Steve from Gully, MN
An NFL fan of 55 years, I think the players and owners owe all fans more respect. I did not hear a player say they were thinking of the fans. If they miss one game, fans should boycott one; two games, boycott two games. Your thoughts?
Vic: This is March. We’re a long way from losing games. I’m glad this has happened at this point in the year instead of two games into the season, as it did in 1982 and ’87. The timing of this standoff is responsible. The two sides have plenty of time to get this done. I’ll judge them according to whether or not they use the time they have constructively. Yes, they owe the fans and the game an expeditious settlement of this dispute.
Paul from Torbay, UK
There is talk of a potential expansion with a UK-based franchise. Do you think this is sustainable for the league, given the travel time each way?
Vic: I don’t know if it’s sustainable and I don’t know when it’ll happen but I think it’ll happen. Revenue is going to drive this next CBA; when hasn’t revenue driven a CBA? Los Angeles and London are mega-revenue destinations.
Al from Arcadia, CA
Why do teams like the Packers, once they think they have a comfortable lead, go conservative and play not to lose rather than playing to win? Instead of continuing to put points on the board, they change a winning strategy and go more with a running game supposedly to take time off the clock, thus, almost invariably handing the opponent the momentum so that in the closing minutes the Pack all too often is fighting for its life. Why does this approach make sense to coaches?
Vic: It’s the pro way to play. Why do pro coaches play that way? Because they see the big picture. The more your quarterback throws, the more times he’ll be sacked, the more often he’ll be hit and the more likely he’ll get hurt. You get the lead and then you turn the game over to your defense and your running game. That’s the way well-rounded teams play. That’s the way the Packers played in the 2010 postseason and they won the Super Bowl. By the way, that’s the way the guys they beat in the Super Bowl have played for a long, long time. The Packers won that game because they got the lead and protected it.
Ben from Dayton, OH
I liked your comment about Baldwin from Pitt. Are there any “lightning in a bottle” running backs you could see the Packers going after? They seem to lack speed at that position.
Vic: The “lightning in a bottle” reference wasn’t about playing speed; it’s a metaphor for trying to find a star player hidden in a rather pedestrian performance last season. It’s a term scouts use to describe a risk pick. Baldwin, in my opinion, is a risk pick, but the risk carries with it the potential for high reward.
Trent from Greenville, SC
How do you choose what questions you will answer from day to day? Is it random? Not that I am complaining, but I have sent over 15 questions since you started “Ask Vic” and I have yet to have one of them answered.
Vic: Yes, it’s random and, congratulations, you made it.
Chad from Callahan, FL
“Mr. Gorbachev, take down that tent.” Best line ever; seeing your explanation about sideline heaters made me start laughing all over again.
Vic: Yeah, that brings back memories. I remember writing that in my game blog during the Jags-Bears game at Soldier field in 2008. It was a brutally cold day and the Bears had constructed some kind of tent with a heater in it next to their bench, which was clearly a violation of the rules because it was a fixed structure and they didn’t provide the same for the Jaguars. As I recall, the officials made them take it down. Da Bears. Why do I get the feeling this is gonna be fun?
Kevin from Belmar, NJ
What happens to the extra money that is allocated to the salary cap but not paid to the players? For example, if the salary cap is $100 million but the team’s payroll is only $80 million, who gets the difference of $20 million?
Vic: There is no cap. That ended in 2009. Back then, there was a minimum cap. If you didn’t spend to the minimum, then the difference between what you spent and the minimum cap was redistributed to the players, but that meant you were in violation of the cap and no team has been found to be in violation of the minimum cap.
Jim from Monroe, WI
I would like to know why Jim Taylor is not listed in the “Top 100” football players, as I feel he is the top fullback ever in the league.
Vic: He was a great football player; one of my favorites. I would suggest, however, that you not stand on the term “fullback,” because I think you’re applying it according to today’s standards and Taylor was not a fullback according to today’s standards; he was a running back by today’s standards. Taylor played in “split backs,” also known as “pro set.” In “split backs,” the fullback was the featured runner. Jim Brown was a fullback. So was Franco Harris and a lot of other great backs from the “split backs” era. In “split backs,” the halfback was the blocker; he was the run-a-little, catch-a-little, block-a-lot back. It was a little different in the Taylor-Hornung dynamic because they were each accomplished runners, but Taylor was officially listed as a fullback and he absolutely was the featured runner.
Luke from Iowa City, IA
So far I feel like I'm with you in support of a BAP drafting philosophy, but it seems like there might be one exception: teams in need of a franchise quarterback. Do you really think a team is supposed to ignore needs when they're lacking at the most important position in the sport?
Vic: If you need a quarterback, you gotta go get one. Identify your guy and move to where he fits. If it means moving up, know that it’s gonna cost picks and money. If the guy you’ve identified doesn’t fit where you’re picking, however, then you need to move back because you’ll be picking him higher than he should be picked and with quarterbacks that means paying a lot of money you shouldn’t have to pay. Joe Flacco is the best example. He was the Ravens’ guy, but the Ravens had the eighth pick of the draft and that was too high for Flacco. They would’ve had to pick him according to the cost of a top 10 pick. What they did was trade back to 26 and then up to 18, where Flacco fit and where the Ravens picked him. It’s about value. You have to pick the player where he fits, regardless of position. In fact, it might be especially true at the quarterback position.
Brett from Jacksonville, FL
Can a person play in the NFL without being a member of the players' union? If so, would this player be allowed to work out at his team's facilities right now?
Vic: There is no union; it decertified. If there was a union, it would not be mandatory for you to join. If you elected not to join, however, I would suggest that you wear all of your pads.
Anne from Auburndale, WI
Welcome to Wisconsin, Vic. Hadn't heard anything of you with your previous teams, but I've been enjoying your give-and-take with the fans. Since you're new to the state, is there any chance you'd get to go along on the “Tailgate Tour” that's supposed to take place in May? It would be a great way to see some of the state and meet the fans at the same time.
Vic: One way or another, I am going to see the state. I’m really looking forward to seeing a part of the country with which I am not familiar. I’m intrigued by a lot of things I didn’t expect. For example, where does the snow go? There’s been a lot of snow since I arrived, yet, the streets and parking lots never seem to be wet. The snow doesn’t appear to melt; it just seems to slowly disappear.
Bart from Bartlett, IL
Vic, are you as sick and tired of having to answer questions about the labor issue as I am of having to read them? Like you said, it's their problem, not ours.
Vic: If I could flip a switch and make it all stop, I would, but it is what it is and it’s going to be with us for awhile and that means we’re all going to have to find our own ways to deal with it. For some people, ignorance is bliss. They can discipline themselves to ignore it. They’ll turn their attention to the draft and act as though it’s a normal offseason. I think it’s the smart thing to do. Maybe by then the whole thing will be over and they won’t have suffered a moment of angst. The preponderance of fans, however, will invest themselves in this dispute emotionally, and it is for those fans that I think it’s important that I field questions and do my best to answer them. “Knowledge is power. The truth shall set you free,” right? At the least, information eases anxiety. Neither football fans nor football writers are legal experts. We don’t want to have to know this stuff. What I’ve found is that it’s what I don’t know that bothers me. If I have some understanding of the process and what’s happening and why it’s happening, I suffer less angst. I’m applying that same logic to the fans. If there’s something you don’t understand, I’ll try my best to find an explanation for you.