"Ask Vic" will publish on Mondays and Thursdays through the offseason.
Jason from Austin, TX
Is the Hall of Fame going to need a Hall of Fame?
We have a place where we separate Johnny Unitas and Jim Brown from the not so famous. Our heart is that place. It knows the difference between elected and immortal.
Michael from Sanford, FL
Vic, I was eight when the Jags played their first game, meaning I've been a Jags fan as long as I've known what football was. However, I don't have clear memories of specific players. Can you please share your thoughts on Kevin Hardy? How good was he? What were his strengths, weaknesses and can you think of a modern player whose style you could compare him to?
Kevin could rush a little and cover and tackle a lot. He was more Sean Lee than Khalil Mack, as comparisons go. Dom Capers helped Kevin become a Pro Bowler in 1999, and Kevin was on his way to a long and productive career when a knee injury required him to undergo microfracture surgery. His career declined from that point and he was out of football a few years later.
Joe from Bloomington, IN
Seriously. We're talking about women's soccer. Anything more than a curtsy is an abomination.
Justin from Canton, NC
Vic, more moms and dads these days need to let their boys get hurt, get mad, get physical, find out who they really are. One of the most humbling things is getting your bell rung or knocked on your back. How do you know if you'll get up if you never experience it?
A lot of boys feel a need to experience a "Red Badge of Courage" moment. A father instinctively understands that, but I'm not sure a mother can. Her instinct is overwhelmingly to protect.
Scott from Sauk City, WI
Vic, I really almost never disagree with anything you write because it's always thought-provoking and positively impactful, but I'm very confused with why you wouldn't want a mother to weigh in on her son's decision to play football. I love the sport of football as much as anybody else in the world. Fall Sundays are my favorite Sundays, because of the NFL. I can't imagine living in a country where injury and the fear of injury take away this sport, but I also believe if I had a son who wanted to play football, I wouldn't be able to live with myself if I excluded my wife from the conversation. She carried that baby for nine months and shares a bond with that child I can't even comprehend. Making an informed decision about football should be a family decision. Then, again, I never played the sport. I was never a big, athletic kid. I was a musician. I played an instrument, so I didn't have to play a game where I might get hurt. I'm also a self-proclaimed "mama's boy" whose mother raised him while his father was constantly on the road for work. My mom made me who I am; her opinion always meant the world to me.
Playing football isn't for everyone.
Andrew from Madison, WI
Did you ever see Gale Sayers play? I've only seen film, and he's fast and all that, but he also seems to be psychic or have 360-degree vision or something.
I was at Pitt Stadium, sitting next to my father, when Sayers returned the opening kickoff of the 1967 season for a touchdown; he ran right toward me. I think of him as the greatest combination running back/kick returner in pro football history.
Jamie from Brooklyn, NY
I have a different view on the roles of parents in a child's life (to me, a family decision is a family decision). But even if I would allow the idea playing football is a father/son matter, if that child eventually suffers brain trauma and becomes cognitively impaired, whose job will it be to take care of him? If the parenting decision to play football is 100 percent the father's, should the after-injury care be the responsibility of the father?
Don't you think this question is a little nuts?
Greg from Danbury, CT
The fact your coach spoke to your dad instead of your mom says more about your coach than your mom's "proper role," social mores of the day notwithstanding. I withhold judgement on your dad out of respect, but mostly because I'm not privy to his conversations with your mom in what was best for young Vic. I love your column and I respect you, Vic. Gotta say, though, you whiffed on this one.
I have no doubt my mother and father discussed the subject, and her opinion was valued and weighed. What you're missing is my mother allowed my father to be the voice of the family on this matter, out of respect for his "proper role" and the father/son bond. It was the right thing to do, social mores of the day notwithstanding.
Darren from Australia
"If you've lived well, the past is a great place to visit." Did you know as you were living you were living well? If so, how did you know in the present moment?
When you're watching a football game and you're being paid to do it, you know you're living well.
Craig from Cedarburg, WI
I've heard radio talking heads complain about the location of the Hall of Fame. Do you ever see it moving from the birthplace of football?
Southwestern Pa. is the birthplace of professional football. It means more to us because we invented the game. As for Canton, it's a good place for the Hall of Fame, but the location of the facility is terrible. It's pushed up against an interstate highway and jammed in between a high school and a housing plan. There is absolutely nothing charming about the Pro Football Hall of Fame facility. It was created on the cheap and, frankly, it's one of the few mistakes from Pete Rozelle's time as commissioner. It lacked vision.
Justin from Madison, WI
Context can be crucial when judging behavior. Take a few minutes to look into the long history of disrespect, mistreatment and unfair compensation of U.S. women's soccer players and I think you'll better understand why they play with such a huge chip on their shoulders. It only furthers the point a celebration far more innocuous than you see on any given Sunday is getting more press and attention than the fact U.S. women are going to, yet, another World Cup final.
David from Washington, DC
Not a question, just a quote I liked from Cliff Christl's recent story on Fuzzy Thurston: “He’s not quite as good a pulling guard as Jerry Kramer,” Lombardi said of Thurston, “but he’s a good short-trap blocker and he’s got enough quickness, size, strength and determination so that, when he and Jerry come swinging around that corner together like a pair of matched Percherons, you can see the defensive man’s eyeballs pop.”
That's absolutely beautiful. It warms me to think of coaches describing the power and grace of run blocking, as they did in the Lombardi days, when they spoke of "coming off the ball as one" and "getting under your man." That kind of talk is gone and it saddens me. The blocking sled is gone and, so with it, something as basic to the art of blocking as leg drive. Line play in today's game is almost solely about size. Get out in front of the ball and lead the runner downfield has been replaced by wall up and slide. Nobody talks anymore about moving the line of scrimmage. Nobody can convert short yardage regularly because nobody can drive block, despite being allowed to use their hands to move their man. I love reading Cliff's Lombardi quotes and stories when they pertain specifically to technical football and the evaluation of personnel. Lombardi was a football genius. I don't think he gets enough credit for his technical expertise. Cliff brings Lombardi and the Lombardi era to life better than any writer in Packers literary history.