Pete from Pepin, WI
How much gamesmanship is involved in teams’ comments about draft prospects? Will they say they are really interested in someone when they're not, in order to get another team’s attention or vice versa? Do they even pay attention to what other teams are saying?
Vic: Gamesmanship is a major part of the intrigue of the draft. Sometimes it works and sometimes it backfires. I can recall a situation a few years ago when two teams had worked a trade a few days prior to the draft; one team would trade up and pick a player they really wanted and the other team would trade down and draft a player they had targeted but who fit down where the other team was picking. Well, the team with the higher pick decided to leak that trade plan with the idea that it would entice another team that coveted that same player to sweeten the pot. Instead of sweetening the pot, however, it caused another team to move up one spot ahead of the team leaking the information and trade with a team that wasn’t demanding as much.
Tommy from Jacksonville, FL
I thought I remembered you hating the new Cowboys stadium, Vic. Change your mind?
Vic: When I said I like all of the new stadiums, I was attempting to say they all offer good sight lines and pleasant working conditions, but I haven’t changed my opinion of the new stadium in Dallas. It lacks the football feel I want in a stadium. I don’t seek entertainment at a football game other than the game itself. I don’t want players passing through sports bars as they enter the field. I want them coming up a tunnel. I don’t want go-go dancers suspended on platforms in an end zone or giant-screen TVs that offer a better view of the action than my seat affords. If I’m going to watch the game on TV, then why even go to the stadium? It’s a colossal facility and it’s what new-school fans want, but I’m old-school and it’s not what I want.
Ryan from Ancaster, Ontario
That's interesting that you should mention the national fear of muddy fields, especially given the other national outcry, concussions. In my opinion, games on a muddy field are probably the safest games you can play. You don't get guys planting and launching themselves to make a tackle on a muddy field. Maybe football needs to go back to mud.
Vic: You make a great point. How many concussions are caused by players’ heads striking the ground? Isn’t that how Aaron Rodgers got his concussion in Detroit last year? Maybe we do need a little mud.
John from Austin, TX
Could you please elaborate on your comments about the 1975 AFC title game? Seems traumatic.
Vic: One play tells it all. It was a play just before halftime. Lynn Swann caught a pass over the middle and he was knocked cold by a vicious head shot from George Atkinson. Jack Tatum was in on the tackle, too, and the two had targeted Swann for such brutality and intimidation tactics since Swann burst onto the scene as a rookie the previous year. As a result of the blow, Swann fumbled the ball and I believe it was Tatum that recovered it and tried to advance it, but a Steelers player had him by the leg and held on as several Steelers then speared Tatum in machine-gun fashion. When the play was over, not one penalty flag had been thrown. Joe Greene picked up Swann and carried him from the field, which made for one of the most powerful football photographs I have ever seen. In the ’76 season-opener, Atkinson karate-chopped Swann in the back of the neck as Swann was running a pass-route, causing an injury that nearly ended Swann’s career. That’s when Pete Rozelle knew the game had to be de-brutalized, which it would be over the next two years, beginning with outlawing the head slap in 1977. It was one of several game-softening rules adopted for the ’77 season.
Jake from Sherwood, WI
What was Lambeau's thought when he first started the Green Bay Packers?
Vic: Curly Lambeau was a visionary. He saw the potential for a professional football league, which began to form in 1920, one year after the Packers were founded. Lambeau was the driving force in convincing Green Bay’s city fathers to raise enough money to join the American Professional Football Association in ’21. It would become the NFL a year later. I think we have to assume that he saw all of that happening.
Jordan from Mount Olive, AL
Is pick 32 too high for James Carpenter? It appears that at worst you get a solid player with the versatility to play guard or right tackle, and at best you get a franchise left tackle at the end of the first round. That seems like a lot of value.
Vic: He fits near the bottom of the first round. The Ravens at 26 and the Steelers at 31 have been linked to Carpenter.
Lucas from Harrisburg, PA
Apologies if you've already answered this, but much has been made of players organizing workouts on their own during the lockout. Do you know if this is occurring with our team?
Vic: I don’t know for sure if it is or isn’t, but I wouldn’t get too carried away with players conducting their own team workouts. I can’t imagine the regimen is very demanding. The best thing players can do during the lockout, in my opinion, is commit themselves to an individualized conditioning program that’ll make sure they’re ready to go when the time comes.
Josh from Chicago, IL
As a Packers fan living in Chicago, I was wondering what you thought about how the league deals with quarterbacks. The rules are becoming so strict that it seems eventually they won't even need pads. I didn't like it when Aaron Rodgers was out, but I don't want to see my favorite sport become a non-contact sport. Lately, I have been turning to hockey because football is becoming weak. What do you think?
Vic: I think hockey is using this concussion awareness movement to its advantage. It’s allowing its game to be played more viciously than ever, with the idea that it’ll attract fans that seek violence in a sport. It’s already cost the NHL one of its top players, but the league appears to be unfazed, as it refuses to adopt head-shot legislation. This bears watching. As for the NFL, we are in a softening period that will undoubtedly change the way the game is played. I think we all need to give it time. We need to let this play out until we find out what the answer is. Is the answer in the equipment or in the game? That’s what we need to know.
Jon from Los Angeles, CA
With the return of so many injured-reserve players and the competition it already creates at so many positions, wouldn't the best idea for drafting be quality over quantity? And given that perspective, would not this be the year to consolidate higher-level draft picks by trading up and possibly even giving up later-round picks for some blue-chippers? After all, many teams seem to be thinking trade down; there have to be some super bargains out there.
Vic: I’m not saying don’t do it, because the right trade up here or there can produce a difference-maker, such as Clay Matthews. Trading up, however, is not something you wanna make a habit of doing. The cost of trading up usually means you’re gonna lose in the deal. The other thing I don’t like about your attitude toward this draft is that you seem to be saying the Packers are so good they don’t need new players. That is a formula for disaster. I was covering a team three years ago that went into the draft with 11 picks, made two trade-ups in the first two rounds and came away with just five players. It thought it was one player away from the Super Bowl and what it found out was that it was one year away from rebuilding the roster and it desperately needed every one of those 11 picks. I like young players. I like lots and lots of young players. In my mind, more draft picks is always better than fewer draft picks.
Young from Butte, MT
I think the best thing that ever happened to the NFL was the salary cap. It truly evened the playing field. One team might dominate one year but it is usually another team the next. As a result, any team can win. It's why football is so exciting and has become America's number one sport. Over the years, though, teams have figured out ways to circumvent the cap. What are your thoughts on all of this?
Vic: The spirit of the salary cap invention was sound: Control spending. The idea was that big-money franchises wouldn’t be able to out-spend franchises that didn’t have the same financial resources as the big-money, big-market teams. What the cap creators didn’t understand was that to cap spending, you also had to cap earnings. You see, the salary cap is determined by revenue. The more revenue generated, the higher the salary ceiling. So, when big-money, big-market teams such as the Cowboys, Giants, Jets, Eagles, etc., open new stadiums and push the revenue envelope even higher, they are in effect pushing cap spending higher leaguewide. Small-market teams, therefore, realize an increase in their spending without realizing an increase in their revenue. In effect, the big-money, big-market teams are passing off their player costs onto their competition. I’m all for a salary cap system, but only if it caps revenue, excludes revenue or includes revenue-sharing.
Hubert from Madison, WI
Who do you think (besides Packers) will come away with a good draft?
Vic: With three picks in the first 33 picks, the Patriots should have a blockbuster.
Jonas from Tromso, Norway
A couple of “Ask Vics” ago you mentioned that to win the Super Bowl a team needs a great coach and a great quarterback. Has a team ever won the Super Bowl without a quarterback that was considered at least among the 10 best in the league? By the way, ever since you updated your picture I seem to imagine that you do everything in a suit.
Vic: The 2002 Bucs and 2000 Ravens are the last teams to win a Super Bowl with run-of-the-mill quarterbacks (Brad Johnson and Trent Dilfer). Those days are over. With the increased emphasis on the passing game, you have to have “The Man” to be a champion. If you don’t have “The Man,” then he better at least play like “The Man” in the postseason, as Eli Manning did a few years ago.
Eric from Milwaukee, WI
Hey, Vic, I got a hypothetical for you. Since the Packers have the last pick in round one, can they not turn in the pick and then submit the pick at the start of round two the next day?
Vic: It’s my understanding that the first day of the draft can’t end until the Packers make their pick or, in the event of a trade, the team to whom the Packers trade pick 32 makes its pick.
Jed from Osseo, WI
As a casual observer, it seems to me that in the last five years or so all of the Super Bowl winners end up with a slew of TV ad contracts. Why don't the Packers have a similar presence? Is it a team marketing thing or is it a bias in the direction of big-market teams?
Vic: I think what we might be seeing right now is a reluctance of corporate America to invest in endorsement advertising during a lockout and potential work stoppage.
Charles from Statham, GA
During the draft and before Ted Thompson pulls the trigger on our team’s next selection, does he get input from the coaching staff, or is the decision strictly up to Ted and his staff?
Vic: He gets information from everyone. He talks to his scouts and the coaches. When all the talk is done and it’s time to pick, that pick is the sole responsibility of Ted Thompson. “It’s not a democracy. At some point, I will make the call,” Thompson said during last Thursday’s draft preview press conference.
Alex from Maple Ridge, BC
How has the Packers organization been able to stay so prominent in having such a stable and dedicated group run the franchise? From decade to decade, the one thing that never leaves is the ethical standards. What have the past and present presidents looked for when hiring people to lead the team? I am amazed by what great character the team has, but I understand it is part of being a Packer and nothing less is tolerated or looked for when signing people on.
Vic: It’s real simple: You are what you draft. If you draft well, you look great. There are a lot of teams in the league with a great infrastructure and a lot of first-class employees, but it doesn’t show because they haven’t drafted well. This is the week of weeks. This is when your football team is formed. This is when a franchise’s very existence is forged. It’s about players.
Kevin from Tulsa, OK
I read a question you had answered back in your Jaguars days that mentioned the busted call on the Don Chandler field goal to tie against the Colts in 1965. Just wanted to let you know that Don Chandler is my grandfather and swears to this day the call was accurate. He also states Bart Starr would corroborate, as he never tells a lie.
Vic: It was a close call, Kevin. It was so close that the uprights were extended higher for the next season. Obviously, somebody in the league wasn’t convinced. By the way, your grandfather was a great kicker. He was as clutch as they came.