Corey from Whitehall, PA
Besides linebacker and wide receiver, what other position battles should we keep an eye out for?
Mostly, keep an eye out for young players making the move up in their careers. When you see them making that move, you will have identified a position battle. What young receiver will make that move? What jar-on-the-shelf offensive lineman is ready to challenge for playing time? Is Brett Hundley ready to become a No. 2? Can John Crockett build on the confidence Mike McCarthy displayed in Crockett in Detroit last season? Is LaDarius Gunter as advertised last summer? How about Jayrone Elliott? I love the young players. I love to watch them grow. They define a team’s roster.
Wayne from Burlington, NC
Stanley Cup returns to Pittsburgh! Terrible Towels are happy!
My sons are happy. I don’t think either one of them has ever ice-skated, but they love hockey. They ask me, “Did you watch the Penguins, dad?” “Oh, yeah,” I’d say. “They look good.” When I got up in the middle of the night last night, I checked the hockey score and saw the Penguins had won. “Good,” I said to myself. “Now I can stop lying.” Seriously, though, it’s a fine game. It’s for tough guys who respect the game and their opponents. Hockey’s suddenness is its charm. Overtime hockey is great entertainment. I respect everything about hockey, but I just can’t get into it as my sons do. I don’t understand the rules, I greatly dislike the man-advantage thing, and it seems as though they play the same game every night. I’ll say this about hockey: They fill that arena night after night. I think it’s a sport with a very bright future, and I think that’s especially true for college hockey.
Jerry from Wilmington, NC
Vic, other than the quarterback moving under center, what impact did the T formation have on strategy?
The T is the father of all modern formations. The right halfback became the wingback in the wing T, and then the flanker in pro set. The left halfback became the tailback in the I. The fullback became the feature back and the halfback became the blocker in split backs, and then the halfback became the running back and the fullback became the blocker in today’s pro set. The one-back set gave us the emergence of the tight end as a position of matchup creativity.
Beau from Lancaster, PA
Vic, it’s U.S. Open week. I’m heading to Oakmont on Friday. Do you have any good stories or memories about the course?
I was covering the 1994 U.S. Open at Oakmont. It was Friday, a brutally hot day. Colin Montgomerie had to be packed in ice following his round. Arnold Palmer said his tearful farewell to the U.S. Open. It was late in the day and I had come off the course and into the press tent, where a large group of reporters were gathered around the TV. “Who’s in the white Bronco,” I asked.
Sam from Brewton, AL
Vic, how do you think Don Hutson would match up in today’s game with the speed and size of modern-day players?
If Hutson played today, advances in nutrition and conditioning would make him bigger, stronger and faster. He’d wear the sticky gloves that weren’t available to him when he played, and he’d be armed with pick routes that hadn’t been invented in his era. He’d challenge Antonio Brown for the receptions lead.
Chris from Atascadero, CA
I agree, the 2015 Packers season was memorable. I think the Packers managed to deal very effectively with adversity on several occasions and grew stronger as a result. I’m wondering how much of that will carry over to this year’s team?
The development of young players will carry over to this season. Everything else will remain in 2015.
Steve from Portland, OR
Vic, ever see the late N.C. State basketball coach Jim Valvano’s acceptance speech at the first ESPY Awards in 1993? A beautiful speech, and Packers fans loved and laughed at his story of how Lombardi influenced him when Valvano started his coaching career.
We all seek to identify with a model that’ll help guide us in our life quest. We seek identity on many fronts, but ethnicity and geography are common. Valvano was an aspiring coach of Italian descent from New York. Once upon a time, so was Lombardi. When I was a kid growing up in a steel town, I identified with those from the steel towns that dotted my region. “Be a Ditka,” was a popular slogan when I was growing up. Sports is all about identity, and the Packers are one of the headliners. The Packers are the team of small-town values. Think about the responsibility that goes with that identity. The Packers must always be virtuous, lest they lose their identity.
Matthew from Mount Pleasant, WI
Vic, how do the Packers make the playoffs this year?
By winning 10 or more games. Win in December. That’ll work. That would make them a hot team.
Brandon from Modesto, CA
So what happened? Why don’t reporters and players have the same chemistry they used to?
The media is feared. Watergate changed everything.
Frank from Lampman, Canada
I would hate to be smacked in the head by Alex Karras. That guy once punched a horse.
Do you think that was real? What did that horse do to deserve being punched?
Jim from Des Peres, MO
Do you think the Packers should have gone for two at the end of the Arizona game? Put the ball in the hands of the best player on the field and take the bread out of their mouths with the most amazing 54 seconds to end a game in playoff history. And if you fail, it’s still a great story.
If you fail they ask, “Why didn’t he play for overtime?” Just win, baby.
Jarod from Midlothian, IL
No question just a disagreement with the way you started your “Field of Dreams” quote. Baseball has been around for the steamrolling; football was a baby when America saw both world wars. Baseball was at the height of its popularity when players put away their bats to fight for their country. As we’ve adopted football as our national pastime, we’ve gotten more violent as a country. Chicken or egg? Besides that, I think it was put well.
I said “since the merger.”
Jeff from Minneapolis, MN
Vic, I love the way you’re using your soapbox. This column provides perspective on much more than just football. Do you feel like you had the same ability to share this perspective in other forms of reporting? Was this column only possible after a lifetime and career of paying your dues?
I was blessed with a great memory. It’s what helps me the most in writing this column. I remember everything and I love to reminisce. That’s what you’re reading. This column has opened that door to me.
Jeff from St. Clair Shores, MI
Vic, the fact you had to explain what it means for a lineman not to use his hands makes me sad. I now realize there’s a new generation of fans who really don’t know football. Why am I sad?
Because it means we’re getting old. The game evolves. What will the next generation ask? Why did they wear facemasks? Why did they run the ball so much in the old days? Why did the linemen put one hand on the ground? What’s young will become old, and what’s old will make room for what’s young. It’s the life cycle.
Dave from Lake Zurich, IL
One time Cosell said to Ali, “My, you’re rather truculent tonight.” Ali replied, “If that’s good, I’m it.”
Joe Greene once said to me, “I have a very cavalier attitude toward Cleveland.” I said, “Thanks, Joe,” and then I smiled. “You’re going to use that, aren’t you?” he asked. “Yep,” I said. I miss those days terribly.
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