Daniel from Fond du Lac, WI
My favorite Lombardi quote is, “Football is blocking and tackling; everything else is mythology.” Can you think of a more true statement about the game of football?
I love that quote, too. I wish it was still true.
John from Las Vegas, NV
What's a skink?
It’s a small lizard. Ours is about 6-8 inches long. From what I understand, he’s still living in our garage back in Florida. He runs the all-night cockroach dance hall in the garage. You want skinks to live in your garage. You don’t want them to die in the wall of one of the rooms of the house, because it’ll be a long time before you use that room again.
Tom from West Bend, WI
Bill Walsh once said you can be successful on offense with a little less talent because of scheme, timing, etc., but on defense you have to have athletes. Your thoughts?
You can certainly do more with scheme on offense, and that allows you to attack the stress points of a defense, but the more top athletes you have on defense, the fewer stress points you have, and I think that’s what Walsh was describing. A good offensive mind, and Walsh was one of the best ever, will find all of the stress points in the defense and expose them. Let’s not forget, though, that Walsh had a full stable of weapons on offense. Even in Cincinnati, he had top weapons on offense, receivers such as Isaac Curtis and Charlie Joiner catching passes from Ken Anderson, one of the most accurate and efficient passers in NFL history. As a rookie head coach in 1979, with Steve DeBerg as the 49ers’ starting quarterback and Paul Hofer as their leading receiver, Walsh was 2-14.
Greg from Jacksonville, FL
Was Bob Hayes the fastest football player you have ever seen?
He was the “Fastest Man in the World,” so Hayes is probably the fastest player I’ve ever seen, and I did see him play in person on a couple of occasions, but the two players that come to mind for me when I think of speed on the football field are Tony Dorsett and Fred Taylor.
Justin from Belvidere, IL
With all the recent talk about Jerry Kramer needing to be in the Hall of Fame, is he even eligible to be voted in?
As I wrote in “Ask Vic” in February: “Twenty-five years after a player has retired, he has expired his regular eligibility for election to the Hall of Fame and his eligibility is then passed on to the senior committee, which was the case with Kramer. He has already been nominated once by the senior committee and failed to be elected, but that doesn't mean Kramer won't be nominated again. Bob Hayes expired the 25-year ‘clock,’ was nominated by the senior committee and failed to be elected, and then succeeded in being elected to the Hall of Fame the second time he was nominated by the senior committee.”
Andy from Cologne, Germany
You were talking about which coach is most like Lombardi. How do you think Coach McCarthy would fit into the old times? Would he be a good fit for the Lombardi Packers?
Mike McCarthy has an old-school attitude toward commitment, dedication, detail and discipline, but he mixes it with a new-age grasp of offense. Coach McCarthy doesn’t like running uphill, but that’s what the best teams did successfully in the Lombardi era. I think Coach McCarthy fits best in the era he’s in.
Aaron from Jacksonville, FL
Speaking of Hall of Famous, will T.O. make it into the Hall of Fame?
You’re confusing the Hall of Famous with the Hall of Infamous.
Adam from Green Bay, WI
I have always been in awe of players that just do their jobs and get little to no credit from the press. Who do you consider the best blocking back? I'm not sure of the great older guys, but Lorenzo Neal has to be up there.
Jim Braxton comes to mind. He blocked for O.J. Simpson. Marcel Reece is a guy that caught my eye last season.
Andrew from Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands
You wrote of Jim Ringo and Forrest Gregg blocking Jerry Kramer from the Hall of Fame. Is there any other player who you feel has been kept out of the Hall of Fame because a teammate got elected first?
It happens often. Dave Robinson and L.C. Greenwood immediately come to mind. Robinson played between Willie Davis and Herb Adderley, and Greenwood played between Joe Greene and Jack Ham. The immediate question is: How good do you have to be to play between Davis and Adderley, and between Greene and Ham? It’s an unfair question. Robinson and Greenwood shouldn’t be downgraded because they played between great players, but it’s also a fact that you can’t put everybody into the Hall of Fame. As I’ve written, it’s not the Hall of Fame committee’s job to put men into the Hall of Fame, it’s their job to keep men out of the Hall of Fame. There’s no shortage of great players to induct.
Troy from Stevens Point, WI
There was a time when I questioned many of the draft picks when they were taken by Ted Thompson, such as Nick Collins out of Bethune-Cookman. I learned to stop doubting TT and just believe in what he does. Do you think Thompson would be as successful, though, without the hiring of Mike McCarthy to coach his picks?
Of course not, but who hired McCarthy, Troy? Hiring a coach is the GM’s most important task when he’s rebuilding a team or establishing the foundation for a new era. The second most important thing he’ll do is draft a quarterback. So how’s McCarthy and Aaron Rodgers for tasks one and two?
Jason from Crosby, MN
Vic, when I was a little boy (1980s), we would watch the Packers games on TV, but my dad would turn the volume down to nothing. Then he would put the game on the radio broadcast. I always thought that was odd. Now I realize it was genius. It's funny that the game highlights we see from the NFL are accompanied by the radio and not John Madden. What gives?
It’s common for “NFL Films” to marry the radio call of the play to the video of the play, because TV play-by-play men don’t use as many words to describe the action as radio play-by-play men do, since TV play-by-play guys are describing something the viewer can see. Clips of the “Immaculate Reception,” for example, are always accompanied by the radio call, not Curt Gowdy’s TV call.
Kyle from Chicago, IL
I can’t help but wonder, since we have so many talented players on our roster, that eventually they're all going to have to get paid. Are there any current stars on this team that you see us not being able to retain 2-3 years from now because of money and, if so, who?
You have to be willing to let players go; that’s a fact of the salary cap era and we saw evidence of that this year with the departure of Matt Flynn. What’s important is that you retain the players that represent the core of your team’s future. I would imagine that over the next 2-3 years the Packers will lose a few more players they would never allow to leave if there wasn’t a salary cap. I don’t know who those players are, but it’s inevitable there will be a few. It’s a game of replacement, not maintenance. You must replace players that leave in free agency with a steady flow of young players you’ve drafted and developed.
Rene from La Habra, CA
How good of a cornerback do you think Sam Shields will be when he enters the prime of his career?
Years 4-7 are considered to be the prime years of a player’s career, though that varies according to position. Shields will be in year three of his career this season, so we’re going to get a good look at his potential and I think he has a lot of upside as a true cover corner. He’s got the feet to mirror, the speed to close and the wide receiver skills to play the ball in the air. His coach, Joe Whitt, is going to challenge Shields to become a better tackler. I’m looking forward to seeing Shields respond.
Patrick from Saltillo, MS
Have you ever been around an assistant coach or coordinator you thought would be a great head coach but never got the chance for some reason?
I’ve been around lots of outstanding coaches that never got a head job. The guy that immediately comes to mind is Dick Hoak, a running backs coach for 35 years and one of the best coaches I’ve ever known. He never coached a unit that under-achieved. Packers Offensive Coordinator Tom Clements is someone I also believe would make an outstanding head coach. He possesses the intellect and control players respect. What does Clements have to do to get a head job? He coached Elvis Grbac and Kordell Stewart to Pro-Bowl seasons, resurrected Tommy Maddox’s career and coached Kelly Holcomb to a Bills record for completion percentage. In Green Bay, Clements was the quarterbacks coach during Brett Favre’s renaissance and Aaron Rodgers’ emergence. Along the way, Matt Flynn developed into a high-priced free agent, and what about the development of Graham Harrell? Clements, in my opinion, is the best kind of head coach prospect, which is to say a guy that can develop quarterbacks. I think teams attach too much importance to the interview and, in the case of teams that need to sell tickets, a candidate’s marketability. I like something Barry Alvarez said in promoting Paul Chryst for a head job. He told them they need to stop worrying about winning the press conference on Tuesday and start worrying about winning the game on Saturday.
Jeremy from Milwaukee, WI
Aaron Rodgers had a great season, but did the wide receivers make him look good, or did he make himself look good?
I’m sure of two things: 1.) Somebody has to throw it, and somebody has to catch it. 2.) In the Giants playoff game, the receivers did not make Rodgers look good. With that, I’m officially on vacation.
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