Hayden from Seattle, WA
Confused on why Green Bay didn’t draft a defensive end within the first few rounds of this year’s NFL draft. Did they expect to re-sign Cullen Jenkins?
Jenkins has become my new J.J. Stokes. Jaguars fans that read this column will know exactly what I mean. Anyhow, the reason the Packers didn’t draft a defensive end when it was their turn to pick is because a defensive end wasn’t at the top of their value board. Had Cameron Heyward fallen one more spot, maybe he would’ve been the Packers’ pick; we’ll never know. To understand and appreciate the inner workings of General Manager Ted Thompson and the success that is the Packers’, you must first understand and accept the concept of drafting the best available player.
ParkJi from Seoul, South Korea
If you were given Hall of Fame skill at any position, which one would you choose and why?
I would choose quarterback because that’s the position that pays the most money.
Josh from Cape Coral, FL
With next year being a contract year for Matt Flynn and Graham Harrell coming along nicely, is there any chance the Packers will try to trade Flynn this season? I feel like we could get some pretty good draft picks for him.
You would have to know that Harrell is the equal of Flynn and is ready to step under center and replace Aaron Rodgers in a regular-season game, though Harrell has never taken a snap in a regular-season game. In other words, you’d be accepting an element of risk with a team that is a Super Bowl contender. I wouldn’t do it. These things have a way of working themselves out, if you just let it happen.
Leonard from Jacksonville, NC
What is a high-low block? You said a long time ago nose tackles had to worry about high-low blocks. Why isn't it in use today?
We call it a chop block today and it’s illegal; it’ll get you penalized and maybe even fined. Once upon a time, the high-low block was a technique that was actually executed every day in practice. In the old “Wing T” days, the tackle and wing back executed a high-low block called the “post and turn.” The tackle would stand up the end and the wing back would drive into the end’s outside knee and then turn him with a crab block. That’s gone and so is the crack-back block, which is the block that won the 1975 AFC title game. The wham block is gone, too. That was a vicious block that sent the tight end in motion toward the quarterback. When the ball was snapped, the tight end would slam into an unsuspecting nose tackle or defensive tackle. I remember seeing Eric Green do that to a very good Patriots tackle named Tim Goad. The impact on Goad was frightening. It’s a different game. Spearing was once a technique that was taught and practiced every day. The first man in held the ball-carrier up and the second man in speared the ball or anything else he could spear.
Herb from Palm Desert, CA
What are the chances the Packers will be able to keep a guy like Tori Gurley on the practice squad? It seems that in the old days an undrafted player might not catch the attention of the rest of the league but, with so much information about every team's practice available on the Internet, that doesn't seem likely.
For most of my career, it was understood that media wouldn’t cover practice in a play-by-play sort of way. We understood that we were allowed to watch practice so we would know what players were worthy of featuring in our stories. Covering practice in a play-by-play way would’ve been viewed as writing a scouting report, not a sports story. Internet reporting changed all of that; fans at training camp literally began providing play-by-play accounts of practice right on the team’s message board. It’s as though the team is providing a scouting report for the rest of the league to read. As a result, practices are pretty much closed around the league once the regular season begins. Yes, players such as Gurley become more difficult to hide on a practice squad, but most teams have a Gurley in their camp and they wanna hide their guy as much as you wanna hide your guy, and that’s where the protection lies.
John from Duluth, MN
I've heard players don't receive pay until the season begins. So what about rookies and undrafted free agents that supposedly have received no compensation for their athletic endeavors? How do they pay bills, buy food, etc., during training camp?
They’re housed, fed, transported and paid a stipend during training camp and the preseason. I’ve often thought that it’s the last carefree year of a young football player’s life. After this, he has to buy a house, pay a mortgage, pay taxes, the homeowners insurance, get a wife, pay her credit card bills, buy the kids braces; you know the drill. Oh, to be a rookie in training camp.
Rob from Elkhorn, WI
You answered a question that left me wanting more. In regards to 53 players on the team but only 46 players active on a weekly basis, is there any rhyme or reason to this other than a collectively bargained agreement between the owners and players? I mean there has to be some sort of rationale for this rule, right?
Yes, there is a reason; money is the reason. The players association wants more players on the roster because that means more money for the players. The owners want fewer players on the roster because that means less money the owners have to pay the players. If the owners agreed to allow all 53 players to be active on game day, the players would want 53 and 60. Where do you draw the line? If you wanna understand this game, always remember this: It’s professional football; it’s about the money. I don’t mean that to sound harsh or dull your love of the game, but it’s not possible to fully understand or appreciate this game without understanding that money is at its root. That’s why Curly Lambeau wanted to move the Packers to Los Angeles. Vince Lombardi said football is first and foremost a running game. Professional football is first and foremost a business.
Ted from Cincinnati, OH
Every year there are new playoff teams that were not in the playoffs the year before. Lately, it seems there are 5-6 teams that were not in competition the previous year. My question is, who do you think will make a surprise showing and make the playoffs this year and why?
Would the Raiders qualify as a surprise team? I liked what I saw from them last year. How about the 49ers? Jim Harbaugh seems to have a magic wand. How about the Dolphins? Would they qualify?
Gary from Crystal River, FL
Why do you think the NFL doesn't modify the injured reserve list providing for players to come off at shorter periods of time when healed?
Because when it was allowed, teams used those rules to cheat. Once upon a time, teams had four moves from IR to the active roster a year. After a player made your regular-season roster, he could be moved to IR and then come off IR four weeks later. A team could do that four times in a season. It was a great rule, but teams began using IR as an extra roster. They’d move a guy to IR with a fictitious injury, so they could load up their roster at another position for a few weeks, and then bring the guy back when they needed him. That was not the intent of the rule. The league had no choice but to eliminate that kind of intrigue.
Scott from Kansas City, MO
When I heard Jennings and Crabtree were out with knee bruises, I couldn't help but wonder what actually wearing knee pads would have done. I get the reason why they don't, but why take the risk in preseason?
I don’t know. Wearing pads never seemed to hurt Eric Dickerson. He would’ve padded his toenails if he could’ve.
Kyle from South Jordan, UT
We talk so much about the great history and tradition of the Packers. We even embrace the bleacher seats. What do you think about the planned renovation? I don’t like how it will change the entire feel of the field. I don’t like the new non-bleacher seats and the gigantic new screen in the artist rendering.
Do you like not winning? Do you like letting the competition getting so far out ahead of the Packers in revenue that the Packers wouldn’t be able to compete financially? We’re heading into an age of hyper-revenue in this league. Teams such as the Cowboys are driving it and everybody else has to keep up or get lost in the dust. Kyle, progress waits for no one. What about Vince Lombardi having heating coils installed under the Lambeau Field playing surface? Was that charming? Frankly, that kind of made me wrinkle my nose. Lambeau Field has already undergone one major renovation and it is still regarded to be the most intimate stadium in the league. I think the plans for the new renovation are gorgeous. I think the new renovation is going to make Lambeau Field better than ever and Lombardi would’ve loved it.
Chris from Neenah, WI
What are your thoughts on Bill Belichick’s idea of eliminating the extra point or at least backing it up to the 20-yard line?
I love the idea of moving it back to the 20. It would add more drama to the game and give kickers more importance.
Lance from Scappoose, OR
Knowing that you get paid for doing what you do, how do you sleep at night?
With two dogs, one of which snores.
Travis from West Bend, WI
Who is your favorite player of all time?
It’s Joe Greene, because he taught me to love my profession. Joe was the best interview ever. He was truly a sportswriter’s football player. He taught me a sensitivity for football I hadn’t previously known. He’s the guy who taught me that football is a human confrontation. That’s when I really fell in love with the game.
Lee from Circus City, OK
What are the typical keys that safeties read?
They watch the tight end, to see if he blocks down or releases into the passing lanes; that tips run or pass. Safeties also like to peek into the backfield. When they start peeking, or reading the movement of the guards, that’s when you hit them with play-action. Good quarterbacks do a lot of film study on safeties.
Tom from Neenah, WI
Why are footballs brown? Wouldn't the players be able to see it better if it were a different color, say neon pink?
Pink? Do you really want pink balls?