Andrew from Milwaukee, WI
Not a question, but in regards to excessive celebrating by players when their team is trailing, Michael Jordan had a perfect response when an opposing player in a losing cause scored on him and celebrated: He pointed to the scoreboard.
I don’t need the pointing, either. Just win the game.
Brett from Glen Rock, NJ
It’s getting to the point that I can't follow the players anymore because, reading their tweets, I just can't believe this is how they really are. Do you think Mike McCarthy should place restrictions on the players’ use of Twitter?
Absolutely not. This is America. Our forefathers gave their lives in defense of our right to free speech. No man should ever deny another man his right to express himself. Be that as it may, it doesn’t mean a player isn’t accountable for what he says. He endangers his standing in the locker room and eventually his career, when he becomes a distraction.
Andrew from Eau Claire, WI
You mean to tell me you don't like seeing players celebrate after 3.5 sacks? Or a 75-yard bomb down the sideline? Or a 60-yard run up the middle for a touchdown? Or the defense stopping the offense on third-and-1? That is part of the game and it will always be there.
I like spontaneous reactions of joy when the result mirrors the occasion. I don’t like a Mark Gastineau-like sack dance during a lopsided loss. Mostly, I don’t like rehearsed reactions. I’m guessing we’re from different generations. I’m from the don’t-call-attention-to-yourself generation, whereas you’re from the celebration generation, and there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s just the difference between our generations. To understand mine, you would have to live it, and vice versa. When I was a kid, our parents reminded us that in social settings children were to be seen, not heard. We grew up learning to avert our eyes. So, I would ask that you respect my upbringing and the personality traits it produced, and I’ll do the same for you. It’s a young man’s game, which means it’s your game now and the league is going to shape it to your tastes and those of its young consumers. I’m not saying the celebrations should stop; I’m just saying I don’t like them.
T.K. from West Bend, WI
My impression of NFL players is that they are motivated by winning, personal performance and money. In your years covering the league, how would you describe changes in the percentages of players motivated by each of these?
Personal performance has always been and likely always be the No. 1 motivator. Why? Because coaches stress it. All they ask of their players is that they do their jobs. The coach accepts responsibility for winning and losing. Personal performance is the No. 1 motivator because a player’s career depends on the degree to which he is successful in doing his job. If the team wins but he doesn’t do his job, it’s difficult for him to enjoy the victory because he knows he won’t be around for long if that pattern continues. First comes his job, then comes winning. It has to be that way for every player on the team or there won’t be winning.
Bram from Colorado Springs, CO
Is the stadium in Seattle really that much louder and more inhospitable than most of the other stadiums?
Yes, it is, and that goes to the issue of being able to communicate audibles and the snap count. I’m not familiar with the Packers’ audible system. I don’t know if it’s a coded system or a memory system. Either way, if the Seahawks have information on that system, it could necessitate increased communication at the line of scrimmage, and that’s where noise becomes a major issue.
Trent from Orlando, FL
When Dom Capers first came to Green Bay, he used a package called psycho, where everyone on the defense was standing up and moving all over the place until the ball was snapped. At that time, all the defenders move to their assigned place. It always seemed to create lots of confusion on offenses. Do you know why he stopped using it?
It’s probably because Ben Roethlisberger threw for 503 yards against it late in the 2009 season, and the Cardinals scored 51 points and nearly 500 yards of net offense in the playoffs. I think it’s a good change-of-pace, surprise-type scheme. The Falcons used it against Peyton Manning and the Broncos on Monday night. I call it a sunburst defense, and it can definitely be effective in disguising coverages. Problems occur when the ball is snapped while you’re in the midst of change. The Broncos caught the Falcons flat-footed with running plays that broke big while the Falcons were moving around. You can’t play the run standing up. New ideas are good. You use them, and then you put them back in the scheme storage box. You don’t want your players relying on tricks. You want them executing fundamentals.
Kevin from Omaha, NE
Vic, I just read your Steve Sabol commentary and I'm weeping. I, too, remember the days with three channels, two games and the newspaper providing the information available. All the current media outlets are trying to meet the standard NFL Films has set and aren't even close.
Last night, I watched my alma mater, Kent State, play a game at Buffalo. Nothing like Wednesday Night College Football, huh? I started to chuckle. Am I really watching Kent State play a nationally televised football game on a Wednesday night? Yes, I was, and it says everything about the degree to which football has been woven into the fabric of our lives. My dad used to shake his head and complain that they were overexposing the game back when they began showing two games on Sundays; the AFL was also showing two games on another network. But that was it. There was no more pro football until the following Sunday, and college football on Saturday meant a regional game and a national game; that’s all. Regardless of the eras or how many games are available to us on TV, it doesn’t appear the game can be overexposed. The TV is full of games and, now, networks devoted completely to football, yet, our appetites for the sport grow. By the way, Kent State won. Go Flashes!
Troy from Stevens Point, WI
Hey, Vic, I don't know if you watched the debate between Skip Bayless and Stephen A. Smith on Rodgers’ leadership or not. I was just wondering what your take was on Rodgers’ leadership?
Remember the third-down play from deep in the Packers’ territory in Super Bowl XLV that Aaron Rodgers converted with one of the most tight-window passes I’ve ever seen? That’s leadership. Just do your job. Before a player can lead by any other kind of example, he has to be one of the best players on the team at doing his job. That’s where he gets his esteem, and when you’re as good at doing your job as Rodgers is, you don’t have to say anything because you’re leading by the example of your performance. We’ve lost the meaning of leadership. We think it’s about how you answer questions at a press conference. That’s nonsense. It’s about achievement. It’s about the level of your performance creating a standard that demands the same from everybody on the team. Words and body language are about personality. Unitas had the cold stare. Starr always exercised diplomacy. Bradshaw showered his teammates with praise. Bobby Layne stayed out late at night with them. Van Brocklin would punch them out. They all had one thing in common: They led by the standard of their performance.
Carlos from Lima, Peru
The real question regarding the kneel-down is: Will there ever be a way for the defense to respond to that measure without timeouts?
Well, I see by the volume of kneel-down questions in my inbox that this won’t go away, so it’s time to take it up a notch. Let’s play run up the score. Isn’t that what the kneel-down is all about? Isn’t it a mercy killing for the losing team? I mean, everyone complains if the team winning the game doesn’t stop trying to score points, so it became customary and gentlemanly for coaches to take a knee and be satisfied with a one-point win instead of punching it in one more time and getting an eight-point win, or whatever, right? Oh, so the losers want it both ways now? They want the winning team to keep letting the losers have a chance to win, but don’t you dare try to score because then I’ll whine and cry that you were trying to run it up. Well, the league solved that conundrum on Monday with its statement, so I say run it up, baby. If I was Tom Coughlin, the next time I played the Bucs I’d pour it on. I’d punch it in one more time and then I’d go for two. Why? Because I couldn’t go for three.
David from Chuluota, FL
Have you seen an appreciable difference in the Packers secondary with Charles Woodson's move to safety?
Yes. There’s more speed on the field, and that speed will increase even more when Davon House is able to play.
Andrew from Sapporo, Japan
It's easier to feel hotter if you think you're going to get hotter when wearing a black shirt. It's like a placebo. On the other hand, if you wear a white shirt and it gets drenched with sweat, more energy will reach your body and you'll actually get hotter. That doesn't happen with a black shirt.
There’s a new one.
Tom from Fairborn, OH
“Run it and let’s get the hell out of here.” Music to my ears.
For a long time, it was a standing joke with my peers that, upon arriving at my press box seat before the game began, I would say, “Run it and let’s get the hell out of here.” They always laughed.
Jason from New Richmond, WI
Vic, you explained the fair-catch kick. I don't believe I’ve ever seen one. In what situation would you use that?
On the last play of the game. Your opponent has a one-point lead, which forced it to punt from its own end zone. A poor punt allowed you to make a fair catch at your opponent’s 35-yard line with one second to play in the game. Why run the risk of a field goal attempt being blocked? Use the fair-catch kick rule.
Kevin from Orland Park, IL
What is your take on so many teams being 1-1 after two weeks? Is the margin between winners and losers really that small?
On the field, yes, it is. Off the field, no, it’s not. Here’s what I mean: The talent gap that separates winning and losing in this league is small, but the performance gap that separates the front offices of winning and losing teams can be much wider, and that’s why some franchises consistently win. Ownership matters. Teams with patient, committed ownership will consistently overmatch those teams that lack direction.
Mike from North Haven, CT
Vic, I am intrigued by our next game at Seattle on Monday night. This to me is a statement game. Seattle is coming off a dominating performance at home against Dallas. If we can go up there, run the ball, play defense and get our offense to warm up a little bit, I think this could be a game we look back on and say that was a game that really got us heading in the right direction.
We might be talking about the same thing, but I prefer to think of this as a launching-pad game. Statement games are for later in the year. What I mean by launching-pad game is that with a win in Seattle, the Packers will be coming home for a game against the Saints, before moving into a favorable October schedule. With a win in Seattle, the Packers could blast off.
Michael from Spring Lake, MI
Do NFL teams still have chaplains? What role do they play on game day?
The Packers have a priest that travels with them. He sits right in front of me on the plane, so I have that going for me, which is nice. He says mass on the morning of the game, and then I guess he prays a lot that the Packers win.
Terry from Plymouth, MN
Am I wrong to keep holding onto some concern? We have great players and coaches, but the dropped passes, especially the ones at clutch moments, and hits/scrambles by Aaron still worry me.
Terry, I get the feeling that if the Packers were doing everything perfectly right now, you’d worry that they’ve peaked too soon. Relax and enjoy the game.
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