The regular writer of "Ask Vic," packers.com editor Vic Ketchman, is out of the office. Staff writer Mike Spofford is temporarily filling in to answer your "Ask Vic" questions.
Brett from Green Bay, WI
Mike, thanks for filling in. Who do you think has the best uniforms in the NFL?
I’ve always liked the Raiders’ and Eagles’ duds. They’re sharp. The color combinations work. I miss some of the old helmets from my youth, though. I probably miss that Houston Oilers helmet most of all. Speaking of uniforms …
Mark from Fairfax, VA
Vic, a few days ago while surfing YouTube for Packers videos, I came upon highlights of the 1989 Packers season when they were QB’d by Don Majkowski, went 10-6 but didn't make the playoffs. In one of their home games against the New Orleans Saints played at Lambeau Field, the Packers wore their white road jerseys. Might you know why that was done? And why did Green Bay play Dallas, an NFC East team, in that regular season twice? I’ve posed these questions on a couple of Packers sites but no one has answered.
Your question intrigued me, so team historian Cliff Christl and I put our heads together and did a little research. Turns out the Packers wore their white jerseys at Lambeau for each of the first two games in ’89, against the Buccaneers and Saints, and haven’t since. Cliff found a Press-Gazette article in which head coach Lindy Infante said it was planned in advance to beat the potential early-season heat by keeping the Packers out of their dark green jerseys. There was also talk of Tampa Bay QB Vinny Testaverde’s color-blindness, and his difficulty distinguishing reddish colors against green grass. The Bucs had switched before the ’89 season from wearing their orange jerseys at home to wearing white, but they were forced to wear the orange at Lambeau. The following week, the Saints wore their supposedly heat-absorbing black.
As it happened, the game-time temps were only 66 and 71 degrees, respectively, for those two games. Testaverde had a solid day, going 22-of-27 for 205 yards with one TD and no interceptions in beating the Packers, 23-21. The black-clad Saints may indeed have worn down, though, as the Packers rallied from a 21-0 deficit for a 35-34 victory, one of the biggest comebacks in team history.
As for playing Dallas twice in one regular season, that was actually part of the NFL’s scheduling formula back then. With a 28-team league, two divisions in each conference had five teams, and one division in each had four. If a team finished in fifth place, it played the other fifth-place team in its own conference twice and the two fifth-place teams in the other conference once each. In 1988, Dallas and Green Bay were the two worst teams in the league (remember, in the ’89 draft, the Cowboys took Troy Aikman No. 1 overall, and the Packers selected Tony Mandarich at No. 2). So in ’89, the Packers played the Cowboys twice as well as Miami and Kansas City (fifth in the AFC East and West, respectively) once each. Dallas also played Miami and Kansas City that year, and those AFC fifth-place teams played each other twice.
Jamie from Rhinelander, WI
It would be 23 in the HOF and six retired numbers. Right now it’s 22 in the HOF and five retired numbers.
You weren’t the only one to point out my mistake on the retired numbers. Shame on me. With Favre, it will be six, and I fixed it in yesterday’s column a couple of hours after it was posted. But I specifically said in the context of retired numbers it would be 22 players with Favre, because of the current Packers in the Hall, one is Vince Lombardi.
Jesse from Kandahar, Afghanistan
Vic, are you a “Caddyshack” fan or a Bill Murray fan? I've noticed you have dropped a couple of quotes from the movie. I’m a huge Bill Murray fan. He makes “Caddyshack.”
In one of my first meetings with Vic more than three years ago, he dropped a couple of “Caddyshack” references on me and I fired back with a couple of my own. He knew instantly he could get along with me, which also meant I still had a job. I was afraid for a while, though, that instead of Spofford he might start calling me Spalding. (Memo to Dave from Ladysmith: Vic has a pool.)
Greg from Danbury, CT
Good morning, Mike. I'd like to get your insight on a question people have often asked of Vic: How did you get this sweet, sweet job? Vic's standard answer is journalism school, years of laboring over local high school sports reporting for local papers, and lousy to no pay until you hit the big time. Is that more or less how it went for you? Hey, I believe that was Vic's experience, but I wonder if it changed at all by the time you came on the scene.
No, it didn’t change, but I wouldn’t change a thing about my path. When I got out of grad school I toiled at the Wausau Daily Herald about 100 miles from here, covering high school sports, all of them. A lot of wrestling, actually, which I knew nothing about when I started. Had a blast. That job also gave me the privilege of covering some Packers home games, and I was fortunate enough to also go to San Diego in January of 1998 to cover Super Bowl XXXII, Packers vs. Broncos. That was my first taste of the “big time.” After leaving Wausau, I spent several years in Green Bay, covering mostly high school and college sports, before I landed here in ’06. Like Vic, I consider myself blessed, but can you do me a favor and remind him of that part about “lousy to no pay until … ”?
Jake from Chippewa Falls, WI
Vic, you mentioned that Brady, Bradshaw, and Montana's postseason stats would represent their best season. I bet Manning's (the one-and-done one) postseason stats would represent his worst season. Do you think it's just the pressure that gets to him or has there always been a flaw in his game that gets exploited in the playoffs as defenses get better?
I don’t know the answer to your question, but I’ll give you some numbers to chew on. I recognize that passer rating isn’t the be-all, end-all stat, but for the sake of brevity, here’s what I’ve got: Bradshaw’s postseason passer rating of 83.0 was better than his regular-season rating in 10 of his 13 years as the primary starter. Montana’s postseason rating of 95.6 was also better than 10 of 13 regular years. Brady’s postseason rating of 87.5 is worse than eight of 12 years, while Manning’s postseason rating of 89.2 is worse than 12 of 15.
Bob from Clearfield, NE
Why do we keep talking about stretching? Experts have put a lot of time/money/energy into determining the best way to warm up. I'll assume the trainers know more about their jobs than me and continue enjoying the game.
Amen to that. Y’all can resume that stretching discussion when Vic returns.
Mike from Stevens Point, WI
I would argue that football does have a version of a penalty kick – the placement of the ball at the one-yard line for a pass interference call in the end zone. I think some combination of the NFL and NCAA rules should apply. If a team chucks it up looking for a call and there is incidental contact, then the 15-yard max. If the CB flagrantly fouls the WR without even looking back or in an attempt to recover from being burned, then assess the full yardage.
I thought about the one-yard-line rule when I made that comment about penalty kicks (as did many others, who pointed out it comes with four chances to score), but each team still gets to line up with 11 players on the ensuing snap(s). They don’t give the ball to one player and only allow one defender to try to stop him. I agree with you about modifying the pass-interference rule in the fashion you suggest, but I don’t think it’ll happen. When the league changes rules related to penalties, it’s usually trying to lessen the judgment needed and exercised by the official, to make calls more clear-cut, yes or no. Helmet-to-helmet hit? Flag. Grab the facemask? 15 yards. No 5-yard variety anymore. Your proposal would only add another element of judgment, and while I believe that makes sense given the current severity of a pass-interference penalty, I also believe the league would resist such a change.
Mark from Stewartville, MN
Mike, is there any particular NFL rule that you would like to see changed or discarded?
I’m getting this question a lot, for whatever reason, so I guess I’ll answer it. I think a fumble that goes into the offensive team’s end zone and out of bounds without being recovered should not be a touchback for the defensive team. I don’t understand awarding the other team the ball when it doesn’t recover the fumble. I also don’t like the current replay challenge rule that only gives an extra challenge to a head coach if he’s right on his first two challenges, and declares a coach out of challenges if he goes 1-1. I think coaches should be allowed two misses, period. If he’s correctly challenging an officiating crew that keeps screwing up, why should he have to stop?
Paul from Detroit, MI
Mike, I think our lack of experience at the center position is going to come back and haunt us, just like the backup QB position did last year. How do you feel about it?
I’m not overly concerned. The center works a lot with the quarterback on communication, calls, etc., and that new center – it looks now like it’ll be JC Tretter – will have a great tutor and partner in Aaron Rodgers. This will be Rodgers’ fourth center in four years, and while he has expressed his desire for more continuity at the position, he’s worked well with all of them.
Austin from Denver, CO
Pretty convenient that Vic gets to take off for vacation just as Aaron Rodgers is voted in at 11th best in the league. Mike gets stuck with all the ridiculous rankings outrage while Vic is coasting along the back nine. Maybe this crystal ball of his is clearer than he lets on.
As expected, the inbox was flooded with Rodgers ranking comments. He missed half the season last year, so that’s going to have an effect on how players rank other players. I don’t know what else to say, other than to channel some inner Vic and urge you not to take great offense.
Pete from Sheffield, UK
In response to a question you asked yesterday, extra time in "soccer" used to be sudden death. It was called golden goal, where the first team to score won. But teams got too defensive holding out for penalties.
Thanks for clarifying, as several others did as well. I like the term “golden goal.” It reminds me of a phrase I first heard from my high school golf coach, who was a ceaselessly upbeat person and a real believer in the power of positive language and positive thinking. He always referred to a playoff hole in golf as “sudden victory.”
Kevin from Chicago, IL
What do you think is stopping the NFL from doing away with ties in the regular season?
The potential length of the game as it relates to player safety, and the resistance to creating some sort of mini-contest that falls outside of traditional play to decide such a game, as exists with shootouts in soccer and hockey.
Tudor from St. Augustine, FL
Yesterday, someone on Ozone (Ask Vic of the Jags) suggested we add yellow and red cards to the NFL. I died inside a little bit.
Don’t tell Vic. It’ll ruin his vacation.
Kurt from Marshfield, WI
Mike, whose decision was it to make Mike Sherman general manager when he had no prior head coaching experience? Seems like that was really bungled by either Harlan or Wolf.
Harlan has gone on record, I believe, stating that when Wolf surprisingly retired right after the 2000 season, Sherman’s first as head coach, he was afraid a new GM would want his own head coach and dismiss Sherman right away. Harlan wanted Sherman to remain as head coach, and Wolf was on board with giving him the dual role. Sherman made his mistakes in free agency and the draft, no question, and those had a detrimental effect on the team’s Super Bowl chances. But four straight playoff berths, including a fourth-and-26 away from an appearance in the NFC title game, isn’t “bungled” in my book.
Mike from West Bend, WI
How come Ron Wolf doesn't seem to get any HOF consideration? He did a lot for Tampa and Oakland before restoring Green Bay.
Wolf did reach the semifinal stage a couple of years ago, but the selection committee is limited to only five modern-era inductees per year (two senior candidates can also be considered). Right now, there’s a glut of players vying for those five precious spots every year, and it’s very difficult for someone in the “contributor” category like Wolf to get very far. If my quick research is accurate, including this year’s class of inductees, only four non-players have been inducted over the past decade – John Madden, Ed Sabol, Ralph Wilson and Bill Parcells. Any shot Wolf had might be gone, and he has said as much himself.
Scott from Rochester, NY
Jimmy Graham was deemed as a tight end even though he lined up as a wideout in over half his plays. How does this change things going forward?
A few of you asked about this, and I’m still in wait-and-see mode. For now, not much changes, because Graham will appeal that ruling, so this isn’t over yet. If it holds up, it would seem to indicate that if you’re big enough to line up tight to the formation to block defensive ends and outside linebackers at least a fair amount of the time, you’re a tight end for contract/CBA purposes.
Joseph from Raleigh, NC
Vic, considering that DuJuan Harris was expected to be a top running back last season, I'm very excited to see what he will do this year. Do you think he will challenge for a higher spot on the depth chart than the No. 3 back? Did you see anything special from him the past few weeks?
I expect Harris to push Starks for the No. 2 job. I also think he makes for an intriguing option on kickoff returns with his speed and explosiveness, which Mike McCarthy acknowledged as minicamp wrapped up.
John from Richland Center, WI
Vic, out of all the undrafted free agents, which ones are you looking to keep an eye on in training camp? Most of the attention has gone to Hubbard and Lyerla, but there are many others that have a good chance of making the roster.
During OTAs and minicamp, Vic got that gleam in his eye when he saw Rajion Neal run with the ball. I’m curious to watch Jake Doughty at linebacker and Carlos Gray on the defensive line when the pads go on.
Mitch from Hazel Green, WI
Hey, Mike. You do a great job. I think you should have a daily piece where you pick a few of Vic’s responses and agree or disagree and explain why. I love Vic and his column but it’d be real fun reading more banter between the two of you. Also, I hope all is well with your Platteville friends and family after those tornadoes hit town.
I’ll post your comment to see if it gives Vic any ideas, but I also don’t want to intrude on his territory. It’s enough just to sit in this chair once in a while. Thanks for the well wishes from you and other P-ville-connected folk. My parents live around a quarter-mile or so from the college football stadium that got hit by one of the tornadoes, but fortunately their neighborhood was spared. The real hero was the basketball coach who got all those youth campers out of the top floor of the dorm building whose roof was hit. A potentially devastating human tragedy was avoided.
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