"Ask Vic" will publish on M-W-F through the football season.
William from Thornton, CO
What can you tell us about how teams will handle the changes in schedule that will happen to all. I don't mean the coaches and players. I mean the team that has to move the team. How will the logistics of food, lodging, planes, buses and all the other things involved get handled on the fly? I'm glad it has not happened to the Packers yet, but it will.
If teams have to bubble or play a game at an alternative site, it's a road trip and it'll be handled as such. The executive side of football operations handles hotel accommodations, the plane and buses. Players eat in the hotel ballroom, where they're also taped before they get on the buses to go to the stadium on gameday. The equipment department packs and moves the gear. It arranges for a moving van to transport the equipment from the plane to the stadium on arrival and then back to the plane following the game. As the travel team is boarding the plane following the game, the equipment team is moving the equipment into the belly of the plane. Rule of thumb during my time covering football was wheels up two hours after the game ends.
Jim from Stevens Point, WI
You have mentioned several times over the years teams sometimes sign free agents to put people in the stands. Can you think of any cases that if a team knew there would be no fans this year they would not have signed someone?
I think we had a pretty good idea last March, the free agency season, this was not going to be a normal year. This was a good season for the Jaguars, for example, to go lean. Expectations were low and ticket-revenue would be even lower. Why waste money on a season unlikely to produce much winning or revenue?
Mike from McFarland, WI
Is this like the thunderstorm that killed off the College All-Star game at halftime and never re-started? Is the Pro Bowl dead for good?
Football will eventually return to normal but the next several years are going to be a struggle for all of us. Covid has put a hurt on us the Congressional Budget Office said will require a decade of recovery. Not all season ticket holders will return. Teams with waiting lists are going to eat into those waiting lists to fill their stadiums.
Aaron from Boston, MA
Tuesday night's game was incredible to watch. Yes, the Titans ended up blowing out the Bills, but we watched Derrick Henry make football look fun. He didn't have flashy numbers but we didn't need to see a 90-yard run to know the man is electric. When I started reading your stuff almost 15 years ago, I would have never appreciated it. I get it now.
When you can run the ball with power, everything about your team changes. As Kipling said, "You'll be a man, my son!"
John from Sun Prairie, WI
I heard a sports reporter mention finding players in the locker room who speak the truth. Was it easy for you to find these players and develop relationships with them?
Yes, but it was a much different time. Access was promoted, not discouraged. Teams wanted the reporters who covered them to develop relationships with players and coaches. When I began covering the Steelers, reporters were given "black books" that included home phone numbers for coaches, players and team executives. The league is in the media business now. It's controlling the message. The outside media is a competitor and it's being treated as an adversary. I'm very thankful to have covered pro football when I did.
Eric from Lansing, MI
I really enjoyed the uniforms in the Chargers/Saints game; bright blue and yellow with lightning bolts against black and gold. You've always appreciated this aspect of football. Any new stories from your past about the color of the game?
November and December can be dreary months. Colorful uniforms on a field of green steal our eyes from the gloomy gray above us. I loved covering a game in December in old Cleveland Stadium. The uniforms never looked more colorful.
Nick from Owego, NY
Where does Derrick Henry fall in the league's running back pecking order. I'm not a good judge of talent, but all I know is he is fun to watch.
He's a star. He's one of those upright runners who can run through defenders with his chest; there aren't many of them. The guy I'm enjoying this season is the Panthers' Mike Davis. He'd drop his pads on his mother. He's my kind of back.
Aaron from Eau Claire, WI
If wide receivers are a dime a dozen, are running backs a dime a baker's dozen?
They, too, are in plentiful supply. Aaron Jones is proof.
Sean from Chaska, MN
Would you rather: a) calculate playoff seeding/entry according to win percentage with teams playing different amounts of games? b) have a week or two between regular season and postseason during which games can be made up? c) give everyone another bye or two and just push everything back a couple of weeks? I favor c).
I say let 1982 be the guide. If Covid creates a scheduling mess, expand the postseason field and begin the playoffs.
Doug from St. Louis, MO
When a player is injured and misses time and his replacement plays better than he did, who should start when the first guy is finally healthy? How would you handle this situation?
You play to win the game, and that means playing the player who gives you the best chance to win. What if Belichick had given Drew Bledsoe his job back?
Justin from Waukesha, WI
You've often spoken of plays winning early in the season but players winning late. What of the great innovators such as Walsh, Brown or Gillman? Did this general wisdom apply to their teams or are they an exception to this theory?
Bill Walsh said at some point in the season the coach turns the team over to the team.
Jackson from Minneapolis, MN
Vic, I’ve always held Mike McCarthy in high regard. I loved him during his tenure in Green Bay and was sad to see him go. I really do wish him success in Dallas. Why does it seem like fans are obsessed with diminishing him as a coach?
It's guilt. They want to see him lose so it'll justify their criticism and remove their guilt for betraying him.
Nick from Milwaukee, WI
Based on your perceptions, what motivated the Jets' decision to release Le'Veon Bell?
It's embarrassment. They cut him so they wouldn't have to live in it.
Dustin from Seymour, WI
Is it possible an early bye could benefit teams this year since Covid is likely to reduce games later in the season?
I think you could say it's important to win early because teams might not have a chance to win late.
Kyle from Madison, WI
Vic, a little over 19 years ago the Bottlegate game happened. Can you describe your perspective of the game, watching what unfolded in the last minute? I've always felt the NFL wants fans to forget that game ever happened.
It was ugly. Fans were frustrated by replay review rules they determined stole a win from the Browns. If what happened then happened today, fans wouldn't react as violently. Replay review is no longer an intrusion to the game, it's part of the game and we've accepted its role. What I remember most indelibly from that day is the sound of those bottles hitting the ground. Tink! Tink! Tink! I was down on the field at that point in the game. After standing there stupidly for a few minutes, I decided I should go into the tunnel. That's where I heard the conversation between the referee and the league office, and heard the words, "You must finish the game." They've got to be kidding, I thought.
Bob from Beaver Dam, WI
The Buccaneers are opting to wear their white jerseys, forcing the Packers to wear their dark green home jerseys. Will that be a problem for Green Bay, or is it just gamesmanship?
It's just a head game the Florida teams play. The Jaguars did it to the Steelers. It became somewhat of a battlecry: one o'clock on Sunday and bring your black jerseys. The bottom line is color has nothing to do with retaining heat. Please, don't send me emails telling me how I'm wrong and you sweat more when you wear a dark shirt while cutting grass. Following Korey Stringer's death, the league commissioned a university in California to research this issue and provide a conclusion. The conclusion was color had nothing to do with heat retention. Again, don't email me about this. I will delete it immediately.
Eric from Colorado Springs, CO
Why is the NFL letting players hug and kiss and talk at the end of each game? That sends a very dangerous message as well as increasing the chance they're going to spread the disease to each other.
Pete Rozelle didn't like the message, either. He instituted a non-fraternization policy. It's the reason Chuck Noll didn't shake hands with coaches of opposing teams; Chuck was living according to the commissioner's instructions. I suspect Lombardi was doing the same thing. The players didn't abide by Pete's code. They did the lovey dovey thing after games and I always thought it was pukey looking. One of the things I loved about Steelers-Raiders games is they didn't hug and kiss when the game was over. They truly hated each other. No hype; it was the real thing. When I went to Jacksonville, Tom Coughlin had a get-off-the-field coach. It worked for a while.