"Ask Vic" will publish on Mondays and Thursdays through the offseason.
Jeff from Virginia
Call me a neophyte, but what happened with the 1977 Steelers? I could easily Google this, but I’d prefer your take.
It was a reset year. The Lombardi Packers had a reset year in 1964. You need new blood, a new resolve, whatever. In the Steelers' case, there was discontent. Ernie Holmes and Glen Edwards topped the list of malcontents. Coach Noll was being sued by Al Davis. Mel Blount and Jack Lambert were training camp holdouts. The '77 season marked the end of one run: '74-'76, the power years. The '78 season ushered in the Bradshaw years. Noll retooled the team following the '77 season. Holmes and Edwards were traded, replaced by Steve Furness and Donnie Shell. The '78 rules changes also allowed Noll to give the Steelers a new identity: a big-play passing attack featuring Bradshaw, Lynn Swann and John Stallworth. Noll had a team with a stable of talent and he found a way to use it all. The '77 Steelers lost in the playoffs in Denver. It was almost relief the season had ended. It felt doomed from the start. What Noll did in retooling the Steelers is the best offseason coaching job I've ever seen.
Owen from Great Falls, MT
I was a big fan of Dr. Z (Paul Zimmerman) and reread his book during the lock down. Only recently I found out he passed away. Did you ever meet him; do you have any stories?
Paul loved his craft. He was completely dedicated to it and he was at his best when he was writing about offensive line play. It was easy to see the respect Coach Noll had for Paul's command of line play and strategy. When I was a very young reporter, I was in a crowd of reporters in a postgame locker room. Paul literally pushed me aside. He was aggressive in getting the story. The last time I saw him was at an owners meeting in Orlando; I think it was in 2008. He was struggling with health issues but he was still hot in pursuit of the story. Paul loved the draft and would call me every spring and ask what the Jaguars needed and who they liked. He once commented I wrote a "good mailbag column." I had a come a long way from the kid Paul pushed out of the way.
Ben from Alameda, CA
What is your take on fireworks?
I understand their significance but I don't like them. They drive the dogs nuts. If I could get under the bed, I'd go there with them.
Scott from Hamlin, NY
With Cam Newton signing with the Patriots, what expectations do you have for that team now?
If Newton's shoulder has healed, the Patriots will be contenders. If he's just another over-the-hill quarterback chasing a paycheck, Belichick won't look so smart and he'll be looking for another quarterback next year.
Nathan from New York
Why didn't the '79 Steelers make it to your list?
They were No. 11. I respect what they did but that was a team in hard decline that got a gift from the Oilers and then overmatched an average Rams team in the Super Bowl. I felt it was more important to acknowledge the '96 Jaguars.
Omar from Morella, Mexico
You've covered a lot of Dom Capers defenses. Which one was the greatest?
The '94 Blitzburgh defense is worthy of comparison to the great Steelers defenses of the '70's, and Capers, Bill Cowher and Dick LeBeau were an amazing triumvirate of defensive coaching acumen.
Mike from Jacksonville, FL
Vic, what happened during halftime of the Jaguars '99 season AFC championship game? Whatever it was, it truly cost them a Super Bowl appearance.
I've been told there was bickering and a confrontation in the locker room at halftime. Reggie Barlow had fumbled a punt late in the first half and some members of the defense didn't like the way the offense was playing. I didn't like it either. The Jaguars were gashing the Titans. Run the ball! Be that as it may, bickering wasn't going to help matters. They spent the halftime putting out fires instead of making adjustments and refocusing themselves. They left the locker room in turmoil and it showed in their play. Frustration got the better of them.
Brian from Sugar Land, TX
Let's just say the Packers use Jordan Love like the Saints use Taysom Hill. It's said the key to success in the NFL is getting the game slowed down. Love is positioned as the next Packers QB. In your view, would his play at running back serve to slow down the game, contributing to his development as a QB?
Mike from McFarland, WI
It's now clear there won't be an NFL season. If you ran NFL Network, what would you run this fall?
I don't think anything is clear or settled, but you ask an interesting question. A few weeks after I became editor of packers.com, the NFL locked out the players. We weren't permitted to talk to the players or discuss the lock out, which meant I was the editor of a team website that didn't have a team and I couldn't explain why. We did stories on everything; we even did a best in number series. Compounding the problem, Ted Thompson wasn't a media-friendly guy. We had to beg for the right to do features on the coaches. If there's no football season in 2020, NFL Network is going to be facing the same type of challenge. Gossip-type reporting will get old. NFL Network will need to produce some quality features, much as "A Football Life" has been. I would begin with historical documentaries on each team.
Timothy from New York
Slap on the wrist for New England, eh?
It was weak, but not unexpected. I'm more interested in what the league will do about the sex trafficking thing. The league's honor is at stake.
Taylor from Hull, IA
The Kansas State football team is threatening to not play unless a student is kicked out of school for posting something offensive. I think it's ironic freedom of speech is being used to push for societal change while at the same time it's being used to crush free speech for opposing views. Why can't people see limiting free speech like we are currently doing is leading us down the path of social, moral and intellectual destruction?
There are consequences for what we say and write. They are the governor of free speech. They make us accountable.
Andy from LaPorte, CO
You told us this column is simply for enjoyment, and that for the first time it’s not about the money. A wise man once said something along the lines of, “When they say it’s not about the money, that’s when it’s really about the money.” Which Vic are we supposed to believe? My guess is it’s about the money.
George Young was the wise man, not me. He said it -- I was merely quoting him -- and he was speaking specifically about football players.
Jack from Middleton, WI
In the words of Chaplin: "The misery that is now upon us is but the passing of greed -- the bitterness of men who fear the way of human progress."
In the words of Coach Noll: "Never make a major decision based solely on money."
Kevin from Texas
In what is likely my only venture into politics on your forum, what is your opinion as to who shot first, guardsmen, students or third party provocateurs who needed innocent bodies to strengthen their narrative?
Is somebody trying to rewrite history? The Scranton Commission and an intense FBI investigation already answered these questions. There is no evidence of a student discharging a firearm or of a sniper. Guardsmen opened fire because in any large group of people who have guns in their hands, someone is likely to fire. if one student had returned fire, Kent State would've become the new Wounded Knee. The decision to bring the Guard onto campus was the big mistake, and it began with the university president deciding not to return to Kent from a conference in Iowa he was attending when trouble began. His presence was necessary to help blunt the force of the mayor and a governor campaigning for re-election. Don't allow your love of country to blind you from the truth. The Ohio National Guard was an agent of the United States of America and it committed murder. Those who pulled the trigger and are still alive today know what they did, and their conscience will cause them to suffer until the day they die.
Peter from Rescue, CA
When Biden gets blown out and Trump wins in a landslide in November, Vic, that'll cool your ass, as Jack Lambert would say.
The line is drawn. It's winner take all. Let's go!
Mike from Fort Wayne, IN
Vic, I just watched a documentary on the year 1968. What a year of tragedy, chaos and protest. Do you think 2020 will be remembered much in the same light?
We might be living through the most significant year in American history.
Ross from L'Anse, MI
So I take it Monday was a cooling off period, allowing the right wing to buy masks.
Edisto passed an ordinance. As of Wednesday at 6 a.m., everyone on Edisto was required to wear a mask while inside a building. Welcome to Edisto, tourons! That'll cool your ass.