Dan from Brookfield, WI

How does the team determine how many roster spots are available by position? Are there a set number of spots per position, or is it determined by an overall rating of all players?

Tom Coughlin referred to it as “massaging the roster.” It means you have to look at the consequences of the moves you make and how they will impact your attempt to retain the rights to the players you’d like to keep. For example, big guys are at a greater premium than wide receivers, therefore, a quality big guy is more likely to be taken from your practice squad than would a wide receiver, so if it comes down to keeping a wide receiver or an offensive lineman, you’d be more likely to keep the lineman and sign the wide receiver to the practice squad. By doing that, you’re maximizing your talent haul. The same goes for young and old. A young, ascending player is more likely to be claimed off waivers than would a player at the back end of his career. There are no set numbers for positions, but it’s understood you have to have a manageable number at each. Massaging means keeping an extra guy at one position and going light at another, for the purpose of keeping as much talent as possible. It’s critical that you protect what you have and not provide talent for your competition.

Jacob from New Bremen, OH

I think I enjoy talking Packers during the “Dead Zone” more than I do during the season. We can sit back and see a wide view. Just nice to see quite a few people with their heads on straight.

It’s a pleasant time of year because we’re relaxed and looking forward to joy, instead of looking back at disappointment. I also like it because there aren’t a lot of pressing issues, so we can venture out into offbeat topics and hypotheticals. It’s a good time of the year for people who like to think and talk about football, beyond the current and the controversial.

Scott from Greensburg, IN

If Dorsett was the greatest long-run back you've ever seen, who was the best short-yardage back you've ever seen?

Sam “The Bam” Cunningham. The man had wings.

Steve from Hazelwood, MO

Payroll departments make the deductions to comply with laws. The governments don't do it directly. If you can justify it by knowing the laws, and your own situation under it, you may be able to have them stop withholding for governments for which you have no tax liability. That includes Wisconsin and the U.S. income tax.

I really don’t want to live in a log cabin, own a horse and spend my days chopping firewood and hunting for food. I have dry skin and my hands get chapped in the winter, plus, when will I find time to take care of the pool if I have to spend all day chopping and hunting?

Larry from Ladoga, WI

Do you think the gloves the receivers use have anything to do with more offensive yards? Are completions up because of the gloves? Should we take gloves away to make it fair for the defense? How sticky are the gloves?

Yes, yes, no, very. I don’t think we have to take the gloves away to be fair to the defense, because defensive backs are wearing them, too, but I think we have to bear in mind that when Lynn Swann leaped into the air to make that fingertip grab in Super Bowl XIII, he wasn’t wearing gloves. I think we have to bear in mind that when Boyd Dowler and Chuck Mercein caught those passes in the final drive of the “Ice Bowl,” the ball and their hands were frozen and slick. What if the gloves of today existed back then? Would Bob Hayes have played a bigger role in the “Ice Bowl,” instead of spending most of the game with his hands tucked into the front of his pants? Might the Cowboys then have won? You see where I’m going with this? I don’t think we show enough consideration for the circumstances with which the old guys had to deal. They didn’t have the advantages today’s players do. A fingertip grab in those days was truly a fingertip grab, not a sticky-glove grab. That doesn’t mean we have to turn the clock back; it just means we need to consider all of the facts when we play the bigger, stronger, faster card.

Bob from Rossford, OH

Vic, how did you manage to find a career in football after being at Kent State? I spent six years there, caught every home game and only came away with the memory of seeing “Flash,” the KSU mascot, ripping the stuffed baby kangaroo out of the pouch of “Zippy,” the Akron Zips mascot.

We didn’t have “Flash.” We had a goofy-looking guy on a horse. I was never able to make the connection. We also had Jack Lambert, Nick Saban and a young defensive backs coach named Dom Capers.

Ando from Boulder, CO

Do you think the Packers picked Nick Perry over Courtney Upshaw because they believe he will be a better player, or because they believe he was just a better fit for our system?

They picked him because he was the highest-rated player on their board. I don’t know to what degree a player’s potential to fit into the scheme is considered when the Packers grade players, but I believe it to be secondary. I think the degree to which a player fits into the structure of the Packers is much more important. If a guy can play, and if he’s their kind of person, the Packers will find a way to use him.

Al from Superior, WI

I like the it's-about-football approach to this site. Again, the Packer way is appreciated. Take a look at the Redskins cheerleaders site. Is this really about football?

Al, I’m still trying to get past the rules changes of 1978. Be that as it may, it has come to my attention that the Dolphins cheerleaders launched a video recently that has attracted millions of views. The video was sent to me and I sneaked a peek at it, and the first thought that came to my mind was, you guessed it, what would Coach Lombardi say about this? I remember the first time it was mandated by the league that teams had to open their locker room doors to female reporters. Chuck Noll was furious. When the locker room doors opened after the next game, we walked into the locker room to see all of the players wearing floor-length, white, terry cloth robes. Everyone was laughing. It’s mind-boggling for me to think how the game has changed in the years I’ve spent covering it, and that’s why I don’t discount any possibility. The Colts aren’t in Baltimore; I still can’t get over that one. Two-a-days in pads are gone; that was a rite of passage. Now we’re going to sell the coaches’ film. An international team? Why would anyone not think that’s possible?

Matt from Spotswood, NJ

Aside from leadership, what is the next most defining quality for a coach?

Belief. He has to believe in himself or his players won’t believe in him.

Randy from Medicine Hat, Alberta

Years ago, I read an article in which Gordie Howe expressed concern for the increased number of players wearing helmets in the NHL. His opinion was that players would be far more careless with their sticks, resulting in more cuts and injuries. The NHL now has players that look like gladiators, yet, concussions are running rampant lately. Just how much protective equipment is necessary in a given sport?

Pads equal courage. As padding is decreased, so is daring. In my opinion, the NFL will find the solution to its concussion problem by applying those padding principles. I don’t want the Pentagon applying those principles because you don’t win wars by decreasing daring, but football is a game, not a war.

Dave from Glenview, IL

Hey, Vic, I've always thought the fans are the main reason players earn such huge salaries, because we buy the expensive tickets, drink the expensive beer, eat the expensive hotdogs and pay a lot for sportswear and memorabilia. Where am I wrong?

You’re not wrong. The CBA provides for an all revenue model, which means the league’s total revenues are divided by 32 and the percentage of the revenue that is the players’ share is each teams’ salary cap. The greater the revenue, the higher the cap and the salaries each team has to pay. The fans control the game.

Stephen from Chicago, IL

Your comments on Jerry Kramer's significance to the history of the NFL, both throughout his career and on the one very historic QB sneak, made me think. Are there players in the Hall of Fame that are in only for their part in a historic moment? Had the Jets won Super Bowl III without Joe Namath making a guarantee, would he still have been inducted?

I can tell you this: If the Jets hadn’t won that Super Bowl, Namath wouldn’t be in the Hall of Fame. Hey, it’s the Hall of Famous, not the Hall of Full Body of Work. The NFL’s success is not built on a lot of unsung players who had great careers but didn’t win anything. This league is built on the fame of its famous players. Kyle Brady caught more passes in his career than Lynn Swann did. Should we put Brady in the Hall of Fame? Swann’s in there because when the light went on, he stole the show, and it helped define the Super Bowl at a time when, frankly, it needed someone to steal the show. Namath is in the Hall of Fame because his guarantee and the game he won defined the merger. Paul Hornung never rushed for a thousand yards in a season, but he scored touchdowns and made big plays when the game needed someone with his charm and charisma to be a star. Forget the stats. The guys with the stats belong in the Hall of Stats. The Hall of Fame is for the famous.

Mark from Stewartville, MN

Vic, what amazed me about the “Ice Bowl” is that the Packers had been absolutely stymied by a good Dallas defense for the whole second half before that winning drive. Then, with the game on the line, the Packers executed nearly flawlessly. Who deserves more credit for that final drive, Coach Lombardi or the Packers players?

It always goes to the players, because they do it. They moved the ball down the field. They beat the weather and the pressure and the Cowboys. They got it done when they were down to their last chance to get it done. The question is: Would they have gotten it done had their coach not instilled in them the toughness and discipline to overcome the obstacles they faced? The answer is no. Apply that answer any way you wish. I don’t feel a need to credit one or the other, but I will never take credit from the players. The game is built on their backs. Always, it is players, not plays. That is coaching dogma. Ask Mike McCarthy and he’ll look you right in the eye and tell you, “Players, not plays.” I’ve never known a coach to say differently, because to say differently is to free your players of responsibility and accountability, and that won’t work. X’s and O’s don’t move; only players do.

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