Adam from Fennimore, WI
What determines if a player is a veteran, and what’s the difference between a veteran and a proven veteran?
When a player accrues one accredited season, he becomes a veteran. In other words, Randall Cobb is a veteran. A proven veteran is someone who has established himself as a fixture in the league.
Lars from Copenhagen, Denmark
When it's all said and done for Driver, wouldn't he make a great WR coach in Green Bay and become a true Packer for life?
Not all great players become great coaches. Not all great players want to become coaches. There’s a difference and it starts with being willing to spend time away from your family and the things you enjoy in your life. Does a player who has dedicated the first half of his life to football, which means having dealt with the constant pressure and tension of performing at a high standard, want to continue in that manner? If he’s a guy who’s saved his money and provided for financial security for his family, does he want to spend long days, late nights and weekends away from his family, or would he rather enjoy the fruits of his labor? I suspect Donald Driver could decide to spend the rest of his life enjoying the fruits of his labor. Does he want to coach? That’s the question he’d have to answer. If the answer is yes, then he’ll have to begin where he began as a player, at the bottom and work his way up. There’s a learning curve and proving ground for great players who want to become coaches, just as there is for the guys who weren’t great players. I talked this week to two players I covered, who are at Lambeau in pursuit of coaching careers: Levon Kirkland and Chris Naeole. They’re trying to work their way up the coaching ladder. I can remember Tony Dungy doing the same thing. I can remember Tony hanging out behind the training camp dormitory, staying out of sight until one of the coaches talked to Coach Noll about bringing Tony on as a quality control type of coach. You don’t just walk into the coaching profession at the top level because you were a top-level player. Driver has fantastic communication skills, which means he’s a natural to be a coach. Does he want to do what it takes to become one?
Greg from North Little Rock, AR
Vic, what are your thoughts/observations of M.D. Jennings emerging as the safety opposite Burnett?
Why not? Safety is a position at which a lot of undrafted players have become stars. Mark Murphy was undrafted. Donnie Shell was an undrafted guy and he’s borderline Hall of Fame. Packers Safeties Coach Darren Perry was an eighth-round pick, the equivalent of an undrafted player in today’s system, and Perry enjoyed a long and distinguished career as a free safety. Jennings moves well. He appears to have a sharp mind and strong instincts for the position. I think he’s in the hunt at a position of intense competition.
K.J. from Belt, MT
What do you think Coach Lombardi would say of “Ask Vic”?
I don’t know. I think he might get a chuckle from time to time, but I think he’d also make sure he’d voice disapproval, which is what coaches in his era did to make sure they maintained an element of control over the media. All coaches from his era, and that includes Coach Lombardi, were mindful of the challenge of selling professional football to the sporting public. They knew that baseball was the national pastime and that football was the college game, and it was understood that they would cooperate with the league’s efforts to sell pro football by cooperating with the media. I think Coach Lombardi would’ve approved of anything that helped promote the game.
Scott from De Pere, WI
On the subject of retiring numbers, do you feel any former NFL player has had such an impact on the game that they should have their number permanently retired by the league, similar to Jackie Robinson's 42?
I don’t see a player in football’s past that symbolizes a watershed, culture-changing, game-changing moment as Robinson does for baseball. I considered Jim Thorpe, but players didn’t wear numbers back then. If there’s a guy, I think it would be Johnny Unitas, because the 1958 NFL title game and Unitas’ game-winning, overtime drive is fabled to be the turning point in pro football history. The distinctive crew cut, passing motion, chiseled features and black high-top shoes have an identity and universal appeal that blends the old game with the new game Unitas was inventing. If there was a guy, he would be it.
John from Duluth, MN
If we've such an appetite for football in the spring, why did the XFL fail?
It was bad football in a poorly run and ill-conceived league. The USFL was good football that produced a generation of NFL players and coaches. Jim Mora’s Philadelphia Stars staff included Vic Fangio and Dom Capers, who helped develop the zone-blitz with the Stars and took it into the NFL when Mora became the head coach of the Saints.
Rene from La Habra, CA
If you could meet any of your “Ask Vic” readers, who would it be and why?
It would probably be Kevin, so we could talk a little NASCAR or soccer and, hopefully, I could make him my friend.
Jake from Little Chute, WI
Congrats, Vic! You nailed the exposure on that last video. I could tell that the reader who criticized the tunnel video left an impact on your production.
Yeah, I told the production guys that we needed to nail the exposure, because anything less than perfection is unacceptable. Our greatness must always be great.
Karl from London, England
I read on ESPN that Goodell was considering a Super Bowl to be played at Soldier Field. I know Green Bay is in no way shape or form the size of Chicago, but surely Green Bay deserves at least one chance to host the Super Bowl. What are your thoughts?
Where are all of those people going to sleep, in the Hutson Center?
Joe from Estherville, IA
How do you think the Packers feel about the NFL misspelling Aaron Rodgers’ name on the front page of their official pro shop magazine?
How would you like to be the guy that proofread that page?
Jason from Summerville, SC
How does a team pick its uniform colors? And for the teams that have been around since the beginning, are there any interesting stories that go along with their colors?
In recent times, NFL Properties has gotten involved in the branding process for new franchises or teams making a uniform-colors switch. The heritage teams selected their colors for various reasons. Curly Lambeau was a Notre Dame guy and the Packers’ original colors were blue and gold. George Halas was a University of Illinois guy and the Bears wear blue and orange. I can’t find anything written that confirms those origins, but football was the college game and pro football took a lot of its cues from college football. Art Rooney was a Pirates fan, so I suspect that’s the reason he used the Pirates’ colors for the Steelers, who were originally named the Pirates. Again, baseball was the national pastime and pro football was trying to capitalize on any connection it could make to the sporting public. One of my favorite uniforms stories is of the Broncos’ original uniforms being hand-me-downs from either a defunct semi-pro team or all-star game (no one’s quite sure which it is). That’s the kind of frugalness that kept the NFL and AFL in business long enough to succeed. The USFL should’ve tried to do the same thing.
Barry from Glasgow, Scotland
Can you tell me why an Exclusive Rights Franchise Tag is legal these days, when any other employee out of contract is free to talk to any other employer? Why can’t Drew Brees just walk away, if that’s his wish? Why are NFL teams different?
The tag designation was collectively bargained by the players union to which Brees belongs.
Jon from New Britain, CT
I always have fans of other teams try to tell me Rodgers is only that good because of the system he is in. Do you believe that this is true? I believe Rodgers is the best all-around QB, agree?
I see no weakness in his game. He has the mobility, quick-think ability and accuracy to play in a three-step-drop “West Coast Offense,” and the arm strength and pocket patience and courage to play in a 1970s seven-step-drop offense. He’s big enough in the lower body to not get blown over by the rush, yet, natural enough in the upper body to not be muscle-bound and robotic with his throws. He sees the field and feels the rush. He can make all of the throws and he could’ve played successfully in any era. He can touch his throws with a long, flowing release, and he can snap it out of there with a lightning-fast release when he needs to beat the rush or fit the ball into a closing window. His teammates respond to him and his coaches respect him. I know of no system, from a finesse “Run and Shoot” to a pound-the-ball play-action attack, that wouldn’t fit his skills. To say Aaron Rodgers is a system quarterback is like saying Robert DeNiro only does comedy.
Merle from Farmington, IL
You've closely observed three different teams that you've covered. Are their practices all structured basically the same way? Do McCarthy and the Packers really conduct business differently than anybody else?
Different teams and coaches do things differently. Mike McCarthy incorporates far more ball-security drills into his practices than I’ve witnessed anywhere else. Tom Coughlin’s practices were heavy with precision passing drills; I never saw so many down-and-outs. The Steelers were big on nine-on-sevens and liked to finish practice in training camp with a live goal-line drill. McCarthy’s practices are signaled from period to period by the sound of a horn. Coughlin had a guy yell out, “Period two, period two,” as he held a card in the air that read, “Period two.” Bill Cowher used an air horn. Neither Chuck Noll nor any of his coaches wore a whistle and practices would proceed to a different period or station with a whisper by Noll. Noll liked to use the Oklahoma, Coughlin scoffed at the suggestion of it, and Jack Del Rio turned it into entertainment. McCarthy’s and Coughlin’s practices are similar in their choreography and tempo, and they each amplify their special teams coach’s voice. Noll was his own special teams coach and he spoke in hushed tones. Noll, Cowher, Coughlin and McCarthy all went or go about their practice regimens differently, but they all have one thing in common: at least one Super Bowl championship. Just win, baby.
Kevin from Atlanta, GA
Vic, I do not dislike you, I dislike the way you put questions on your blog (like mine) that are comments about things other than the Packers or Green Bay. Please stop. They do not need to be published. I want to read about football, your experiences and the Packers. I don't care which order. Why do you bring up NASCAR or soccer when I never mentioned it? It's just a smart alec response to legit criticism.
Thank you, Kevin, for taking time to explain your position, and especially for allowing me to explain my position on what I decide to feature in my column. Kevin, I’ve been writing this column for 12 years. By my calculation, I have written over 3,000 “Ask Vic” columns. At an average of 10 questions per column – this one has 15 questions in it – I’ve answered in excess of 30,000 questions. Do you see where I’m going with this, Kevin? I haven’t covered a football game since Jan. 14. I gotta tell you, Kev, it’s tough to keep this thing going on a daily basis without a little literary freedom. I mean, how many times do you want to read about Cullen Jenkins, huh? I use everything from my career as a sports writer to cobble something that might be of interest to the reader. In other words, I’m doing my best to give Packers fans a good read and, at this time of the year, I’m trying to pace myself so I can make it to training camp without running out of material. As a result, I invent subject matter that might help get us to the start of football. You are such an invention, and I thank you for having entertained us this week. I gotta tell you, Kev, a lot of people seem to like it. The numbers are real, real good.
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