Marty from San Francisco, CA
Vic, I've been puzzled by your comments about OTAs. Is your point that it's just not good for evaluating talent? I see it as vital to refresh muscle memory and for newer players to integrate the playbook with walk-throughs. Please clarify.
I see it as fake football. I think it’s good for learning the playbook and acting out what you’re supposed to do, but it all changes when the pads go on. That’s when the acting stops. I could give you the names of several players, especially wide receivers, that stole the show in OTAs, and you wouldn’t recognize one of those names because once the pads went on, they went away.
Peter from Toledo, OH
Vic, just read an interview with Ted Thompson about our Super Bowl chances this year. He gave the usual, “It's a tough league; we play one Sunday at a time; we leave the narrative to the sportswriters.” Is that just normal NFL boilerplate you find everywhere or do the Packers really emphasize a more understated, yeoman's approach?
The Packers are more understated than the standard NFL team, but no team is going to provide a narrative on its Super Bowl chances. Obviously, the Packers’ chances are better than most teams, but that’s not something the Packers are going to trumpet. The reluctance you’re sensing is Ted Thompson’s way of protecting against creating a distraction. Every good football man I’ve ever known has thought that way. They have what Chuck Noll described as a “singleness of purpose.” That purpose right now is the development of their football team. They want their players thinking about doing their individual jobs, not about the team’s Super Bowl chances.
Keith from Indianapolis, IN
With regard to the subject of American football abroad, I submit the Elite Football League of India. What do you know of this league and its chances of success?
Isn’t India a peaceful nation?
Dave from West Allis, WI
In light of Memorial Day, could you share any good vignettes about Rocky Bleier or any other NFL veterans?
Rocky came back from Vietnam with a significant injury. He walked with a cane and even after intense rehabilitation, he was left to run 40-yard time trials at training camp with a limp. The coach wanted to cut him but the owner said no. A few years later, Rocky was a starting halfback in Super Bowl IX and would win the first of four Super Bowl rings. He’s the pride of Appleton.
Richard from Lake Havasu City, AZ
Do you think the Packers can win a championship with all of the new young players on defense?
I am a firm believer that football is a young man’s game, and it’s because of, not in spite of all that young talent that’s come onto the roster, especially on the defensive side of the ball, that I believe the Packers can win a championship. In my mind, young is good.
Robby from Eugene, OR
Vic, I had a running backs coach who always yelled at me to get my knees up. He was the only coach to ever make that a focus point and to my delight my knees became pretty good weapons.
You, too, are part of the football culture that has to be changed. We must no longer think in terms of weapons.
John from Casselberry, FL
Jeff Saturday was a solid pickup in the offseason, but his age and the Packers’ lack of depth at position worry me. If it were your call, would you keep one or two centers on the active roster this year?
Evan Dietrich-Smith is the Packers’ second center and he also plays guard. That’s usually the case with No. 2 centers. Dietrich-Smith is a player worthy of attention in training camp. He’s a classic “jar on the shelf” player whose time may have arrived.
Brett from Rapid City, SD
I was reading an article the other day about how the New York Mets have to pay money to Bobby Bonilla for many years to come. Does this happen in the NFL also?
Baseball does a lot of crazy structuring of contracts. In many cases, one team will be paying a significant portion of the salary of a player on another team. I have a terrible problem with that and I don’t know why that was ever allowed. The NFL has stayed clean with its contracts. Yeah, a lot of cap room has been pushed out, but the real dollars haven’t been pushed out.
Todd from Prairie du Chien, WI
How do you compare the relationship between Aaron and Mike with other quarterback-coach relationships you've covered?
It’s one of the three-best I’ve covered. The other two are Noll-Bradshaw and Coughlin-Brunell. I think McCarthy-Rodgers has a chance to be as good as Noll-Bradshaw.
Randy from Eagle, WI
These soccer folks just won't go away. Hey, I thought it was South America with the 24/7 soccer. Hong Kong, too? LOL
Let’s do NASCAR next.
Chuck from Eugene, OR
I appreciate ESPN's overall sports coverage but I’m weary of what I view as an East Coast bias in stories. Too many stories are related to the Jets, Giants, Eagles and Patriots, with occasional stories covering teams from other areas of the country tossed in. An example would be the overdone coverage of Sanchez and Tebow. Those stories are more soap opera than football and would seem to be aired only to satisfy the New York lust for sensationalism, rather than to provide football coverage for the rest of us who don't live in the “Big Apple.” Is it just me or do you see this as well?
It’s not about sensationalism, it’s about eyeballs; New York has 28 million of them. If Green Bay had 28 million eyeballs, the media would be here writing about the Donald Driver saga. You want that? I don’t. I’m glad we only have 200,000 eyeballs.
Jeff from Massillon, OH
If there was ever to be an international team, wouldn't that team have a distinct advantage if it were lucky enough to win home field advantage for the playoffs, due to the long flight and jet lag of its opponent?
Imagine the road to the Super Bowl running through London.
Joe from Little Chute, WI
My question is when will people on the waiting list be informed they’ll be getting season tickets due to the addition?
I wouldn’t worry about that. Haven’t you heard? Retiring baby boomers, the looming debt crisis, higher taxes and a reduction in the standard of living are going to result in falling attendance.
Scott from Monroe, WI
As a follow up to a question asked last week regarding Paul Hornung's number not being retired, you responded that you didn't see a difference between a number being retired and being taken out of service. I don't see it that way. They don't have a formal celebration to honor a player whose number is out of service as they do for a retired number.
I acknowledged that; it’s the only difference. As far as I’m concerned, if a number isn’t being used, it’s retired. I like the subtlety to that. It has a kind of masculine charm to it I like. No show necessary; the number has been taken out of service. That’s not an honor? Why do we always need the show?
Chris from Appleton, WI
Vic, the recent changes to the personnel department sound just like the changes to our coaching staff and roster. Draft and develop, one consistent message from the entire organization. Will this philosophy keep the Packers organization at the top of the NFL for the foreseeable future?
I think it will. You’re describing home grown continuity. You’re talking about a system for promoting Packers people who’ve been raised in the Packers way. It perpetuates itself. There are so many advantages to it. You want as little turnover in your organization as possible for a variety of reasons. No. 1, the more people that pass through your building, the more information about your operation and its players that goes out the door. A revolving door of coaches and scouts makes it difficult, for example, to trade players, because there are a lot of people around the league that know the flaws in the games of the players you’re trying to trade. If you’re doing it right, people are going to leave for better jobs. That can’t be stopped, but you want to keep that to a minimum. You don’t want to have to pick from the pool of scouts and coaches that move from team to team every few years. Tom Coughlin wanted to see the phone bills of his coaches. Why? Because Coughlin didn’t want his coaches looking for jobs while they were supposed to be doing theirs. You want your people to be completely committed to the Packers, and the people in this building are.
James from Ilkley, UK
Vic, I was wondering what your opinions on the Packers were before you came to work in Green Bay? I'm talking about your feelings on the franchise as a whole, not just the players at that time.
When I was young, the Packers were the gold standard. The uniforms we wore in high school were Packers knock-offs. I remember coming here in the 1980s to cover a game and sensing that this wasn’t the Packers franchise we emulated in high school. Then I came here in 1992 for what was Brett Favre’s first start, and I felt as though I was covering a game in a rundown college football stadium. Bob Harlan and Ron Wolf changed all of that. They truly did resurrect this franchise. It is, again, the gold standard of NFL franchises.
Wyatt from Green Bay, WI
Vic, does good team chemistry create wins, or do wins create good team chemistry?
I acknowledge the need for a team to possess chemistry, but I lean toward wins creating it. Why? Because the notion of chemistry winning games is a feel-good fairy tale. Winning football begins with having players talented enough to execute their responsibilities. You have to have guys with whom you can get to the back of your playbook. When that happens, you win games, and when you win games, you feel good, and when a team feels good about itself, it feels good about each other. Now you have chemistry.
Rob from Edmonton, Alberta
Vic, I think Coach Lombardi's office is the highlight of the Packers Hall of Fame. No way was I going to sit in that chair. I wouldn't even touch the desk. You could feel Vince's aura was in the room and no way was I going to sit on his throne. Do you think I over reacted?
If Coach Lombardi had been there, he would’ve told you to have a seat. I like his office because of what it says about the era in which he was coach. His was a Spartan office for a Spartan game. I like Spartan. It demands reverence.
Scott from Palos Park, IL
Clearly the shillelagh still haunts your dreams. My question is did it leave any physical scars?
No, only mental. I hate that stick.
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