"Ask Vic" is published on Monday and Thursday through the offseason.
Bill from Sheboygan, WI
Did you enjoy the British Open?
It was good. Morikawa and Spieth put on a great display of clutch putting. Royal St. Georges is bland to the eye and the warm, windless weather was a disappointment, but the golf was good. Morikawa and Rahm are positioned to dominate golf for a long time.
Derek from LaCrosse, WI
As my oldest kids are teenagers now, I am definitely noticing a sharp decline of kids getting into tackle football these days. Yes, baseball seems steady. Whose future is really in more trouble? A league with an aging fan base but no youth funnel, or a wildly popular, mass appeal fan game with a solid, worldwide youth funnel?
What game does America prefer to watch, one that kicks a ball or one that throws a ball? That's the real question.
Jason from Austin, TX
What's the precedent (if there is one) regarding franchise legends in the final year of their career? If Ben Roethlisberger's age catches up to him this year and he mightily struggles early in the season, would you bench him or hope he figures it out?
Continue to play a quarterback who can't win out of respect for what he's accomplished? I don't think so. Mason Rudolph and Dwayne Haskins are going to decide the answer to your question. If one or both of those guys light it up in training camp and in the preseason, Roethlisberger will be playing for his job. He knows that. It has to be that way.
Paul from Chicago, IL
Which rookies around the league intrigue you the most, aside from Trevor Lawrence, of course?
Kevin from Grand Rapids, MI
I'm curious if you'd be willing to share your memories of the "We Are Family" Pirates of the late '70's, in contrast to the Steelers of that era.
When the '70's began, the Pirates were the hot team in Pittsburgh. Three Rivers Stadium was brand new, the Pirates had an overflow of talent that reached deep into their farm system, and attendance was strong and on the rise. It stayed that way through the '72 season, but it all changed on Dec. 23, 1972, the day of the Immaculate Reception. The Pirates were never the same again. The new Steelers were born and interest in the Pirates and attendance immediately declined. The '79 "We Are Family" Pirates won a World Series that brought the curtain down on a decade that produced two World Series titles and more talent than had ever passed through the Pirates franchise in a 10-year period, but it was the decade the Pirates of my youth died. You no longer heard Pirates radio broadcasts blaring from front porches across Western Pa. Pittsburgh had always been a football town waiting to happen. When it happened, the Pirates were dead. Can they be re-born? I doubt I'll live long enough to know the answer to that question.
Peter from Umatilla, FL
What will you look for this year to determine if Matt LaFleur has made the step up to established NFL head coach?
If Rodgers deigns to remain with the Packers, will LaFleur be able to manage the distractions that will result? If Rodgers is traded and Love becomes the quarterback, will LaFleur be able to keep the Packers competitive?
Josh from Madison, WI
For each post on this site, you include questions from people hailing from towns I've never heard of, even in my home state, and I often think “where in the heck is that?” You’ve started a bit of an unofficial Google-aided geography course around these parts. Memories make us rich, communities make us wealthy. Thanks for providing us such a peculiar community.
Google them. Read their histories. I didn't know Thornton Wilder was from Madison.
Bob from Beaver Dam, WI
Your first three cars cost less than a ZTR mower. An electric car costs more than my first two houses combined. I am seriously considering getting one because then was then and it is time to be new for many reasons. Would you switch to battery?
Yes, but I have concerns about the charging issue. We park our cars under our houses and golf carts have been known to catch fire during charging and burn houses down.
Bryan from Champaign, IL
What is the MLB equivalent of the NFL's 1978 rules changes?
In the American League, it's the designated hitter rule. It changed everything. You didn't have to play a defensive liability in the field, you didn't have to pinch hit for a pitcher (especially a closer in the late innings), bunting and advancing runners became a lost art, pitchers didn't have to run the bases and otherwise be baseball players, and Roger Clemens could hit batters in the head and not have to worry about getting hit.
Bradley from Charlotte, NC
I think Mike Tomlin doesn't get enough credit for the job he does. After like 15 years, we still don't hear reports of how his players have checked out, his message is stale, etc., and his teams, even some pretty bad ones, just win. What is he and the Steelers organization doing differently than other teams to keep things working so well for so long?
Tomlin's strength is he challenges his players to make plays. He gets wild with his strategy decisions but I've always felt they are as much about setting the bar higher for his players as they are about winning the game. He has a wonderful view of and commitment to the big picture. His message doesn't get stale because he keeps it new; new goals, greater challenges and demands. He's also a good evaluator of talent and when he sees a player's arrow is pointing down, he finds a new player. Change doesn't allow staleness. The criticism of Tomlin is he hasn't won in the postseason often enough. Isn't that the criticism of all long-time coaches who've won only one Super Bowl? Has Sean Payton under-achieved in the postseason? Mike McCarthy? Pete Carroll? Andy Reid? John Harbaugh?
Ben from Fort Worth, TX
I was looking at the 2006 draft where Hawk was taken fifth overall. While he had a solid career, it was not stellar, especially for a fifth overall. But looking at who the Packers passed on in the first round, I did not see many standouts. Haloti Ngata seems like the obvious best pick, having several All-Pro seasons (picked 12th). I'm guessing you were still with the Jags at that time and they got Marcedes, which was a good pick. Steelers got Holmes, and I’m betting you were not a fan of that pick. Was 2006 a bad draft class? Who would you have drafted at fifth overall?
It was a relatively weak class. I remember thinking Vince Young was a ridiculous pick at No. 3, and that A.J. Hawk was the safest pick on the board. When the Jaguars picked Marcedes Lewis, he was regarded as an athletic tight end who needed to improve his blocking. What he turned out to be is a bad-hands pass-catcher who's stayed in the league all these years on the strength of his blocking. Santonio Holmes was picked at No. 25. He won a Super Bowl MVP, although I think Roethlisberger should've gotten it. I think Nick Mangold at No. 29 was probably the best pick of the first round. He would've been a better long-term pick for the Steelers. Gotta get the big guys.
Brendon from Santa Maria, CA
Former 49ers tight end Gary Clark died recently at only 49 years old, suffering from CTE. Richard Sherman just had an explosive incident stemming from apparent mental health issues. While we can only speculate the source of those issues, they certainly would be consistent with patterns exhibited by past CTE sufferers. Nobody has ever escaped pro football unscathed, but the human cost of this game just seems to be getting higher.
I can't help but wonder what role PEDs have played in CTE.
Trevor from Wausau, WI
I've read there might be a big sum of revenue coming from companies like Amazon and Apple buying streaming rights. Could that make pushing money out an effective strategy if teams know the cap is going to drastically increase?
All teams have to push out money on the quarterback and core players. It's a matter of how much, and the quarterback usually decides that issue. In his prime years, you try to outrun the train. As he nears the end of his career, you get off the tracks. The Patriots got off the tracks last year. The Steelers are in the process. The Packers could be facing that same decision.
Patrick from Palm Coast, FL
Is the mystique of the Frozen Tundra officially dead? The Falcons come in and win against Favre; maybe it was a fluke. The Giants come in and win twice, but they're a cold-weather team. Now the Bucs come in and win. The Bucs! It's over, right?
The Packers' style of play doesn't fit with where they play. The advantage is lost.
Helen from United Kingdom
If the majority of linemen are evaluated on their ability to pass block, what makes a good run-first team?
Zone blockers and a back who can cut behind them. Almost nobody is drive blocking anymore. Move the line of scrimmage is old-time coachspeak; it no longer applies. The game today is played much higher than the low-man-wins game of the past, which is the result of the emphasis on size and pass-blocking. Good run-blockers in today's game occupy defenders; that's good enough. When I was covering the Packers, they almost exclusively drafted college left tackles. As it pertains to running the ball, that's like building a baseball defense with designated hitters. I doubt John Hannah would be a fourth overall pick in today's game.