Steve from Charlotte, NC
How much do players that make the 53-man roster pay in union dues?
Vic: It was $10,000 per player last year.
Kevin from Kennewick, WA
It starts with us, the fans. Do you think it's possible for the fans to have someone educated and informed of the business side of the NFL to represent us during negotiations of the CBA? We're not just some outside source, we're the mother lode?
Vic: What would that person say that would make a difference? It’s professional football, Kevin. It’s play for pay. Please take my advice: Don’t invest yourself emotionally into this dispute. Let the players and owners take care of it. The game is meant for your enjoyment, not your angst. Pro football has a business side and when the owners and the players get done taking care of business, that’s when we’ll step back into the picture; that’s when the enjoyment will return.
Jim from Delanson, NY
Are there hard feelings between players and team management as a result of actions like the decertification and the lockout?
Vic: I think a lot of people are trying to fight through hard feelings right now. These are people who are pros and they’ll find a way to get over it. My concern is for the fans. Their investment is purely emotional and it’s tough to sideline that investment during something as emotionally charged as the current labor unrest is.
Chris from Jacksonville Beach, FL
I noticed that you have Nick Fairley at number one on your value board. Did you see the Georgia game, where he injured his shoulder trying to intentionally hurt Aaron Murray? I know character is overrated, but wouldn't you consider such things before drafting this guy?
Vic: I don’t think character is overrated, but I think you’re confusing character with a lack of discipline. I like guys that have nasty attitudes. As George Young liked to say, “This isn’t a game for the well-adjusted.” Football is a tough game for tough guys who know how to discipline their attitude and channel their aggression in a positive way. Joe Greene is the classic example of that. As a rookie, he was thrown out of games for misbehavior and dirty play, but he learned how to discipline his behavior and channel his fire for the game, and the combination of his fire, his talent and his new-found discipline earned him a bust in the Hall of Fame.
Jon from Southern Pines, NC
Does this possible no hitting the quarterback while throwing mean that even a play like Polamalu's hit/forced fumble against the Ravens toward the end of last season would be a flag now? Is it really going that soft?
Vic: That’s a great question and a classic example to make your point. It was one of the most memorable plays of the 2010 season; it wasn’t a good play, it was a great play. Are we going to eliminate that kind of great defensive play? How about the hit on Ben Roethlisberger that forced his pass to flutter, be intercepted and returned for a touchdown? Hmmm.
Derek from Ville Platte, LA
What are the differences in Cam Newton and Tim Tebow that make you like Cam but made you dislike Tim?
Vic: Newton has a natural throwing motion. He makes it look easy. I can’t say the same about Tebow. They’re both great athletes. I just think Newton has the potential to be a better passer than Tebow, the operative word being potential. Newton has a lot to learn about the pro passing game.
Craig from Bigfork, MT
Enough about theories. How many games have the Packers lost in the McCarthy era after having the lead going into the fourth quarter and how many games have they won when carrying the lead into the fourth? Wouldn't that be a clue to which approach is better?
Vic: It has to be a two-score lead for it to be a legitimate example and, even then, you have to examine the play-calling, not just cast a net over all games in which the Packers led by two scores heading into the fourth quarter. Nobody goes into protect mode with a one-score lead after three quarters. Secondly, you don’t just use Packers games as statistical evidence; you use all games, and I can tell you that a leaguewide study would overwhelmingly favor a more conservative approach to playing offense when you have a two-score or higher lead after three quarters. That’s why coaches do it. The stats support it.
Mike from Beloit, WI
Which of Mike McCarthy's assistant coaches do you think is going to be a head coach someday?
Vic: I think it’s likely Dom Capers will get another shot. He’s been the head coach of two expansion franchises and I don’t think an expansion franchise offers a fair evaluation of a guy’s ability to coach. Be that as it may, coach Capers put Carolina on the football map with its run to the NFC title game in only its second season. Two other defensive assistants are on the radar as guys to watch: Kevin Greene and Darren Perry. I covered both as players and I remember eyeballing Perry then as a guy with a future as a coach. Frankly, he reminded me of Tony Dungy. Greene is a fiery coach who will offer a team a guy who can energize the players and the fans. Greene has some Bill Cowher in him. I haven’t had a chance to interview all of the Packers assistants, yet, but I came away from my interview with Jerry Fontenot very impressed. He has an air about him. I can’t help but think Mike McCarthy looks for a little bit of himself when he eyeballs young assistant coaches trying to catch a break and begin climbing the latter. All coaches need to catch a break; they need someone who will kick-start their career.
Thomas from South Beloit, IL
When a player is put on the injured reserve list, does he still take up a roster spot?
Vic: Yes and no; no, he doesn’t take up a spot on the 53 but, yes, he takes up a spot on the 80-man. Here’s a fact most fans don’t know: You can only have 80 players on your full roster, which includes injured reserve players. That means that if putting a guy on injured reserve puts you over the 80-man limit, then you either have to play with a 52-man roster or you have to do an injury settlement with one of your players on injured reserve and release him.
Jeremy from Jacksonville, FL
A few months ago, just before the Daytona 500, I read an article that proposed an interesting insight regarding the waning popularity of NASCAR. In doing so, the article pointed directly to the fact that NASCAR had made every effort to improve the safety of its drivers after the death of its iconic driver Dale Earnhardt, and in doing so had eliminated the one thing that fueled its fan base. Drivers were envisioned as heroes that pushed the envelope and risked bodily harm. The danger element made NASCAR what it was. The article pointed out that no driver had been seriously injured since the Earnhardt accident and that the odds of going 10-plus years without any injury proved the drivers were safe enough. Now NASCAR is raising the allowable speed on super speedways and relaxing some restrictions in an effort to reclaim the popularity it enjoyed a few years ago. I believe this parallels current NFL activities and, hopefully, the physical aspect of football isn't lost before the NFL realizes that it is that physical confrontation and competition that fuels the fan base and fills the seats.
Vic: In other words, fans like to see collisions. Have you noticed what’s going on in the NHL? The league refuses to change the rules to ban head shots. Hockey has long fought an uphill battle in competing for fan favor. It sees an opening right now.
Tarra from Green Bay, WI
What is the plan for the “Tailgate Tour” if there is no CBA by then?
Vic: I’m not sure, Tarra, but I think the Packers plan to involve their alumni in the “Tailgate Tour,” and there aren’t many teams in the league that can throw names at you as the Packers can. It’ll be good. Count on it.
Trent from Greenville, SC
In regards to a team running to protect the lead, I agree that it worked for the Packers last year, but if you look back into our history, it has not worked too well for us in the past. In the 2003 playoffs, the Packers blew a 14-point lead to the Eagles. I think there were a few games this year where Rodgers was not playing to his full potential and playing to protect the lead was probably a good idea, but I also think there were a couple of games where Rodgers was hot and McCarthy should have ridden the wave. It probably would have kept a lot of the games from being so close if McCarthy would have put the ball in the air when Rodgers was hot. Your thoughts?
Vic: My thoughts? I’ve provided my thoughts on this subject several times, in a respectful and considered manner, yet, the same question keeps coming. What you’re really asking is, “Vic, when are you going to surrender and admit you’re wrong?” Well, that time is now. You win. You wore me down. The Madden people are relentless. They’ll never accept conservative play-calling. Football, in their minds, is all about play-calling. The best play-caller wins. That’s what this debate is really about. Should the Packers play football the real football way, or should they play it the video game way? OK, let’s do it the Madden way. Winning isn’t good enough. You have to bury your opponent. You have to score, score, score. Oh, by the way, what was it, fourth and 26 or something like that the Eagles converted to win that game? Hey, when your defense can’t stop fourth-and-26, is play-calling really the problem? Oh, and wasn’t there a real bad interception late in that game?