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Ask Vic

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I'm sorry, Packers-Bears still doesn't do it for me

Posted Jun 12, 2014

Pete Rozelle was first commissioner to attempt to change the culture


Chris from Jacksonville, FL

Do you think the Jags are delaying Bortles’ development by asking him to sit out for the year and learn behind Henne?

I think the he-won’t-play thing is an effective way of controlling the howl of the wolves, and that’ll aid his development.

Carl from Lexington, SC

During “Lighten Up and Have Some Fun Week,” I wanted to point out two of my favorite Vic fun stories before the recent press box story: The wimpy Vic football player getting hit and going off the field crying and never to play again, which prompted an Internet writer to applaud your “honesty.” Also, the press box story about reporters that work out and take steroids taunting each other.

I think my all-time favorite is the invisible paint TV uses to show the first-down line. My buddy Snoop really liked that one.

Michael from Oconomowoc, WI

Vic, it seems to me Pittsburgh and Green Bay are very similar NFL meccas. Can you make some comparisons?

They are dissimilar in nearly every way. The towns are different, the teams’ histories are different, the ownership structure and attitude, fan attitudes, nearly everything is different. I can’t imagine two more dissimilar franchises in the NFL. The only things they share are their draft-and-develop philosophies and fan bases that travel well. Pittsburgh is hilly; Green Bay is flat. Pittsburgh is manufacturing; Green Bay is dairy farming. Lambeau Field is old; Heinz Field is new. The Packers won a lot early; the Steelers didn’t begin winning titles until more recently. The Packers are offense; the Steelers are defense. The Packers have long been about the pass; the Steelers want to run the ball. Packers fans are winsome; Steelers fans are wild. The Packers are in the NFC; the Steelers are in the AFC. In my lifetime, the two teams have rarely played each other. In 23 years of covering the Steelers, I only covered two games in Lambeau Field.

Collin from Kirkwood, MO

Lighten up and have some fun. Vic, your prediction and the picture you painted last year of Randall Cobb catching a game-winning pass as time expired and the lights exploding at Soldier Field all but became a reality. In the spirit of “Lighten Up and Have Some Fun Week,” what is your late-season heroics prediction for 2014?

I’m not getting a clear picture yet. I don’t know if it’s snow or confetti, but something is distorting the picture. Maybe it’ll clear as we near the season.

Rachel from Villa Rica, GA

Vic, I am currently 36 weeks pregnant and I have been reading your column to my son each night to ensure he comes out a Packers fan. I was looking at old highlights of games from last season and the season before and was reminded of the play where Randall Cobb was returning a kick and he stepped out of bounds with one foot and kept one foot in bounds when he caught the ball. I remember this being a very smart move, but I can’t remember what the reason was. Can you enlighten me on this? I want to be able to explain this to my son one day, just in case it happens again.

Foot down out of bounds first, catch the ball second. When it’s done that way, the ball is considered to be out of bounds. Catch the ball first, put the foot down out of bounds second, it’s your ball where you stepped out of bounds. Hang in there. Maybe this is the week you lighten up and have some fun.

Keith from Greendale, WI

Vic, you mentioned how much the teams hated each other in the 1975 AFC title game. Do you think there’s any chance in this era of football for two teams to generate that sort of hate for one another? Has free agency and our softer society taken that away from us?

It’ll never happen again because the league won’t allow it to happen again. It was ugly. You don’t want to see that happen. This is supposed to be a game. That wasn’t a game.

Daryl from Junction City, KS

I know at some time last year you said Packers vs. Bears didn’t feel like a rivalry because the Packers have been winning most of the games. Did the game to end the season last year change that?

It was a fantastic game, and I want to say I felt it, and I was so charged up from that game that I might’ve even said I felt it, but the truth is I still didn’t feel it. I’m sorry. I don’t mean to disrespect the wonderful history of the Packers-Bears rivalry, but I don’t feel the rivalry as much as I do when I cover Packers-Vikings games. I think I know what the problem is. I think Bears fans look down their nose at the Packers. I think Bears fans see themselves as from the big city and, well, you know. I sense that Bears fans have a very cavalier attitude toward Packers fans. I don’t feel that way when I cover a game in Minneapolis.

Shyheem from Elizabeth City, NC

Vic, how many cornerbacks do you see the Packers keeping on the roster?

They’ll keep, in one way or another, every one that can flip his hips, run and play the ball in the air. You truly can never have enough of those guys in today’s pass-happy game. Dime? I think the trend is headed toward seven and maybe even eight defensive backs in the game at the same time. In today’s game, defense is all about rush or cover, and as protections on the quarterback increase, defense is going to become more about cover than rush.

Daren from Sydney, Australia

Vic, you said the game day experience is ultimately what keeps you going in this profession. It stands to reason in a sport with only 16 games per year. What do you reckon fuels the fires of life-long baseball writers?

The old-time baseball beat writer is disappearing. He would literally go to Florida for spring training and travel with the team for the next 7-8 months. In his world, day and night were reversed. You had to truly love baseball more than anything else in the world to last in that job. I knew a guy who did it for nearly all of his working life, and I admired his ability to find story angles night after night. I covered baseball off and on in the ’70s and on most nights I found myself wondering why I was there. Why would anyone bother reading about this game? But then there would be those times when a big crowd on a steamy summer night framed an extra-inning thriller, and it would cause me to think to myself, “I’ll remember this in January.” All sports have those special moments. Last December, every moment was special.

Jordan from Eau Claire, WI

Vic, what player has had the most surprising post-football career?

At the height of his career, when he was widely acknowledged to be one of the two best defensive tackles in the game, Mike Reid retired from football to become a concert pianist. You don’t see a lot of that. Man, could Reid play, and I don’t mean the piano.

Danny from New York, NY

Who’s the best quarterback who might have been but took the rap for a poor organization?

Jim Hart was a very good quarterback that played for a Cardinals franchise that never really rooted itself in St. Louis or established a winning attitude.

Ian from Ossian, IA

Did you happen to see Jim Harbaugh’s new Dockers commercial? He’s a khakis kind of guy, too.

He wasn’t wearing Dockers when I saw him at the combine. He looked like he was dressed to go up on the roof and replace some shingles.

Zachary from Holland, MI

Vic, how does one go about knowing whether they are a casual fan or a serious fan?

Do you fall asleep, channel surf or talk on the phone while watching a game? If the answer is yes to any of those three, you’re a casual fan.

Bob from Washington, DC

Vic, can you tell us about the 1972 season opener?

The only thing I remember is Mike Siani catching a long touchdown pass. Little did I know the two teams I was watching would later leave a mark on me I can’t erase.

Mike from Windber, PA

Vic, I realize it’s too early to tell, but how is Ha Ha Clinton-Dix looking?

I saw him doing more and reacting more quickly and naturally during Tuesday’s practice.

Raff from Wallingford, CT

Vic, your hair seemed to go from gray to silver in a week. Is that how lighten up week got started?

I had some touch up work done. My brown roots were beginning to show.

Robert from Spokane, WA

Sal is a king? Seems more like a jerk to me.

Hey, don’t talk about Sal like that. Me and Sal are buddies.

Mike from Kalamazoo, MI

What movie is going to be featured for “Ask Vic Day?” What about food? I’m trying to sell it to my wife.

Steel Magnolias or Ghost for the movie. I’m thinking about Chateaubriand for two for dinner. That should sell her.

Brandon from Houston, TX

How does Jim Harbaugh end up with a sponsorship for his khakis, yet, good ol’ Vic, the khaki nation’s most involved advocate, gets zilch?

I started this craze. Harbaugh owes me.

Paul from Beaver Dam, WI

Vic, when did teams start to use turf versus regular grass? Was it the NFL that started it or did it originate somewhere else? What did you think of it?

The Astrodome couldn’t grow grass, so they invented Astroturf, and that started the whole artificial turf craze in the late ’60s. Early on, reviews were mixed. Tug McGraw was asked which he preferred, grass or artificial turf. He said he wasn’t sure because he had never smoked artificial turf. As they were preparing to demolish Three Rivers Stadium, a friend of mine sent me a square foot swatch of the field’s artificial turf as a souvenir. It sits in the museum that is my study at home, and when someone comes to visit, that green swatch of artificial turf always catches their eye. They touch it and ask what it is, and when I tell them, their mouths fall open with astonishment that a football game was actually played on something so hard and abrasive.

Jeppe from Esbjerg, Denmark

Do you prefer a corner that totally shuts down a receiver so nothing is thrown his way, or a corner that gives up a few plays but also intercepts many passes?

If you have the first, you’ll likely have the second, too.

Mark from Stewartville, MN

Vic, is it my imagination or was the halfback option pass more popular back in the 1960s and ’70s? Why is the play so rarely used these days?

Back then, defense played run first and pass second. That’s why the halfback option was effective. You have to be able to sell the threat of run for it to work. It can still be used in run situations today, but you have to have a running back that can throw the ball, and there aren’t a lot of Paul Hornungs, Tom Mattes and Dan Reeves in today’s game.

Mark from North Bay, WI

Vic, you’ve mentioned the 1975 AFC title game several times. What are some examples of why it was so bad?

It and the 1976 season opener caused Pete Rozelle to send each team a letter of warning, in which he threatened multiple suspensions. In that letter, Rozelle wrote that the rivalry between the two teams had become pure violence. “I do not expect to see either of your teams involved in a game in the future that approaches the one of Sept. 12 in the severity or volume of senseless, violent play,” Rozelle wrote. You might say it was the first attempt to change the culture.

 

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