"Ask Vic" is published on Monday and Thursday through the offseason.
Robert from Plymouth, WI
What's your impression of Kyler Murray?
As a runner, he's special. As a passer, he's ordinary. I like the kind of quarterback he is, but you have to be prepared to replace him because injuries are likely.
Matt from Houston, TX
How long did it take the Steelers and Raiders to stop hating each other?
I can't remember any of them getting chummy with each other. All of these years later, I can't even recall any of them doing a beer commercial playing on the rivalry. I get the sense when the games ended, the players put their memories of them in a box and closed the lid. I don't even remember them talking much about those games. Joe Greene would smile and talk about L.C. sitting on a folding chair outside the Steelers locker room and watching the NFC title game on TV, and Art Shell walking by and asking, "What are you doing, L.C.?" and L.C. saying "Just watching who we're going to play in the Super Bowl," but Joe was always very guarded in what he said about those games. I always got the sense the players in that rivalry were afraid to take the lid off that box. Maybe the best example of those games' lasting impact is how it estranged Coach Noll's and Coach Madden's friendship. Madden was the defensive coordinator at San Diego State when Noll was defensive coordinator of the Chargers. Madden said they became best of friends. They were each products of a Catholic-school background and they were of similar intellectual and football thinking. Noll was hired by the Steelers a week prior to Madden being hired as head coach of the Raiders. If Madden hadn't been hired by the Raiders, Noll was going to offer Madden the job of Steelers' defensive coordinator; that's how close they were. According to Madden, after the "Immaculate Reception," the dirty tricks game, the lawsuit, etc., the friendship was never the same. Those games were the real thing; no hype.
Robert from Glasgow, DE
Your dad and mine were born in the same year. Mine grew up literally dirt poor and was also on a ship in the South Pacific at 18. The G.I. Bill allowed him to earn a very financially successful life. We went to ballgames in St. Louis for Musial, in Milwaukee for Aaron, in Green Bay for Lombardi. Never once had a hot dog, a Coke or a treat at a game. Always packed our lunches; a penny saved is a penny earned. Seeing Willie Mays and Bart Starr was far more valuable than any Coke. Thanks for your story on your dad. My dad could buy a Cadillac; he bought stick-shift Chevy’s.
"You'll spoil your appetite. Your mother will have dinner waiting for us when we get home." He didn't fool me. It was about the money.
Brian from Little Rock, AR
Can you give some examples of teams that successfully went all in?
The 2015 Denver Broncos.
Mike from Bergen, NJ
Vic, with the inevitable move to a 17-game season looming, what do you remember about the move from 14 to 16 games and how did those discussions go back then? Were there any concerns then that were founded (or perhaps unfounded) like there are today with player safety in mind?
It was a non-issue because six preseason games was ridiculous overkill, and the players didn't balk much at the move to 16 games because they didn't have the power to do it and, besides, the final two preseason games were played as though they were regular season games. The players didn't have a voice back then. Their union was crushed in the strike of 1974 and they were at the mercy of the owners. I can't recall even hearing the words player safety. The only concern was for the potential for diluting the product. It grew the product.
Darren from Alice Springs, Australia
What will you look for in Urban Meyer’s first season to believe he has successfully made the transition to NFL head coach?
I want to see the development of young talent, especially the quarterback they draft. Coach Meyer was always good at recruiting talent, but he'll need to be better at developing talent to succeed on the NFL level.
Joe from Milwaukee, WI
What's an important thing for us to appreciate about Ernie Holmes?
I think it's important to acknowledge he was another of those great products of the HBCU schools, in this case Texas Southern. My scout friend recently sent me a story ranking the top 50 players in HBCU history. It is an eye-popping list.
Fred from Florida
The 1970's Steelers are known for defense. Tell me more about the offensive line. I checked a reference site and saw the only Pro-Bowler during that time was Mike Webster. Were they underrated?
Chuck Noll didn't draft an offensive lineman in the first round until he was near the end of his career. He built the lines of the '70's on smaller, more mobile players who could pull and trap. The big guys who were drafted high -- John Hannah and Ron Yary, to name two -- tended to get the acclaim. Other than for Tony Boselli, Jon Kolb was as good as any tackle I ever covered. Yes, he was underrated. He had big games against great players, such as Jim Marshall and Harvey Martin. Webster's talent was undeniable. Sam Davis, Gerry Mullins and Ray Pinney were scrappers. Larry Brown made the move from tight end and was a truly dominant tackle, but he was oft-injured and it prevented him from achieving acclaim.
Richard from Boulder, CO
Vic, I have enjoyed the recent questions you answered regarding quarterbacks calling their own plays. On that note, when did you first notice quarterback arm bands and how have they become so ubiquitous?
I remember Tom Matte's wristband being a big story in the playoff game in which Don Chandler probably didn't make that field goal. Matte's wristband was the real deal. He was calling plays from it. Today's wristbands are more of an aid in the process. They help limit what needs to be said through the communication device.
Elten from Pleasant Lake, IN
J.J. Watt on signing with Arizona, "The signs kept pointing down here." Yea, dollar signs.
It's play for pay. The game of professional football is built on that concept. I remember fondly the days when the Steelers' business manager handed the players their paychecks as they left the locker room following a game. Don't wire the money to their bank accounts. Make it personal. Let them feel the weight of that money in their hand. Did they earn it?
Mike from Tuscaloosa, AL
Were Atkinson and Tatum dirty or just tough dudes playing a tough sport, especially in their era?
Criminal element? In my mind, the jury said yes.
Taylor from Fargo, ND
On the Internet I usually read what I want to hear. However, when I come to your column, I often read what I don’t want to hear. It gives me perspective and I enjoy it. So, what don’t I want to hear today?
You don't want to read it's unrealistic, out of touch and naive of Packers fans to think J.J. Watt would play for less money because he loves Wisconsin and wants to return there. My inbox is full of whiny vitriol aimed at Watt. Vic to Packers fans: It's not about the bicycles, it's about the money.
Justin from Delavan, WI
I knew it was all about the money and I wish J.J. Watt the best, but I didn't like him riling up the Wisconsin fan base as leverage. He got the fans all excited and crazy. Why did he do that?
How can you expect the Packers to play tough defense if you're going to be that soft?
Dave from St. Peters, MO
Gutekunst seems to indicate he is operating to win now and win later, which is not all in and is really just staying near the middle and hoping they get lucky in the playoffs with Aaron Rodgers. Are there many instances of franchises succeeding with this approach?
The 2010 Packers immediately come to mind. The Steelers won a couple of Super Bowls with Roethlisberger that way. I think the Patriots qualify. Those three teams have been consistent playoff contenders. The Broncos haven't been back to the playoffs since they went all in and won in '15.