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    Scheduled to appear: Andrew Quarless and Casey Hayward

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My pick for the next Randall Cobb

Posted Mar 21, 2013

When you witness something big, you better get it right


Nathan from New Orleans, LA

I know the whole compensatory pick equation is a well-kept secret, but I wonder how much our compensatory pick status was altered by Jeff Saturday’s Pro Bowl selection.

It didn’t help. Seriously, I think it’s time for the Pro Bowl to be devalued. It should not count toward Hall of Fame or compensatory pick consideration.

Luke from Minneapolis, MN

Mike Mayock said he thought the NFL finally has crossed a line with the helmet rule and said that once a running back can’t lower his pads, football is no longer football. Do you envision a scenario where fans stop buying the NFL’s product?

Not in my lifetime. As Mark Murphy reminds me every time I complain about something the NFL has done, “The game has never been more popular.” He’s right, but this one is over the top. I’m with Mayock on this one. I have accepted all of the other changes and I’ve freely admitted I’m a member of the culture that has to be changed, and I’ve changed in a lot of ways, but I’m not sure I’m going to try on this one. I don’t like this rule, at all. The helmet is a means of protection and I believe a runner should be permitted to lower his helmet as far as he wishes, so as to protect the most important part of his body, his legs. If defenders are able to target the knees of running backs and wide receivers without interference, the career life expectancy of backs and receivers is going to plummet dramatically. This rule is going to expose knees to injury. This rule is going to make backs and receivers defenseless in a way the authors of this rule don’t seem to understand.

Bill from Lakeland, MN

Given the NFL adopting a new rule that running backs can’t lower their heads to deliver a blow with the crowns of their helmets when outside the tackle box, does that mean teams will be looking for upright runners like Dickerson?

Eric Dickerson was ahead of his time. He’s the “New Age” running back.

Erik from Oslo, Norway

Did you see the hit Jadeveon Clowney made on the running back in the game vs. Michigan? Incredible! Do you think that would have caused a flag in the NFL?

No, that was within the boundaries of the tackle box.

Jason from Dillsburg, PA

Is eliminating the tuck rule but keeping the forward distinction of arm movement really a fix? Or is the game too fast for the refs to make this distinction in real time?

I’m for simplification of the rule book. One of the changes I’ve favored is for all passes that don’t reach the line of scrimmage to be treated as hand-offs. In other words, they’re live and can be recovered as fumbles if they’re incomplete.

Andy from New York, NY

What under-the-radar storyline in the Packers organization do you think will have the largest impact in the upcoming season? Thanks.

Aaron Rodgers’ next contract, if it is to happen this year. It is the No. 1 issue facing this team because it is going to determine the course this franchise may pursue in shaping its roster over the next several years. You are what your cap says you are and Rodgers’ next contract will be all about the cap. In my opinion, until that deal is done, everything is on hold.

Tony from Killeen, TX

NFL.com has gone crazy. In the rich tradition of the Green Bay Packers, they only have one play to be considered the greatest play in the NFL and it’s not even Bart Starr’s quarterback sneak. I’m 24 and love that play. It defines leadership, courage, all on the line on one play. What is the NFL coming to?

I’m not familiar with whatever offseason nonsense you’re describing, but if you’re saying NFL.com is conducting a greatest plays series and  isn’t one of those plays, then I completely agree with you. It might be the greatest play in NFL history. Why? Because it cemented the Lombardi legend. That play effectively named the trophy every team in the league pursues. There are three plays that took the NFL from second-class status to the king of all sports: Ameche’s overtime touchdown in the 1958 NFL title game, Starr’s “Ice Bowl” sneak and the “Immaculate Reception.” Those three plays covered 15 seasons. The first one made pro football the TV sport of the future and announced the NFL’s arrival on the American sports landscape. Starr’s sneak confirmed the NFL’s position and place in American sports and it helped define the transition into the merger years. The “Immaculate Reception” caused a nation to switch from baseball to football, and it gave us the 1973 Act of Congress by which we still live; the “Immaculate Reception” lifted the blackout.

Megan from Pekin, IL

Vic, the new rule about the crown of the helmet applies only outside the tackle box. So it changes nothing inside the tackle box, right?

That’s correct, but don’t expect it to stay that way. Get ready for it. Three and four-point stances are not long for this game. It’s in the trenches that most of the head injuries occur, and the tackle box will be the next place for change. Pad level? Forget about it. This is becoming an upright game.

Todd from San Antonio, TX

What is with these people? I love the Packers, but I surely wouldn’t want to play for them. Green Bay is not a place to be when you’re in your early 20’s. It’s tiny, cold and there’s a substantial income tax. I’d want to play for Dallas, Houston or Miami.

The draft doesn’t give you that choice. Just draft, baby.

Mark from Stewartville, MN

Vic, what do you think of the NFL’s decision to eliminate the tuck rule?

I never liked the tuck rule but I understood it as it applied to the whole arm-moving-forward thing. When is a quarterback judged to have stopped his motion? I like the elimination of the tuck rule, but I don’t like the gray area on the arm moving forward.

James from Kitchener, Ontario

Vic, I’ve been hearing a lot about pushing out players contracts to make more cap room. Could a team do the opposite and pull cap money into the current year in order to make room in future years?

You do that by paying roster bonus instead of signing bonus; a team in rebuilding that’s having trouble getting to the cap floor might do that. The problem with doing that is you put a lot of burden on the franchise to spend real money in the future. You don’t want to create too much room. I like a little creativity, but I think it’s best to keep your cap flat, as the Packers do. They don’t spike in any year.

John from Ellison Bay, WI

Vic, since the story has broken that Jennings sought advice from Favre in regards to going to the Vikings, how has the venom level been in your inbox?

I’m getting a lot of hurt and anger, which leads me to offer this advice: Take the high road, folks. It’s always the best thing to do. I don’t know whether the story is true or false, but don’t let it get to you. Packers fans are loving people and they want all careers to end as Donald Driver’s did, which is to say with a party and a hug. It’s just not that way.

Nolan from La Crosse, WI

I’m OK with the lack of free agent activity because I have bought into the healthy cap, healthy team notion. I think fans need to look at the major contributions from last year’s rookies. Who of that rookie class do you see taking the biggest step forward this year?

When asked the same question at this time last year, I said it would be Randall Cobb, which was the biggest no-brainer of all time. This year, I’m going to say it’ll be Nick Perry. I like the speed and power in his game. I acknowledge that he’s got a long way to go to fit those talents into a position he had never previously played, but speed and power are good assets for a pass rusher to have and usually spell success.

Daryl from Junction City, KS

The 49ers have 14 draft picks this year. I have a feeling they will be trading those picks to move up, or can they keep them and draft 14 players?

Fourteen rookies aren’t going to make a roster that strong. The 49ers will be doing a lot of trading.

Vinny from Dunkirk, NY

Since the Packers seem to be very good about taking care of their cap numbers, do you ever see them being in the same position the Steelers/Ravens are in now?

Those two teams pushed money out to maximize their runs, and it’s hard to argue with that strategy. It bought the Ravens a Super Bowl title and it gave the Steelers one more chance to win a Super Bowl; that loss to the Packers in Super Bowl XLV was the last gasp for that Steelers team. Didn’t the Packers kind of do that in 2007? It’s tough to give up on the Super Bowl a year or two early. Most teams quit a year or two late.

Jason from Dillsburg, PA

With QB money what it is, should we look for teams to build around run-a-lot, throw-a-little guys and replace them when their rookie contracts expire with more of the same?

If I was an owner, I would toy with what you’re suggesting. I’ve been throwing it around in my mind for a while. I like the 3-4 defense because it allows teams to draft from a larger pool of players. A college-type offense would do the same, and those types of quarterbacks are a dime a dozen and the difference between the best and the worst of them isn’t as distinct as it is with pocket passers. Let me think on it some more. I’ve been considering this for a long time.

Rodney from Dalzell, SC

At what point do rule changes in the interest of player safety become detrimental to the point that fans lose interest? It seems to me they are on their way to playing flag football. I speculate fan interest will be the determinant that enough is enough.

You’re right; the fans will decide. As it stands now, fantasy football is a great protection device. The mania for stats and fan interaction is helping the NFL change the culture.

Charlie from Bella Vista, AR

It’s a healthy attitude for someone to get paid every cent whether he’s worth it or not? You must be younger than you look.

No to both; it’s a healthy attitude for a fan to accept that players want money. This is where the word winsome fits. Packers fans have a wonderful innocence about them that struggles with the money thing. The trouble with that innocence is that it can cause fans to get their feelings hurt.

Justin from Wilmington, DE

When I think of historic moments, I think of Starr’s quarterback sneak. I also think of the “Immaculate Reception” and the fact that you were there is really cool. Could you tell us your experience of that moment before, during and after the play?

What I remember the most is knowing I had just seen something big. I felt the same way when I watched Starr’s sneak. Call it reporter’s instinct. I know when I’ve witnessed something seminal, just as I did in Seattle last year. While everyone was clamoring for clarification on what had happened, I had already shifted into a forward gear. I can remember immediately thinking the replacement officials were toast, and I can remember immediately thinking, “You better put your writin’ hat on, Vic, because this one is big.” A reporter must seize the moment when he’s presented something as dramatic as that final play in Seattle. Immediately, he feels a rush of professional excitement and pressure to perform. At that point, that play became very personal. It was all about me and the story I had to write. The fans wanted the officials to get it right. All my thoughts were about me getting it right.

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