John from Sheboygan, WI

Vic, if that line in the sand was crossed in the Steelers/Ravens game, do you think it means the bean counters have established control of the game?

The bean counters aren’t the problem. Injuries and recent awareness of long-term health risks associated with football are the problem. It’s launched us into a player-safety era I wholeheartedly accept as necessary, but it’s forced radical changes in how the game is played and the last thing we need are more changes. I am completely opposed to this year’s major-points-of-emphasis campaign. It’s unnecessary. We were just learning to accept the previous changes when, all of a sudden, this bomb was dropped on us. Yes, I think the league has crossed that line in the sand. The game is overofficiated and I would suggest it suspend this points-of-emphasis campaign for now, or run the risk of damaging this season and alienating fans.

Stephen from Kilkenny, Ireland

Thanks for the entertainment and insight over the last four years, however, being from Ireland, have you ever heard of Hurling?

This is “Ask Vic Saturday.” I think you’re looking for “Ask Vic Hangover.”

Andrew from Cambridge, IA

Vic, first Ray Rice, now Adrian Peterson. I think the NFL could be in trouble. You never want to see the stars of the league get into trouble. I am going to wait until the facts are released, but it doesn’t look good. Do you feel these negative stories are going to hurt the NFL’s popularity?

Sure they are. I looked at a popular football website yesterday afternoon and every headline on the site was about nefarious behavior. They included the Roger Goodell investigation, the Rice and Peterson situations, negotiations of a new drug policy – yeah, that’s good news, but it’s good news about being bad – and several headlines about players being fined for bad hits or whatever. Recently, we’ve also had the Jimmy Irsay and Greg Hardy matters, and as I’ve mentioned, the NFLPA has been on a one-month “I apologize for whatever I did” campaign regarding player suspensions. I’m all for the truth, but the truth is beginning to push the game to page two. Hey, this is the season. We’re in it now. This is why we lift all those weights. Can we please get all the bad stuff out of the way before the season begins? The fans want football, not fines.

Hunter from Jacksonport, WI

Vic, as an avid reader of your column from Northern Door County, I’m wondering if you have ever made your way up Highway 41 to visit? If so, what is your favorite Door County restaurant?

Horseshoe Bay Golf Club is my favorite restaurant in Door County. I ate a hot dog on the 10th hole. What a great golf course.

Brian from Fond du Lac, WI

Vic, in your view, is it ever possible to be outcoached?

Sure it is. If your team isn’t as prepared to play as the other team is, you’ve been outcoached. That’s not what happened in Seattle. The Packers ran into a better football team. What does 79-24 say to you? That’s the combined score of the Seahawks’ last two games. I underrated the Seahawks. I thought the Super Bowl was just another choke job. That’s not it. The Seahawks are really, really good.

Andrew from West Allis, WI

Hey, Vic, did you watch “A Football Life” about Joe Greene? They showed you asking him about kicking the dirt after the game. Must’ve been a nice memory.

I saw that. I couldn’t recall the moment, but I immediately remembered Joe’s locker and all of the hours I spent standing at it talking to him. He will always be my favorite football player, not because he was a great player, but because he always shared his wonderful passion for the game with me when I was a kid with a portable typewriter and a dream. I found myself dealing with conflicting emotions last night. I wanted to see the documentary, but I also didn’t want to see the documentary because I knew what it would awaken in me, and those days are gone and will never return. When the documentary ended, I whispered, “Thanks, Joe,” and then turned off the TV and went to bed.

Jered from Baton Rouge, LA

Vic, how should the NFL adjust to the beating its image has encountered this week?

It should respond quickly. This must not be allowed to fester.

Ziga from Ljubljana, Slovenia

Wow, Vic, you actually thought we would defeat the Seahawks on the road? Did you see the Super Bowl? I know you are employed by packers.com, but come on. I have followed Packers very close for decades (from across the Atlantic Ocean). If I was ever sure of one thing, it was that we will not beat Seattle Week 1. I just wonder what made you think otherwise? Are you really this delusional? Packers must prove a lot before they can be compared to Seattle. I thought it was obvious, but what do I know from here? It’s not like I can see every game and practice in person. Oh, wait, you can. You almost had me. I believed you against everything I know, that Packers measure up well against Seahawks. Very sad to find out I shouldn’t have fallen for your hype. Do you have anything to say in your defense?

I feel terrible to have misled you.

Chris from Fredericksburg, VA

Just read the details of the newly agreed drug policy. Can’t help but lose even more respect for the NFL brand. DUI equals two-game suspension? What kind of message does that send when thousands perish each year as a result of DUIs? Very disappointed, Vic.

Let’s allow the dust to settle before we judge this new policy. Let’s also take a big-picture look at it. The NFL wanted a broader drug policy. To get, you have to give. The old policy clearly wasn’t working. It was outdated. I think the new policy is an improvement.

Michael from Toronto, Ontario

Vic, win or lose this Sunday, what improvements will you be looking for from the defense.

I want this defense to stop the run. That’s all for now. Just do that. That’s the starting place for any defense. If you can’t stop the run, you won’t have to worry about doing anything else.

John from Kalamazoo, MI

How do you feel about Rex Ryan? I used to love to hate coaches with big, wild personalities, such as Rex, the Harbaughs and Pete Carroll. But those guys are just being true to themselves. I love how Mike McCarthy goes about his business because it’s honest. Though his demeanor is a world apart from McCarthy, I feel like Rex is also just keeping it real.

I love Coach Ryan. I love his flamboyance. I love the fact he’s not afraid to say what he believes. That’s the big one: He’s not afraid, and I think that attitude trickles down to his players. The Jets are no shrinking violet. The team that’s coming into Lambeau Field tomorrow will have its chest sticking all the way out. The 49ers and Seahawks are also like that, and that’s how it should be. I don’t like the idea of trying to sneak up on an opponent. It’s no fun for me. I want the confrontation. That’s why I do what I do. I also love Coach Ryan for another reason: His dad was very good to me. I was working for a newspaper that was in Doug Plank’s hometown when Buddy Ryan was the Bears’ defensive coordinator. Buddy named the “46 Defense” in Plank’s honor; Doug was Buddy’s favorite. I would have to do periodic updates on Doug, but Doug wasn’t good at collecting messages and returning calls. Buddy would call me and ask if Doug had returned my call. I’d say, “Not yet,” and a few minutes later Doug would call. Right after I hung up with Doug, Buddy would call back and ask, “Do you need anything from me?” How do you not love that?

Nathan from Indianapolis, IN

Vic, reading your TV ratings info on the Steelers-Ravens game compared to the Patriots-Jets game from the previous year, I couldn’t help but think the bigger difference isn’t people wanting old-school football with violence, but the fact the game aired on CBS, rather than exclusively on the NFL Network. Isn’t that a better assumption?

That was a major factor, but NFL Network sent out another release late Friday afternoon, and the numbers were even more dramatic. “The debut of Thursday Night Football on network television exceeded our ratings expectations,” said Sean McManus, chairman, CBS Sports. NFL Network and CBS are chortling about Thursday night’s ratings.

Rick from Albuquerque, NM

Last time the Jets and the Packers played, Ryan talked about blitzing and instead dropped seven into coverage. Will he do that or blitz the rookie center and Sherrod at right tackle?

I think it’s all about how Coach Ryan feels about his secondary matching up against Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb and company. If Coach Ryan believes his secondary can hold its coverage, he’ll bring the house. I think he’ll bring the house.

Dan from Fort Collins, CO

Vic, with a lot of discussion about TV blackout policy and fans in the seats, what about the ridiculously skyrocketing price of seats?

If I was appointed commissioner – hey, it could happen – one of the first things I would do is begin addressing the cost of attending a game. I don’t know how you do it, but I’d call up somebody and start yelling.


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