Chance from Ames, IA

It was about this time four years ago that, while adorned in a green and gold shirt, I was confronted by a Jaguars fan. I was immediately confused by his contempt for my beloved Packers, especially considering a complete lack of any rivalry between our franchises. He was upset because we had stolen some Vic Catchem guy, and that was his favorite thing about Jacksonville at the time. I looked you up, began incorporating this article into my daily routine, and my enjoyment of our national passion had been forever changed and improved. I want to thank that bitter Jags fan.

The loyalty of the readers of this column has made it what is. It’s not about me, it’s about the reader. I’ve always believed that. The readers write the column because their questions decide the subject matter. I’m just another reader voicing my opinion.

Ryan from Fredericton, NB

NFL Network presented Robert Kraft’s decision not to appeal the Deflategate punishments as him being a team player and hoping other NFL franchises will follow his lead. A man who last week was disgusted and offended by the NFL’s decision can now be seen as a stand-up individual and trying to set precedent with other owners. This hypocrisy makes me sick. The Patriots are documented repeat cheaters, yet, they still have four championships in the last 15 years. What have the Patriots actually lost?

Their loss will mostly be the result of how history records them.

Patrick from Indianapolis, IN

Vic, ask yourself the perfect question and answer it.

What has football meant to me? It’s meant everything to me. I don’t know what I would’ve done with my life without it. It’s given me purpose. It’s provided for me and my family. It’s given me memories that define me. That’s why I’m so respectful of this game, defensive of the men I’ve covered and concerned about the game’s future. I owe so much to football.

Gene from Grafton, WI

Why did we draft a fullback?

He was judged to be the best player left on the board.

Dan from Waupun, WI

Besides more profit, what other benefits would the Raiders receive by moving to LA?

A secure future. The NFL isn’t going to allow pro football to fail in Los Angeles this time.

Eric from Green Bay, WI

Billionaire-sized egos? Get over it. The reason they are billionaires is due to their competitiveness. That’s why they want to win. They are competitive. Losing is not in their vocabulary and failure is not an option.

Well, 31 of them fail every year. This isn’t like selling shoes or car bumpers. Those businesses don’t have 53 millionaires working for them. A lot of captains of industry bought football teams thinking it would be fun hoisting the Lombardi Trophy on national TV. A lot of those captains of industry have yet to hoist a Lombardi Trophy.

Nick from Toronto, Ontario

Can you elaborate on why you think moving the PAT kick back will change the game so much? The accuracy of kicks from 33 yards is a bit more than 90 percent. So, for every 10 kick attempts, teams will receive on average one fewer point than under the old system.

That one point will change everything, and so will the potential for a conversion attempt to be returned for two points. What if a team scores a touchdown to take a four-point lead with a minute to play in the game? Does it take a knee on the conversion attempt, rather than risk a two-point return that would cut the lead to two points?

Jay from Arlington Heights, IL

To whom do you give more credit for successfully adapting to the rules changes of 1978, Bradshaw or Noll? Same question for the West Coast offense between Montana and Walsh.

Coach Noll gets the credit. He saw the impact of the rules before anyone else did. He took me and a few other reporters into his film room before the start of training camp in 1978, and showed us a video from the league on the rules changes. Don Shula was featured in the video, explaining the changes. Coach Noll told us the game was about to experience an explosion of passing yards and points. He knew what he had and he turned him loose. Bill Walsh was running the West Coast offense in Cincinnati before he became the 49ers’ head coach. That’s one of the reasons Ken Anderson was such an efficient quarterback. Joe Montana was the perfect fit for Walsh’s offense, and the name West Coast offense was a perfect fit for the 49ers’ success.

Kent from Appleton, WI

How did Unitas develop the things you listed? Was he drawing up plays in the dirt? What did his coaches contribute?

I’m sure his coaches contributed plenty, but Johnny Unitas had an aptitude for the game and called his own plays. When Don Shula became the Colts coach, he sent a play into the game and Unitas called time out, went to the sideline and asked Shula if he wanted to play quarterback. It was Unitas’ huddle and his offense; he ran the show. Cliff Christl has told me the story of a time when Lombardi was coaching in the Pro Bowl, and Unitas made a suggestion on a play design. Lombardi complimented Unitas on the suggestion and then incorporated that suggestion into the Packers’ playbook. Lombardi loved Unitas.

Ron from Lees Summit, MO

Vic, read your thoughts and the question about golf having integrity. Do you think it might be for two factors? It’s an individual sport, just you and your score, no one else to blame. Also, competitive golfers always play with others that know the rules and are watching.

I think the main reason is golf has done a great job of selling the value of being honorable. Getting caught cheating would be an embarrassment worse than losing. That’s the key. I’d like to see football sell that concept.

Tom from Charlotte, NC

Frank Deford gave an excellent commentary on sportsmanship and the “defiling of the artifacts that make the game fair and square.” Are you a fan of Deford?

Yes, I am. Deford has always written from the heart. He’s a romantic. He finds the big-picture issue and allows the rationalizers to bicker over the minor issues.

Ryan from Milwaukee, WI

If I had a failed drug test or was caught with drugs or had a criminal background, I would never be admitted to the radiological technology program I’m applying to this fall. Why doesn’t the NFL have more stringent policies?

Football is a nasty game, often requiring nasty men to play it. The line is drawn more loosely for them than it is for radiological technologists, but there nonetheless has to be a line. I think we’re in the process of drawing that line.

Willie from Hayward, WI

Don’t you think Weeb Ewbank deserves some of the credit for the offense the Colts ran back in the day? Or perhaps Paul Brown, because Weeb was a Browns assistant.

Ewbank gets credit for spoiling what might’ve become the greatest dynasty in football history. Because he was coaching under Brown, Ewbank knew Brown was about to sign Unitas to a contract when Unitas was playing sandlot football. Brown made the mistake of delaying. Also, Ewbank knew Brown wanted to draft Raymond Berry, and sent a message to the Colts to draft Berry before Brown did. Ewbank was about to become the Colts’ head coach, but Brown insisted Ewbank stay with the Browns through the draft. I might be a little fuzzy on the facts – I read about them a long time ago in a Brown biography – but what I remember most is that if not for Ewbank, the Browns would’ve had Unitas, Berry and Jim Brown in their offense.


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