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Ask Vic

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Michael Sam has put burden of proof on the NFL

Posted Feb 10, 2014

Being loud doesn’t define a team’s fan base

Missouri DL Michael Sam

Patrick from New York, NY

I think the main reason football fans have a tendency towards the cult of the new is that football as a game has evolved more than most of the other major sports that have been around in the world. Football since 1978 has been essentially a different game, and that’s not the only significant rules change through history. Stats are misleading, because of how the game was played. In this light, I cannot overstate my excitement to read the things that Cliff has already posted on the site and to see what is coming down the pipeline. Welcome back, Vic. Your sarcasm was missed. Read that how you will.

The old Vic is gone. The time I spent away from the office gave me a chance to reflect. I’m committed to being a kinder, gentler sportswriter now. I want to be liked by everyone, so I’ll start by saying I respectfully disagree with you. I don’t think it’s the evolution of the game that’s caused disrespect for the history of the game. The designated hitter in baseball was a radical rules change that dramatically changed strategy and impacted statistical comparisons between the players of today to the players of yesteryear, but it didn’t diminish baseball fans’ love for the history of the game. I think one of the reasons the history of football isn’t revered is because football has done a poor job of recording it and presenting it. Cliff Christl is a man of my own heart. He’s made the history of the Packers his life’s work and he is going to provide a service to this franchise that can’t be fully repaid; he’s going to create fans of history and I love it. The history of pro football is as rich as the history of any sport in the world, and we need more writers who are capable of presenting it. I am absolutely delighted that Cliff has joined packers.com.

William from New Haven, CT

What effect, if any, do you think Michael Sam’s announcement will have on his draft stock? Will enough teams shy away to make him a high-value pick in the middle rounds?

Sam’s decision to announce he is gay is genius. That information was almost certainly circulating throughout the personnel departments of the league’s 32 teams, so Sam’s announcement isn’t likely a revelation within draft circles. By going public, however, Sam has put a tremendous burden on the league to treat him fairly and without prejudice. This is now an issue. If he drops in the draft, it won’t be because he had a bad Senior Bowl, which I think he did. If he drops in the draft, it’ll be perceived as a slight to his preferences, and that would not reflect well on the league. Sam having gone public makes this a Pandora’s Box of issues. What team will have the courage to draft this young man, and in what round will they do it? That’s the question Sam’s announcement created.

Connor from Westlake Village, CA

Welcome back, Vic. Hope you had some nice time off. Recently, I read an article about the Packers switching from a 3-4 to a 4-3 defense. At the same time, I saw the Saints had an article about switching from a 4-3 to a 3-4. Both teams have a top QB with great passing games and a defense that can be better. I can’t help but feel these are just two examples where fans and teams need more patience, rather than changing everything for the sake of a win-now mentality. Should I expect more out of the Packers defense now or be as patient as I have been?

You use whatever scheme best suits your personnel. We have to wait to see how this offseason rolls out before we can start to answer questions about the Packers defense. As I have written, my expectation is that this offseason will produce dramatic changes in roster personnel, and that can go to scheme, too. Be patient as we wait for those changes to begin.

Paul from Beaver Dam, WI

Vic and Mike, I just want to say how much I appreciate “Ask Vic” every day. I just had a very important surgery last week and looking forward to you guys every day has really been a big help. My question is this: Why do you believe NFL fans today do not respect the sports history like other sports fans do? I do not understand it and was hoping you could shed some light on it. Thank you.

Here’s the No. 1 reason: There aren’t enough fans such as yourself. Being a fan isn’t about being loud. If it’s noise that makes a fan, then jet engines and jackhammers are football fans. Being a fan is about having an overall appreciation and intelligence for the game. Packers fans have each. We’re over-celebrating the 12th man thing, which is a result of the Seahawks’ success; we did the same thing when the Vikings were winning. The league is joining in the celebration because it rings the cash register, but it doesn’t ring my “cash register.” I respect tradition and history. They define a team’s fan base.

JoAnn from Park Falls, WI

I do not see clearly how the defense is being fixed. Can you explain what the plan is?

The plan is to add more talent to a young cast of defenders whose talents are in the developmental stage.

Shady from Sherman Oaks, CA

The recent video featuring Frank Winters got me thinking. Why is there such a long time lapse between a great player’s career and his Hall of Fame induction?

It’s a cooling off period that allows us to reflect instead of react. If we didn’t have it, we’d immediately induct every guy who retired following a great career. As I have written, the job of the Hall of Fame selection committee isn’t to put people in, it’s to keep people out. I have great respect for what the committee does, though I don’t agree with some of its most recent choices.

Steve from Bristol, UK

Vic, I trust you enjoyed your own mini offseason and are now refreshed for the next stage. Mike answered a question in your absence regarding removal of the salary cap and Mike gave the perfect response in that it would be a disaster for the league. The NFL is growing rapidly here and I believe the salary cap to be a major reason why, but it was implied that you think removal of the salary cap would work. Is this true?

Seahawks QB Russell Wilson

If you’re speaking from a standpoint of competitiveness, yes, I believe there is enough football talent in America that the league would remain competitive without a salary cap. Hey, the Seahawks just won the Super Bowl with a quarterback that was over-drafted in the third round, and he beat Peyton Manning. I think the salary cap floor can be a threat to low-revenue teams and I don’t like the fact that the salary cap allows high-revenue teams to transfer their player costs onto the low-revenue teams. In my opinion, if we didn’t have a salary cap, it would force teams to be more creative, and that would help the game grow and evolve. All of the competitiveness we attribute to the salary cap for having created can be just as easily created by roster restrictions. Where the cap is invaluable, however, is in having made the players partners with the owners in the success of the game, and that’s why the cap concept is good and needs to be continued.

Joe from Clio, MI

I know a lot of people bad-mouth the mock drafts because they are inaccurate as to the exact order in which players are drafted, but they do serve to highlight who the best players are thought to be by the majority of sources, so let’s be kinder to the mock drafts and use it as a tool to at least familiarize ourselves with the top players, then get angry if our team passes on one of those guys.

Mock drafts identify needs; that’s the greatest service they provide.

Joe from Oshkosh, WI

Without any roster changes, how realistic are championship chances for the Packers if they would just stay healthy?

Improvement is needed on defense; I think we all know that. I think we also know the offense is loaded with talent and offers the potential to be at an all-time best next season. I think there’s a strong chance next season’s Packers offense will be the best offense I will have ever covered. Improve the defense and the Packers’ chances for winning the Super Bowl will be distinct.

Brandon from Winneconne, WI

I have a comment and question on a previous article regarding, “Is Lambeau Field loud enough?” I look at the setup and fan base that Seattle has established with admiration and jealousy. I attended the Packers 2012 home opener at Lambeau Field against the 49ers with a buddy and my sister. We tailgated beforehand and the outside atmosphere was terrific. The inside atmosphere was much different. On several third-down plays, we stood and yelled to support our defense. The scoreboard begged for us to get up and make some noise and we did our best to give our Packers the homefield advantage. Several rows behind us, people started yelling at us to sit and be quiet. So my question is, what specific things do you think Seattle is doing right with their setup in order to have their stadium get loud enough to measure on the Richter Scale?

They built a stadium that promotes noise. Sixty thousand mice could make that place loud. Old Mile High Stadium was made of metal and it shook, so TV dramatized it by mounting a TV camera on the facade of the upper deck. Heinz Field is made of steel and you can feel it sway in the press box when the fans jump up and down. The South Carolina stadium is made of metal and they like to say, “If it ain’t swayin’, we ain’t playin.” So it’s about the stadium. I understand what you’re saying and I appreciate your disappointment, but I refuse to make fans responsible for winning and losing. The coaches and players get paid to win; the fans pay to watch it.

Tyler from Cedar Falls, IA

Welcome back, Vic. I have been reading on nfl.com about if Manning could still win another Super Bowl. I think he still has one more shot at it before the test of time comes knocking. What are your thoughts? Does he have what it takes?

No, it’s over. He didn’t have the arm to challenge the Seahawks’ tight coverage, so he checked it down all night. Frankly, it was hard to watch.

Christopher from Pompano Beach, FL

Vic, did you enjoy your vacation? Did you miss us? What articles football related did you read while you were gone?

The only football thing I did was watch the Super Bowl. The first play of the game was the turning point. I remember thinking to myself, “That Omaha stuff ain’t gonna work against these guys.” Yes, I missed you.

Neil from South Range, WI

Vic, could you describe your relationship with the players? Is it strictly professional? Do you become friends and have a beer after work? Some insight, please.

It’s strictly professional.

Erik from Debary, FL

How important is veteran leadership?

If it works, it’s important. I’ve seen it work, and I’ve seen it not work. I’ve covered teams that have had veteran leaders set an example of dedication, and I’ve covered teams that have had veterans show young players how to take the money and run. I’ve also covered teams that were rebuilding with youth, and I watched those young players compete to become leaders, and it drove everybody to grow and become better players. Take your pick. I like a roster full of young lions. That’s my pick.


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