Daniel from Los Angeles, CA
Seeing that Chargers loss brings back memories of the Giants going into their game with the Packers last year. Is it difficult for coaches and players to get their mindset right coming off a devastating, last-second loss? How long does such a loss linger in the locker room? Is it easier for a veteran team to handle those ups and downs or is it more a matter of good coaching?
That’s a very good analogy. You don’t recover quickly from what happened to the Giants vs. the Eagles last year. The Chargers are facing a similar challenge this week. What they have going for them is a quarterback who stepped up and accepted complete blame for the fumble. That’s a major positive because it can cause his teammates to rally around him. If he had tried to explain it away, it might’ve caused the opposite reaction. This is a crossroads game for the Chargers. Don’t expect them to go flat, as the Giants did. That game, of course, was in Green Bay. This one will be in San Diego. There will be a lot of Packers fans at this game and their presence will challenge Chargers fans to be just as supportive of their team. In other words, I think we’re going to see a Chargers team and a Chargers crowd with a heightened resolve to recover from what happened in Kansas City.
Garrett from New Knoxville, OH
What is the time-honored “20-17” rule?
Once upon a time, that was considered to be the standard score of an NFL game. It was thought that if you held your opponent to 17 points or scored 20 points, you were likely to win the game. It hasn’t been that way in recent years, of course, as points per game and yardage push higher, but we had one 20-17 this past Sunday, and a 24-21, 27-10, 20-10, 24-14, 25-10 and 23-20. Scores may be leveling. What does it mean? Defenses are catching up? Weather pushing scores lower? We’ll see.
Mike from Socorro, NM
Are NFL players required to join the union? It seems many players earn high enough salaries that with good money management they could retire comfortably when their careers come to an end.
Players are not required to join the union. The other players are also not required to be happy about that. I’m sure you understand that the union is responsible for those “high enough salaries.”
Dana from Gainesville, FL
Just recently there was a player who is 4-foot, 9-inches that walked onto a college football team. Do you think smaller guys have more of a future in the NFL?
No. I think they have more of a future as sportswriters.
Andy from Green Bay, WI
What is your grading criteria when you are judging a stadium on the difficulty to play there?
I go to it and if opposing teams have difficulty playing there, then I consider it to be a difficult place to play. It has been my experience that Qualcomm Stadium, formerly Jack Murphy (he was a sportswriter) Stadium, can be a difficult place to play. It’s possible that I’m just sensing as much because Qualcomm has the league’s last outdoor open-air press box, but I’ve seen some very good teams get walloped in that building. I saw Terry Bradshaw throw five interceptions in that place, in a year in which Bradshaw won Super Bowl MVP. Noise, of course, is a big factor. Does it go up and out of the stadium, or does it get trapped inside the stadium? Qualcomm is noisy.
Kris from Las Vegas, NV
I believe a quarter of Qualcomm Stadium will be Packers fans because it’s the only West Coast game and it’s such a beautiful place to stay. What are your thoughts?
My primary thought is that I hope Packers fans at the game on Sunday proceed carefully. When you wear your team’s colors, you not only show your support, you also identify your allegiance, and that can make you a target. I covered a game in Qualcomm a few years ago that resulted in several clashes among fans. It isn’t worth it. This is not a turf war. This is a football game. Please be careful.
Toby from Iron Mountain, MI
Can you give us your 10 all-time toughest places for a visiting team to play?
I don’t have lists at the ready, but I can give you some names of stadiums I’ve considered tough places to play. Old Mile High Stadium shook. The Vet and Three Rivers were like covering games in Sensurround. The RCA Dome was painful when they got those speakers cranked up full blast. Old Cleveland Stadium had a caveman quality to it that was scary. RFK had a unique flair when they played “Hail to the Redskins.” The Metrodome is still the loudest place in the league. I covered a game in the Astrodome in 1978 and I can still hear the swoosh of those pom-pons. The new one in Seattle is a really tough place to play, but no more so than the old Kingdome; when they did the wave in that place, it made your hair stand up. Those are some that come to mind.
Zach from Beloit, WI
If the Vikings end up in L.A., what would happen to the NFC North?
The Vikings aren’t going to Los Angeles. No way. Minneapolis is too good of a football town to let that happen. That’s been a great franchise for a long time and it needs to stay right where it is. It’s time for team and town to get it done.
Ben from Cudahy, WI
I was just wondering when the last time the defending Super Bowl champs went 7-0 the following season?
The Packers are the fourth to do it and the first since the 2007 Colts. The 1990 49ers and the 1998 Broncos are the others in the Super Bowl era. Thanks to our P.R. department's "Dope Sheet" for that info. Hey, wait a minute, what about the 1962 Packers, who were 10-0 after winning the NFL title? Does that count?
Scott from Martinez, GA
Considering Daylight Savings Time ends Sunday, wouldn't the time difference feel more like only one hour? Since we move the clocks back one hour, to our bodies it will still feel like the old time. So if it feels like noon back in Wisconsin, it'll actually be one o’clock in San Diego, hence, only feeling the one hour difference. Thoughts?
You've got me so confused, I'll probably miss kickoff.
Josh from San Bernardino, CA
How does one get declared an eligible receiver?
If you’re wearing the number of an eligible receiver, all you have to do is line up in an eligible-receiver position. If you’re wearing an ineligible receiver number, you must report to the referee before the play begins your intention to become an eligible receiver, and then line up in an eligible-receiver position. It’s not a difficult procedure to execute.
Andrew from Altoona, WI
Who was your favorite quarterback, running back and wide receiver when you were growing up and why?
Bobby Layne because he didn’t wear a facemask and he always wiped his bloody nose on his right sleeve. John Henry Johnson because he had this cool leap-over-the-pile ability to score touchdowns and get first downs, and he wore a single-bar facemask, which is what I had. Jimmy Orr because he was a smallish guy that caught a lot of deep balls. The game wasn’t televised as it is today. We didn’t see every team in the league play, so we had limited exposure to the game’s stars. The only teams we saw was the team in our town and the teams they played against. I got to see a lot of the Colts’ (they were in Baltimore then) games, too, since the Steelers and Colts were partners in a TV deal with a network. This was before Pete Rozelle was commissioner and created a leaguewide TV contract.
James from Edmonton, Alberta
I’m a huge A.J. Hawk fan but I keep seeing people overlook him when they name our defense’s stars. Do you think being the guy who just makes the tackles is what a defense should be built around, or should it be the ball-hawking playmaker that gets high numbers of sacks and interceptions?
I think that if we’re gonna complain so much about bad tackling, then we ought to have a higher regard for those players that can tackle. Hawk is a tackler, yet, he’s overlooked because he doesn’t get a lot of sacks. Blame it on Lawrence Taylor. He’s the guy that reordered our thinking on defensive football. I think you build a defense around players that can defeat blocks and make the tackle, and then you plug in guys that can disrupt the offense by making sacks and forcing fumbles. You have to have both. Unfortunately, we’ve developed the mindset that there’s a stockpile of guys that can tackle, and that’s just not true.
Seth from Pittsburg, KS
If you had to select one word to describe the Packers franchise, past and present, what would it be? I would select unity.
I would select stability.
Peter from Manitowoc, WI
Generally speaking, would you rather face a team coming off a win or a loss?
I think a loss sharpens a team’s resolve, so I’ll take a team coming off a win. Mike McCarthy makes an interesting comment in his “Tuesdays with McCarthy” column. He said short-term negative reinforcement can have a positive effect, meaning that if a coach jumps his players about a bad performance, it can inspire them to play better in the short term.
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