Jacob from New Bremen, OH
Vic, any ideas on why the players association would have declined to allow one player to be placed on a special injured reserve list? Seemed like a good idea from a players standpoint. Your thoughts?
If every team in the league had exercised its right to return one player from the injured reserve list during the season, the players association could effectively have lost 32 members.
Geno from Oshkosh, WI
Vic, please explain why we have this IR rule in the first place? Who does it benefit and how long has it been around? Has it helped or hurt the game over the decades?
You have to have a place to put injured players. If you had to carry them on your active roster, a team could become so decimated by injury that it would become uncompetitive. If you could put them on a 15-day or 60-day disabled list, teams would use the DL as a place to store talent, which was the case back in the ’70s, when teams were allowed up to four moves from IR back to the active roster, after a player spent four weeks on IR. That rule, which seemed so logical and well-intended, was a disaster. The deceit with which teams treated IR was embarrassing. I think the process needs to be revisited, but I don’t think it’s untenable the way it is. Fifty-three players on an active roster and eight players on the practice squad is a lot of talent from which teams can draw. If a player has a six- or eight-week injury, and he’s a player of significance you don’t want to lose for the season, I see no reason why he can’t be carried on the active roster for that period of time. Remember, baseball rosters are less than half the size of football rosters, and baseball teams play 162 games.
Mark from Phoenix, AZ
Vic, is it wise for a team to keep a veteran who is past his prime on the squad exclusively to help mentor the new players at the position?
Players play and coaches coach. If a player wants to mentor a young player, that’s fine, but he better be able to contribute as a player as he’s doing it. I don’t understand why fans are so desperate for players to coach players. I don’t want them to coach each other. I want them to compete against each other. I want them to feel the heat of making a roster. I want them to feel the breath of a young player trying to push an older player out the door, just as the older player once did when he was young. I love the dog-eat-dog quality of this game. It’s always been the charm of training camp for me, and the way every player respects it and accepts it as the natural food chain of professional football. One of the things about this game that has always warmed my heart is seeing the hugs and the genuine love exchanged when a player is cut and his teammates say goodbye. Keeping a player around because he’s a good guy is pitiable. These men are too proud to be reduced to that. I can’t help but remember Keyshawn Johnson’s remarks during the 2007 NFL draft. He said on the air how happy he was to work with Dwayne Jarrett, after the Panthers had made Jarrett their second-round pick. I can remember chuckling and thinking to myself, “You know you’re gone,” and he soon would be gone.
Nick from Brentwood, CA
I heard on the radio that the NFL is becoming a league of haves and the have nots. Any thoughts?
I think that’s exactly what was happening prior to this new CBA, and that’s why a lot of the low-revenue teams went into deep austerity for the uncapped year in 2010. There was an uncertainty to the NFL’s financial landscape, and the low-revenue teams, which were being crushed by the CBA of 2006, needed to know what the new financial landscape would be before they would resume spending. The salary cap can be a means for high-revenue teams to transfer their player costs onto low-revenue teams, and the low-revenue teams needed to know the means for doing that would be lessened, and that an acceptable form of revenue sharing would be included. The new CBA provides a platform that allows low-revenue teams to compete, so I would say the thought of the NFL becoming a league of haves and have nots is outdated.
Andrew from Jacksonville, FL
Can you envision a scenario in which you might bring back the asterisk next to a team’s record this year with the notation, “The replacement officials cost/gave that team a win or a loss”?
That won’t happen because I believe we have to live with mistakes. Maybe that’s what replacement officials will teach us. Sometimes life isn’t fair. Can we deal with it?
Vincent from Houston, TX
I grew to love watching Brett Favre and thinking he was the greatest QB of all-time. Now I argue that fact of Aaron Rodgers because I flat-out like him better because of his decision-making and faster success. Am I wrong for that?
Rodgers has the same unflappable improvisational skills Favre did, sans the interceptions. Why can’t you like both?
Jeff from Saint Paul, MN
Was the midseason offensive change in Denver to accommodate Tim Tebow's skill set as remarkable a coaching job by John Fox as it seemed?
The Broncos were going nowhere and the fans were clamoring to wear that hat that looked like a monk’s head, so they plugged Tebow in and good things started happening, such as the Bears fumbling the football in kill-the-clock mode. Tebow is an immensely popular player, but nothing beats Peyton Manning. He was the trump card and John Elway played that card perfectly. Yes, Fox is a very good coach. What he did on defense is the example of that.
Luke from Perth, WA
What are your thoughts on the international appeal of the NFL? I heard the NFL is thinking of putting a team in London. Do you think we will ever see a team outside the U.S.?
There will be a team in London. Commissioner Roger Goodell is intent on that happening. He made that point perfectly clear at last year’s kickoff breakfast at Lambeau Field. “I think we have great opportunities internationally. I can see a team in the UK someday. We’re going to pursue that very aggressively,” Goodell said.
George from Scranton, PA
With the tough first month of the season, it’s possible the Packers start 2-2 or 1-3. How do you think this team will respond to a slow start if it happens, especially with last year's huge success in the regular season?
How did it respond when its back was to the wall in 2010? The opening month of the season will be high drama. It’s a daunting schedule. It’ll be good for the Packers to be so challenged. It hardens a team for what’s ahead.
Don from Orion, IL
I read your comment about preferring the 3-4. I vividly remember watching the 1990s Packers with White, Jones, Dotson and the big fella, and thinking why would anyone ever play anything but 4-3. Even though I knew that was a special line, I didn't really think about what you do if you don't have that kind of talent. Anyway, do you think a lack of talented big men is where the 3-4 has an appeal to defensive coordinators?
Other than for quarterback, the most overdrafted position on the field and the most difficult player to find is that hand-on-the-ground pass rusher. Look at what Julius Peppers and Mario Williams got in free agency. The 3-4 especially appeals to general managers because 4-3, blindside pass rushers are cap killers, if picking them produces a succession of busts, which it can do. Tweeners that can be plugged in as rush backers in a 3-4 are far more plentiful and deliver a higher success percentage than the hand-on-the-ground guys.
Ed from Orlando, FL
What is the historical reason for a certain number of men on the line of scrimmage? Why is that a rule?
It was a way of defining and limiting the eligible receivers. It was a way of assisting the defense. That’s why I think we’ll see rules changes that’ll go the other direction. It wouldn’t surprise me that if years down the road the number of eligible receivers is increased, as a means for further penalizing defense and introducing hesitation, which is a good safety measure. In other words, if the targets are clearly defined and limited, the defense is going to hit those targets and it’s going to hit those targets hard. Deception and hesitation are the allies of player safety.
Bill from Raleigh, NC
Thursday night, you're a team of 75; Friday night, you've lost a third of your team. Do the established players treat all the marginal players with a bit of a distance until Friday night's decisions are final, since they may never see them again?
I’ve never sensed that. The longer a team stays together, the closer the bonds become, especially as it pertains to specific positions. After a spring of OTAs, a summer of training camp and a preseason together, the players that enter tonight’s game are their own team. Out of sight doesn’t mean out of mind. These players will remember each other forever. There won’t be tears when the roster is cut, because every player knows having to say goodbye is part of the business, but goodbye is something nobody wants to say. You can feel the tension. It’s a good kind of tension. It’s the kind of tension that says they care.
Danny from Alameda, CA
Vic, you have completely intrigued me about the drama of these weeks of cuts. Can you tell us more about what happens to the guys who don't make the final 53?
Tom Coughlin told me how much he anguishes about having to tell a player he’s been cut. He said he makes sure he prepares a speech for each guy and meets with each guy, to give him an accurate assessment of their chances of playing in the league and giving them encouragement to continue pursuing their dream. Then Coughlin told me that seconds after he’s had that talk with players, he’s seen them call their agent, and that’s when Coughlin realized he was no longer that player’s coach, the agent was. Most of these guys will resurface somewhere else in the league. There are players all over the league about whom I wrote longshot stories. I’m reminded of that fact every time I hear Dan Connolly’s name. I remember interviewing him as an undrafted guy out of SEMO in 2005. He was a true longshot. Now he’s a veteran guard with 28 starts for the Patriots, has been to a Super Bowl and was named one of John Madden’s “Most Valuable Protectors.” When a guy gets to this level, he’s one of the best football players on the planet. It’s a matter of finding a place where he fits and will be given an opportunity to play.
Eddy from Durban, South Africa
Hey, Vic, I’ve noticed that people have been insulting you more frequently in recent times. It almost seems as if you’re a magnet for criticism and insults and I don’t get that.
I actually thought it was getting a little tame in this column. It was starting to bother me that the column was losing its edge.
Mike from Milwaukee, WI
When will you be fired from packers.com? You are terrible and your sense of humor is outdated. I go to packers.com less and less because I don't wanna see your articles or your face.
That’s what I’m talking about. Let’s play two. With that, I would invite everyone, including Mike, to join me for tonight’s live chat during the Chiefs-Packers game. See you tonight.
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