Dave from Necedah, WI
Jim Taylor has to be No. 2 or 1 among the toughest Packers of all-time. Favre is third.
I had a picture of Jim Taylor in my high school locker. He was in a three-point stance on a muddy field and his sock was down, exposing a gash on his leg and stitches, with the end of the thread hanging down his muddy leg. I loved that picture. I wanted that leg to be my leg. Taylor was the symbol of a football player in his generation. Oh, man, did he have the look: the square jaw, crew cut and powerful shoulders. He was the classic example of a runner with high-knees action. Favre, of course, is famous for his durability and consecutive-games streak. That immediately qualifies him for a place high on the list.
David from Madison, WI
Willie Wood belongs near the top of the list of all-time toughest Packers. Quoting from Jerry Kramer's book, Distant Replay, “his reputation for ferocity, for tackling hard, was unmatched. All of our guys hit hard, but Willie hit extra hard. Pound for pound, Coach Lombardi said Willie was the best tackler in the game.” That's how an undrafted free agent makes it into the Hall of Fame, Vic.
You’re right, but Wood would not have been undrafted in today’s game. He was undrafted back then because he was a quarterback at USC and he had to project at a new position in the NFL. Back then, the scouting and personnel part of the game wasn’t nearly as sophisticated as it is today. In today’s game, Wood would’ve been a high pick; his talent and ability to play safety would’ve been easily identified by today’s personnel men. Lombardi was ahead of his time when it came to utilization of personnel. Paul Hornung, of course, is another example.
William from Otisville, NY
I heard it said that Jim Brown would run up to a tackler, give him a leg and then take it away. Jim Taylor would run up to a tackler, give him a leg and then run through him. Do you agree?
On Taylor? Yes. On Brown? Not really, because you’ve misrepresented him. Brown could give a leg and take it away, give a leg and stick it down your throat, give a leg and grow a new one. He is the greatest running back, probably the greatest football player that ever lived, and he was, without a doubt, the greatest power back of his era, probably of all-time.
Timothy from Denver, CO
Amidst all this discussion as of late regarding who the best team really is, I've noticed you using the phrase a lot, “Just win, baby.” It reminds me of a Vince Lombardi quote, “Winning isn't everything, it’s the only thing.” Do you hold true to the Lombardi philosophy of playing to win and winning is what truly matters at the end of the day?
Yes, I do, and so does everybody else in professional football. College football ascribes to a lot of ancillary goals, as it should because sports is part of a bigger picture in college, as it relates to molding young people so they might succeed in life. The focus in the NFL is on winning. Yeah, I know, it’s about the money, too, but that goes directly to winning.
Jordan from Cedar Rapids, IA
Do you believe the Packers are the most historic and legendary team in NFL history? Does the Super Bowl really mean more to them?
The Packers have a great history, a great tradition and because the Super Bowl trophy is named for the Packers’ greatest figure, probably the greatest figure in NFL history, the claim is that winning the Super Bowl means more to the Packers than it does to the other teams in the league. Here’s what I think: I think it’s wonderful to be able to feel that way about your favorite team but, as Ted Thompson recently said, there are 31 other teams in this league and they all have very dynamic and sharp football minds running them, and you wanna be careful to draw a line between feeling good and rubbing that feeling in the faces of your competitors, so I’ll whisper my answer: Yes, I agree.
Damian from Superior, WI
I just watched your latest “Ask Vic” video and I have to say it's terrible. An article about Pepper Burruss and the fantastic work he does would have been great. A video about his collection and a relevant question would have been all right. But the question was dubious, your answer was trite and neither had anything to do with Mr. Burruss. I enjoy your articles and your Q&A column. Do you think everyone would be better served if you stuck to your familiar medium?
I don’t know. I’m sorry you didn’t like it.
Steve from Fredonia, WI
Dom Capers’ defensive system has been a proven winner. It’s more likely another team would love to have him as a coach. Do you foresee him showing interest, or see him enjoying his position with the Packers?
I have no doubt Coach Capers is extremely happy coaching in Green Bay, and I don’t think he’d leave here for just any head coach job. I think he’d like another shot at a head job, but I think he’d want it to be with a team that’s ready to go, so to speak.
Bill from Rapid City, SD
I'll ask again; do you think the Packers will sign Favre to a one-day contract so he can retire as a Packer and do you think they should?
Mark Murphy said this week the Packers are going to retire Brett Favre’s number, when they’re convinced he has, in fact, retired. Retiring a player’s number is the ultimate honor a team can bestow on a player, in my mind. I don’t have feelings one way or another on one-day contracts because they don’t change anything about a player’s career. I did one of those one-day-contract stories with Tony Boselli and it was nice, but I don’t ever think about it when I think of Tony’s great career with the Jaguars. The fact that he’s the first and only player in their ring of honor, which is the equivalent of retiring a number, well, that resonates. I think the team should do whatever it needs to do to facilitate healing, but I think that will be fully accomplished when they retire Brett Favre’s number.
Neal from Highland, NY
Just for fun, how do you think the present Packers team stacks up against the 1996 Packers team, if everyone on both teams were healthy? On the surface, I think most people would say the ’96 team was better, but I don't think the difference is all that great. Your thoughts?
Your question will be answered over the next several years because this team will have several opportunities to do what the ’90s-era Packers did once. I think the ’96 Packers and the 2010 Packers are comparable, but the current Packers are just getting started.
Earl from Winnipeg, Manitoba
No. 2 all-time on toughest Packers list? Johnny “Blood” McNally. Doesn't the name just instill fear?
Too often, when we try to assemble lists, we ignore the old-timers. We justify it by smugly saying the old-timers couldn’t have played in today’s game because the players are bigger, stronger, faster. This is one list, however, that should begin with the old-timers and the question should be: Could today’s players have played in their game? When you talk about tough guys, you gotta talk about the old-timers. There were 19 fatalities nationwide in the 1905 football season, and several of those deaths were the result of blunt-force trauma. The sport was nearly banned. The Army-Navy game was suspended for a period of time because the sport had become too violent. If you’re ranking tough guys, you start back there and work forward. McNally’s toughness is the symbol of his era.
Dale from Kettering, OH
How about this for a fair 18-game system: two preseason games, 18 regular-season games, but each player is only allowed to be active for 16 games?
I don’t like it at all. If a coach wants to rest a player, that’s fine, but I don’t like the idea of a player not being eligible to play in a game.
John from Carson City, NV
Great teams of the 1960s and ’70s had powerful, hard-to-tackle backs that dominated the game in a three-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust, ball-control offense. Jim Taylor, Jim Brown, Larry Csonka and Earl Campbell quickly come to mind. Today, most offensive schemes seem to be pass-balanced with multiple wide receivers and backs coming out of the backfield. Do you think we will ever see offenses return to the slower, three-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust type of ground attack?
I know what you’re saying and my answer is, no, I don’t think we’ll ever see pro football return to the days of the run-the-ball mentality that dominated the game in the ’60s and ’70s. As an example, Bob Griese was six of seven for 73 yards in Super Bowl VIII and the Dolphins won easily. Those days are over. I don’t think your characterization of Brown and Campbell, however, is accurate. They were not three-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust running backs. They were anything you wanted them to be. They were big-play backs that could pound you and run away from you.