Dirk from Munich, Germany
The way you talk about the great running backs of the past, I can’t help but think Adrian Peterson best compares to Brown. In my eyes, he can do everything you’ve described and I consider myself lucky to get to watch a player like that as a young fan, especially in this day and age when quarterbacks and passing dominate the league.
Peterson’s performance last season is the closest thing I’ve seen to Jim Brown.
Derrell from Monona, WI
Vic, who do you see emerging from the NFC West, Seattle or San Francisco? I like the moves Seattle has made.
I think the 49ers have a talent edge, but the young quarterbacks will be the deciding factor. I favor Colin Kaepernick’s skill set to Russell Wilson’s.
Jeremy from Menomonee Falls, WI
Vic, I read your last column and saw you were talking about Dave Robinson. I had to go look him up because I knew little about him. What I noticed was he was drafted in the AFL in 1963 by the Chargers and drafted in the NFL in 1963 by the Packers. How did he get drafted twice? I am just very confused on this, so can you please tell me how this is possible?
They were two distinctly different leagues with two separate drafts. There was no AFC and NFC back then. It was AFL and NFL and they were involved in a bitter and costly battle for college talent. The AFL conducted its draft as soon as the college football season ended, to get a jump on signing players prior to the NFL’s draft in late January. It was a successful strategy, as the AFL closed the talent gap by signing college stars such as Heisman Trophy winner Mike Garrett. I’m describing the decade of the 1960s. They were 10 stormy years that changed professional football forever, and I urge you to read about them. They include fascinating stories about the men that shaped the game we love today.
Bill from Tampa, FL
Vic, back in the 1960s, was it mandatory for players to tape ankles by the NFL or by each team? Lombardi fined his players $150 if ankles were not taped.
It wasn’t a league mandate; it was standard operating procedure for nearly all teams. If a pro player got caught without his ankles taped, he was probably going to be fined. If a high school kid got caught without his ankles taped, he was probably going to run laps. I can remember shaving my ankles once a week, and I remember using my mother’s nail polish remover to get rid of the sticky residue from the tape. “Do you have my nail polish remover?” I wonder how many times I heard that.
Tom from Berlin, Germany
Is Kaepernick the man? Really? He had half a season when he looked good. Even Matt Cassel looked good for a longer time. Why are you so impatient about the guy?
I didn’t grant him “Man” status. Why are you sensitive about the guy?
Jarrod from Monticello, MN
I have not seen one minute of the Packers OTAs but I get the feeling this team is stronger, faster, tougher, meaner and deeper than the squad last year. Am I crazy?
I don’t look for tougher, meaner in OTAs. I see a better-looking team than last year’s. That’s as far as I’ll go right now.
Jeremy from Bowling Green, KY
Vic, you post some of the most boring questions on here sometimes. Anyway, do you feel it would be a good idea to try using Cobb in a read-option package or are you against taking the ball out of Rodgers’ hands?
Thanks for the exciting question. My answer is that I’m for anything that would move the ball and cause problems for the opponent, but I would be against taking the ball out of Aaron Rodgers’ hands more than once or twice a game. Having said that, I just don’t know what would be accomplished by running the read-option once or twice a game. You’re not going to influence the defense one way or another by only doing something once or twice. I’m sure you’d be entertained by it, but I don’t think it would accomplish much for the Packers.
John from Kalamazoo, MI
Reporters in Oakland are tearing into Matt Flynn and the other quarterbacks, one going as far as to say their collective performance has been the worst football he’s seen in 19 years covering the NFL. Why has Flynn fallen so far since etching his name in the Green Bay record books in 2011? What did you think of Flynn when you covered him?
With apologies to Tom Lasorda: What did I think of Matt Flynn? The guy throws for six touchdowns and 480 yards and you ask me what I think of Matt Flynn? Well, I’ll tell you what I think of Matt Flynn. I think he must have some talent to do all of that, and on a cold and windy day, too. I mean, come on, huh? The guy drove his team 80 yards in eight plays to win the game, and you ask me what I think of Matt Flynn? What do you think of Matt Flynn?
James from Wahiawa, HI
Can you tell us what some of your greatest memories from the USFL are?
I only have one memory because I only covered one game. It was the inaugural game of the Pittsburgh Maulers and they sold out Three Rivers Stadium. The only thing I remember from that game is finding out why the team was named the Maulers. A maul is a large hammer; I knew that. What I didn’t know is that it was the basis for the name Maulers. It was all linked to the steel industry. I grew up in a mill town, and on still summer nights, you could hear the clang, clang, clang sounds of the mill reverberate through the town. Well, the Maulers built their whole marketing campaign around that sound. The team’s colors were gray and red, the colors of fire and smoke in the mill. Throughout the game, the PA would broadcast the clang, clang, clang sound of the maul, punctuated by the blowing sound that comes from the blast furnace. Sitting in the press box was like lying awake in my bedroom on a summer night and listening to the sounds of the mill pouring through my bedroom window. It’s one of the best marketing campaigns I’ve ever seen. Too bad it didn’t work.
George from Jefferson City, MO
Vic, do you think there’s a chance the Packers will regret letting Greg Jennings go in free agency?
They’ll have two chances this year to regret it, but based on what I’ve seen in OTAs, the Packers have more talent than they need at wide receiver. I’ve said it a million times but I’ll say it again, in the salary cap era, you’ve got to be willing to let players leave. I’ll tell you what the Packers won’t regret: the cap room they created and the future cap health they achieved.
Ben from Gordon, WI
Can the Texans win a Super Bowl with Matt Schaub under center?
He’s one of the toughest quarterbacks you’ll ever see and I like him. Yeah, I think they can win a Super Bowl with him under center. What they can’t do, in my opinion, is win a Super Bowl without him under center, and it’s too often been the case that Schaub has been injured. Maybe he’s too courageous for his own good. He needs to stay healthy.
Mark from San Marcos, CA
Vic, you ever play a round at Merion?
No, but I loved watching yesterday’s opening round of the U.S. Open. Merion is a treat for the eyes. I don’t know if it’s tough enough for it to measure up to true U.S. Open standards, but it’s a different kind of course and I like that. I liked watching the greatest players in the world struggle to make par on 300-yard par fours. Will that continue? This is one of my favorite weekends of the year. I only watch two golf tournaments intensely, the two Opens. On Sunday, the TV belongs to me. Everybody in my family knows it.
Tyler from Cedar Rapids, IA
Vic, what makes a football player great?
Talent, fearlessness and love of the game.
Travis from Brookings, SD
I read last week the NFL commissioner said there will be more games overseas in the coming years. If I was a season-ticket holder, I would be spitting bullets if I lost a home game. I understand gaining more fans but playing in Paris or wherever is a waste. Your thoughts?
There are a lot of people that live in Europe, and that means potentially a lot of jersey sales and TV rights money. It’s going to happen. It’s not worth the effort to fight it.
Bart from Grants Pass, OR
I, too, have been watching the ’60s Packers in conjunction with Lombardi’s 100th birthday. I forgot how thrilling it was to watch all those big linemen pull to run the sweep. Also, the thing that struck me was the camera shots were wider. It allowed the viewer to see many linemen plus the backs in one view. Do the isolated close-ups seem more pervasive today? If so, why is this better?
I guess people want them or they wouldn’t show them. By the way, whatever happened to that all-22 view thing? We were all twisted up in a knot about that last year. How did that turn out?
William from Jacksonville, FL
Once a QB starts playing games, what do a coach and GM need to see to think there’s a good chance their starter is on track to becoming “The Man”?
Coaches and GMs are like Justice Potter Stewart: They know it when they see it.
Hansen from Whitewater, WI
How much does size matter for being a defensive back?
Mark Murphy was one of the first big safeties. It mattered for him.
Mark from Westernport, MD
With the continuing softening of practices and training camps, how are coaches able to make the tough decisions of which players to cut?
You have to look deeper. In watching the Lombardi stuff this week, I saw a brief training camp shot of an Oklahoma drill. That’s how you found out about guys back then. You matched them up one-on-one and you found out who was stronger and tougher. Those days are gone, but you still have to find out who is stronger and tougher, so you have to look deeper. You watch the pass-rush drills. You watch receivers trying to get off the jam. You watch backs in nine-on-sevens to see if they can run through the first thump. It’s more difficult for coaches and scouts to find the information they need, but they find it.
Mark from Stewartville, MN
Vic, do you envision a close battle between Graham Harrell and B.J. Coleman for the backup quarterback spot?
Yes, I do, and I think they both know they’re not only competing against each other, they’re competing against every quarterback in the league that would replace them if neither one performs adequately. That’s the nature of the game. It’s always about competition.
Roland from Glen Cove, NY
So, what is Vic up to after OTAs finish?
Monday will be my last “Ask Vic” for a while. Mike will be taking over.
Gary from Greenwood, SC
I’ve been reading your column for years while I rock my daughters to sleep at night. They drift off, I turn on my phone and I read. You are a part of our nightly ritual and I just thought you might like to know that. Thanks for being there: Gary, Rachel and Anna Rose.
Happy Father’s Day.
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