Julian from Amelia Island, FL

Whoa! You mean to tell me you are allowed to catch your own punt and score a touchdown on it? Granted, you have to have the ability to do that, but is that still allowed in today’s game?

No, it’s not. Nevertheless, what intrigues me about that story of Jim Thorpe catching his own punt and running with it for a touchdown is that reports claim that all of his punts traveled between 50 and 70 yards that day. So, either he kicked the ball real high or he ran real fast, which means he was either Ray Guy or Bob Hayes.

Morgan from Wausau, WI

Vic, my boyfriend reads your column too much. How do I get him to stop reading and spend more time with me?

Is this a trick question?

Rick from Cameron, WI

When will we find out how many compensatory picks the Packers will receive next year? Also, will you please explain how the waiver process works?

Compensatory pick awards are usually announced in the pre-draft weeks. The waiver process allows teams to make a claim within 24 hours of a player being waived. After 24 hours, the league collects all of the claims made for that player and awards him to the team highest on the waiver claim order.

Dan from Houston, TX

Talking about Coach Lombardi’s good fortune in Green Bay, would you consider Coach McCarthy to have that same fortune? Coming to a team with Brett Favre while developing Aaron Rodgers! Sounds like a young coach’s dream. Would Coach McCarthy even still be here without those QBs?

Coaching around a talentless roster is a difficult thing to do. Jimmy Johnson, Bill Walsh and Chuck Noll were a combined 4-42 in their first year as head coaches. They were each facing massive roster rebuilding jobs and their teams’ records improved as they accumulated talent. What does that say about the need for talent, especially at the quarterback position, where each of those coaches drafted the quarterback that would lead them to a combined nine Super Bowl titles.

Bubba from Kenosha, WI

Worthy, Tretter and even Sherrod may start the season on PUP. How long can they stay on PUP before Ted Thompson would have to put them on injured reserve for the season?

The league provides a three-week window between Weeks 6-9 of the regular season for teams to make a decision on players that began the regular season on the physically unable to perform list. Until Week 1 of the regular season, players can come off PUP at any time. If a player is not activated from PUP following the two-week window, he must either be waived or assigned to injured reserve.

Cole from Rudolph, WI

Do you think NFL players would perform better if they earned wages instead of salaries? For example, a certain amount for TDs, sacks, etc.

They’d play for the stats. I think some players with incentivized contracts do that, which is why I think it’s critical in knowing the character of the player whose contract you’re incentivizing. I have no problem with incentives for team guys. It’s very important that incentives be earned in the process of playing with the big picture in mind.

Chris from Apple Valley, MN

Is your contract up yet with the Packers? I mean, you get on Packers fans when they are excited about a season and confident in the team, and you just mock them by making fun of them. Vic, how do you want Packer fans? You want them to come into a season with no confidence and say our team stinks and we have no shot at the title? What’s the point of watching? If we didn’t have that for the Packers, there would be no team in Green Bay. This is what makes the Packers who they are and, in my opinion, makes our fans and Pittsburgh’s the best. They are diehards. If you don’t like it, then leave. When you were gone it was the best week on this site. If you like San Francisco and the Giants so much, go write for them. I can’t believe a guy who works for the Packers bashes the fans so much. Take us or leave us, Vic. We are not changing for some old guy with no experience in the game besides reporting what other people say. Oh, by the way, you wrote an article saying you are just a reporter reporting what goes on. Then why do you have a blog called “Ask Vic?” Isn’t that your opinion and not reporting? Go to the Vikings, where the fans are fair weather. You would do better with them.

OK.

Kyle from Lakewood, NJ

Are the Packers’ recent struggles on the defensive side of the ball a Dom Capers-related issue? That is, have teams figured out his defense?

Yes, they have. They figured it out long ago. Any coach in the NFL that is still trying to figure out how to attack a specific defense shouldn’t be coaching in the league. The issue is about doing it. Players, not plays.

Bill from Ames, IA

Recently on NFL Network, they ran a show about the “Top 10 Things We Miss About Football.” I had to think about it a bit. I came up with this: I miss when football players were football players, not quasi-celebrities being followed by paparazzi, and styling fashions for the red carpet, etc. What say you? What do you miss about football? I love your column.

One of the things I miss is the days when we didn’t have “Top 10 Things.” I really mean that. The hype is too much now. I miss the days when I knew the big game was coming up on Sunday. I knew when kickoff was and that’s all I needed to know. I didn’t need a constant reminder from TV promos. Everything is too much except the game. I still love the game.

Scott from Greensburg, IN

Please entertain us a bit, Vic, and run through your retired numbers list.

Not the whole list, but here’s an example from my previous stop. For as long as I live, the numbers 8, 28 and 71 will always belong to Mark Brunell, Fred Taylor and Tony Boselli. It’s just that way when you spend a big chunk of your career chronicling theirs. You become their biographer.

Shawn from Troy, NY

You’re the commissioner of the NFL. You’re given the responsibility to make the league safer. What actions do you take to make the league safer without making the game soft?

I’d try to decrease the open spaces and compress the action. The successful attempt to decrease the number of kickoff returns is an example of what I’m suggesting. The kickoff is the greatest open-space play of any game. It’s also the play that results in more injuries than any other play. In my opinion, more open space means more injuries.

Craig from Fort Collins, CO

How do you like the chances of the Packers winning the Super Bowl this year?

I think the Packers are one of several teams in the NFC that are legitimate Super Bowl contenders. With that answer, however, what more can be said? Anything beyond that is crystal ball stuff. That’s why I like to go off in other directions at this time of the year. I see nothing wrong with discussing the history of the game, especially at this time of the year, and I will continue to do so.

Curtis from Brookfield, WI

Do you have an opinion on the blackout rule that McCain wants to see changed? Where the stadium is funded by taxpayer money, they have a right to see it.

What if the team is paying rent? I pay a mortgage to the bank so I may live in my house. Does the bank have the right to tell me who may visit my house? The anti-blackout position is a very popular position to take. It’ll get a guy a lot of votes, but is it really fair to make a business give away its product? The NFL has been voluntarily living by the 1973 Act of Congress that details the blackout policy since the late ’70s, when the act expired. If the NFL is forced to televise games in markets whose games aren’t sold out, ticket sales will likely decrease and the habit of watching football on TV will grow stronger. The season ticket holder continues to be the backbone of this game. He and she continue to provide the atmosphere that makes these games the events they are. Remove them from their seats and put them at home on the couch and the taxpayer will have wasted a whole lot of money on stadium seats that aren’t needed. Beyond that, the taxpayers in a lot of markets would be in danger of losing the team they cheer. I see nothing wrong with the blackout policy as it is, especially when you consider that very few games are blacked out. I think this is a nonissue that’s being resurrected for political gain.

Andrew from Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands

In your opinion, did it still require a great coach to turn Jack Vainisi’s draft picks into a multi-championship team?

It absolutely did. A lot of teams with talent missed their turn; Lombardi’s team not only didn’t miss its turn, it squeezed every bit of life out of it in winning five NFL titles. As my readers can see, I am intrigued by the Lombardi years. I remember being disappointed that Lombardi was leaving Green Bay for Washington. I understand now why he did it; his team had gotten old and he didn’t want to have to cut the guys that had been so loyal to him. A lot of great coaches have had to endure the pain of dismantling a great team. The shame of all of this is that Lombardi and Vainisi didn’t have an opportunity to spend a long career together. It’s possible they would’ve gone down in history as the greatest coach/scout combination in history. It’s possible Lombardi wouldn’t have had to leave Green Bay; Vainisi might’ve transitioned the Packers seamlessly.

Noah from Derby, KS

Do you think anyone will ever wear No. 4 as a Packer?

No. Mark Murphy has made that abundantly clear. That number will be retired. All we’re waiting on is the ceremony. It’ll happen.

Bob from Joint Base Lewis McChord, WA

Vic, for whatever reason, all the discussion about what Lombardi could have been in Washington got me thinking about players who knew when to hang up the cleats and not play past their prime, thus tarnishing an otherwise memorable career. John Elway comes to mind after his two Super Bowl victories. Who do you remember the most that knew when to say when?

If it’s about going out on top, then Jim Brown and Barry Sanders are the examples. There’s another side to the issue; it’s about leaving money on the table. These men have dedicated their lives to football. They have suffered injuries that are going to make life difficult for them later in life. It’s not just a game about the heart, it’s also a game about financial security. I remember having this conversation with Rocky Bleier two nights before Super Bowl XIV. I asked him why he pushes on and he told me that he had given football everything he had to give, and he wants football to give him everything it has to give.

Tou from Fresno, CA

Who are some of the best converted players to play the game? I’m thinking Sam Shields has got to be on there.

I guess I should do a “Top 10 Converted Players” list. Here are five: Willie Wood, Herb Adderley, Freddie Solomon, Nolan Cromwell, Hines Ward.


Mark from North Bay, WI

Vic, your comment about Gil Brandt and the computerized Cowboys scouting system is consistent with popular belief, but in Skip Bayless’ book, “God’s Coach,” he describes that as a myth. He said the real reason for the Cowboys drafting success was Gil Brandt’s network of college coaches who would call him with tips, like about a freakishly gifted Hollywood Henderson from Langston. Bayless says the computer-aided hype was crafted by Brandt to give the appearance of Cowboys superiority in scouting.

Bayless would certainly know because he covered the Cowboys for a long time. Brandt was a master personnel man. When I think about this new trend of stealth scouting, I have to laugh because Brandt was the antithesis of stealth. He talked to everyone, especially reporters. If you were writing a story on a college player, all you had to do was call Gil and you’d get comments that would help dress up your story. It made perfect sense to do that. Gil figured the more people he knew, the more people he had to provide information. He could always call that reporter and ask him what he’s heard about a prospect. Maybe he’d find out the kid had some issues the college coach wasn’t willing to share. Even today, at the scouting combine, Gil is with the media, telling stories and offering commentary. Stealth? Are you kidding? Is anything a secret in today’s hyper-sensitive information culture?

Will from Lewiston, ME

Vic, what do you think is the more important game in NFL history, the 1958 NFL Championship or Super Bowl III?

It’s an age-old debate. The ’58 title game put pro football on TV; Super Bowl III was the capstone. The AFL-NFL merger was going to happen one way or another, so Super Bowl III is kind of like the Berlin Wall; it wasn’t if, it was when. I tend to favor the importance of the ’58 title game. It kick-started an unstoppable movement of pro football popularity. With that answer, I will shift gears and alert our readers that wish to attend this summer’s “Ask Vic Lunch and Tour” at Lambeau Field on July 23 that they may do so by clicking on the link below and registering for the event. Attendance will be limited; this is the initial registration offering.

Register for the event here



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