Isaac from Nashville, TN
Vic, I watched the Hall of Fame game and, after those two helmet calls, I found myself wondering if it's now actually impossible to play defense. I know it's unlikely the NFL would give an advantage to defensive players, but could you imagine a rule change that might even the field at least a little bit?
The last thing the game needs is another rule. Too many rules and interpretations have been added to the rulebook and, maybe even more devastatingly, to the lexicon of explanation. I've made pro football the focus of my entire adult life and the game has become somewhat unfamiliar to me. What I know to be true is the best thing about football has become the worst thing about football. What made football popular is now threatening to destroy it. The game was not built on safe. I'm going to avoid passing judgment on this issue until after the preseason has passed and the NFL will have used these games to drive home a message, but I won't hesitate to express my opinion once the regular season begins. My fear is the competition committee, encouraged by the commissioner and the owners that support him, has gone too far. There's a line in the player safety sand. Has the league crossed it? We'll see.
Eric from Colorado Springs, CO
What do you think about tying player contract increases to the increase in the salary cap. "We make money, you make money."It's a very successful corporate strategy. Is something like that even allowed?
It's what the cap does. The more football revenue increases, the more the cap and salaries increase. The amount of that increase (or decrease, should that ever occur) is adjusted annually.
Pat from Seneca, SC
What, if anything, do you prefer about college football in comparison to the NFL?
I've always enjoyed college football's regionality. I think it's always been the charm of its game, the pride that goes with each region's quality of play and the clash of that pride in intersectional battles. The problem is college football has lost a large measure of that regionality. Penn State plays in the Midwest. Texas A&M plays in the Southeast. Schools are playing where they don't live, and I think we're going to see more and more of that as conferences are expanded. It's not about region anymore, it's about money.
Aaron from White Hall, AR
Vic, I respect and value your opinion and I was wondering what your thoughts are on the Urban Meyer situation? To me, if he is guilty of knowing the details and doing nothing about it, we will have found out if Ohio State is about winning or integrity.
I think I can end the suspense: It's about winning.
Lori from Brookfield, WI
Vic, when Terry Bradshaw told you "his arm was dead and he couldn't throw," what struggle did you have between reporting a major scoop and being loyal to the team?
I didn't struggle with a decision. I went to practice, Bradshaw didn't raise his arm above his shoulder to throw a football, as he predicted, and I reported what I saw.
Karl from Albuquerque, NM
Vic, when I was in junior high I struggled with reading and writing. In essence, I was illiterate. My parents' concern actually led them to actually have me professionally tested to see what was wrong. It turns out nothing was wrong, I just wasn't interested in reading or writing, until ninth grade and Jerry Kramer's book, "Instant Replay." I just needed something I was interested in reading. As such, "Instant Replay" taught me to read. I'm now an attorney who has argued in front of and drafted briefs for the New Mexico Supreme Court, with no small thanks to Jerry Kramer's book.
I sincerely hope Kramer will somehow find this column. I have no doubt he'd love reading your tribute to him.
Derek from Las Vegas, NV
"Are you a football man or are you a soccer man? You can't be both." Vic, my Madden 19 and FIFA 19 pre-orders say otherwise!
Video games define the man? That's funny.
Jack from Chicago, IL
Vic, the Hall of Fame game made me really sad. I am not sure I can continue watching what the NFL is becoming. I am hoping the calls in the preseason are a little more extreme than what will be called during the regular season to emphasize the point. Maybe I am just being hopeful, as I cling to my fond memories of football. I planned on raising my family around the Packers, just like I was brought up. Thursday night broke my heart.
The NFL's marketing research says you'll continue to raise your family around the Packers as you accumulate new memories. I'm not so sure. A long time ago, a wise man who covered the game when pro football was struggling to find a foothold, gestured through the press box glass at the packed stadium and said to me, "It doesn't have to be like this." I can't help but think the NFL has become smug, and that includes the players. If the product gets soft, will the fans go away? I think that's the question that interests me most about today's game.
Dan from Waupun, WI
We sure hear a lot about Aaron Rodgers' contract. Did they talk a lot about contracts in the '70s?
Yeah, but there was no salary cap so contracts weren't the issue they are today. The Packers have to be careful to avoid Rodgers' pursuit of a new contract from becoming a distraction. If they're not going to get it done before the season begins, I think they need to suspend negotiations until after the season is over.
Nathan from San Diego, CA
What has covering football taught you about life?
In some ways, it's taught me everything. It taught me how to be accountable for my words. I think that's No. 1.
Nick from Seattle, WA
Vic, sounds like you would get along with Pettine. "Mindset over scheme, that it doesn't really matter what we're playing, it's more how we play it."
That's players, not plays, and I've never known a coach who believed otherwise. The fans are counting on Mike Pettine's plays. Pettine is counting on his players. In my opinion, it's the Packers' new players on defense that give them hope for improvement. If they lined up this year with the same defensive personnel they used last season, the results would be the same.
Patrick from Ashland, WI
Help me with my obviously poor offensive line observation skills. The Packers certainly have had some troubles on short to go. Maybe all teams have. Do you think zone blocking isn't effective on short? If it isn't, can an offensive line just switch to drive blocking all of a sudden?
Zone blocking is about moving laterally. In my opinion, zone blocking lines play too high to be effective drive blockers. They don't know how to drop their pads, sink their hips and drive. Height is an aid to the walling up technique in the zone-blocking scheme, but height is the enemy of low pad level. I find it interesting that as offensive lines have gotten taller, defensive lines have gotten shorter. Aaron Donald is a shade over six foot and he's the best defensive lineman in the game. Mike Daniels is six foot and he's the Packers' best defensive lineman. Zone blocking is an effective scheme for finding a way to run the ball and still concentrate on pass blocking, but it is not an effective means for moving the line of scrimmage and converting third and one. If I was the coach of a zone blocking team, I'd be looking for a Sam Cunningham back to go up over the top on third and one.
Min Shik from Seoul, South Korea
Does 4-3, 3-4 distinction even matter much anymore?
It matters as each pertains to the style of defense it plays, gap control or two gap. It's not about formation, it's about function. If you're going to commit to a 3-4 defense and a two-gap system, you need to find guys who can play the Okie end. Datone Jones couldn't do it; neither could Jerrell Worthy. They were miscast. You can draw up all the plays you want, but you have to find guys who can execute them.
Braden from Milwaukee, WI
Thursday night, Packers vs. Titans. With a new defensive coordinator, can I take anything out of the defensive formations I see? Or is it vanilla and not showing the competition anything.
Watch the one-on-ones. Keep a one-on-one scoreboard. The team that wins the one-on-one scoreboard wins the game. Nothing else matters.
Joe from Rhinelander, WI
Vic, in the old days of two-a-day practices, what were the pros and cons of being a beat reporter for the morning newspaper versus the beat reporter for the afternoon paper?
The morning guy almost always got the scoop, which forced the afternoon guy to do a better job of framing his stories and finding fresh story angles and information. I viewed the difference as morning guys being reporters and afternoon guys being writers.