"Ask Vic" will publish on M-W-F during the football season.
Tom from Pittsburgh, PA
What can you tell us about George Perles?
I spent so many wonderful hours of my reporting youth in his training camp dorm room, learning about football. Across the hall was Bud Carson, the father of cover two. Down the hall was Dick Hoak, Woody Widenhofer, Rollie Dotsch; they were all great teachers. "We're nothing but glorified gym teachers," George once said. After George left the Steelers and became the head coach at Michigan State, his beloved alma mater, he put the "Block S" back on the Michigan State helmet, but on the right side only. My favorite memory of George is following the 1974 playoff win over the Bills, in which the Steelers held O.J. Simpson to 48 yards rushing. For that game, George turned Joe Greene sideways over center. "What do you call that defense?" we asked Chuck Noll. "I don't know. Go down and talk to George," Chuck said. We went down to George's office and asked him the same question. He paused, then said, "Stunt 4-3." Years later, he told me he didn't have a name for the defense, he created the name in response to our question. He told me how it was a hybrid of an age-old tackle stunt known as "cross hands." In my mind, his tombstone should read, "George Perles, father of the 'Stunt 4-3.' " Thank you, George.
Tim from Lancaster, PA
What do you make of the success of teams with top-ranked running attacks? Do they run to set up the pass? Are they successful because they can bleed the clock? Is it a statistic that points to the dominance of their offensive line?
Yes. The run fixes everything.
Jerry from Littleton, CO
If you could have a free boat trip of the entire length of the Intercoastal Waterway would you do it? The historical significance of it has always intrigued me.
Coach Noll referred to it as the "Redneck Riviera." I think it's a beautiful maze of tidal creeks. A local cruise company offers a trip from Charleston to Beaufort. It uses the Intracoastal to navigate through Edisto Island. I've seen the cruise boat pass under the bridge. If you want to get a feel for the Intracoastal and for where I live, try to find the movie "Daughters of the Dust."
Adam from Denver, CO
Do you have any advice for an individual who has no clubs but would like to pick up golfing this summer?
I've seen top-of-the-line golf clubs on eBay for pennies on the dollar. I found a set of used Mizuno MP-30 irons for $49.99. I bought a "Feel" wedge with a beautiful gun metal finish and hardly a scratch on it for $18. Half the fun of golf is shopping for golf clubs.
Morgan from Winnipeg, MB
Vic, in Rodgers' most recent interview with the media he said the best teams are player-led teams. How do you feel about that statement? And would you say that all but solidifies the fact Rodgers has ownership of the offense like you have been talking about?
Bill Walsh said at some point in the season the coach turns the team over to the team. Players make plays. Coaches can't play the game. They can't call a timeout and instruct their players every time the team is at a crossroads. At this point in the season, the Packers belong to their leaders. Aaron Rodgers is without doubt the dominant personality on the team. He is their leader. He knows it and he embraces it. I think that's what he means by player-led. It's his offense, it's his team.
Carrie from San Jose, CA
Vic, I normally enjoy your analysis (even when I disagree with you), but Aaron Rodgers grew up in Chico, which is definitely not fine wine country.
I kind of knew that -- the Pirates had a pitcher named Nellie Briles who was from Chico and he described it jokingly in hard-scrabble terms -- so forgive me for cheating a little toward Napa.
Pat from Seneca, SC
I agree the Houston kick-returner made a clear signal of surrender prior to tossing the football away in the end zone, however, what happens down the road when a kick-returner gives a signal that is more ambiguous?
OK, let's all perseverate on this real hard and get it out of our system. Ready? One, two, three, squeeeeeze! There, doesn't that feel better?
Ben from Hilo, HI
Which positions are undervalued in modern NFL offenses?
Center and running back.
David from Madison, WI
How would Dom Capers have done with the current defensive players on Green Bay's roster?
It would be unfair to Coach Pettine to speculate on that question, but I will say this: Coach Capers' defenses had success against Russell Wilson. It wouldn't hurt to revisit those games and the strategies employed.
Samuel from Jacksonville, FL
Finally, we get to see Mike Leach in the SEC! How do you think he'll fare?
If he succeeds, the SEC will fail. His offense can make a conference soft and cheesy.
Alex from Racine, WI
What's your favorite memory of "Mean" Joe Greene, either on or off the football field?
I think of him sitting in his training camp dorm room, talking football with me and any other reporter who would come to his room seeking wisdom, as Mel Blount lie in the bed next to Joe's, the cover pulled up to Mel's chin and his eyes closed. Mel never moved and he never complained. That was pro football for me in the 1970's, in the company of two giants of the game and sensing they almost enjoyed my company. I am so very, very rich.
Bill from Sheboygan, WI
What are you reading these days?
I just finished "War Football" and begun "Carlisle vs. Army." They are wonderful books that express the true meaning of the game of football I love, confrontation. Weeb Ewbank's speech to his Colts before the 1958 NFL title was always my favorite pregame pep talk, but no longer. "War Football" introduced me to the words of Pop Warner to his Carlisle Indian School team in the moments before its legendary game against Army: "Your fathers and your grandfathers are the ones who fought their fathers. These men playing against you today are soldiers. They are the Long Knives. You are Indians. Tonight, we will know if you are warriors."
Mark from Wheaton, IL
Vic, you recently mentioned you weren’t a fan of absentee ownership but I seem to recall in a past post you saying you thought an owner should hire a great general manager and go play golf. Could you clarify?
I don't remember writing that but if I did I was likely referring to the trust an owner has to have in his general manager to find talent. An owner needs to be in the building for oversight purposes. He needs to tell the general manager to take Lawrence Phillips off the team's board before the team goes on the clock. He needs to tell the marketing director not to pursue a sponsorship agreement with a company with whom the owner doesn't want to be associated. The owner needs to be involved in the community because the franchise was awarded to the community, not to the owner. He is the steward of the franchise and being absent suggests disinterest in his role. Have I clarified satisfactorily?
Steven from Racine, WI
No chance the Packers lose in Lambeau in the playoffs! Sorry.