Andrew from Portland, OR
Loved your response to David from Sammamish, WA. Sportsmanship thrives when we respect our opponents. My question is what would happen if, say, a Cam Newton didn't declare himself eligible for the draft? Could he pick his team?
Vic: Everybody is eligible for the draft in one year in their life. Declaring yourself eligible for the draft is what you do if you want to enter the draft before your natural year of eligibility arrives, and there is a process for declaring early eligibility. You can’t enter the NFL without being eligible for the draft. If you’re not drafted, you are then free to sign with any team in the league as an undrafted free agent.
Rob from Champaign, IL
In response to David (from Sammamish, WA), I get up to Lambeau at least once or twice a year and I make it a point to talk to fans of the other team. I've even given little mini tours of the stadium. I have never once heard anyone say anything bad about the experience. One good example is this: Opening weekend of 2009, we played Chicago on Sunday night. I sat next to a group of about six Bears fans. I asked what they thought of it all and they said this: “I can't believe how nice everyone is here. If you wore Packer stuff to Soldier Field, someone would try to pick a fight with you.”
Vic: Team jerseys shouldn’t be the equivalent of gang colors. It’s not an issue in Green Bay and that’s something about which this franchise, this fan base and this place on the map should be proud. I am. It lifts my spirits to think there are still places of civility in American sports. When I was a young man deciding whether to be a quantum physicist or a sportswriter, I read a quote from the late, great sportswriter Jimmy Cannon, who said he chose to be a sportswriter because he liked being in happy places. That really resonated with me. We need to make sure sporting events continue to be happy places.
Daniel from Desert Shores, CA
I’m a big Packers fan in California and the Packers are coming down to San Diego this season. Should I go all out and show team spirit?
Vic: Go all out and feel team spirit, Daniel, but please be careful how you express it.
Roy from Eagle River, WI
Have there ever been any officials elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame? Let's be honest, most of these guys do amazing work in what has to be one of the most difficult jobs in all of sports. Norm Schachter comes to mind as one of the all-time greats.
Vic: Roy, in all the years I’ve done this column, this is the first time anyone has asked me this question, so I had to look for the answer and what I found is that Hugh “Shorty” Ray is the only member of the Hall of Fame to have come from an officiating background. Ray was the league’s supervisor of officials from 1938-52 and he is credited for having streamlined the rules to improve game tempo and player safety. Hey, does that sound familiar? It sounds as though the more things change, the more they stay the same. Yes, Norm Schachter is an all-time great. So were Tommy Bell and Jim Tunney, who were the standards of officiating when I started covering the league.
Mark from Tempe, AZ
Do you think if Ryan Grant comes back at 100 percent we will see the Packers utilize a two-back system with the emergence of James Starks?
Vic: If by a two-back system you mean using Grant and Starks in a complementary fashion, I think the answer to your question is yes. If, however, you are asking if they will play in the backfield together in a split-backs system, I think the answer is no.
Neil from Cheddar, UK
Just reading Jerry Kramer's book (as recommended by you) and what an excellent insight into pro football it is. In the book, however, Vince Lombardi tells the players that when Curly Lambeau won three NFL championships on the trot it was easy, but now that he is trying to do it, it is not so easy. I personally believe all the championships hold equal merit (unlike some fans on various chat sites). What are your views?
Vic: Apparently, even back then the belief was that anything in the present is better than anything in the past. What we all fail to realize is that one day we will become the past. So, the next time you look down your nose at what those before you have accomplished, remember, that’s how future generations will view what you accomplished. I wish I had a time machine that would allow me to bring a few of the old teams into the present and see what they could do in today’s game, and then I’d like to take a few of today’s teams into the past and see how they’d do in that game. I’d like to see today’s players play without facemasks. No one ever mentions that.
William from Shorewood, IL
What is the status of Justin Harrell? Do you expect him to be on next year's roster?
Vic: He’s a former first-round pick who is attempting to establish himself in the NFL. Obviously, it needs to happen soon.
Howard from Homestead, FL
If the teams only have two preseason games, wouldn't that cause teams to work projected starters harder in those two games to prepare for the season? That, plus two extra regular-season games seems to be a double whammy for the players.
Vic: Realistically, all they’d be losing is one preseason game. A few years ago, Bill Belichick decided not to play any of his starters for the fourth and final preseason game. I’m sure you remember the game. It sent shockwaves through the NFL because it sent a terrible message to fans about the value of preseason games. The first message it sent was that four was too many. That game was the beginning of the end of the four-game preseason format. That was the night the league knew it had to move one or two preseason games into the regular season because it knew the other coaches would do the same for the final preseason game and they have. So, since then the preseason has effectively been a three-game season in which the starters play one quarter in the first game, two quarters in the second game and three quarters in the third game. What’s the big deal? In a two-game season, the starters will play a quarter and a half in the first game and three quarters in the second game. At that point, start the regular season. These are world-class athletes. They’ll find a way to deal with the change.
Nick from Wheeling, WV
Giving the coach of the year award to the Super Bowl winner barely makes any sense. Was Coach McCarthy a bad coach last year and the best coach this year because Aaron Rodgers missed Greg Jennings in Arizona in overtime?
Vic: I didn’t say give it to the Super Bowl-winning coach. I said a coach’s full body of work should be considered. What sense does it make not to consider what a coach does in the postseason? If, after the Super Bowl is played, the feeling is that a coach that didn’t make it into the playoffs did a better job than the coach that won the Super Bowl, then give him the award. What’s the rush? Why does the coach of the year award have to be decided in December? We’ve got a whole offseason news cycle to fill. Coach McCarthy, in my opinion, should’ve been the coach of the year for 2010 because of what he overcame in accomplishing what he did. He overcame the league’s worst rash of injuries. He overcame one of the league’s most difficult schedules. He held his team together at a time when others may have given up hope. He peaked his team at the right time of the year and he did all of this without moaning and groaning. It was a top job by anybody’s standards.
Kevin from Salem, NH
With Nnamdi Asomugha and Ray Edwards becoming free agents when the lockout ends, do you believe the Packers could try to sign either of them? Ted Thompson isn't too big on free agents, but with Woodson not getting younger and Cullen Jenkins possibly being a free agent, I feel it may be time to pursue one of these two guys to fill a need for the future. Do you agree?
Vic: Free agency is all about addressing needs. If you need help at a position, then you should look at the crop of free agents at that position and pursue those that fit your value line. I don’t perceive a need at cornerback and the value line for Asomugha is going to be very, very high. I think we need to wait until after the draft to be able to get a feel for how this question pertains to the defensive end position. This draft could turn out to be one of the all-time great defensive line drafts. I have to believe that at some point, probably more than at one point, a defensive lineman is going to be at the top of the Packers’ board when it’s their turn to pick. Based on the available crop, it would be unlikely for that not to happen.
Mike from Clovis, NM
I just wanted to say I love your comments on the Packers cheerleaders. In my opinion, we have the best fan base in the NFL.
Vic: There are a few franchises in the league for which that cheerleaders video would apply, and the Packers are one of them. Nothing beats having a great fan base. It starts with that. It’s better than having a great team because when you have a great fan base, it’s only a matter of time before you’ll have a great team. The Packers have both.