Ethan from Plant City, FL

Vic, you always talk about that day at the gas pump, and I always feel like we have a special bond over that day, from the ordeal I went through on that same exact day. I drive semi and happened to be in Wisconsin that weekend and was able to snag a ticket for that wild card game. The following day, when I returned to my truck, the diesel engine would not turn over and I spent the majority of that day outside with a mechanic and a heater, trying to warm the engine up enough to get it started. That was the coldest, most miserable day of my life and, like you, I will never forget it.

Memories make us rich.

Roger from Indianapolis, IN

Of all the players you’ve seen who retired early, who was the greatest?

Jim Brown and Barry Sanders would be the consensus answers, but Sanders played 10 seasons and Brown played long enough to push the rushing record nearly out of reach. In other words, theirs were not short careers and they retired closer to the end than we might know. Mike Reid is my answer. He’s one of the most underrated defensive linemen in football history. There were whispers he was the equal of Joe Greene. Reid retired after just five seasons. He tired of the game and he wanted to focus on a career in music. A scout back then said to me, “That’s what happens when they can do something else.”

Lori from Heredia, Costa Rica

Vic, I drove to the mall and parked in space number 84. Thinking of Abby helped me find my car after I finished shopping. Do you think of football players when you need to remember a two-digit number?

How about a four-digit number? One of my security codes is Jim Taylor Fuzzy Thurston. It’s also Donnie Shell Ernie Holmes. We are what we remember.

Nathan from San Diego, CA

Vic, why would you want to include Bart Star on Cliff’s Mt. Rushmore of retirement wafflers? He doesn’t strike me as a waffler, but rather as a decisive man.

I must apologize to Cliff and my readers. I missed the retirement angle as it pertained to “Mt. Rushmore.” I am acutely sensitive to Bart Starr’s place in Packers and football history.

Matt from Madison, WI

Vic, you could have pointed out Gino Marchetti was widely considered one of the toughest players to ever play. He fought at the Battle of the Bulge and Art Donovan said he played like it was war. To have served in WW II and then played until 1966 is amazing.

Chuck Bednarik was a waist gunner. These are special men. Now, look at the picture again. Do you see it now? Do you see the desperation of their generation? Do you see the greatness of their spirit? I pity anyone who doesn’t see it.

Randy from Green Bay, WI

Vic, about Rick from Beloit, WI, you assume people from this part of the country know nothing about heat or heat indices. You have no problem running from the cold but no problem taking shots at a tradesman who works outdoors his whole life. Coming from a tradesman who has worked on a roof his whole life, you make quite a weak point. Heat indices, believe it or not, do get to 105 and even higher, with stifling humidity. So I don’t get how casually riding your bike on the beach, probably stopping several times, or cutting your grass and palmetto stumps while most likely taking several breaks for cold drinks, had anything to do with what Rick had to say. What say you about that?

I will break him.

Paul from Queen Creek, AZ

One of my very favorite days was when I was coaching at a football camp organized by a Penn State alum. He had several former teammates and friends working the camp, including Reggie White. My favorite moments were when we had lunch and dinner and I just sat there listening to the stories. I get that same feeling with you, Vic. I would love to sit at a big table with you and some of your colleagues and just listen to your stories.

A scout I’ve known for a very long time is coming to visit me this weekend. We’ll sit and talk for hours about good and bad draft picks, and how they came to be. The stories will take me back through the best days of my life. Never pass up the chance to enjoy what you’ve done, where you’ve been and who you know.

Tom from Feldner, ND

Vic, the old expression in these parts is 20 below keeps out the riff raff. Just who are the riff raff, you ask? Well, in part, they’re people who can’t stand 20 below because of weak constitutions. You know, the type who live in (Edisto) in the summer, who call hard work mowing their grass. I think you’re probably a little bit of a disappointment to your friends back in Pittsburgh.

I’m not a Feldner kind of guy.

Graham from Green Bay, WI

Which positional group has the most to prove this year?

I think the wide receivers would quickly volunteer they have the most to prove. They were the subject of harsh criticism last season and I suspect they might have a very large chip on their shoulders heading into this season.

Kevin from Rice Lake, WI

I had an offensive line coach in high school who told us this story at least once a year. “When I was a player, we went over to our coach’s house on Saturdays. He lived in a nice house by a babbling brook. I asked my coach, ‘What can I do to play better?’ He responded by walking me down to the brook and kneeling down with me. He then grabbed my head and held it under water for a good 40 seconds. ‘When you want to win as bad as you want to breathe, you will know what it takes to play better.’” Coaches stories never made much sense, but man did they make a guy think.

That might be the most insane thing I’ve ever heard in my life.

Lane from Calgary, Canada

Vic, although I disagree with the statement the best 10 players are all QBs, who are your top 10 non-QBs playing today?

J.J. Watt, Aaron Donald, Antonio Brown, Von Miller, Darrelle Revis, Josh Norman, Tyron Smith, Luke Kuechly, Adrian Peterson and Julio Jones.

Andrew from Los Angeles, CA

Big news on Monday! “I need to be down here now with all the other cold-weather sissies,” combined with your helicopter ride. I don’t like where this is going, Vic.

You might be surprised. We’re going to have a party next week. You don’t want to miss it. Bring your best questions. I’m gonna let it rip.

Ryan from Quincy, IL

I enjoy your sense of humor, but I guess some people don’t. For instance, did you know there is a website vicketchmanisanidiot.com?

Laughter is good.


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