Adam from Chicago, IL
What do the Wisconsin Badgers have to do to take that next step this year?
I think all Wisconsin fans know the answer to that question: The Badgers need to win the Big 10 title. Weak schedules demand big wins when the opportunities present themselves.
Chris from Cazenovia, WI
Vic, what makes an excellent boiled peanut experience?
It begins with a clean peel. A good football season ends with one.
Aric from Oshkosh, WI
Vic, I love hearing your stories about the grit and character of the players you've met during your career. Without asking for a name, is there a moment you can point to where a player said something that made you realize they did not have that quality and would have to find their calling outside of football?
There have been times I've interviewed players who've given me the feeling they were above being grateful for the opportunity to play professional football. Some guys never leave college. They come into pro football with a cavalier attitude. When I size up a young player, I want to know if he can be a pro. Does he want to measure himself against the best? Before a player's body can make the jump from college football to the NFL, his heart and mind has to make that leap. He must want to be a professional football player.
Steve from Omaha, NE
Vic, Mike Spofford mentioned half-line drills have not been a part of training camp thus far. He mentioned full-line drills are being used and speculated it was due to running backs cutting back rather than hitting the hole. You called it, one step closer to a kinder, gentler league.
The Packers are a zone-blocking front and its signature run is the "stretch play," which demands the back cut back behind his blockers as they move laterally. Half-line drills aren't a "stretch play" kind of drill. Half-line drills are a telephone booth-sized exercise about winning the point of attack. I think half-lines are more about defense than they are about offense. What's wrong with that? I like the thump. Thumps are good.
Eddie from Glasgow, Scotland
Vic, do you think the Jags are on the brink of a Super Bowl?
I think you could make a point for the Jaguars being an on the brink kind of team. If they had a Marcus Mariota or a Deshaun Watson at quarterback, I'd definitely put the Jaguars in the on the brink category. I need to see the Jaguars stop playing around Blake Bortles, as they did in the overtime against the Jets and in the fourth quarter of the AFC title game. Championship teams have to be able to put the game in their quarterback's hands at crunch time. The Titans did that with Mariota in the playoff win over the Chiefs.
Lori from Brookfield, WI
Vic, which of your franchise quarterbacks was the most fun to cover and interview?
It was Terry Bradshaw, by far. He was an entertainer and the media was a willing audience. I'll always be indebted to him for being an enthusiastic and cooperative interview. He gave me a lot of good stories, the best of which was the day before his final game. He told me his arm was dead and he couldn't throw, and he wasn't lying. Where is a reporter going to get that kind of honesty today?
Stephen from Jacksonville, FL
Of the Steelers, Jaguars and Packers, how would you rank those teams entering the 2018 season from most to least likely to win their respective conference championship? What is the greatest obstacle each individual team will have to overcome to give themselves the best chance to play in Super Bowl LIII?
The Jaguars are No. 1. They earned that distinction by beating the Steelers twice last year. The Jaguars' No. 1 challenge, in my opinion, is being able to match up at the quarterback position, which could become especially true within their own division. The Steelers have stars on offense, but their defense was horribly soft last season. They'll have to prove to me they've improved on defense before I consider them to be an AFC title game contender. The Packers are re-tooling on defense. If they hit a home run with the two top-pick cornerbacks, the Packers can be contenders. The Packers' greatest obstacle is the Vikings. There would appear to be a significant talent gap between the two teams. Aaron Rodgers will be expected to close the gap.
Kaleb from Corvallis, OR
So, if you had to list training camp teams that are on the verge, in their prime, and holding on, who would they be?
I think the Vikings are on the verge, the Falcons are in their prime and the Patriots are hanging on. Those are what I consider to be the best examples.
Matt from San Diego, CA
If a young Vic had the opportunity to ask Bobby Layne one question, what do you think it would have been?
I would've asked him why he didn't wear a facemask.
Dustin from Orlando, FL
I saw a video clip of the Jaguars camp featuring defensive linemen vs. offensive linemen in one-on-one drills. It looked an awful lot like an Oklahoma drill without the running back and cones. Maybe there is hope.
It's an Oklahoma without the ball. It works for me, but I prefer the drama that accompanies the Oklahoma. Let's get the whole team involved in the drill. I like the hooting and hollering. The Oklahoma drill is a tone setter. It sets the edge.
David from Madison, WI
A writer referred to "underneath speed." What was he referring to?
He was probably referring to a defensive back or linebacker who didn't have the speed to cover in the open or deep third of the field.
Matthew from Oshkosh, WI
Vic, it's looking like the Packers and Rodgers won't get a deal done this year and I keep reading reports Aaron has thrown seven interceptions already in practice. Maybe the front office knows something us fans haven't realized. Rodgers' arm might not be the same after that injury.
Why the rush to judgment? Let's just wait. Frankly, I think it's best for both parties to take their time on a new deal. Getting it right is more important than getting it done.
Omar from Morelia, Mexico
Vic, here is a quote from Jerry Kramer's “Instant Replay” that may help Packers fans understand it’s all about the money: “Vince talked today about the third straight championship, talked about how no team has ever won three NFL playoffs in a row, and he said that if we could do it we’d earn lasting recognition through the years." Nitschke called out, “Let’s get the money. Let’s get my car paid for.”
Motivation comes in many forms. One of my favorite pep talk stories goes back to the Lou Saban days in Buffalo. In the locker room at halftime of an AFL title game against the Chargers, Saban was about to speak to his team when he was pushed aside by bruising running back Cookie Gilchrist. Gilchrist looked his teammates in the eye and said: "If we lose this game, I'm gonna kick the (expletive) out of every (expletive) in this room." The Bills won the game. Whatever it takes.
Pat from Seneca, SC
Did you know about the tuck rule prior to the Patriots-Raiders playoff game? What was your reaction when it was called?
I knew about the rule. It was one of those rules in the rulebook that didn't get called, as was the "around the world" rule. The surprise was the tuck rule was being enforced.
Adam from Wausau, WI
What are five talents you have accumulated over your professional career that made you successful.
How about two? I wrote quickly and I cared about the game and the players and the coaches on whom I was reporting.
Ryan from Bloomer, WI
Vic, one can't help but notice how much more often you reference Coach Noll quotes compared to other coaches you covered (McCarthy, Coughlin, Cowher). I love the perspective and the truth I get from these; it helps me to understand him and that era of football much better. But it leaves me wanting to hear more from the modern-era coaches you covered. Other than the difference in era and accessibility from Noll to the modern-era coaches, is there any reason Coach Noll is so much more in your column?
Ryan, Coach Noll is a modern-era coach. So is Coach Lombardi. The modern era of professional football is considered to have begun with the 1958 NFL title game. I reference Coach Noll because I respect him as a coach and as a man of vision, intelligence and poise more than any person I have ever known. His was a voice of truth, and his words live within my football soul. Questions about play-calling? "What you're really asking is why didn't we win?" he would say. That's the kind of big-picture clarity that caused me to love my time covering Coach Noll.
Brian from Pleasant Prairie, WI
You've expressed in the past your appreciation for the coaches you've covered and their leadership abilities. Your comment regarding the half-line drills made me wonder what one thing would you say each of the coaches you've covered were most innovative at or dedicated to?
One thing? Coach Noll was dedicated to running the traps, but when they changed the rules in 1978, he turned to the passing game. I'll remember Coach Noll for being dedicated to a quiet kind of genius. I'll remember Bill Cowher for his dedication to goal line drills in training camp. He loved to end practice with a killer goal line drill. That's how he created the mind set he wanted. Look at his record when he began the fourth quarter with a 10-point lead. His teams knew how to hold firm and finish. Tom Coughlin was all about precision offense. His practices were a down-and-out drill. Jack Del Rio said, "We will the stop the run," and his teams did. Mike McCarthy is about up-tempo offense. His practices are about volume of plays. That's how I'll remember the coaches I covered. I'll also remember they won eight Super Bowls.
Anthony from Milwaukee, WI
The problem with the zone-blocking scheme comes on third-and-one. Better off just passing. Ask Aaron Rodgers.
Teams that have to pass on third-and-one are will of the wisp. They're soft and cheesy. That's my opinion.