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Ask Vic

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If Aaron Rodgers is No. 1, who are Nos. 2-5?

Posted Jul 15, 2014

Power rankings can be fun, unless your head blows up

Michael from Madison, WI

Vic, I noticed training camp start dates vary from team to team. The Buffalo Bills appear slated to start training camp a full week before the Packers. Does this somehow limit the Bills on the back end of the calendar, or are they getting an extra week out of their players?

Veterans may report to training camp no earlier than 15 days prior to a team’s first preseason game. Rookies may report seven days prior to the veterans’ reporting date. The Bills’ first preseason game is Aug. 3; the Packers’ is Aug. 9.

Mark from Stewartville, MN

Vic, have you gotten many words of thanks from the players you’ve covered about the stories you’ve written? Could you share a memorable moment when a player was particularly grateful?

You would get more of it in the old days, when reporters were not only permitted but encouraged to go to players’ dormitory rooms between training camp practices to do interviews. It was a way for players to kill time as they rested, and it was a perfect environment in which to do an interview for a feature. In those cool, dark rooms a lot of introspection was achieved. Something else was also achieved: friendships. Establishing a friendship with a player isn’t a bad thing, as long as he understands what the reporter’s job is and he’s respectful of it. Players had ways of saying thanks; it might be in a playfully edgy way. All a reporter wanted to know is the player cared enough to read the story. If the reporter knew that, then he knew he had a good source, one who cared what was written. One of my all-time favorite players is from my not-so-distant past. Mike Peterson is from the post-dormitory room era, but I never had any difficulty establishing a relationship with Mike because he got it. He understood the role of the media and how it impacted his career. He was one tough football player, an undersized tackling machine, one of the most durable players I’ve ever covered. If I wrote something about Mike, he’d say “Ask Vic” as he walked by. I can still hear him saying it. That was his way of acknowledging the story. That’s all I needed. I saw Mike at the Senior Bowl last winter and we talked for a long time. That’s the ultimate acknowledgement.

Matt from Scott AFB, IL

I guess I should be pretty happy to fly planes for a living, but I must say that you have a very cool job, and your vast experience comes through. I love this column. Keep up the great work, and I’m sure you know how lucky you are to be doing it.

Matt, people don’t quit flying planes to become sportswriters.

Tony from River Falls, WI

Do you get sick of the offseason this time of year? I always refer to this part of the summer as “The Great NFL Drought,” since nothing important seems to be happening in the NFL.

Shifting gears from the season to the offseason, and from the offseason to the season, has always been difficult for me. We’re all creatures of habit and I think we all struggle with changing the routine. For you, the NFL is all about entertainment. For me, it’s about work, and next week the days get longer and more demanding. I’d be lying if I said I don’t feel anxiety for the start of another training camp. It’s a grind. I’m not concerned about how the players will perform. I’m concerned about how I will perform.

Mitch from Green Bay, WI

When do you expect the Packers to announce they will not re-sign Finley? How much longer are they going to let this drag out?

Teams seldom announce they’re not going to sign somebody.

Steve from Three Lakes, WI

Mike McCarthy was quoted the other day as stating their goal is to play faster; 75 plays would be ideal. Is that number realistic with a healthy run/pass balance? And is our defense built for this type of offense?

The answer to your first question is yes; your second question is more difficult to answer. It’s difficult to rise in the defensive rankings on a team that’s trying to add plays to the game. More plays mean more yards, but that’s the way it is and that’s the way it will continue to be on this team because Coach McCarthy believes in up-tempo football. That’s how he wants his team to impose its will. Ball-control teams try to impose their will with long, time-consuming drives. They break the spirit of teams that want to go, go, go by making them stop, stop, stop. Therein lies the human confrontation between up-tempo and ball-control teams, and there’s nothing I love more in this game than a classic confrontation between pass and pound. It’s each team’s ability to play its game at its speed that will determine its fate. Do it any way you want. Just win, baby.

Justin from Reno, NV

Vic, previously you mentioned Randall Cobb used to be a quarterback in high school. Do you think Mike McCarthy has a couple of tricks plays in the playbook where Cobb would turn from runner to passer?

Yes.

Gavin from Penns Grove, NJ

Vic, as of right now, besides quarterback, what positions would you say are the Packers’ strongest and weakest?

In terms of depth, I think the offensive line is the strongest unit on this team. I think linebacker can become an area of strength, but until Clay Matthews and Nick Perry are fully recovered from their injuries, I’m going to maintain a degree of concern.

Jim from Milwaukee, WI

I read Howard Cosell’s book and enjoyed it. What are your thoughts on Cosell?

He changed broadcasting forever. He gave it flavor it had lacked forever. Cosell is the Johnny Unitas of modern broadcasting; he invented it. In my opinion, Cosell is the founder of ESPN. He showed us what sports can be when we loosen up enough to let it be entertaining. He also predicted what I consider to be the worst thing about broadcasting today: the proliferation of the jockocracy. Players reporting on players offends my sensibilities.

Brett from Green Bay, WI

Vic, you were with the Jaguars when David Garrard threw a game-winning “Hail Mary” to Mike Thomas vs. the Texans. What are your memories of that moment?

I remember that if the poor Texans defensive back, Glover Quinn, hadn’t touched the ball, it would’ve fallen harmlessly to the ground. I also remember having done a video with Thomas a day or two later. We stood on the spot where he made the catch. I held the ball he caught in my hands and Thomas held the gloves he wore to make the catch. I said something to the effect of, “This is the man, this is the place, this is the ball and those are the gloves.” And then the sprinklers came on and we got soaked. Mike’s a fun guy. You don’t forget moments like that.

Judson from Nashville, TN

If Rodgers goes No. 1 in an NFL players draft, who goes 2-5?

I feel pretty certain Andrew Luck would be the consensus No. 2 pick. After that, I’d start picking left tackles, pass rushers and cornerbacks. I like young guys, so I’ll go with Matt Kalil at left tackle. I think Richard Sherman is a no-brainer at cornerback. Here’s my shock pick: Jadeveon Clowney.

Jon from Excelsior, MN

For consideration in your “Best of Ask Vic” column, I submit the question a young lady asked regarding whether or not there was anything she could do to relieve her husband’s stress during his high level of pregame agitation and anxiety. You answered, “Yes.”

I wonder how that turned out.

James from Boise, ID

I know the Packers aren’t doing this, but I notice many teams have rookies report days before veterans. What are the teams asking the rookies to do during that time until practice officially starts?

They’re just giving the rookies a little head start; let them settle in before the vets arrive. In the old days, training camp opened with a rookie week. Veterans were to report a week later, but the coaches used the rookies (via the media) to coax many of the veterans to voluntarily report to camp early. The coaches would then praise the play of the rookies, and a lot of veterans that weren’t stars would succumb to job insecurity and report to camp before the rookie hotshot at his position got too settled. Those were the days of unlimited rosters for training camp. There were 26 teams and 17 rounds of the draft, and a lot of teams would take 130-150 guys to camp, to compete for 40-some roster spots. That’s competition.

Derek from Berrien Springs, MI

Vic, who does the research on pads and protective equipment? Seems like you could make the helmet and shoulder pads one piece so the neck doesn’t take strain. Also, if knees are such a problem, why don’t players wear braces of some sort at all times?

A man in a one-piece suit and wearing knee braces. Please tell me you’re kidding.

Chris from Mancos, CO

Vic, would a win in our Week 1 matchup move us to the top in the NFC?

Yes, figuratively and literally. A win in Week 1 would leave the Packers tied for the top spot in the NFL with 15 other teams, unless one or more games ended in a tie. That’s the literal answer. Figuratively, I think most power rankings would move the Packers into the No. 1 spot. I did a power rankings for a long time. We had a lot of fun with it. I once included the Florida Gators in my power rankings. Then I did that asterisk thing with the Patriots, and there was great outrage that I would attempt to use fact to achieve humor, so I dropped the power rankings when I came to Green Bay because I didn’t want somebody’s head to blow up because I tried to have fun with something as important as power rankings.

Jordan from Sheboygan, WI

Vic, what other teams do you think have a great group of the four premier positions?

The 49ers have Colin Kaepernick, Joe Staley, Aldon Smith and Tramaine Brock; some are projecting Brock as a future star. The Seahawks have Russell Wilson, Russell Okung, Cliff Avril and Richard Sherman, and the Seahawks are hoping Bruce Irvin becomes their Aldon Smith. Those are good foursomes and give the 49ers and Seahawks a nucleus to stay at or near the top in the NFC.

Andrew from Hermiston, OR

Maliciousness or malice would be the correct wording, not maliceness. Am I right?

You’re right. I think we need a “Literal Day.”

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