Tom from Fairbanks, AK

Vic, given the high number of sacks and hits on Rodgers last season, would you talk about what you think is in store for the offensive line this year?

Based on what Mike McCarthy said last week, my expectation for the offensive line is improvement on its left side.

Sam from Milwaukee, WI

Vic, isn’t Madden the safest way to play football?

Yeah, and the “Dating Game” is the safest way to play marriage, but we keep getting married. We’re attracted to danger.

Dan from Chippewa Falls, WI

Why was it the Colts and Browns switched conferences? Was it really as simple as a numbers thing?

Yeah, it was as simple as a numbers thing, as in the number $3 million, which is what the Colts, Browns and Steelers each received from the league for joining the AFC.

Jimmy from Washington, DC

My dad tells me stories of times when he and his friends, as little kids, would ride their bikes behind crop dusters as it laid out its pesticide fog. Parents now would faint at the idea and be on the phone with the CDC in a heartbeat. Your inbox is full of outrage over running backs using their helmets as weapons is due to the fact that everyone is learning more and more about the dangers of head injuries. Not so long ago, we asked and taught our players to shake off the cobwebs when their bell got rung. Now we are better informed about the dangers of head trauma. The football landscape is more enlightened now, not so ignorant.

I grew up in a town that had a chemical factory. It made DDT. You could sit out on a hot summer night with the porch light on and never worry about being bitten by a mosquito. There were no insects in my hometown, until the plant closed. A couple of years later, we started getting bitten by mosquitoes, but the real problem was a lot of guys lost their jobs when the plant closed, and families had to move. The air got clean and the town got poor. Sometimes there are consequences to being safe.

Shawn from Albany, NY

How often do you honestly see a defender get injured from a running back lowering his head?

I’m sure it’s happened but, mostly, I’ve seen defenders get knocked out when they’ve caught a knee to the head or they’ve been hit by one of their teammates who was trying to spear the running back and missed.

Steve from Eau Claire, WI

Vic, I have to agree with you 100 percent that players not being able to talk to coaches about football in the offseason is an absolutely ridiculous rule. Why is it that one was ever implemented in the first place?

Teams that missed the playoffs started running something called “quarterback camps” in the winter months. This was especially true in the warmer climes. It was voluntary, but pressure was put on the quarterback to invite his friends. This was especially true in places where the quarterback wasn’t a star. I think this no-talk rule was created to make sure these kinds of abuses didn’t continue, but did we have to go to such an extreme that coaches and players are forbidden from even discussing the game?

Thomas from Chippie, OH

I loved the old black and white photo of Taylor hitting the Colts defensive back. More old photos, please.

My guess is that Taylor was in the process of covering the ball with his left hand and, following that, he would’ve bent at the waist, effectively dropping his pads and helmet to protect the ball and initiate contact with the defensive back instead of remaining upright, exposing the ball and offering himself as a tackling dummy for the defensive back.

Tim from Clear Lake, WI

Lowering your head and pounding through them is no longer an option. So what’s left, leap over the guy and break his neck, like what happened to Collins?

Hurdling tacklers is one of the most dangerous plays in football. A ball-carrier is at his most vulnerable when he is airborne.

Jessie from Hemet, CA

How does Montee Ball stack up for you? Do you think this is someone that would be good for the Packers? Do you think he will be available for us to get in the draft?

I think the new rule makes Montee Ball a more attractive prospect. He’s the new-age running back, a shifty, smart runner who knows when to cut back behind his blocking. I’m also describing Arian Foster. That’s the style of runner that is being favored in today’s game.

Mark from Chesapeake, VA

Vic, I noticed that you mentioned Ryan Swope as a mid-round guy. Have you noticed his ability to catch the ball without missing a step? He doesn't have that natural hop and pause that a lot of receivers develop. He is very dangerous after the catch, in my opinion.

Some call it running through the catch. I like to call it “playing along the ground.” Wes Welker does it. Hines Ward was a master at it. One of the things I never liked about Terrell Owens was that he was a post-up pass catcher. I like the guys who move their feet through the catch. They play faster than their 40 time because they play without hesitation. Courage is required to play that way, for the obvious reasons. Swope is an interesting prospect. He’s generally regarded to be a mid-rounds to late-rounds prospect, but he had to move his needle upward with his combine workout, and he was consistently productive at Texas A&M. His body measurables are going to hurt him. He’s got short arms, small hands and a limited catching radius. He just doesn’t have the length teams want in today’s game, and that could make him a steal in a later round.

Joe from Clio, MI

Your thoughts on retaining Finley?

Late last season, when the opinion was advanced that a decision had already been made not to retain Jermichael Finley, I wondered to myself how the Packers were going to suffer all of the losses to their receiving corps without them negatively impacting a passing game that is the heart and soul of this team. The simple fact of the matter is that players such as Finley hold teams hostage with their talent. We’re talking about a big, fast, athletic tight end that is in his prime and is a perfect fit for a coach that loves to use the tight end to create mismatches. There isn’t a player in free agency or in the draft that offers the physical talent Finley does. That’s difficult to not retain. Maybe this is the year it all comes together for him.

Zach from Woodstock, IL

Vic, Mike Pereira said he believes the new lowering the helmet rule will only be penalized a handful of times. The referees he spoke with said because the game happens so fast it will be hard to observe in real time and they will only throw the flag when it is obvious. Pereira said the rule more likely will open the door for the league to fine players later, after reviewing the tape, even if the play went unpenalized.

As opposed to erring on the side of safety? Isn’t that what officials have been instructed to do? With all due respect to Pereira’s expertise, I’ll have to see it before I believe it. If the league starts fining what the officials aren’t calling, the officials will start calling it because every one of those plays that wasn’t flagged but was fined will represent a blown call by the official, and that won’t look good on their evaluations.

Joe from Chicago, IL

Vic, is the reason you don’t post my questions because they are well thought out opinions, which are normally rebutting your opinions? I understand that this makes it hard to post, as some readers may be led to believe you are not the all-knowing football master, and that picking apart an opinion with sustenance is difficult. I appreciate your opinions and believe you have a vast knowledge of the sport, however, I do know you are far from knowing everything, we all are.

Yeah, that’s it.

Stephen from Chicago, IL

I’m going to guess that Favre and Rodgers have been the two expensive sport coats you were hinting to while the khakis have been their receiving corps over the years. In other words, no need to go out and spend “millions” on a pair of dress pants when you can get three pair of reliable khakis for the same amount.

Nobody looks at the pants. It’s all about the coat.

Ryan from River Falls, WI

Vic, I would ask you what you think about Roger Goodell, but I know you would give a politically correct response. There is a reason a large percentage of people dislike him, including players. He’s ruining football. I’ll let you give a response back as to why you think otherwise, and after I laugh at that response, I’ll send over a novel-sized list as to why no one likes him.

Oh, you’ve hurt my feelings so much, Ryan. You’ve bullied me into answering this question, despite my fears for expressing something that isn’t politically correct. I think the commissioner is attempting the boldest shift in the game’s history. I think he is the most forceful commissioner in professional sports since Kenesaw Mountain Landis ruled baseball with an iron fist and saved it from the Black Sox scandal. There’s no doubt in my mind history will record Roger Goodell as the man who changed the game. All that’s left to be decided is whether or not it will have been for the good of the game. We’ll see.


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