Jim from McLean, VA
Vic, who is the baseball equivalent of Vince Lombardi?
Jimmy from Naugatuck, CT
Vic, I’ve heard many Art Rooney stories, but none about Dan. What have you got?
Art was a sportswriter at heart. He loved the horses, hanging out in press boxes and swapping stories with the writers (he called them “my boys”). Dan was an accountant. Art gave the Steelers personality. Dan created order. Be that as it may, Dan possessed his father’s ability to relate to the common man. I remember the moments immediately following a gut-wrenching overtime loss for the Steelers to the Jaguars. A crush of reporters jammed the press box elevator at Heinz Field. Dan was standing next to me in the crowd. I thought to myself a lot of owners would have the elevator held for them, so they could ride down alone. Not Dan. He stood and waited with the rest of us. Despite his disappointment in the defeat, he calmly and graciously helped maintain order in the elevator panic. Nobody pushed, nobody shoved; we waited patiently and Dan set the tone. That’s what a leader does. Dan walked with kings but never lost the common touch. I’ve got lots of stories. I remember exactly where I was in the summer of 1975, when the Steelers PR guy came up to me and said Dan was being promoted to team president. No fanfare. I came to learn Dan didn’t even want the promotion to appear in the team’s media guide. Nearly 20 years later, I was sitting in the lunch room with Dan when he asked me what I thought about the league’s new salary cap concept. I said I was a sportswriter, not an accountant. He told me I needed to know the rules of the salary cap or I wouldn’t be able to cover the NFL. He was right. Dan was the most consistent voice of reason I have ever covered. He was also a friend of the Packers who offered a strong voice in support of the Packers’ stock sale.
Dan from Sebastopol, CA
Vic, what would your first three position picks be in the draft for Green Bay if best player available was not an issue? I would opt for 1.) OLB/edge rusher, 2.) cornerback, 3.) offensive line.
1.) Pass rusher, 2.) running back, 3.) cornerback.
Roger from Gansevoort, NY
Being at the back end of the picking order in the draft gives the teams picking in front of you an advantage in terms of talent, if they make the right pick. Picking near the end of the order is an advantage in cap room based on lesser contract amounts, if you make the right pick, right?
Bingo! The inverse order draft is absolute genius. The salary cap has made the draft even more important. How many ideas become better with time? Nothing about Bert Bell’s draft idea is obsolete. Bell might be the most underrated and under-appreciated sports executive ever.
Jim from West Bend, WI
Vic, please refresh my memory on BLESTO. What were its years and the teams included, and did the combine as it now exists succeed it directly?
BLESTO is a scouting service, not a combine talent show. It was originally LESTO, which stood for Lions, Eagles, Steelers Talent Organization. It was an early-1960’s invention in which those three teams pooled their scouting resources. The Bears soon joined and it became BLESTO. The Vikings joined and it became BLESTO-V, and then it was BLESTO-VI and VII as other teams joined, and then they just dropped the extra designations. The Packers, Cardinals, Browns and Colts took the BLESTO lead and created CEPO (Central Eastern Personnel Organization). It would become National Football Scouting, to which the Packers remain a member. I think BLESTO’s greatest contribution is the wealth of scouting talent it produced. BLESTO’s executive director, Tom Modrak, passed away last week. He’s one of the best scouts I’ve ever known. Tom was the general manager of the Eagles and drafted Donovan McNabb when everyone was screaming Ricky Williams. McNabb was drafted No. 2 overall. Tim Couch was drafted No. 1 and Akili Smith was No. 3. I’d say Tom made the right pick, huh? We lost a lot this past week.
Matt from Hartford, WI
I’m a little confused what the Packers front office finds so attractive in a former basketball player to play defensive back? We’ve seen basketball players transition to playing tight end and defensive end due to the unteachable size and athletic ability, but defensive backs? What am I missing?
Basketball on grass.
Mike from Ft. Myers, FL
I’m really intrigued by three players I could see as a first-round Packers pick: Jabrill Peppers, T.J. Watt or Gareon Conley. Thoughts?
Tony Pauline says Conley will be long gone, Peppers might be available, and Watt could last into the second round. I love Peppers for a 3-4 team. He offers a lot of creativeness. I think he’s worth moving up to get, if the move isn’t too great.
Alan from Madison, WI
Why do they call it a clubhouse in baseball but a locker room in football?
I guess it’s for the same reason baseball is played on a diamond and football is played on a gridiron; baseball has extra innings and football has sudden death; baseball begins in the spring, the season of new life, and football begins in the fall, when everything’s dying. In football you receive a penalty; in baseball you make an error. Baseball has the seventh-inning stretch; football has the two-minute warning. In football, the object is for the quarterback, also known as the field general, to be on target with his aerial assault, riddling the defense by hitting his receivers with deadly accuracy in spite of the blitz, even if he has to use shotgun. With short bullet passes and long bombs, he marches his troops into enemy territory, balancing this aerial assault with a sustained ground attack that punches holes in the forward wall of the enemy’s defensive line. In baseball, the object is to go home! And to be safe! I hope I’ll be safe at home!
Juan from Queens, NY
I believe it was Capers against Arizona that said if Sam Shields is playing, I call one game. If he isn’t, I have to call another. I’m really going to miss him.
A shutdown corner cuts the field in half. He allows a coordinator to focus his attention to the other side of the field.
Jarrod from Phoenix, AZ
Why go for a running back? We’re so clearly lacking in defense. So what if we put up something crazy like a few hundred rushing yards a game? We’re still giving up too many points. We could come out with the league’s best offense and still not win a game at this rate.
A strong running game and the time of possession it produces is a defense’s best friend.
Lori from Brookfield, WI
Vic, while doing a little reading on the NFL commissioners, I was surprised to learn there have been only six since the position was created in 1941. Which of the last three – Pete Rozelle, Paul Tagliabue and Roger Goodell – has had the most positive impact on the NFL and the game? Please elaborate on your choice.
I believe Rozelle is the greatest commissioner in pro sports history. Let’s start with this: If it wasn’t for Pete’s pool-the-revenue, leaguethink concept, and his ability to sell it to Wellington Mara and the league’s big-market owners, there would be no team in Green Bay.
Mike from Stillwater, MN
Vic, I know you’re going to get a lot of questions about Dan Rooney’s recent passing, but I was hoping you will answer this one. Could you provide some insight on Art Sr. and his son’s Dan and Art Jr.? A lot of NFL teams seemed to be owned by very rich men who view their team as a business. I get the feeling that with the Rooney family things are much different.
Art the founder’s unique personality continues to dominate the franchise – Dan made sure it did – but don’t ever think the Rooneys are soft or don’t run that team as a business. I learned as much when they cut Franco Harris. This is a tough game for tough guys and you don’t win championships by being soft. Dan’s brother, Art Jr., was the Steelers’ personnel director when the team picked nine Hall of Famers between 1969-74. Hey, when is the Hall of Fame selection committee going to start picking guys for the contributor category who aren’t of recent vintage? How about Art Rooney Jr. and Jack Vainisi?
Paul from Milwaukee, WI
Vic, a lot of people are wondering about Ty Montgomery and whether or not he can sustain a whole season of pounding at the running back position. It got me wondering that a wide receiver may not condition or be able to sustain that kind of punishment because it’s a whole different attack on the body. I think I may be having the same concerns as others. Please tell me I’m wrong.
I was impressed by Montgomery’s durability last season. He’s a powerfully built man. I’m beginning to view him as a running back that can play wide receiver, instead of a wide receiver that can play running back. I still want that pounder. I want a guy on whom the team can depend week in and week out to give the team 20 carries. Montgomery might be that guy, but I’d like to see the Packers add to their running back stable. This is a great year to do it; the running back crop is deep with talent.
David from Hilliard, OH
Do you think Ted Thompson feels any sense of urgency to do whatever it takes to win another Super Bowl while Aaron is in his prime?
Scott from Las Vegas, NV
Vic, as you have told us, McCarthy has areas of emphasis each season. I think the area of emphasis this year should be on holding a lead when ahead. I can’t think of a single game last year when the Packers were ahead and the opposing team didn’t come back and nearly regain the lead, similar to the game against the Cowboys that we nearly lost after a considerable lead at halftime.
The popularity of this league isn’t built on blowouts. The problem you’re identifying is a lot of teams’ problem. The Falcons? If I could identify an area of emphasis this year, it would be on being new. I think this will be a year of significant roster change for the Packers, and change is good. It’s refreshing. I think it’s time to be new.
Deniz from Munich, Germany
Can you think of any team that had sustained success without drafting well?
The “Over the Hill Gang” had a seven-year run, but it eventually caught up to them. You can’t stay old forever, right? You are what you draft. That’s a fact of pro football.
Mark from Indianapolis, IN
Thank you for allowing me to express my views last week about how a website called packers.com should just be about the Packers, NFL and football. I spent the last week going to hundreds of websites that discussed golf, baseball, basketball, wrestling, hockey, restaurants, politics, soccer, racing, knitting and antiquing. Now the one thing they all had in common was there wasn’t a single story or question about the Green Bay Packers. I wonder why. The simple answer is people don’t go to those thousands of websites to read about the Packers.
Jerry from Lancaster, CA
I see these names for unique batting stance, and I will show my age, but Stan “The Man” Musial takes the top prize.
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