Rob from Elkhorn, WI

Vic, I have heard you mention how coaches in the past used to speak with reporters off the record after the official press conferences and such. What is the value for a reporter to learn information he subsequently cannot use in his reporting? Please fill me in a little on your world.

There is no off the record, but that doesn’t mean you have to provide attribution to everything you report. It’s a choice. It’s about developing a relationship with a news source. Some things require attribution; others don’t. Newspapers got a little too uppity with attribution, which was another result of Watergate, and I think it hurt the industry. I believe you have to trust your reporters. I was fond of saying to my managing editor, “You’ve got the most trusted attribution of all, my byline on the story.” When I got background information at the five o’clock club, I used it, but I didn’t burn my source by attributing it. Now, if he told me he knew who robbed a bank, then I had to provide attribution, but I’ve never had a coach tell me anything that dramatic. Fans get too caught up in what they perceive to be the yin and yang of being a reporter. Here’s the No. 1 rule of being a reporter: Get the story.

Tom from Denver, CO

Vic, I’ve noticed Micah Hyde is often quoted in news stories about the Packers. Seems like he’s become a go-to guy for writers. I wonder if that indicates he has become a leader for this team, or if he’s just a guy who gives a good interview. In your experience, is there a correlation between the two? And who was your all-time favorite go-to player when you needed a quote?

Hyde has distinct leadership qualities. As he grows his career, he will also grow his impact in the locker room. I get the sense Hyde is comfortable discussing his craft. Some guys need to do that. It’s a way of creating order in their approach to a game or a challenge. They need to verbalize, to go on record. It focuses them. Some guys are the opposite. Whatever it takes. Joe Greene, Tony Boselli and Fred Taylor are some of my favorite go-to guys. I trusted what they said, and they were guys that needed to talk. It helped them. I think that was especially true for Joe.

Dustin from Indianapolis, IN

Vic, how come nobody hears the stories like Brett Keisel taking kids from a cancer ward to his secret fishing hole? These are the stories I would rather hear about rather than about the few players who made bad decisions that give the game a bad look.

Well, apparently you read it or heard it somewhere, so somebody must’ve reported it. Here’s a question for you: If the Brett Keisel story is offered on the same page with the Adrian Peterson story, which story do you think is going to get more readership? If I launched a website called happynews.com, we’d be out of business in a week.

James from London, England

Vic, so having seen Russell Wilson starting his third year and Geno Smith starting his second, who out of the two do you believe has the greater upside?

Smith has a tremendous arm. How about the throw down the field as he was rolling right, the one that glanced off his receivers’ fingertips? How long was that, 65 yards? Smith is big, mobile, talented and courageous. He has huge upside. It was a great pick by the Jets to see talent in him that some website guy didn’t see and cost Smith a lot of money by ripping him before the draft. What Smith doesn’t have is Wilson’s polish or magic wand. It’s all about development for Smith.

Michael from Milwaukee, WI

With the changes to the defense going from a 3-4 to a 4-3ish look, do you think some fans are being too hard on Dom and the unit as a whole? I would imagine the change is going to take time to run at optimal efficiency. What are your thoughts?

I think you’ve achieved perspective.

Ryan from Atlanta, GA

Vic, this is how ESPN’s front page reads right now: Dwyer arrested for assault, Hardy exempted, Jameis suspended, Vikings admit mistake, Kaepernick fined, Welker back. What happened to the sports I knew and loved?

We turned players into celebrities. They became bigger than the game.

Mike from Milwaukee, WI

Vic, since you brought up Ernie Holmes yesterday, I just had to ask you about Lyle Alzado and have been wanting to for some time. Any football stories of him?

He is one of my all-time favorite conference calls. For a game in Los Angeles in 1984, injury was forcing the Steelers to plug a local kid, Pete Rostosky, in at tackle, and he would be going up against Alzado, who was one of the most feared defensive linemen in the game at that time. On the call we asked Alzado if he knew who Pete Rostosky is. Alzado said, “A Polish sausage maker?” Why did we stop having fun?

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