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    Packers fans 21 years and older are invited to bring the spirit of Green Bay to Chicago a day early with a free Packers Everywhere Pep Rally. Packers President/CEO Mark Murphy will take part in the pre-gameday excitement by greeting fans and participating in a Q-and-A session with Wayne Larrivee, the radio voice of the Packers. Packers alumni Mark Chmura and Don Beebe will also be at the rally to socialize with fans, sign autographs and discuss their thoughts on the next day’s game against the Bears. A round-table discussion with Packers.com writers Vic Ketchman, Mike Spofford and the audience will conclude the event.

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I'll pick White, Gregg, Adderley, and at quarterback ...

Posted Jul 18, 2014

True tight ends are difficult to find


Jered from Baton Rouge, LA

Vic, what does it mean to be able to write in the inverted pyramid style?

It means putting the most important stuff at the top of the story and the least important stuff at the bottom. The inverted pyramid style of writing is as basic as it gets in news writing, but when I find myself writing a game story loaded with facts, such as the 2011 regular-season finale against the Lions, I often revert to the inverted pyramid style. It always helps me order my thoughts, identify the facts and their importance.

Stephen from Cedar Falls, IA

Do the Packers have the talent to be the first team with three 1,000-yard receivers and two 1,000-yard rushers? Am I crazy to think this could happen?

Yes.

Ryan from Rock Hill, SC

Vic, who are your all-time Packers four premier-position players? I would take Aaron Rodgers, Forrest Gregg, Reggie White and Charles Woodson.

I agree on White. Gregg was a right tackle, but he’d be a left tackle in today’s game, so I’ll agree with you on him, too. At cornerback, I’ll take Herb Adderley. Quarterback? Bart Starr’s got five titles. He’s “The Man.”

Luke from New Ulm, MN

Man is it gonna be tough to cut the receivers and tight ends.

Hold that thought and let’s revisit it after final cuts. It might give us a good perspective on how teams massage the roster to retain talent.

Lynn from Saint Paul, MN

The 1957 Chevrolet pickup that was moved to the Packers Pro Shop last Thursday sure looks to me like a 1958 Chevrolet pickup with its double headlights.

Miss Vito, what would the correct ignition timing be on a 1955 Bel Air Chevrolet with a 327 cubic-inch engine and a four-barrel carburetor?

Joe from Bloomington, IN

Vic, from a cap perspective, do you think a quality tight end is more valuable than a quality wide receiver? It doesn’t seem to me that tight ends are a dime a dozen.

If you’re talking about a true, inline tight end that possesses the ability to block the point of attack and catch passes in the deep seam, a Ditka or Mackey type of player, that type of player is more difficult to find than a wide receiver.

Paul from De Pere, WI

Any great sportswriters among your colleagues?

There are several. Sports journalism is loaded with great wordsmiths, and it’s created a glut of nationally renowned sports writers that didn’t exist during Jim Murray’s era. Murray was one of the first syndicated sports columnists, which means he was one of the few columnists whose work was distributed nationally, and it allowed him to become the conscience of the sports nation. Today, the Internet provides nearly every sports writer national exposure. The competition has never been greater.

Mary from Sheboygan, WI

Why isn’t there any discussion about the fact the Packers let Evan Dietrich-Smith go for unknown centers? Aaron wanted him, yet the powers to be let him go. The December game might prove interesting in Tampa Bay.

It’s a game of replacement. Football fans everywhere are beginning to understand that, and it’s produced an acceptance of the fact that you have to let players leave in free agency. The salary cap demands it. If you’re not replacing players, you’re dead team walking.

Randy from Erlanger, KY

Vic, we just returned from a one-week trip to Pennsylvania. Most of it was spent in Philly in search of history, art, cheesesteaks, etc. On the way home, we stopped at Valley Forge and Frank Lloyd Wright’s Falling Water. Everything was spectacular, but wanted to give high praise to the friendliness of Pennsylvanians at every stop. Very winsome, indeed. Are they like that during the football season?

I don’t know, I’m from Pittsburgh. I never thought of myself as being from Pa. Maybe that’s for people in Philadelphia. We didn’t have any winsome people in my hometown. Everybody was mean and used foul language. I miss it.

Devin from De Pere, WI

I’m the organist at St. Norbert Abbey and I’ve heard from Fr. Jim Baraniak (Packers chaplain) that you attend Mass at the Abbey on Sunday every so often. If you happen to find yourself at the Abbey any time in the near future, I would love for you to come up by the organ after Mass so I can give you a handshake and personally thank you for your great work that you do with the team.

Every so often? What does he mean by every so often? What if The Big Guy reads this?

Curtis from Wausau, WI

Vic, one of my classes at UW-Oshkosh offered a tour that took us to the video/audio production studio and the media room at Lambeau. It’s an amazing place to be, especially compared to the high school press boxes I’ve been in. In retrospect, how much has the technological evolution of these stadiums impacted your job?

I’m sure it’s had a dramatic impact on my job, but I have intensely avoided any more awareness of technology than is necessary to do my job. If you play dumb, somebody will always help you, especially when you’re old enough to have an excuse for being technology stupid. One of the great things about my job is the keyboard hasn’t changed. My laptop’s keyboard is the same as the one on that Royal portable I used in the beginning. I just write words, which means it’s all about the keyboard. In that sense, the technology hasn’t changed a bit.

Chris from Lexington, KY

Vic, couldn’t help but notice you shy away from sharing your opinion and/or predictions on the success of individual players in the upcoming season. Just curious why that is.

That’s not true. I recently predicted a big year for Randall Cobb and that Morgan Burnett would be the MVP of training camp. I take some swings on predictions, but I don’t wanna get wild with predictions because I’m not clairvoyant and I don’t wanna spend the offseason answering questions that begin with “you said.” I predicted Johnathan Franklin would be the MVP of the Underwear League. How’d that turn out?

Seth from Omaha, NE

The Caldwell/Bradley regime seems to be turning the franchise around, and this season is feeling like 1996. What have you heard and what do you think? I’d also like to know what a running back connoisseur such as yourself thinks of Gerhart.

The Jaguars’ arrow is pointing up. As long as it’s pointing in that direction, everything is fine. Toby Gerhart had a big game against the Packers last year. I didn’t think he had the explosion he showed that day, but I guess I was wrong. I have a feeling the Jaguars leaned hard on the tape of that game in deciding to sign Gerhart. The Jaguars’ future is tied to Blake Bortles. That’s a no-brainer. As he goes, so will go the Jaguars.

Sam from New York, NY

Vic, can you give me some pointers on what to watch for in offensive linemen play?

Once upon a time, I would’ve advised you to look for the offensive line to come off the ball low, hard and in unison. Did they move the line of scrimmage? That’s old-school stuff that doesn’t exist in today’s game other than on short-yardage and goal-line plays, and I don’t even see much of it then. Nowadays, it’s about who gets their hands on each other first. In today’s game, “Grab, grab, grab, everybody’s grabbing out there” is high praise. Watch the hands and feet. Good linemen have good hands and feet.

Nick from Oakland, CA

Vic, we are now two years removed from the referee lockout. What do you believe the NFL has learned from their disastrous handling of that situation?

They learned the same thing we learned: Value the men who officiate this game.

Chris from Oakland, CA

Vic, how can you say the venue didn’t matter? When you look at any betting line, home field is generally considered a three-point swing. The yardage doesn’t matter. It’s the points that matter and putting Colin Kaepernick into a hostile environment with crowd noise could easily have affected the final score.

Here’s what I’m saying: When you give up 579 yards, you’re not allowed to play the what-if game. To the Packers’ credit, they never did play that game. They were embarrassed by their performance, the coach admitted as much in his combine press conference a month later, and they vowed not to let it happen again. I never heard anyone say, “It would’ve been a different story if we had played them at home.”

Matt from Appleton, WI

The ESPYs were on this week. I know the awards are ultimately meaningless, but it’s a nice chance to reflect on a year of sports (especially during somewhat of a lull). Were you watching or do you have better things to do?

It’s not that I had something better to do, it’s that I won’t watch because it bothers me to see football turned into Hollywood. I have a very high opinion of the game of football. I see it as something noble. I see it as belonging to men of dignity and character. It bothers me to see them participating in a made-for-TV production that celebrates sports as though it were the movies. Football is not a movie. It’s the ultimate real thing, and that’s why it’s so difficult to make movies about it.

Gary from Minneapolis, MN

Vic, my father-in-law passed away recently. He was head coach at a suburban Twin Cities high school for a quarter of a century. He was beloved by students and players and his memorial last weekend was filled with moving testimonials. He loved his family and was loved by his wife and daughters and, yet, he expressed some misgivings about his priorities as his mortality loomed. Given this was only at the high school level, I have to believe demands go up exponentially at the college and pro level. What kind of man does it take to successfully navigate the demands of coaching and family life, and who have you seen accomplish this feat most successfully during your career?

I’ve observed several men who’ve accomplished the feat, and they’ve all shared the ability to separate themselves from the coach they have to be from the person they want to be. Chuck Noll wasn’t a cold person. He was one of the most caring men I’ve ever known, but he knew that didn’t work when it came to being a head coach. He remained aloof from his players because that’s what Paul Brown did and it worked for him. Coaches have to make difficult decisions, and they can’t allow their emotions to soften them. Tom Coughlin might even be a better example. He’s gone out of his way to paint himself as an insensitive dictator. Why? Because he wants to always send the message that this is not a game of softness and there’s one voice, his. Yet, I witnessed several examples of Coughlin being soft, but he’d quickly flip the switch back to tough. Football is his switch. Where did Coughlin get that personality? From Lombardi. Coughlin is a Lombardi lover. Is it any coincidence those three men represent eight Super Bowl wins and 11 league titles?

Tyler from Menomonie, WI

Vic, you have a time machine and can spend your time going back to watch past football games. What games would you want to be able to see? College games count, too.

I wanna see the 1966 Notre Dame-Michigan State game. It’s the game that defines football for me.


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Vic Ketchman

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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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