Sean from Leeds, UT

Now that the Eighth Circuit Court has ruled that the lockout is legal, what does that mean for both sides as we move closer to the deadline for when a deal needs to be done to save the preseason?

It means the Eighth Circuit Court has sent a message to the owners and the players that it’s up to them to get a deal done; don’t count on the courts to do a deal for you. The NFL-NFLPA joint statement following the Eighth Circuit Court’s ruling confirms that both sides understand the impact of that ruling: “While we respect the court's decision, today's ruling does not change our mutual recognition that this matter must be resolved through negotiation. We are committed to our current discussions and reaching a fair agreement that will benefit all parties for years to come, and allow for a full 2011 season.” That’s a hard right turn from the players’ initial attempt to run this matter through the courts.

Brent from Cedar Grove, WI

In high school and college football every school has their big rival, the game that could make or break a season. The Packers have the Bears, but what are some of the other big rivals in the NFL over the years?

There are traditional rivalries such as Bears-Packers, Giants-Eagles, Browns-Steelers, Jets-Dolphins, Chiefs-Raiders, etc., and then there are era rivalries built on two top teams facing each other in big games on a consistent basis. Patriots-Colts is an example of an era rivalry.

Sara from Davis, CA

Is there a guideline for how jersey numbers are given out? Dumb question, I know, but I was just wondering.

No, it’s not a dumb question; there’s some intrigue that goes into determining jersey numbers for players. For example, a player wants a particular number, but he’s not permitted to wear that number if it is available in another grouping, so for him to wear that number all of the other numbers in the priority grouping for his position have to be taken. Some teams give out numbers with locker positions in mind. I covered a team that arranged its lockers according to numbers, so if that team wanted to expose a rookie player to a certain veteran’s wisdom, then the rookie would have needed to wear a number that was one up or down from the veteran player’s number. If I was the guy giving out numbers, I would want my two safeties wearing 25 and 26 or 23 and 28 or 33 and 38, etc. Why? Because the first thing a quarterback does when he comes to the line of scrimmage is find the strong safety; he usually tips the coverage scheme. I’d wanna make it as difficult as possible for the opposing quarterback to find the strong safety. I remember having covered a throwback game the first season they used throwback jerseys. One of the teams used a throwback jersey that had a city crest, not a number, on the front of the jersey. The league made the team put a number on the front of one of the shoulders, but it was difficult to see at a distance and the opposing team threw a fit.

James from Roller, CO

You raised some interesting issues in your piece about the future of the 32 teams in the NFL. As I looked at it, I thought the NFC North is by far the division with the highest potential. Obviously, the Packers and Bears would be expected to perform at a high level this year. I'm convinced that the Lions are a breakout team to watch and the Vikings can do some amazing things under the right leadership. Is a division like that advantageous to a great team? Obviously, it means it will be harder to have a standout regular-season record, but what's your take?

If there’s one division whose future stands out more than the rest, it would have to be the NFC East, for the simple reason that all four teams are huge markets with cash-cow stadiums. I think the NFC North is a solid division that has two top teams, a team hard on the rise and another whose future will turn the corner if and when it gets a new stadium. This is the perfect division for the Packers because Green Bay is the geographic center of the NFC North and, most importantly, its rival is right down the road. A soft division will get you into the playoffs, but soft schedules have not made for champions in recent years. The Packers played a killer schedule in 2010. The ’08 Steelers played a monster schedule. So did the ’07 Giants and the ’07 Giants and ’05 Steelers, as did the ’10 Packers, went on a late-season run that included three consecutive road playoff wins. If I can choose between a soft schedule or a killer schedule, I’ll take the soft schedule, but there’s evidence to suggest a tough schedule hardens a team for the postseason. I like a strong division. It gives division games real meaning.

David from Brimfield, IL

There’s a website where you can vote the best player from each NFL franchise. For the Packers, here are the choices: Reggie White, Bart Starr, Ray Nitschke, Brett Favre and Don Hutson. I voted Starr because he's a winner. What's your vote?

Starr.

Daniel from Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

Vic, about your opponent performing a “Lambeau Leap,” Chad Ochocinco did it once, no penalty was called, but he got pushed off the wall and a nice beer shower for free.

I know that and I know they’re not gonna flag a “Lambeau Leap” by a visiting team player in Lambeau. I’m talking about a “Leap” in another stadium. What if a Bears player did a “Soldier Salute” by jumping into the stands following a touchdown? Would they flag that? What if Patriots players started doing “Gillette Jumps,” and Steelers players started doing “Heinz Hops,” and Lions players started doing “Ford Field Flops?” Would the league allow it?

Charlie from Cedar Rapids, IA

When will the Packers have a No. 4 day?

Let’s get the word out for everybody, OK? Packers President Mark Murphy has gone on record as saying the Packers will have a day for Brett Favre and retire his number, but first the team needs to be sure Favre has retired. I mean, you can’t start retiring numbers before players have retired; that’s just going too far. Has Favre, in fact, retired? That’s the question. There were reports last week that he might actually play another season.

Dan from Charlotte, NC

My sons have become big football fans, like me, but I feel bad for them that they didn't get to see some of the players of previous decades. I wish they could have seen the magic that occurred week after week between Montana and Rice. I wish they could have watched Walter Payton get tied up by eight defenders but still move the pile another four yards. I wish they could have seen the Bradshaw/Swann/Stallworth acrobatics. If you were to list five or so players that were spellbinding that you wish your grandkids would have been able to see, who would they be?

From my generation, I consider Jim Brown, Chuck Bednarik, Joe Greene, Dick Butkus, Johnny Unitas, Lawrence Taylor and Montana to be the most interesting players. Jim Thorpe is the player I never saw that interests me the most.

Joseph from Chattanooga, TN

Vic, a franchise's most important statistic is the number of championships it has won. What is the second-most important statistic for a franchise?

I have a reporter friend who likes to say the dirty, little secret in the NFL is that the Super Bowl isn’t the goal, being a playoff contender every year is the goal because that fills your stadium. I think there’s a lot of truth to that statement. I consider attendance to be a franchise’s second-most important stat; maybe it’s the most important, when you consider that the long-term health and viability of a franchise is determined by the size and support of its fan base.

Chazz from San Antonio, TX

Please explain to us your thoughts on LeRoy Butler's chance of being inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Was his career good enough to get him in or is he not quite good enough to join the elite in the Hall?

Butler is among a large group of players who are serious Hall of Fame candidates but will probably need something fortuitous to happen to get them in. Dick LeBeau was in that same position for a long time and then his fame as a coach put him over the top. Jerry Kramer is waiting. Cris Carter is waiting. There are a lot of great players waiting. They need something to put them over the top. Maybe it’ll be a Hall of Fame committee member who will make an impassioned appeal. Maybe it’ll be a groundswell within the selection committee. Maybe a particular class of candidates won’t be especially strong; I thought the 2008 class was a little weaker than usual.

George from Jefferson City, MO

I'm beginning to think you don't like me for some reason because as much as I post a question, you never post my comments. What's up with that? I'm a Packers fan, too, buddy. What do you think the odds of the Packers repeating are?

Keep the quarterback healthy and they’ve got a shot.

Neil from Chippewa Falls, WI

I know the Packers rarely retire numbers, but do you believe there is a legitimate chance that No. 21 could be retired for Charles Woodson?

It’s a fair question. Woodson is Reggie White, right? They both came to the Packers as free agents. They both flourished and led the Packers to a Super Bowl title. I don’t know where you draw the line on retiring numbers, and that’s the problem with retiring numbers.

Tom from Richmond, VA

Mike McCarthy has always expressed his desire to field a team that will successfully run the ball. Considering our success last season, will he finally be content to field a pass-first team that will contend every year, or will he continue to pay lip service to pounding the ball between the tackles?

Every coach wants to be able to run the ball because that helps open up the passing game. Yes, the Packers were a pass-first team last year, but it was the emergence of the running game late in the season that helped take the Packers offense to a higher level in the postseason. McCarthy isn’t the type to wake up at three in the morning and draw up a running play. It’s the passing game that makes his heart beat a little faster, but he knows his offense needs to run the ball better in 2011 than it did for most of ’10, or defenses will ignore the run, load up against the pass and send the house after Aaron Rodgers. You don’t want that. You don’t want your quarterback to be the target of every defense on every play. You have to make defenses at least respect the threat of a run.