Tom from Plymouth, MN
Vic, you mentioned yesterday that the refs’ mistake in the inaccurate reception did not have dramatic effects on the standings, but Green Bay finished only half a game behind San Francisco due to the 49ers’ tie with St. Louis. Had the Packers won the game, they would have gotten the second seed and played the 49ers at home. The change in environment could have made a big difference in the result of that game.
I said the “Fail Mary” game didn’t have major impact on the events that would follow, and I believe that to be true. The Packers-49ers playoff game to which you’re referring is the 579 game. I don’t know how you make 579 yards go away by changing the site of the game. I won’t do that.
Jon from Bath, England
Vic, what’s been your favorite NFL season, both personally and professionally (could be different years)?
I would say 1978, 1989, 1996 and 2013.
Vic, where do you think Calvin Johnson would rank in the all-NFL draft? I know you say receivers are a dime a dozen, but that guy is special.
Yes, he is, but consider how many wide receivers there are in the league that fall into the special category. If fans and media were conducting the draft, Johnson might go in the top five. If NFL personnel people were doing the picking, 10 or more quarterbacks, 3-4 left tackles, 4-5 pass rushers and 2-3 corners might be picked before Johnson. I mean no offense to wide receivers, but they’re much easier to find than the premium-position guys.
John from Yakima, WA
Vic, prior to camp, what are the advantages/disadvantages of placing a player on injured reserve.
The advantage is that he doesn’t count against your active roster. The disadvantage is that his season is over unless you use the one-time designation that allows him to return. I think you might be confusing injured reserve with physically unable to perform, and that’s one of the reasons I introduced PUP into yesterday’s column. IR is far more restricting than PUP. PUP means the player can return, and he may do so at any time in the preseason, provided he hasn’t participated in a practice. Once he practices, he is no longer eligible for the PUP list. That’s why it wouldn’t surprise me if
Paul-Andrew from Hillsboro, WI
Do the Packers have what it takes to win the Super Bowl?
I’ll say yes, but I acknowledge the possibility the answer could be no. Cop out? It’s the truth. I genuinely believe the Packers have what it takes to go all the way, but I can’t predict injuries and twists of fate. Seattle is the favorite in the NFC, but what happens if Russell Wilson blows out his knee on the first day of training camp? The Seahawks will immediately become favorites to not make it into the playoffs. That’s how fragile the fate is of every team in the league. Here’s what I’ll say: The Packers have an impressive roster. I don’t see a weakness. I see a few concerns and I’ve mentioned them, but this team doesn’t have big issues. Most teams have big issues. The ones with the fewest issues and the best quarterbacks are the favorites to win it all. In my opinion, the Packers are one of the teams with the fewest issues, and they have the best quarterback in the game. What’s that tell you?
Craig from Wink, TX
Vic, growing up in California and loving sports, I was fortunate enough to read Jim Murray’s column. I came across this in his autobiography that reminds me of your style of writing. “People need to be amused, shocked, titillated or angered,” he wrote. '”But if you can amuse or shock or make them indignant enough, you can slip lots of information into your message.”
Reporters inform. Columnists entertain and inform.
Johnathan from Chesapeake, VA
I respect the professionalism you show in your work. I know you may not be able to take a step back and admire your work right now, but I know once you step away from reporting, you will look back with a smile for what you were able to do for us fans with your work.
Those are very kind words, but I’m not that vain. I’ll look back with a smile on what you, the fans, allowed me to do without having to lift heavy things. Relative to the sintering plant, I haven’t worked a day in my life since I left that place. I’ve walked into the best stadiums in America without having to buy a ticket, sat in comfort in heated press boxes in places such as Green Bay and in air-conditioned press boxes in places such as Jacksonville, eaten free hot dogs and been allowed to provide for myself and my family by doing little more than describing what I see and feel. I’m an appreciative person. Don’t confuse a naturally not-winsome personality – there wasn’t a winsome person anywhere in my hometown – with vanity or insensitivity. I love the fans, the game, the men that play it and coach it and the media that reports on it. Through that glass in the press box, I view my world. It’s a beautiful sight and they pay me to look at it.
Bob from Melbourne, Australia
Vic, I have a question that I’ve always wanted to ask of you and your readers. It concerns the ability to play the sport you love beyond college and into your dotage years. I fully appreciate and concur with the character-building, steel-forging capacity of football at a young age, although I can attest to the rites-of-passage stakes being raised exponentially when confronting a bigger opponent without padding or other protection. However, what astounds me is how you and your readers cope with not being able to play the game you love for the rest of your life, unless you’re in the infinitesimally small minority able to be good enough to do it professionally. I would love your thoughts on this.
Once you put on the pads, you never take them off. I had a high school coach who said that if we ever don’t give our best effort, we’ll regret it for the rest of our lives. He was right.
Rich from Torrance, CA
Growing up I’d listen to college and NFL football games on the radio, the radio announcers doing the play by play, painting a picture of what the offensive formation is, who carried the ball, who sacked the QB, etc. Nowadays, we have the ability to follow our favorite team and watch pretty much any game we want. I still enjoy listening to the play by play on the radio. Do you still listen to games on the radio?
If I’m in the car, yes. A lot of old-time Packers fans write to me and tell me how they grew up listening to Ray Scott. I can remember at a very young age listening to Ray Scott, but he wasn’t doing Packers games, he was doing Pitt games. He launched his broadcast career doing Pitt games on radio, and he was a very different broadcaster doing radio than he was doing TV of Packers games. The Ray Scott of “Starr, Dowler, touchdown,” was a man of many words doing Pitt games on radio. I remember Scott painting a picture that made you feel what was happening. It was as though I could open the window and hear the crowd. “Pitt breaks the huddle. Here come the Panthers, as the Irish dig in on defense.” It’s as though I can hear his voice now. As the story goes, Scott rose to prominence in 1956, when he was hired to do the telecast of the Sugar Bowl between Pitt and Georgia Tech. Scott was Pitt’s regular broadcaster and he was partnered for the Sugar Bowl telecast with the legendary Bill Stern, but Stern had to leave the broadcast right after the game began, leaving Scott to handle all of the broadcasting chores, which he did so skillfully he was hired by CBS. A great career was launched and Scott punctuated it by changing his style to that of a minimalist. Whatever it takes. Yeah, I miss radio.
When I go to my first game at Lambeau, what section would be the best to view the game?
Any section would be fine. I’ve walked all over Lambeau Field and I often stop and look at the field, and it never ceases to amaze me how every position in the stadium offers a unique view.
Luke from Cardiff, Wales
Was Jim Murray talking about an actual best friend, or was it a metaphor for something?
He was talking about losing his “best friend,” his good eye, and Murray writes of all the great sporting events he had seen with his “best friend.” I encourage everyone to find the column on the Internet; it’ll pop up right away. It’s one of the great reads in sports writing history.
Jeff from Minocqua, WI
Vic, could you help me understand just how much use of hands the offensive line can get away with?
As long as the palms of the offensive lineman’s hands are up and inside the planes of the defender’s shoulders, and he’s square to the defender, he won’t get called for holding. As an offensive line coach I’ve admired was fond of saying, “You hold with your feet.” In other words, if you don’t move your feet, you get out of position, and that’s when the trouble starts.
With two teams that have tough defenses like the Jets and Seahawks, do you think those two games will be a fair barometer as to how good the Packers are and will be throughout the season?
It might be a stretch to judge a whole season on its first two games, but I’m glad you included the Jets in the question. I see them as a dangerous opponent for the Packers in their home opener. Don’t go to sleep on the Jets. They have verve; they get it from their coach. They play a nasty and aggressive brand of football. There will be a lot of talk about that being a sandwich game, being that it’s sandwiched between trips to Seattle and Detroit. I repeat: Don’t go to sleep on the Jets.
Mark from Stewartville, MN
Vic, you mentioned that sportswriter Roy Blount Jr. also wrote news. Is it a good thing for a sportswriter to have some background writing news as well?
Roy offered critical commentary on former Georgia governor Lester Maddox; Roy’s not just a sports writer. Yes, I believe it’s a good thing for a sports writer to have some background in news. As a newspaper intern, I was assigned to cover city council meetings and do the police blotter on those days the regular police blotter reporter was on vacation. Those tasks test your ability to collect news and present it in an orderly fashion, and they especially test your ability to write in the inverted pyramid style. After covering city council meetings and collecting police blotter information at the police station, I was absolutely certain I wanted to be a sports writer. That’s why having a background in news was good for me.
Jesse from Madison, WI
Vic, if you could pick any four players in history for your four premier positions (quarterback, pass blocker, pass rusher and cornerback), who would they be?
Johnny Unitas, Anthony Munoz, Lawrence Taylor and Mel Blount.
Larry from Chubbuck, ID
Vic, what advantage, if any, does Mike McCarthy see in having everyone report to camp the same day? Do you agree or do you think it’s better to have rookies report earlier than the rest of the team?
If your rookies are up to speed and ready to go, why bring them in early? I think Coach McCarthy is telling us his rookies are ready to go. Whatever it takes.
Rhonda from Appleton, WI
I am so excited for the “Ask Vic” night next week. Is it a sellout?
It’s a sellout. See you there.
Peter from Mount Horeb, WI
Vic, what I love most about football is its real-life simulation of chess. Every play is like a game of speed chess. It’s beautiful, don’t you think?
We have opposite perspectives on the game. I like the teams that play big-boy football. I like the teams that line up and knock your you know what off the ball. Those are the ones I respect.
Rory from Rapid City, SD
I have been a Vikings fan my entire life. I am giving up and want to become a Green Bay Packers fan. Where do I start? I am serious. The office is all Packers fans and I want to be like them.
You start by sitting down and having a talk with your heart. It doesn’t like to do what it doesn’t want to do.