Mark from Madrid, Spain
You said you’ve got to get the big guys; never pass on one. What if the best available player is a QB, but a big guy is there, as well, who grades out slightly lower? Which do you take?
Vic: I believe in drafting the best available player, which means that if it comes down to a decision between the two, you take the higher-rated player, but the great thing about quarterbacks is that they are in high demand and in limited supply so, when a quarterback is available, often you can trade back, get the player you want and recoup the value of the position in the draft you’ve traded. If that’s not possible, then you’ve got a decision to make: Stay with BAP or go for need? Hey, who doesn’t need Sammy Baugh, huh?
Brandon from Tucson, AZ
I’ve been hearing players getting a first-round tender or something like that. My question is what does that mean?
Vic: The level at which you tender a restricted free agent determines the compensation you would receive from any team signing a player you have tendered, and it determines the salary you’d have to pay that player if he isn’t signed by another team. Let’s use restricted free agents with three years of experience on the 2010 free-agent market as an example: According to the rules then, tendering a player at a level that would yield draft-pick compensation equal to the round in which the player was drafted, you would have to pay the player a $1.1 million salary that season. For second-round compensation, $1.7 million in salary. For first-round compensation, $2.4 million in salary. For first and third-round compensation, $3 million in salary. All tenders include right of first refusal.
Don from Wassau, WI
What do the terms “Mike” and “Sam” mean when referring to linebackers?
Vic: “Mike” is the middle linebacker and “Sam” is the strongside linebacker. In case you wanna know who “Will” is, he’s the weakside linebacker.
Jeremy from Waukesha, WI
Does Aaron Kampman getting hurt damage the value of the compensatory pick the Packers will receive in this year’s draft?
Vic: The more a player does, the higher the pick. It would’ve been best for the Packers had Kampman led the league in sacks.
Chadwin from Secret City, TN
“Vic's Value Board?” Oh, Vic, this is a surprise, a real nice surprise. I have a list put together, alphabetically starting with Catherine.
Vic: If it wouldn’t be too much, I’d like to get something for you. Something real nice.
Wilhelm from Manitowoc, WI
Almost all players drafted in the NFL are capable of being good or great, depending on the coaching and the ability and attitude of the player, to learn and apply it in his game. Agree or disagree?
Vic: Yeah, attitude’s a big thing. You gotta wanna be good, and I’ll take the over-achiever over the under-achiever any day, but what I really want is the guy with great talent and a great attitude. Super Bowl champions aren’t built on try-hard guys. Championship teams are built on players of great talent and skill who then dedicate themselves to their craft.
Jen from Las Vegas, NV
I never heard of you until you came to packers.com; I'm a Packers fan, not an NFL fan, so I am not familiar with your sarcasm and wit. I have to ask: Are people really that sensitive about what you say that you got fired for not being nice? Wow! We have completely turned into a nation of wussies.
Vic: Amazing, isn’t it?
Biong from Sioux Falls, SD
Don't you think the Packers should consider looking at the defensive back that ran a 4.2 to help with the special teams next year?
Vic: They should look at every fast player, to see if they can tackle because that’s number one. Can a guy tackle? That’s the first question you have to answer. If a 4.2 guy can’t tackle, all that means is that he’ll be the first guy to miss the tackle.
Eric from Keene, NH
Can you explain what was behind the release and immediate signing of A.J. Hawk?
Vic: It was a procedural move to extinguish one contract and execute another.
Paul from Jacksonville, FL
The sad thing about finding a wife is that the top-ranked grooms get to choose from the best of the talent pool. I like the NFL's system better.
Vic: Yeah, but you gotta be careful not to out-kick your coverage, if you know what I mean.
Dave from Mount Horeb, WI
The Packers had a great kick-return man in Desmond Howard and a good one in Allen Rossum. Since that time, we have had DBs or receivers doing double-duty as returners and we simply haven't gotten consistently good field position on punts and kickoffs. In your opinion, is a good return man an important enough weapon to take a roster spot on the 45 on game day?
Vic: Absolutely, he is. Special teams are huge in today’s game. The team I covered last season had fantastic special teams. I can think of two games in which they were the difference. The simple fact of the matter is that when you draft according to best available player, you’re not going to be able to address every need. You are at the mercy of the board, but would the Packers have had the kind of depth that allowed them to do what they did last season had they picked for need? How many of those late-round picks that provided depth wouldn’t have been on the team if the Packers had decided they needed to pick for specific needs, such as a return man? I’m OK with drafting return men, but not at the expense of passing on players you think could become every-down players.
Brad from Vancouver, BC
I just heard that freelance journalist Tom Bowles was fired last week by SI.com for clapping in the press box at the finale of this year’s Daytona 500. How many others have you heard of being fired for breaking the unspoken rule of no cheering in the press box?
Vic: I don’t know of specific examples of guys being fired, but I’ve seen a few guys thrown out of the press box for improper conduct. It’s a work area. There’s a code. You live by the code or you get out. It’s that simple. This is our profession and you must conduct yourself in a professional manner.
Bob from Cedar Rapids, IA
What are some of the horror stories you have heard of what really goes on at the bottom of the pile during a fumble recovery?
Vic: Oh, bad things, man. I remember one particular fumble recovery, it was in Super Bowl XIII; I had a player tell me about something he did at the bottom of that pile that I couldn’t even write. I think it’s important for players to wear all their pads.
David from Arlington, VA
This year, innovation in the football helmet market received considerable press coverage due to the heightened concern about concussions. Given that helmet choices currently appear to be made on a player-by-player basis, how likely is it that the NFL might make a decision to make wholesale changes in the helmets players wear?
Vic: Just take off the facemask. That’ll fix it.
Gunnar from Monroe, IA
What do you know about the glory years of the Packers, the 1960s? Where were you and did you watch the first Super Bowl?
Vic: I know a lot about them because I was at the height of my love for football at that point in my life and the Packers were the best team in the game. I was sitting right in front of the TV for Super Bowl I. I couldn’t wait for it to start and for the Packers to give the Chiefs a whipping, because I was an NFL fan and I wanted the NFL to put the AFL in its place. The score would indicate that the Packers did that, but I was greatly disappointed by the outcome of that game because there was no lying to myself; the Chiefs hung with them. That really, really bothered me. I remember Coach Lombardi telling the media after the game that, yes, the NFL was a superior league to the AFL, and I liked hearing that, but I didn’t really believe it and it really bothered me. I was expecting the Packers to blow the Chiefs out. Two years later, the Jets brought down the hammer on the NFL, then the Chiefs did the same the following year. I think we all saw it coming.
Page from DeKalb, IL
I love your column and the tone in your writing. I was wondering if you can enlighten us about your history in sports writing?
Vic: I graduated from the Kent State School of Journalism and I got a job at a daily newspaper for $7,200 a year. I covered everything, including high school football, and I loved it. High school football is a really big deal in western Pa. and even when I reached a point in my career that I didn’t have to do it anymore, I kept doing it because I loved it. I loved going out on a Friday night and hanging around with the writers and the coaches that had become such great friends. Well, that was a long time ago. Here I am.
Jesse from St. Louis, MO
Do you think it would cause conflict drafting Matthews’ younger brother to the team, or would it help?
Vic: I’m getting a lot of questions about drafting Casey Matthews. Think of it like this: If he wasn’t Clay Matthews’ brother, would I be getting these questions? Folks, the fact these guys are brothers has nothing to do with where the Packers have Casey Matthews ranked on their board. He’s just another prospect to be scouted, evaluated and ranked and he’ll come off the board according to where he falls.
Bob from Annapolis, MD
Would you trade Matt Flynn if offered at least a third-round draft choice going into next year, assuming, of course, that the CBA is completed prior to the draft?
Vic: It would be my opinion, based on Flynn’s performance in the New England game, that Flynn is worth more to the Packers as a backup quarterback than a third-round draft choice.
Dan from Jacksonville, FL
I'd like to reassure Packers fans and the rest of the people who read your column that Kyle from Orange Park, FL, most certainly does not speak for all Jaguars fans. Having been to Lambeau Field on an extremely cold Sunday in mid-December, 2004 (a game the Jaguars won, by the way), I can honestly say I developed a heartfelt respect for the Packers and their fans. The temperature was well below freezing, yet, the stadium was packed with passionate, friendly people. Their fans treated me with respect and made the experience one that I will never forget. I am a die-hard Jaguars fan but I think Jaguars fans, and fans across the NFL, would do well to take a lesson from a classy organization and its fans.
Vic: It was a memorable game. One of my memories from that game was from sitting in the press box hours before kickoff and looking out toward the Don Hutson Center and seeing fans in their winter-wear streaming toward Lambeau Field. I like that kind of stuff.
Vic Ketchman is a veteran of 39 NFL seasons and has covered the Steelers and Jaguars prior to coming to Green Bay.