Carlo from Canton, OH

I am beyond excited for the start of training camp. I just started paying closer attention to the practice schedule and I'm a bit rusty on some of the terms. What is the difference in equipment worn between a shells practice and a full-pads practice?

Shells are a smaller, lightweight version of shoulder pads. They offer protection to the shoulders but they’re not made for striking. At a shells practice, you’re going to see players in helmets, shorts and the lightweight shoulder pads. At a full-pads practice, you’re going to see players outfitted as they would be for a game.

Jered from Baton Rouge, LA

Vic, do you think that with the advanced system of mass media that we enjoy today, any player of any sport can achieve immortalization of the magnitude of some of the early iconic sports athletes? Example: “The Babe.” Does our ability to keep tabs on their personal lives, via the mass media outlets, lesson the likelihood of this from ever happening again?

In other words, we know too much? I don’t think so. Example: “Tiger.”

Jason from Summerville, SC

What is your opinion of Favre skipping Holmgren’s induction into the Hall of Fame? I would think Favre could put his pride aside to participate in such an amazing accomplishment for a man he calls a friend.

It was absolutely the right thing to do because had Brett Favre attended Mike Holmgren’s Packers Hall of Fame induction ceremony on Saturday, the story wouldn’t have been about Holmgren’s induction, it would’ve been about Favre’s return to Lambeau Field. The spotlight needed to be on Holmgren.

Teddy from Milwaukee, WI

I have a theory. Only about 25 percent of today's teams have a history in their city that extends back prior to 1960. Might that contribute to people's view of the old-timers? Fans want to think the game wasn't as good before their favorite team was founded.

That’s part of it, and I’ve mentioned that. Pro football is a relatively young game. At its beginnings, football was the college game, and I think college football regards its great players of the past with more reverence than pro football does.

Jim from Green Bay, WI

What exactly is offset language in a contract and can you give an example or two please?

The specific example of offset language is: I sign you to a contract with a guaranteed salary of $5 million, I cut you and you sign with another team for a $1 million salary, and I only owe you $4 million of the $5 million I guaranteed.

Norman from Chattanooga, TN

Last weekend, while watching the NFL channel, they showed clips on back to back shows of the Packers-Cardinals playoff matchup a couple of years back. While showing the final play of the game on both shows and interviewing different personalities, nobody mentioned the fact that there was a blow to the head of Aaron Rodgers and a grabbing of the facemask on the same play. Why does no one ever mention that?

Welcome to “Ask Vic.”

Alex from Hammond, IN

At what point does it become courageous to say, “Coach, I'm hurt and I need to sit down?”

Never.

John from Appleton, WI

In baseball, they say good pitching beats good hitting. What about pass rushers vs. good linemen?

I’d have to say good blocking beats good rushing, because the all-time great offensive linemen and pass blockers, such as Anthony Munoz, only allowed a few sacks in their entire careers.

David from Manchester, UK

Vic, I want to personally thank you and your reader Andrew for mentioning Ernie Holmes. I read into his story and what a story it is. At first, I was just entertained by how extreme of a character he was, but as I read further, I realized his story is actually quite tragic. Even somebody as monstrous as he was proved to be completely human in the end.

He’s one of my all-time favorite players because he was such a character. He’s probably the most frightening player I’ve ever covered, but he’s also one of the most loveable. He had a penchant for malapropos. He once said, “I’m higher than the U.S. blimp.” One of my favorite “Fats” stories involves an American Express commercial that featured Tom Landry surrounded by “Redskins.” The company that produced the commercial advertised for stand-ins to play the part of the Redskins; they wanted big, mean-looking guys. As the story goes, “Fats” showed up to play one of the Redskins. When he was asked if he had any football experience, he banged his fist down on the table, exposing his Super Bowl rings. He got the part.

Robert from Madison, WI

Jim Brown and Earl Campbell played in an era when defensive players knew how to tackle, and they still dominated.

I wonder how many yards they’d gain in the can’t-tackle era.

Matthew from Cardiff, Great Britain

What are your memories of Bill Walsh's “West Coast Offense?”

My memories of it are that it didn’t fit with the rules of the game prior to the 1978 rules changes, when Walsh ran it with the Bengals, but it was a perfect fit when Walsh became the head coach of the 49ers in 1979.

Scott from Wausau, WI

Your answer to the question about the two best 3-4 outside linebackers surprised me. You said L.T. (obvious) and Junior Seau. I thought Junior played inside his whole career.

Seau was the prototype 3-4 outside linebacker. He was perfect for it and Bill Arnsparger had that role in mind for Seau when Arnsparger became the Chargers’ defensive coordinator, but the Chargers didn’t have the two-gapping kind of defensive linemen you need to run the 3-4, so they stayed with the 4-3. Seau would go on to play in a 3-4 in Miami, but the best years of his career would be spent in San Diego in a 4-3. Just think about how many more sacks and fumbles he would’ve forced had he played in a 3-4. I think Seau was every bit the player Lawrence Taylor was. As far as casting him in a 4-3 or a 3-4, I’m not big on that. I think Bruce Smith was miscast. He was a prototypical 4-3 right defensive end, but he played in a 3-4 in Buffalo. The bottom line is that great players do great things, regardless of where they play. Players, not plays.

Jack from Madison, WI

Who do you think were the top three quarterbacks with biggest cannon for an arm?

Marino, Elway, Bradshaw had the best arms I’ve seen.

Casey from Lynchburg, VA

NFL Network: “A big question facing the Packers this offseason is, ‘Can you run the football?’ Can they do that next season?” Rodgers: “Uh, do we need to?” I know it hurts you, Vic, but Rodgers is right. After a 15-1 season carried by air assault, it's easy to say we don’t need to run the football more to win games.

When have I disagreed? I think all teams need to be able to run the ball well enough to convert short-yardage and make teams respect the run enough to be able to sell play-action, but the days of run the ball, stop the run are over. I like that kind of football but I came off it years ago. Today’s NFL is a passing league, and the league is going to make sure it stays that way. You’re not allowed to hit the quarterback and you’re not allowed to hit the receiver. Why wouldn’t you pass the ball? That’s why I wrote that I expect a quarterback to throw for 6,000 yards someday. I didn’t predict that Rodgers would do it in 2012; I said he’s one of the candidates to do it at some point in the future. It’s what the fans want; it’s what sells and pro football is all about sales. There’s one more thing that makes me believe 6,000 yards passing will fall: the league’s obsession for and pursuit of greater player safety. Hard-hitting defensive games tend to result in more injuries than wide-open offensive games. What that means, in my opinion, is that we’re going to see the league continue to legislate against defense and for offense, and that’s going to result in more yards gained and more points scored.

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