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Aaron Rodgers may be the best you'll ever see

Posted Jul 22, 2014

Tony Dungy completes his transition from coaching to the media

Cancellations have opened four spots for tomorrow’s “Ask Vic Day.” If you wish to attend the event, which begins at 4 p.m. CT at the Bellin Gate entrance at Lambeau Field, call 920-569-7266.

Austen from Collingwood, Ontario

Vic, did you catch the British Open this weekend?

I liked it. The golf was sensational, but I wasn’t crazy about the course. It didn’t do much for me visually and I don’t expect a great course to finish as weakly as it did. My real disappointment was with ESPN’s failure to provide much, if any, details of Tiger Woods’ final round. I watched every shot on Sunday from Rory McIlroy’s first to his last, and I didn’t hear a report on Woods’ final round. I suspect that’s because the announcers didn’t want to embarrass him, and if that’s the reason, then that’s exactly why I don’t like players reporting on players. Players often see themselves as players forever and never fully become media. To Troy Aikman’s credit, I think he’s made the transition. Golfers seldom stop being golfers. They just go from one tour to an older tour. I think they’re more concerned about what the players are going to think about what they say than they are about what the viewers will think. Johnny Miller speaks to the viewers, not the players, and that’s why I respect his commentary the most. Woods was the story of the week heading into the Open. It was his return to competitive golf. That means his performance had to be treated as big news, one way or the other. I never heard a score mentioned. Maybe they did it when I walked into another room, but I think it deserved a full report and some commentary.

Sam from Oshkosh, WI

I have to disagree with you. I was in Pittsburgh for a Pens playoff game earlier this year and I found all the people very pleasant and helpful. We even had a man help us find the right train to take and lead us right to Consol Energy Center, even with my Packers shirt on. I found it a very beautiful city.

They put you on the right train? They’ve gone soft. I took my friend from Jacksonville there some years ago. We rode the incline and at the top he gave the token taker a five-dollar bill. When he asked for his change, the token taker said, “We ain’t got no change.” It felt great to be back home.

Juan from Astoria, NY

Vic, you wrote once that when James Starks runs you’re afraid his legs will leave without his body. It was something I always noticed about the way he ran and I was wondering if there’s any technique to that style of running, or is that his preference and just naturally the way he runs?

He’s a long-legged guy. When you try to tackle him, first you get hit in the head with one of his knees, and then he steps on your hand. It’s like tackling a bag of loose ball bats. Those guys hurt. You don’t know what to grab. I’ve had a fondness for Starks ever since I first saw him. I still think his best football is ahead of him.

Warren from Charlotte, NC

Vic, if you’re a fan of the game and not a fan of a team, how tough is it to miss out on watching all of those other games when you’re working? Do you watch them later, or are the highlights enough for you? Do you get tired of inane, non-football questions during the offseason?

Yes.

Michael from Elizabethtown, KY

I read that at the officials camp they were emphasizing calling more pass-coverage penalties. Don’t you think they call enough as it is?

Is there anything else I can do for you, Uncle Peyton?

Tyler from Neenah, WI

“Left tackle is the dominant position on the line. Right tackle was the dominant position on the line in the 1960s. Gregg was a dominant lineman.” Why was right tackle the more important of the two back in the ’60s?

Because they ran the ball back then and teams tended to run right more often than they ran left. It was common for offenses to be right-handed; it still is.

Zach from Franklin, WI

Vic, if you could adopt one rule from college football for the NFL, I think you’ve made it clear you would adopt their replay system. What rule from the NFL would you like to see in college football?

I would like to see college football do away with the rule that stops the clock for a first down. Teams are driving the ball 80 yards in 20 seconds, and games have hit the four-hour mark. When you get to the last couple of minutes of the game, the game refuses to end. They might as well just start there.

William from Newark, NY

Vic, I was looking at pictures of Starr and Lombardi online and found a photo where they were standing together and Vince had a visor that said Los Angeles Rams on it. I thought that was pretty funny. That would never be allowed these days. Can you shed some light on that?

It was probably for a late-season game played at the Coliseum, and the Packers didn’t pack hats and the Rams stuck the Packers on the sun side of the field, and the sun was low in the sky and Lombardi wanted a hat, so the equipment guy went to the Rams and asked for a hat. I don’t know any of that to be true; I’m just guessing. We weren’t bothered by those things back then because brand wasn’t the big deal it is today. When I was a kid, logo gear didn’t exist. The only way you were going to get something with a logo on it is if you knew somebody that played for the team. The apparel that’s available to fans today is absolutely gorgeous. I would’ve killed just for one of the team hats you can buy anywhere nowadays. I remember stenciling Bobby Layne’s No. 22 onto an old sweatshirt I had. The YMCA was teaching us how to stencil and that’s what I stenciled. When I think back on it, I can’t help but laugh at how ridiculous it must’ve looked, but it was the coolest thing I owned and I wore it everywhere. We are in a wonderful age of football as entertainment. We can buy team apparel, video games, get updates from team websites and player Twitter accounts, etc. It wasn’t nearly as much of an entertainment game when I was a kid; it was more of an athletic event. The line that distinguishes football as entertainment from athletics is blurry, but here’s the best way I can define it: Back then, the NFL told TV when kickoff was; now, TV tells the NFL.

John from Green Bay, WI

Vic, during training camp and the preseason, do you ever find yourself rooting for undrafted players or other longshots to make the roster? If so, would you care to share any names of players you had personally been pulling for in the past that made the roster?

I always find myself doing that. I see something in a player that attracts me and I find myself favoring him. Usually, it’s the result of a kind of football toughness that’s bigger than the school or conference that produced him, or maybe it’s because I interviewed him and I felt a connection, or the kid has an alertness or savvy about him that tells me the game isn’t too big for him. Jamari Lattimore is one of those players.

Rob from Chicago, IL

Vic, what’re your thoughts on “North Dallas Forty”?

Mac Davis looked like a sports writer playing quarterback.

Stuart from Tupper Lake, NY

Do you expect to be sued by Donald Trump now that you blamed him for killing the USFL? That seems to be his style.

Law of the Mass Media is one of the more challenging courses in J-school. It’s all about cases, briefs and precedents. I got a B in it. One of the first things you learn is that public figures are subject to public scrutiny: New York Times v. Sullivan. One of the credos by which I live is something I learned in that Law of the Mass Media course: The truth is the pure defense. It’s more than a guide for being a reporter, it’s a guide for life.

Thomas from Milwaukee, WI

Do you think Colin Kaepernick or Cam Newton can become the best quarterback in the NFL with the gifts they have? Or do you think they lack that rare acumen for the position that you have mentioned that Rodgers and Brady have?

Kaepernick and Newton have that rare talent for the position known as extreme athletic ability. In other words, they can run. The problem with those types of quarterbacks is they tend to have a shorter shelf life than the pocket guys. Legs don’t get better as we get older. If Kaepernick and Newton are going to get it done with their legs, it better happen soon. In my opinion, the degree to which they can more fully develop their skills as pocket passers will more likely define the length and success of their careers. Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady represent unfairly high standards. What you must remember is the Packers and Patriots may never be quarterbacked again by men of their talent. You may be watching the best quarterback you’ll ever see. I covered last Saturday’s Packers Hall of Fame banquet, at which Jordy Nelson was honored as the Packers’ 2013 MVP. A highlight video featuring Nelson’s many memorable catches was shown, and what struck me is that every one of those passes was put in the only place the ball was catchable only by Nelson. Rodgers is the last great quarterback I’ll cover. What a way to go out.

Jim from Fond du Lac, WI

I get that you’re a fan of the game over any one team, and I can accept that. Is there one team, though, you have a particular distaste for? Mine’s the Bills. Don’t know why, just don’t like ’em.

The Bills? How could you dislike the Bills? Are you starting alphabetically with teams to dislike? The Bills aren’t a team you dislike. The Bills are one of those teams you hope wins when you can’t think of a reason to care which team wins. How do you dislike a team that missed a field goal attempt to lose a Super Bowl, and then got hammered in each of the next three Super Bowls? How do you dislike a team that lost a playoff game on a forward pass that was ruled a lateral? The Bills are the girlfriend you haven’t thought about in 20 years. Is there a team I dislike? No.

Curtis from Neenah, WI

Vic, I don’t know why you continue to ignore this question – others want to know this answer, too – do you play fantasy football?

I’ve wanted to play for years, but I don’t know how. May I play in your league?

Easton from Milwaukee, WI

Vic, I’m sorry to bring it back up but it pertains to the “no cheering in the press box” rules. There are also a lot of what-ifs here, so stay with me. Assuming your favorite team is the Steelers, and let’s say you worked for their organization. If they were to win the Super Bowl in the same fashion the Packers beat the Bears to claim the NFC North last season, would you be able to keep your composure? I know you have a different approach to the game, as I do, but there has to be a smidgen of regular fan in you.

I’d go crazy. I’d start swinging my towel and chanting “Here we go, Steelers, here we go.” Journalism shmournalism.

Kris from Rhinelander, WI

Vic, you hold great coaches like Noll, Lombardi and Coughlin in high regard, because of what they accomplished and how they lead. As a young man, I often wonder what it would be like to have an actual conversation with an historical figure, famous coach or otherwise. A conversation to get to know them, not their work. Have you ever gotten to know any coaches outside the game? Did knowing the true man take away from your vision of him, or add to it?

Any coaches? Yes. Head coaches? Probably not, or at least not after they became head coaches. Head coaches guard their private lives, not only because they want to have private lives, but also because I think they know they need to maintain a certain aura about themselves they can lose if they become just another guy trying to pay the bills. Vince Lombardi was a man of noble demeanor. He carried himself in a manner that, coupled with his success on the field, made him a larger-than-life character. That’s a good thing. We need our leaders to be a cut above. Chuck Noll remained aloof from his players. That’s how he maintained the buffer that must exist between players and their head coach. He can’t be one of them; he must be above them. Tom Coughlin read the Lombardi guide to coaching. He was in awe of the Lombardi ways and legend and became a new-age Lombardi-type figure. A reader took exception to my recent comparison of Coughlin to Lombardi – hey, Coach Coughlin has won two Super Bowls, too – and suggested the difference between the two is that Lombardi was hard on his players and they loved him for it, and Coughlin is hard on his players and they dislike him for it. I feel very strongly that Coach Lombardi would’ve suffered the same fate had he coached in today’s game. Do you think there might’ve been some grievances filed in OTAs? Players in the Lombardi era didn’t have that option. The bottom line is that great coaches have a persona about them. Paul Brown had it. Bill Walsh had it. Tom Landry had it. Great coaches are seldom ordinary guys. Greatness is not ordinary.

Brad from Minnetonka, MN

I appreciated your comments on broadcasters in general and about Howard Cosell in particular. One of my real pet peeves is announcers’ overuse of the words “almost intercepted.” Troy Aikman is probably the worst of the offenders. When an incomplete pass goes whizzing past the head of a receiver or off the fingertips of a diving receiver, is the appropriate commentary “almost caught”? I have not heard that. Am I missing something? “Almost intercepted” is a naive effort to build excitement that simply is not there. What do you think?

I think training camp is almost here. I think we’re almost nuts.

Jake from Grand Marais, MN

Poor Tony Dungy just offered himself to the wolves. I really hope Michael Sam can make it, but the media isn’t helping him by lampooning anybody who has an opinion about him. Who wants to coach someone you can’t critique? Every person involved with the NFL is just one out-of-context quote away from a living nightmare.

Coach Dungy has just completed his transition from coaching to being a member of the media. Welcome to the media, Tony. Repeat after me: The truth is the pure defense.

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Vic Ketchman

Join Vic Ketchman as he answers the fans' questions.

Do you have a question for Vic? Your question could be posted on packers.com. Vic has covered the NFL through 42 seasons, including 23 years covering the Steelers and 16 years covering the Jaguars.

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