"Ask Vic" will publish on Mondays and Thursdays through the offseason.
Larry from Goldsboro, NC
With the owner's meeting coming up, do you anticipate any major rule changes for the coming year?
I get the feeling the overtime rule is going to be changed again, this time to ensure a possession for each team. If and when that happens, the words "sudden death" should never be used again to describe overtime.
Rosco from Oshkosh, WI
Vic, what does Tony Pauline think of Jaylon Ferguson and the prospects of him becoming a Packer? What round does a guy like that fall down to? Is his character issue overblown, or is he the kind of guy that is destined for a team like Dallas or Cincinnati?
"Great pass rusher, great athlete," Tony said. I sensed some reservations in commenting beyond Ferguson's physical abilities. What round? "Top of round two," Tony said. The Packers? If Ferguson is the best available player, I say pick him, but wouldn't that make signing two high-priced pass rushers in free agency look foolish?
David from Minneapolis, MN
Watched "A Football Life" on Don Shula. Watching documentaries on older coaches and players helps us younger generations see how different the game has become. What are your thoughts on Coach Shula? Where do you rank him among the best?
He became a hot coach following the 1962 Thanksgiving Day Packers-Lions game, as Shula was the defensive coordinator for the Lions. Shula was all about attention to detail; that was his coaching strength. He wasn't a great evaluator of talent; he was a great coach. Joe Thomas built the great Dolphins teams. Shula and Chuck Noll were former teammates and best of friends. Noll was Shula's defensive coordinator in Baltimore. When Shula was considering drafting Dan Marino, Shula called Noll for advice. Chuck was intensely loyal to his friend. I never heard Chuck speak of Shula in any way but respectfully. If Shula had a Joe Thomas-like GM during the Marino years, I'd have to believe Shula would've won a few more Super Bowls. He's a top five coach.
Steve from Hudson, WI
If you had to pick a rule to be a point of emphasis this year, which would it be? If you could change one rule, which would it be?
I don't like the touchback rule on fumbles through the end zone. I think the ball should belong to the team that fumbled and at the point of fumbling. I'd also favor a five-yard penalty from the point of fumbling, to discourage "throwing" the ball at the pylon.
Tina from Neenah, WI
When was your first time being published? What was the article? For me, it was an article in my local paper on how to gather aid for college. I was the first female out of nine kids to go to college. Write about what you know, I guess.
My first byline was an eye-witness story I did on the shootings at Kent State, where I was a student.
Nate from Neenah, WI
What is the craziest thing you ever wrote about?
As an intern at a newspaper, I was assigned to write a story about a Bigfoot sighting. I interviewed and quoted the man who claimed Bigfoot looked in the man's bedroom window. He said it had red eyes and smelled bad.
Richard from St. Augustine, FL
In all your years of covering the NFL, please give your insights and opinion regarding when there is a cancer in the locker room that becomes untreatable and the talent is tops in the league. When do you keep putting up with it and when do you trade?
I think the Steelers just answered your question. They put up with it through a long period of sustained winning. They stopped putting up with it when Antonio Brown walked out on his teammates. As I've written, this wasn't precedent setting. The Steelers traded Ernie Holmes during the 1978 draft, after he walked out on his teammates in the 1977 season. Chemistry and locker room camaraderie are difficult to validate and are often overrated as to their importance. I was in the Jaguars locker room the Monday in 1996 when that room was completely divided into two parts, and the divide had a racial quality to it. The Jaguars had just cut Andre Rison, who had become a divisive player, much as Brown had for the Steelers. The Jaguars were 4-7 and coming off a miserable performance in Pittsburgh. I remember feeling uncomfortable in the Jaguars locker room. There was a suspicious silence, almost as though the media had walked in on an argument. There was a collection of players in the back-left corner of the locker room, known affectionately as "the ghetto," and the same was true of the front-right corner of the locker room, which didn't have a name but I would've described as "suburbia." I distinctly remember thinking to myself "this team won't win another game." As it turned out, that team didn't lose again until it played in the AFC title game. I think the stories about discord in Pittsburgh are overblown. They're being written because fans love stories of discord. The Steelers didn't fail because they didn't like each other, they failed because their defense couldn't hold a lead.
Mike from Mount Prospect, IL
Vic, how has NFL free agency changed in the past 25 years?
There was a point during that time when it appeared to me teams were doing a much better job in finding value and spending responsibly in free agency. As the cap pushed higher in recent years, the ridiculous spending begun again.
Dan from Madison, WI
What do you think of the draft this year?
I think it's ordinary. I see a lot of manufactured prospects, guys who didn't show me much in college but are now appearing among the top prospects at their positions. I think that's especially true at the quarterback position. Most of these guys don't have the size or arm strength to have made a training camp roster in the '70's.
Brian from Baltimore, MD
You said Ted Thompson blocked the media from building a relationship with his scouts. I understand that. Still, I'm confused about your role with the Packers. I would have thought you were "part of the team," not an outsider with possible loose lips. So, how did your job function in that environment? How deeply into the "football side" were you allowed to go?
I was media, nothing more, nothing less. I wasn't about to sacrifice my integrity and reputation to be "part of the team." I have too much respect for my profession and for my readers to blur the line between myself and the team I was covering. I'll never understand why fans just don't get it.
Tom from Bismarck, ND
Vic, at the risk of tackling a touchy issue, I would like your thoughts. The Packers, perhaps more than any franchise, have tended to bring in players that were perceived as fits for the team, rather than the best athletes. Unfortunately, football just doesn't reward that kind of thinking/approach. I am suggesting this has been the case in Green Bay. Might you agree on this?
I had to chuckle a few years ago when the Packers led the league in suspended players. I'm calling baloney on the goody-two-shoes stuff, except I'm not saying baloney.
Donavon from Beaumont, TX
Vic, I'm trying to be new, but the turnover from the GM all the way down to the grounds crew might be a bit too much for me. I barely know the team I'm pulling for. I understand it's a game of replacement but, the last two years, following the Packers has me lost and troubled. Am I just getting old?
I'm old and it doesn't bother me.
Vincent from Seattle, WA
At this point in the free agency period, which of your three teams is ahead?
I think the Packers have the best chance of success. The Jaguars got the biggest upgrade, since it's the quarterback position and they were so awful at that position last season, but the Jaguars also have taken the biggest risk. The Steelers' acquisitions aren't exciting but they represent less risk.
Nathan from Neenah, WI
Ted Thompson's pick of Aaron Rodgers will likely define Thompson, but don't you think the 2009 first round was more important for their significant run of dominance? Trading up, not a Thompson hallmark, to draft a small DE who only really played one year in major college football was a major risk that paid off.
My understanding is Dom Capers deserves a major share of credit for the Clay Matthews pick. The Packers promised to get Capers a pass rusher to be the centerpiece of his 3-4 defense, and Matthews was Capers' guy.
Mike from Somerset, WI
Vic, Robert Kraft has officially made a statement admitting his guilt. He stated he hopes to remain an owner of his NFL team. I believe women in our society deserve better. The NFL’s personal conduct policy will lose all credibility if he remains an owner with a simple fine or loss of draft choices.
Now that Kraft has effectively admitted his guilt, albeit in a shrewdly crafted, strategically evasive and largely disingenuous apology, I'll offer my opinion on the matter. What Kraft did was the equal or worse than what forced Jerry Richardson to sell the Carolina Panthers, and it wasn't to a family member. The NFL must, in my opinion, require Kraft to divest himself of his ownership of the Patriots, and he must not be permitted to transfer his stake in the team in any way to a family member or any person with whom Kraft is associated. In other words, a person other than a Kraft family member or a Kraft family associate must become the new controlling owner of the Patriots. Furthermore, until that transfer of ownership is complete, the Patriots will forfeit their first pick of each year's draft and are forbidden to participate in trading draft picks with other teams. The cheating was bad enough. This is outrageous.