his outburst in practice before the final game of the season caused a firestorm that resulted in Antonio Brown being traded.
Justin from Dacula, GA
Which American sport presents the hardest Hall of Fame to get into?
Baseball does it right. They guard the front door of Cooperstown. Entry is denied, not encouraged. The Pro Football Hall of Fame has become too concerned with marketing. The contributor category is cheap and ridiculous. There are too many inductees. Forget the big weekend event and think about the immortality of the game.