Tony from Dubuque, IA
Welcome to Packerland, Vic. I have read the overwhelming endorsements of your column from Jacksonville and I look forward to reading your experienced perspective on all things Packers. How about this softball for starters: What's your take on the team?
Vic: It’s built to last. This is no snowman that’s gonna melt in the offseason. The Packers have young stars in just about all areas and, of course, they’ve got one of the premier trigger men in the game.
Jean from Lisbon, IA
What are the Packers’ chances to win the Super Bowl next year?
Vic: I would expect them to be the favorites. Take a look at that roster. It’s young and star-studded. What’s not to like? Be that as it may, there is the infamous Super Bowl hangover with which the Packers will have to deal. Super Bowl teams traditionally find it difficult to recover quickly enough to begin the spring regimen with the same focus they would have in an ordinary year. The question is: Will there be a spring regimen this year? The Packers could find themselves with a lot of extra time to recover emotionally and physically from the exhausting run they made to the title.
Adam from Zimmerman, MN
First, welcome to the “Frozen Tundra.” In my opinion, the Packers’ greatest need in this draft/offseason is offensive linemen. Our line isn't getting any younger and while they are still performing at a high level, I think the need should be addressed early since the learning curve is pretty steep in the first years. Thoughts?
Vic: I don’t like mixing the words need and draft. I prefer mixing the word value with the word draft, but your concern for building depth on the offensive line is valid. You can never have enough big guys. If they represent value, pick ’em.
Mark from Lake Mills, WI
What position should the Packers draft with their first pick or should they take the best player available?
Vic: I’m a best available guy; that’s just me. I’m looking forward to talking to Ted Thompson and John Dorsey and the Packers’ personnel department, which is the envy of the league right now, and learning about the Packers’ way for drafting. Some teams profess to be BAP teams; others, such as the Falcons, are needs-specific, to quote Thomas Dimitroff. If you can make it work, and Dimitroff has made it work, go ahead and do it. My concern for drafting according to need is that you shrink the pool of players from which you pick when you do it that way. I’m open to new ideas and ways and I’ll be in Indianapolis later this week trying to learn about the Packers’ way.
John from Austin, TX
Any chance you'll be having a golf tournament?
Vic: Why not? Let’s do it.
Donny from Avon Lake, OH
Are the Packers owned by the fans?
Vic: They are owned presently by 112,158 shareholders; no dividends are paid, the stock can’t appreciate in value and there are no season-ticket privileges associated with stock ownership. I think it is one of the most romantic stories in all of sports. It is a testimony to what can be done when people unite for a common, selfless cause.
William from Phoenix, AZ
Historically speaking, how many years does a backup QB generally stay a backup and what is the likelihood the Packers take a QB in the upcoming draft?
Vic: The answer to the first part of your question depends on whether or not the backup quarterback has starter ability. If he does, then he’ll likely maneuver into a starter’s role, either by trade or through free agency, at some point early in the prime years of his career, which are thought to begin about year four of his career. Some guys never go beyond a backup role; they’re perfectly suited for a backup role. Alex Van Pelt spent his entire career, nine years, as a valued, dependable backup quarterback. That’s a nice luxury to know you have a guy who’s content with the role and you don’t have to worry about developing a young quarterback for it. Remember Gary Cuozzo? He was Johnny Unitas’ backup and he was so good at it that at one point in his career the remark was made that he might be the second-best quarterback in the league. Well, that reputation allowed the Colts to trade Cuozzo for nice return; Cuozzo then failed as a starter. As far as the Packers drafting a quarterback, it sure wouldn’t be for need, but it’s a good-looking crop of quarterbacks in this year’s draft class and value could present itself at some point.
Adam from Montgomery, AL
Is there a possibility the Packers draft a WR early to help ease the pain when Donald Driver decides to retire?
Vic: After the top two guys, A.J. Green and Julio Jones, there appears to be a gap until you get to the bottom of the first round and then there’s a flurry of wide receivers that surface as late-first and second-round prospects: Jon Baldwin, Jerrel Jernigan, Torrey Smith, Leonard Hankerson, Randall Cobb, Tandon Doss and Ronald Johnson are names I’m seeing.
Ray from Blaine, MN
Does the “G” on the side of the helmet really stand for greatness or is it for Green Bay?
Vic: It stands for Green Bay; that’s what I believe and that’s what I prefer. Greatness comes and goes, but Green Bay is forever.
Sue from Ashburn, VA
I am a life-long Packers backer now living in Virginia. Will packers.com continue to have articles/updates as we enter the offseason.
Vic: That’s the plan, Sue. “Ask Vic” will be a daily fixture.
Ben from Cuba, MO
Can you give us three draft prospects that you really want to see at the combine?
Vic: Cam Newton, Nick Fairley and Colin Kaepernick.
John from Jacksonville
What's it's like in football heaven?
Vic: The first night I walked out of Lambeau, I got into my car, looked through the windshield and was struck by the beauty of Lambeau at night. It’s stunning. I just sat in the car and stared. I thought about where I was. That’s when it hit me. I stared and thought about where I was and where I have been. I thought about my days in Three Rivers Stadium and my years covering the Jaguars in Jacksonville. I thought about how fortunate I’ve been to have made this journey.
Kevin from Pewaukee, WI
I have been trying to find the answer as to why a team must deactivate eight players each game day. Is it money?
Vic: It’s the rules. A team may only employ 45 active players – and a “third quarterback” – from its 53-man roster on the day of the game. The extra eight players are the equivalent of a taxi squad. They represent a reservoir of players each team may use to develop those players’ skills and provide depth. Forty-five is just right. It allows for specialization but requires that the stars play. That’s what the fans pay to see; they pay to see each team’s best players play.
Kevin from Floral Park, NY
Do you think it hurt Aaron Kampman to see the team he was on last year win the Super Bowl? Though they are his friends, his chance of winning one is running out.
Vic: Kampman is a pro. He’s above what you’re suggesting.
David from Jacksonville
I think this is going to be a tough choice for you, but who would you rather have for the next five years: Aaron Rodgers or Ben Roethlisberger?
Vic: I think Roethlisberger is a fantastic quarterback. I think it’s important to note he was throwing against the number five pass-defense in the league, which had dominated some pretty good quarterbacks during the Packers’ run to the title. I have gone on record previously, however, as saying that I consider Rodgers to be a slightly better quarterback at this stage of the two players’ careers. Rodgers has an element of ease and finesse in his game that Roethlisberger needs to develop. Having said all of that, the two quarterbacks have put on a pretty good show in their last two head-to-head matchups. Roethlisberger threw for nearly 800 yards in those two games. The interceptions were the difference in the Super Bowl because they were bad interceptions.
Mike from Blacksburg, VA
Has Lambeau Field and everything that makes up the storied Packers franchise been just as you had thought or hoped?
Vic: The walls inside the Packers offices are lined with pictures of Packers greats, from Lambeau and Lombardi to the more present-day stars. There’s one picture in particular, however, a picture of Paul Hornung, that grabs my attention every time I walk past it. It’s from when I was a kid. It’s from when the game grabbed me. It’s still grabbing me.
Andrew from Arlington, VA
In the upcoming draft (disregarding the labor situation) the Packers have the final first-round pick. What is available for the Packers’ needs at this draft position? Is depth in the secondary and backfield something that will be addressed or will the defensive line be looked at in the draft?
Vic: Available is the operative word. You pick from what’s available, not from a preconceived notion, which is what you’re suggesting. I covered the Steelers in the ’70’s when they had the last pick of the draft four times. Art Rooney Jr., the Steelers’ personnel boss at the time, dropped a last-pick philosophy on me then that still sticks with me today. He said there are two ways you can look at having that last pick. You can see yourself as having the last pick of the first round, or as having the first pick of the rest of the draft. Think about that. How would that alter your perspective?
Tom from Estero, FL
If you could be anyone other than yourself, who would you be?
Vic: The politically correct answer right now would probably be Aaron Rodgers. This is a great time in his life; who wouldn’t want to be him? One of the great things about being him, however, is that it appears he knows how to do it. It’s not that easy to do. At some point the distinction of being the reigning Super Bowl MVP turns to pressure to do it again. How a player handles the celebration will go a long way in determining how he handles the next challenge. Rodgers is doing it the right way, humbly.
Dwight from Athens, WI
What airport do opposing teams fly to and why do they stay in Appleton?
Vic: The airport isn’t the issue; the hotel is. The first time I covered a game in Green Bay, it was with the Steelers and I think we stayed at a Holiday Inn along a major highway in Green Bay. I remember going for a jog along this beautiful country road and these cows came up to the fence to see me and then they started running with me, but I digress. Every time I’ve covered a game in Green Bay since then, whether it was with the Steelers or the Jaguars, we stayed in Appleton at a hotel downtown. The issue is size; football teams not only require a lot of rooms, they require large conference rooms for night-before-the-game meetings, religious services, etc., and they need a ballroom in which the training staff can set up therapy and taping stations on the day of the game.
Michael from Slinger, WI
Do you think Lambeau Field is the most historic stadium in sports?
In pro football, it certainly is. In all of sports, the distinction would probably go to a Wrigley Field or a Fenway Park.
Randu from Los Angeles, CA
Are the Packers gonna trade Matt Flynn?
Vic: That’s a question I can’t answer, but I think I can tell you this: Before you trade your backup, you have to replace your backup. This isn’t just another team. This is the Super Bowl champion and it is at the start of what most believe will be a long run of championship contention. For teams in that position, the backup quarterback is of immense importance and value because one game can make the difference between winning homefield advantage or even making it into the postseason. In other words, you better have a backup on whom you can depend when you need him. Flynn proved in the game against New England that he can be that kind of backup.
Steve from Reading, UK
What is your first memory of a Packers game?
Vic: It is of the 1960 NFL title game against the Eagles. I remember it being on a Monday afternoon, the day after Christmas. Imagine that. I remember that we were playing a pickup game in the backyard and one of the kids broke his collarbone and that ended the game, so I went inside and watched the Packers and Eagles. I remember Norm Van Brocklin being the Eagles quarterback and Chuck Bednarik hitting everything that moved. I remember being angry the Eagles won because the Pirates had just beaten the Yankees in the World Series and I kind of felt as though Philadelphia had just upstaged the Pirates. I also remember having known, even at that tender age, that the Packers were going to be good for a long time. I have the same feeling now.