Diana from Three Rivers, MI

If the footballs are to be the same for both sides, why does the NFL let each team supply each game with balls? Why wouldn’t there just be an NFL supply?

Here’s the rule on the supply of balls: “Each team will make 12 primary balls available for testing by the Referee two hours and 15 minutes prior to the starting time of the game to meet League requirements. The home team will also make 12 backup balls available for testing in all stadiums. In addition, the visitors, at their discretion, may bring 12 backup balls to be tested by the Referee for games held in outdoor stadiums. For all games, eight new footballs, sealed in a special box and shipped by the manufacturer to the Referee, will be opened in the officials’ locker room two hours and 15 minutes prior to the starting time of the game. These balls are to be specially marked by the Referee and used exclusively for the kicking game. In the event a home team ball does not conform to specifications, or its supply is exhausted, the Referee shall secure a proper ball from the visitors and, failing that, use the best available ball.” Also: “The Referee shall be the sole judge as to whether all balls offered for play comply with these specifications. A pump is to be furnished by the home club, and the balls shall remain under the supervision of the Referee until they are delivered to the ball attendant just prior to the start of the game.”

Walt from Skandia, MI

Once you are in the playoffs, all but one team ends their season with a loss. Every year, our first goal is to get to the playoffs, but once there the odds are against us. Still, 20 teams didn’t have a chance. I’ll take the long odds just to be there, even though I know it will be heartbreaking if we lose.

In my opinion, the two-tiered goal of making it into the playoffs and then winning the Super Bowl is the best marketing creation for the game in its history, and I see no reason for not expanding it. I don’t even think of the Super Bowl until the postseason begins. For me, just making it into the playoffs is goal enough until you get there. I love the way the season shifts gears once the postseason begins.

Chris from Bury St. Edmunds, England

Vic, just wanted to express my sincere condolences to Coach McCarthy and his family. I think we all achieved perspective yesterday.

Sanity has returned to my inbox. It’s good to see.

Keith from Yorktown, VA

What is your definition of crunch time? Is it only the late stages of a close game, or does it also include other key situations in the game, such as having the ball inside the opponent’s 5-yard line in the first quarter and scoring FGs instead of TDs?

Crunch time is crunch time. Your gut tells you when it’s crunch time. All of a sudden, you begin to tighten. When that happens, you are in crunch time. It is never, ever in the first quarter. That’s for the people who want to avoid crunch time because they fear it. I want the ones who love crunch time. I want the ones who play better when their gut tightens.

Noah from Brisbane, Australia

Vic, will you continue to do “Ask Vic” on a daily basis during the offseason?

“Ask Vic” and “Ask Vic Saturday” will continue throughout the offseason. “Ask Vic Extra” and “Ask Vic Halftime” won’t return until next season begins.

Marc from Aachen, Germany

Vic, as a Packers fan, I’m disappointed we lost a game that was in our hands, but after I woke up the next morning, I’ve noticed I’m already excited about the draft and the new players that’ll be added to our roster, and also the next season.

The draft is re-birth. The Senior Bowl, the combine, pro days, etc., are the events that prepare us for our re-birth. Slowly but surely we turn the page to our re-birth. The NFL has done a sensational job of creating a full-year cycle that never allows us to stay in one place too long.

Owen from Portland, OR

So you are telling me the first three-and-a-half quarters are just to put your team in position to win?

That’s correct. The blowouts at midseason bothered me because they don’t steel your team for the postseason, when you have to make plays at crunch time. It was in Minnesota that the postseason Packers began emerging. They closed out that game and the next one, against the Patriots, the way a team needs to close out a game in the postseason. That’s when I started feeling really good about this team, and it’s also why I’m having so much difficulty understanding what happened in the final 3:52 in Seattle.

Matt from Al Udeid AB, Qatar

Vic, it sounds like good news that defensive linemen were good at the Senior Bowl. With the viewpoint that the big guys are most important, it’s got to feel good to have a big-guy tree in bloom. Do you think the Packers have a shot at Carl Davis? He sounds like an ideal fit for our defense, and may fill a position of need, as Raji and Guion will be free agents.

Tony Pauline spoke of Davis as a 3-4 defensive end, and there is always a need for that player. Tony said Davis could push his way into the bottom of round one, and that’s where the Packers will be positioned. Let’s not forget that Aaron Donald was pushing his way into the bottom of round one at this time last year, and then he pushed his way all the way up to the 13th overall pick and had a rookie-of-the-year season. There’s a long way to go between now and the draft, but I would agree that nose tackle is a position that’ll need to be addressed in way or another.

Mario from Monterrey, Mexico

Vic, what’s the point of a draft-and-develop approach if we are willing to let them walk away when they reach the superstar level, or when they are vital contributors for our team? I firmly believe Ted Thompson will find a way to retain both Bulaga and Cobb on our roster for the upcoming years. What are your thoughts on this?

How many players have the Packers allowed to leave that caused the team to regret those decisions? If there’s one thing this team does well, it’s evaluate and manage its roster. I am in awe of what this team has accomplished in retaining its players and finding new talent at the bottom of the draft.

Will from Phoenix, AZ

Seattle and New England are the two best teams of the last decade, and accompanied by the surrounding hype and now Deflategate, this reminds me of the best Super Bowl I can remember, Super Bowl XIII. Their Deflategate was Hollywood Henderson and it just added to the Ali-Frazier quality. Please speak on this, if you will.

Henderson was a dashing player with a flair for the dramatic. He was also playing in a game that was overflowing with star-quality names: Roger Staubach, Terry Bradshaw, Tony Dorsett, Franco Harris, Randy White, Joe Greene, “Too Tall” Jones, Jack Lambert, Harvey Martin, Mel Blount, Drew Pearson, Lynn Swann, John Stallworth, Jack Ham and on and on. Has there ever been a Super Bowl played with as many big names as there was in Super Bowl XIII? Well, Henderson decided the only way he was going to achieve acclaim was by saying something outrageous, which he did when he went into his diatribe about Bradshaw being so stupid he couldn’t spell cat if you spotted him the c and the a. It played and Henderson achieved infamy, if not fame. Deflategate is going to do that for this Super Bowl. It’s going to dominate the pregame hype. Frankly, I think it should. I think we need to know if we have a serial cheater within our midst.

Ronald from Rapid City, SD

Why don’t reporters address Mike McCarthy’s bullheaded, stubborn refusal to admit he gets conservative when he has the lead?

The idea of going full throttle from your 13-yard line as you attempt to protect a 12-point lead late in the fourth quarter of a game in which your defense has yet to allow a point is so idiotic that I’m just going to assume your emotions have gotten the better of you. Imagine the reaction had Aaron Rodgers been sacked and stripped of the ball, as he was in Buffalo. What are you thinking?

Randy from Lakewood Ranch, FL

“We all signed up for this.” The above won’t take away the pain, but it helped explain it. Thank you.

Can’t get the gain if you don’t risk the pain.

Jon from Stillwater, MN

I agree with Brian. The overtime rule needs to be changed. Both teams need a chance with the ball. In this case, the league’s MVP did not even get on the field because his team lost the flip of a coin. Why should both teams not have an opportunity with the ball in overtime?

Because it’s just a game and fate is its greatest player.

Brett from Green Bay, WI

Vic, did you ever meet Joe McCarthy?

I believe I met him in Cincinnati. Coach McCarthy comes from a wonderfully large and close family. Whenever the Packers play near Pittsburgh, you can count on Coach McCarthy’s family being there.

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