"Ask Vic" is published on Monday and Thursday through the offseason.
David from Sydney, Australia
Dignity? Just pay the MVP. Just win, baby; 26-6. Nobody’s talking about dignity if you keep that up.
Roger from Glen Falls, NY
Can Green Bay win without Aaron Rodgers?
Not this year. They didn't win in Rodgers' first year. Sometimes you have to be willing to suffer short-term pain to achieve long-term gain.
Eric from Melissa, TX
Why do you think the vast majority of fans take the team/owner side of contract disputes? Is it just because that’s the laundry they root for? Is it deeper?
When I was a kid and Roberto Clemente became one of the few six-figure players in baseball, we were happy and proud to have a player of such esteem. I think it all changed when the money got nuts, especially when the baseball players challenged the reserve clause and won. I can remember a minor league lifer named Wayne Garland becoming a hated man because he went from being a $40,000-a-year long reliever to a $2.3 million free agent. The jump was just too great. It was too much for fans to digest, and salaries have never stopped climbing. Bobby Bonilla will continue to get a check for $1.19 million from the Mets every July 1 until 2035, and his career ended 20 years ago. Who could root for that? That kind of loss of control has cost baseball a lot of popularity. Football always did a better job of bridling its game, even after the Judge Doty free agency decision. The salary cap was a great invention in managing salaries. Quarterbacks have become the problem. Their contracts are so rich they're embittering fans. They've crossed the Wayne Garland line, so to speak, and the gap is becoming difficult to digest. Years ago, I wrote about the need to devalue the quarterback position, that the team that does it will have a huge advantage in the salary cap era. I'm hoping the ease with which quarterbacks are transitioning from college to the NFL, which produced an avalanche of picks this spring, will help create an imbalance to the supply side. The cap guarantees the players will get their fair share. What football needs now is to find a way to avoid the ugliness of one position getting too much of the share.
Charlie from Green Bay, WI
I grew up in Green Bay and my recollection when my dad took me to my first game in 1963 is as you describe your memory. Walking up into the bowl of Lambeau as a 7-year-old I was amazed at even the chalk lines on the perfect grass; the player uniforms were brilliant. Since that day, I have always supported the players in any individual or collective dispute. I'd rather see 53 guys make a million dollars each than one rich owner get $53 million. Is the whole Rodgers thing bothering me because I'm getting old?
No, you just want a sense of order. Chalk lines are good.
Johnny from Fort Worth, TX
Assuming Rodgers plays next year, what happens if he turns in another MVP worthy performance this next season?
No Super Bowl? You'd be OK with another MVP and a conference title game loss? I'm not getting that sense from my other readers.
Simon from Santa Clara, CA
When Ted Thompson faced a similar situation with Brett Favre, the Packers let it drag out all summer, tried to pay Brett to go away, and then when he showed up for one day they traded him to New York for a case of beer that had to be cold. Is this situation any different?
It happened that way then because the Packers didn't have an owner and it's happening that way now for the same reason. Where does the buck stop?
Conor from Milwaukee, WI
Jordan Love is a good football player and all, and I've got nothing against him as a human being. When we traded up to select him, we reached and we sacrificed value. That is all.
As I recall, the fans didn't like the Rodgers pick. They wanted a wide receiver for Favre. The problem with the Love pick is it was poor timing. We don't know, yet, if it was a reach, but it obviously created a problem. The Packers picked a quarterback to whom they were not willing to commit, and that was a mistake.
Jason from Austin, TX
What was the most brilliant roster move you can remember while covering each of your three teams?
The best was the Jaguars trading Rob Johnson to the Bills and using the first-round pick the Jags got to draft Fred Taylor. The best by the Steelers while I was covering them was losing the film on John Stallworth and picking him in the fourth round. The Packers' best move involved Ted Thompson's genius manipulation of trades to maneuver into position to select Eddie Lacy and David Bakhtiari. Thompson was the king of value. I loved that about him.
Jake from Farmington, MN
You are overvaluing dignity. Dignity or ego is the cause of many terrible tragedies throughout history. One cannot be afraid to appear weak to achieve peace. Dignity is luxury afforded to those who have the privilege of never suffering true adversity. Who cares what people think?
I do. I think perception is important. Dignity is not ego. You're confusing the two. I think everyone should want to be worthy of honor and respect.
Matthew from Olathe, KS
Do you sense more pro Rodgers or more pro Packers?
Overwhelmingly pro Packers.
Matt from Clarkston, MI
Knowing how journalism has changed since your first Kent State semester, would you choose the same career path in 2021?
No. The near collapse of the newspaper industry has greatly reduced job opportunities in journalism.
Mike from Bridgeport, CT
Again, the Jaguars schedule lacks prime-time exposure. I get it. It's about ratings. It's about the money. Last year, I wrote you something similar and you said Wayne Weaver would be despondent and I wonder what word describes Shad Khan right now. While I'd enjoy seeing the Jaguars on at least one Monday night a year, I prefer my Sunday routine with one o'clock starts, but always thinking about the whale and whether it's in danger.
The Bengals weren't prime time last year with Joe Burrow. Be patient. The expectation is Trevor Lawrence will make the Jaguars a high-profile team.
Art from Edwardsville, IL
In your opinion, how far out is the train in Green Bay?
It depends on what the Rodgers resolution is. If the Packers are able to achieve peace with a new contract, Rodgers' dead money could approach a hundred million dollars. I would expect a new contract to include voidable years. It would have to be very creative. If the resolution is a trade, the Packers will expire the dead money in Rodgers' current contract over the next two years, leaving the Packers with one of the cleanest caps in the league. Imagine Jordan Love as an ascending player on a team with a clean cap and extra draft picks.
Greg from Mills River, NC
How does this play out if Ted is still the GM?
Ted Thompson would not have involved himself in this flap with Rodgers. He would've turned it over to Mark Murphy, which is pretty much how it is right now. It's what Chuck Noll did when players held out, as Franco Harris did; he turned it over to Dan Rooney. The difference is Rooney was the Steelers' owner; Murphy is an owner surrogate. Packers fans don't appreciate what a difficult position Murphy is in. Because the Packers are publicly owned, Murphy is, in effect, the CEO of a Wall Street company who must perform to SEC-like standards of transparency. An owner doesn't have to do that. Noll said "Franco who?" and Rooney's position was we don't negotiate in the media. A team owner such as Rooney could ask himself, "What should I do?" and then do it. Murphy has to ask himself, "What do the fans (shareholders) want me to do?" and then try to do it without damaging the franchise. That's going to be a nearly impossible task.
Jack from Jacksonville, FL
I know Nate Hackett has a connection with Blake Bortles, but wouldn't the Packers have been better off acquiring Gardner Minshew instead?
Trade a draft pick to acquire a quarterback you hope never has to play? The Jaguars traded a fifth-round pick to the Steelers for Josh Dobbs and the Steelers packaged that pick in the trade for Minkah Fitzpatrick. Dobbs never played a down for the Jaguars and is back on the Steelers' roster. The point is draft picks should be treated as pieces of gold. You don't spend them on players you don't want to play.
Cliff from Alexandria, VA
Vic, I know almost nothing about Blake Bortles. Can you tell us anything about him, especially if he has enough talent to be a starter if called upon?
He's tough and he's a team player. As a passer, he makes Billy Kilmer look like Dan Marino. Bortles' passes wobble like punts.
Ben from Sioux Falls, SD
Any favorite Jerry Burns stories? He was a good coach for a long time!
My favorite scout friend texted me a video clip of a Burns postgame press conference. Burns excoriated fans for booing offensive coordinator Bob Schnelker. There were enough bombs in Burns' tirade to have made Lee Elia blush, and Burns concluded his performance with a one-word reference to those fans that was most unflattering. That's my kind of press conference, baby. Burns was a football man's man.
Dru from Lehi, UT
Do you think the Patriots made the right decision in letting Tom Brady walk? If he stayed, do you think the Patriots had a shot at the Super Bowl? Or were they both ready to be new?
Brady needed a new contract and the Patriots were not willing to wind up his dead money and delay the team's recovery. This was classic Bill Belichick. He's at his best when it comes to taking decisive action in personnel matters. He was willing to accept short-term pain for long-term gain. The Packers' situation is not the same, but what the Patriots did with Brady should be considered.