Josh from Tel Aviv, Israel
Vic, I am an Israeli soldier, so I know my comment won’t be posted, but I was wondering if you had any advice on how to explain the beauty of football to people who have not grown up watching it? All of the other soldiers in my unit can’t seem to understand why I wake up in the middle of the night to watch the games on my smartphone.
You should describe to the other soldiers what excites you about pro football. I got hooked on the feeling football gave me. It had a spectacle feeling to it that made me tingle; it still does. The first football game I ever saw was a high school game, and the lights and the uniforms did it to me. Football’s panorama is one of its greatest charms, and the colors of the uniforms are a big deal. Baseball uniforms when I was a kid were drab. Baseball’s charm is its monotony, if you like that kind of thing. It’s for people that like to ride trains. Football is for the jet set. It’s a splash of colors as bold as the colors of the leaves falling from the trees. The first pro game I ever saw was between the Steelers and the Giants. I can still see the Giants in their white jerseys with their bright red numbers; I can still see Charlie Conerly’s No. 42. The Steelers wore bright yellow helmets back then, and I can still see the No. 22 on the side of Bobby Layne’s helmet. The first college game I attended was between Pitt and Michigan State, and the moment I walked into Pitt Stadium, looked down at those blue and green helmets and that field of grass, I knew this was for me. I like brightly colored uniforms cast on a field of green grass under a blue sky and against a multi-colored crowd sitting shoulder to shoulder. Football, for me, is a spectacle. That’s what excites me.
Jake from Oshkosh, WI
Vic, in your last article, you said the Chargers made the right decision by letting Drew Brees go and drafting Phillip Rivers, based on Drew’s shoulder injury. Yet, Drew has gone on to throw for a zillion yards, TDs and happened to win a Super Bowl in between. How is that a good decision?
It’s a good decision because the Saints signed Brees site unseen. In other words, they signed him without even seeing him throw a pass following his shoulder surgery. The risk was fantastic; that’s how desperate the Saints franchise was. Would Brees have won a Super Bowl in San Diego? Rivers has been a very good quarterback for a long time. Keeping him was a sensible and sound decision.
Jerry from Kent, WA
I have a journalism question. A few reporters have been claiming Jim Harbaugh will be finished with the 49ers after this season, even if they win the Super Bowl. The 49ers owner, Jed York, claims the reports are false and, yet, the reporters continue to write articles as though Harbaugh’s days are numbered. How do these sports writers get away with writing such speculative articles? I know controversy sells, but this seems over the top.
Public figures are subject to public scrutiny. It is the first law of the mass media.
Tim from Santa Monica, CA
Are you surprised at how well Russell Wilson has played so far in his career, despite his short height?
He has exceeded my expectations for him. I also never envisioned him in the role he’s been cast as a read-option quarterback. Pete Carroll deserves a lot of credit for his boldness.
Tadd from Salt Lake City, UT
Vic, I know you have mentioned being a fan of college football. What did you think of Saturday? Seems like Saturday’s excitement outdid Sunday’s.
The Ole Miss win over Alabama was a 50-year event. The last time Ole Miss was 5-0 was 1962. It was a great day of college football, headlined by the Ole Miss win.
Mark from Kingsford, MI
The release of Ryan Taylor comes as a surprise since he was pretty good on special teams. Any ideas as to why?
It’s roster massaging. Every team does it and every bottom-of-the-roster player is vulnerable to it. Injuries are the most common reason for these moves. A good GM is roster conscious. He’s always doing what has to be done to shape the roster according to his coach’s needs, without sacrificing value and development. In other words, do what you have to do, but make sure you don’t lose somebody you’ll want down the road.
Kyle from Salt Lake City, UT
Vic, the refs just took a touchdown away from the Seahawks for a pancake block. What is happening to this game?
It’s being over-officiated. Somebody thinks it’s necessary. I think it’s a mistake. The penalties against Percy Harvin for illegal motion and against the center for a head bob (all he did was look between his legs and then look back up) did it to me last night. I couldn’t bear to see another penalty flag.
Augustus from Humboldt, CA
Vic, I noticed during the 49ers game on Sunday the new stadium is constructed so the 49ers bench is in the shade, while the visiting team’s bench is exposed to the sun all game. How do you feel about that as a competitive advantage?
Somebody has to sit in the sun. I watched visiting teams melt on their sun-baked sideline in Jacksonville.
Ken from Louisville, KY
Vic, I guess I have to be more dramatic to get your attention. I wrote on this subject before to no avail. Blood and guts don’t make good TV and the NFL knows it. If you remove the facemask, bloody noses will be rampant and that doesn’t make for good TV ratings. It’s not going to happen. Us old-schoolers might like it, but not the casual fan or the sponsors. End of story, please. Why are you afraid to admit this?
First of all, you need to calm down. You’re right, it’s not going to happen. I’ve said that before. You’re wrong, however, about blood and guts not making for great TV. This league was built on blood and guts. Bobby Layne’s bloody nose and the blood smear down the right sleeve of his white jersey made me want to have a bloody nose. One of the greatest football pictures of all time is of Y.A. Tittle dazed and kneeling in the end zone, his bald head cracked like an egg. When people see it, they stare at it. Why? Because violence both scares us and excites us. Frankly, I’d rather see bloody noses than read about suffering that’s resulted from head trauma.
Ben from Greenville, WI
Vic, with HGH testing set to begin, do you know or do you have some idea how testing will occur? Sadly, I can’t imagine there will be widespread testing early, given the current PR nightmare and how a bunch of suspended players would only add to that.
I don’t know the specifics, but I acknowledge the potential for HGH testing to be a game-changer.
Zach from Bloomington, IL
Are you as disappointed as I am that some of the best baseball is pay-per-view this year? Are we heading to the sad day when this will be the case for all sports on TV, where only the privileged can enjoy watching?
When pay-per-view can produce more revenue than free TV, we’ll be paying to watch sports on TV. I don’t think it’s around the corner, but I think we’re going to see the number of sporting events offered on pay-per-view increase.
Dan from Milwaukee, WI
What is the best job in football?
Head coach at Notre Dame; always has been, always will be.
Ryan from Atlanta, GA
Vic, is staying healthy a skill that can be developed, or is it just luck?
There’s some acquired skill involved. You learn not to hang around piles. You stay light on your feet in the cut zones.
C.J. from Edinboro, PA
Vic, what exactly does the advance scout do in the press box? Do they make note of the play calling tendencies or are they more focused on the different packages the team employs?
On game day in the press box, the advance scout is looking for the little things that can’t be seen on tape. He’s looking for injuries that will go unreported because a player returned to the game. He watches the sideline for how it operates, especially the chain of command for sending plays into the game. What coaches are up and what coaches are down? That kind of stuff.
Matt from Bloomington, IN
You mentioned yesterday there’s a chance the Panthers could decide the NFC North title. I was thinking about that same thing on Sunday, but I thought of the Bills as well.
The Bills are a common opponent that has beaten the Lions and the Bears, so the Packers could score a major tiebreaker advantage with a win over the Bills. The next tiebreaker down is conference games, so the Panthers would have more meaning there, but the Bills game is big.
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