Travis from Green Bay, WI
What’s the age demographic of your readership?
Travis, it’s “Lighten Up and Have Some Fun Week.”
Dan from Rothschild, WI
Vic, much like the designated hitter in baseball in the American League, did the AFL have some different rules that had to be adjusted before the merger?
The AFL allowed two-point conversion attempts. That was abandoned following the merger. Then it took 25 years for the NFL to understand what the AFL instantly knew: Excitement is good.
John from Elm Grove, WI
Vic, in light of “Lighten Up Week,” I was wondering if you could name the player you have covered who would be the most apt to win a hot dog eating contest?
That’s easy: Ernie Holmes. “Fats” was his nickname and he nearly always showed up at training camp overweight, which resulted in him being put on a salad diet. What the team didn’t know is that Ernie had a food stash in a cooler under his bed. During an interview with him one day, he reached under the bed, pulled out the cooler and reached inside for a package of hot dogs. He then proceeded to eat them from the package, as though they were carrot sticks. “You didn’t see that,” he said with that menacing smile that made him simultaneously the most likeable and frightening person I have ever known. If there’s one player I’ll never forget, he’s the one.
Michael from Avondale, AZ
Vic, Friday at 1:30 a.m. my wife was admitted to the hospital going into labor. At 11 a.m. active labor began, and in the middle of contractions my wife had me read your column to her. It took almost two hours to read but we finished it. Thank you for giving us a break from our trials.
So, is it a Vic or a Victoria?
Jerry from Harlingen, TX
As a follow up to the decline in two-a-day practices, could this be causing more injuries, because instead of facing increasing levels of contact, under mainly controlled conditions, players are limited and then thrown into full-contact mode without proper preparation?
I think the answer is yes. In the old days, coaches believed training camp was a place where players worked through the strains and pulls part of their season. The two-a-days regimen was a far more daunting physical challenge than playing a game. Nowadays, playing a game is more demanding than what players experience in practice. The players believe the old ways shortened careers, and they might be right, but I don’t agree that by relaxing the regimen injuries and games lost to injury have been reduced. I think games lost to injury have increased and I believe the reason for it is that players aren’t in hitting shape when the season begins. I think there’s another factor: If they don’t hit in training camp, how do we find out who can take a hit?
Chris from Middletown, CT
Vic, I agree with the commissioner on this one. I’m looking forward to Super Bowl LXXXVIII. I want to see that painted between the 40s.
That reminds me of an eye-chart joke: Can I read it? I know the guy.
Roy from Seattle, WA
Vic, I’m a displaced Wisconsinite/Packers fan living in Seattle. Really enjoy your column. Since you like to avoid the tired old bar scene when you visit opposing teams’ cities, and it sounds like you’ve already been up the Space Needle, I have a couple of suggestions for your visit to Seattle in September. Check out the Ballard Locks and its salmon ladder. You’ll probably still be able to catch some spawning kings. The underground tour of old Seattle is interesting and educational, as well.
This is why I always loved covering games in Cleveland. There is absolutely nothing to see.
Jonathon from Franklin, WI
Vic, as primarily a television fan of the game, why aren’t there more expanded shots of the field of play so we can see how plays develop and coverages rotate? I think this would be much more interesting than the close up of a runner diving into the line.
TV is attempting to attract the casual fan. The casual fan doesn’t want to see coverages rotate. The casual fan wants to see the ball.
Ian from Milwaukee, WI
In the spirit of taking it easy and keeping it light, I’ll ask this: Favorite artist/record to listen to while flying or driving long distances? I peg you as a guy who could enjoy John Denver or even a little Glen Miller, but not being opposed to The Eagles or Rolling Stones.
In the summer, I like beach music – Ben E. King, The Drifters, Sam Cooke. My favorite song is “Save The Last Dance For Me,” and it’s amazing how many artists have sung that song, everyone from Emmylou Harris to Bruce Springsteen. I wish I could buy a disk that includes every version of that song ever recorded. It lends itself to nearly every genre and adaptation.
Dakota from Elk Point, SD
Vic, are there many Packers fans that actually like you? It feels like a lot of people are upset with you all the time. Every time I read the questions fans have for you they always seem so angry and filled with disgust. I don’t get it. I love reading your work and your humor lightens the mood so much when we fans get so caught up in the game. Keep doing your thing and I’ll keep reading.
I love Elk Point.
Mitch from Cape Girardeau, MO
Vic, how did you get to be such a level headed individual? Nature or nurture?
Austen from Collingwood, Ontario
I’m a young fan of the game and it has been a pleasure watching Clay Matthews play OLB. You had the pleasure of covering Jack Ham in his prime. From your experience, what comparisons can you draw between the two?
As different as their games are, they each could play in any era. Ham was a form tackler who specialized in pass coverage. I can’t remember him missing a tackle. Matthews’ game is edge rush, but he also has the ability to drop into coverage, and had he played in Ham’s era, I think Matthews’ talents would’ve been more fully developed and utilized. Ham had blitz talent that was underutilized, and I think his talents would’ve been more fully exposed in today’s game. Even though both players are stars, I think they’re both underrated, mostly because they are capable of more than their eras allowed.
Dave from Des Moines, IA
What stadium is your favorite?
All of the new ones are wonderful, and Lambeau Field is timeless, but my favorite stadium is about one thing: How easily and quickly can I get from the press box to the postgame interviews? That’s the stressful part of the day for me because that’s when my job kicks into high gear, and I need to get to the interview room as quickly as possible. I won’t miss the one-seater in the Metrodome press box, but the Metrodome was the best for getting from the press box to the locker rooms; down a flight of stairs and a short walk down the hallway. The stadium in Nashville is good. Some are awful. They jam up at the elevator and don’t provide staircase access. MetLife Stadium is one of the worst because of the distance; the press box is on the opposite side of the field from the visitors’ locker room. In my world, if it’s a choice between the most beautiful stadium with the worst press-box-to-locker-room access, or the ugliest stadium with the best press-box-to-locker-room access, I’ll take the ugly one.
Tim from Schofield, WI
In light of this being fun week, which relative unknown player on the Packers is the most fun to interview?
The Packers have drafted some good talkers the past few years. Micah Hyde is good at conveying his thoughts. I enjoyed the interview I did with Ha Ha following his selection. Demetri Goodson and Carl Bradford were very engaging.
Rudy from Chico, CA
Vic, I see more and more people discussing the necessity of a developmental league for the NFL. As a matter of fact, the NFL is the only one of the four American professional sports without a farm league. What is stopping this from happening?
Thomas from Milwaukee, WI
Who do you see starting at quarterback for the Vikings?
If they believe Teddy Bridgewater is their future, then get on with it. The sooner he plays, the sooner he’ll play well.
Mike from Chicago, IL
Vic, what do you think B.J. Raji needs to do this coming season to get a contract offer by the Packers?
He needs to do what a nose tackle must do; that’s all. He needs to hold the point. He needs to refuse to be moved and to occupy blockers. In my opinion, that pick-six interception in the 2010 NFC title game is one of the worst things to happen in Raji’s career because it created an expectation for him to make plays. Nose tackles aren’t supposed to make plays. They’re supposed to do the grunt work so the linebackers can make plays.
Al from Arvada, CO
How important do you think locker room leadership is? Is this harder to develop with a draft-and-develop team like the Packers that typically has fewer older players?
Locker room leadership is all about providing an example of how to act in a locker room. In my opinion, if you have a bunch of guys that don’t know how to act in a locker room, you need new guys.
David from Madison, WI
Vic, your writing style reminds me a lot of the SI writer Paul (Dr. Z) Zimmerman, which is why I think I look forward to your work. I’ve missed reading Dr. Z’s columns since he had a series of strokes in 2008. Have you ever met him?
I’ve known Paul for a long time. He has been the media’s foremost authority on offensive line play for all the years I’ve been in this business. Nobody knows and appreciates line play as Paul does. I have a strong recollection of the respect Chuck Noll, a former offensive lineman, had for Paul. Paul is one of the men that helped popularize professional football. He wrote with an edge and a tear, which I consider to symbolize the era of football that gave us men of his strength and passion.
Paul from Eau Claire, WI
In the current Underwear League era, how do coaches evaluate players for blocking and tackling? I love me some good blocking and tackling.
You can’t evaluate anything in OTAs other than a player’s ability to move. OTAs are for receivers and defensive backs. In my opinion, if you see a guy who can really move in OTAs, but then loses some of that movement when the pads go on, get rid of him.
Jeremy from Oceanside, NY
Are there any throws that worked better in the bump-and-run era than today?
The bump-and-run era was about the deep ball. It was about wide receivers that were big enough to get off the jam and fast enough to create separation. Then it was about the quarterback having the arm to let it fly. It was difficult to nibble in the bump-and-run era because the coverages were too tight and receivers got knocked off their routes, which caused interceptions.
Sean from Fort Collins, CO
Vic, let’s have some fun week sounds like a great idea. What is the most fun you have ever had in your time with the Packers?
It was last December. That was one of the most exciting months of football I have ever covered.
Kerry from Atlantic City, NJ
Vic, didn’t Sal from Chandler get the memo? It’s lighten up and have some fun week. Can’t ban a guy during lighten up week, can we?
“Ask Vic” is about resolving differences and seeing through the petty problems of life.
Sal from Chandler, AZ
Vic, I just wanted to apologize for my last comment. It was uncalled for. I was just angry with the way you answered a few of your questions, but that is why we are here, to hear what you have to say, so I feel foolish for getting upset about it. So I am sorry for getting so upset. I promise to lighten up and listen to everything you have to say with an open mind.
Sal is officially king of “Lighten Up and Have Some Fun Week.” All hail, Sal, the king.
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