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Open in Seattle, or play late in Seattle?

Posted Apr 3, 2014

It’s not about being winsome, it’s about sour grapes


Holger from Guayaquil, Ecuador

Vic, you always say football is a young man’s game. At 34, is Peppers young enough to play at a high level?

The odds are against it, but the Packers are a team that favors acquiring young talent and developing it, so they clearly must believe Julius Peppers still has what it takes, for at least one more year. In determining that in an older player, you look at how he played late in the season. That’s when an older player whose skills are eroding begins to fade. I have no doubt the Packers examined Peppers’ performance in last season’s December games. They had a first-hand look at him in the final game of the season. It was Peppers, you might recall, that nearly blew up the Packers’ game-winning play. The answer to your question is nobody knows for sure. It’s an educated guess.

Scott from Lincoln City, OR

Vic, can you think of any centers that started and played well the year they were drafted?

Mike Webster split time with Ray Mansfield in Webster’s rookie year, and then took over the position the following season. Dermontti Dawson played guard next to Webster in Dawson’s rookie season, and then took over the center position the following season. Brad Meester stepped in at center as a rookie. They’re players I covered and they all enjoyed long and distinguished careers. I think fans worry too much about depth charts at this time of year. Relax, the Packers will find a guy to replace Evan Dietrich-Smith.

Craig from Burbank, CA

Maybe the NFL should adopt the British system of law. If they pass a new law, they also throw out another one. The size of the codified body of their laws remains constant. It might, however, be too late for the NFL.

Nothing about the NFL is small, and I witnessed the explosion in size during my career. The rulebook I was given last summer is at least three times thicker than the first one I was given. The media guides we were given back in the ’70s fit in a reporter’s back pocket, which is what they were designed to do. They were something you could carry with you and use for reference. Then they exploded in size to the point that they were cumbersome to carry, and then a few years ago most of the teams stopped distributing them and put their information on flash drives that were given to the media. So where do you stick it when you’re on the field at practice? The size of this league, its rules, bylaws and the information we’re required to know to report on it as media and enjoy it as fans is overwhelming. The salary cap is the perfect example. A fan should be expected to know the rules governing bonus amortization? The answer is yes. I would welcome a return to simpler times, but they’re gone forever. I saw a video clip the other night of Coach Lombardi instructing an Oklahoma drill in training camp. He wasn’t using it as a tone setter. He was using it as a teaching drill. It made me stop and think. It made me long for those days when I would go to a player’s dorm room following practice and interview him about the Oklahoma battle he just had with another player. I wish we could go back and start the whole thing over.

Paul from Brooklyn, IA

With a ton of attention put on player safety, why not mandate a safer helmet for all players across the board?

There’s the villain, the helmet, its facemask and the protection they afford. They have conspired to threaten the future of the game. “League of Denial” details an attempt to create such a helmet. The helmet was dubbed “Revolution” and it afforded more protection at the jaw line and at the ear hole, but not much more up top, and the final verdict was that there is no such thing as a concussion-proof helmet. Some believe the more you protect the head, the more vulnerable it becomes to sustaining a head injury because the hitter is able to strike more forcefully. The helmet isn’t the solution, it’s the problem. The solution is to eliminate head-to-head contact. That’s what the league is trying to do.

Mike from Las Vegas, NV

Vic, I think the reason so many Packers fans dislike Colin Kaepernick and Jim Harbaugh is related to another theme of this column: Packers fans’ affinity for class. The Giants, too, have handed us some heartbreaking losses in the last decade, but losing to a classy, winsome coach like Tom Coughlin hurts a little less. It’s well to respect Jim Harbaugh and Bill Belichick for their skills as coaches, but to be respected both as tremendous coaches and as esteemed men of character (think Mike McCarthy, Tom Coughlin, John Fox) is a higher honor in my book.

Tom Coughlin winsome? That’s hilarious. I’m going to send Coach Coughlin an email telling him somebody described him as winsome. He might be offended. Aside from being one of the best coaches I have ever known, Coach Coughlin is the least winsome person I have ever known. In fact, he might be the least winsome person in the history of the world. At some point in his youth, Coach Coughlin fell out of an unwinsome tree and hit every branch on the way down. I wonder how many former players would describe Coach Coughlin as winsome when he fined them for getting on the team plane with their tie too loose from their shirt collar. Dave Widell told me he would do it on purpose because it was the cheapest fine and one way or another he was going to fine you so you might as well go for the cheapest one. Winsome Tom. Yeah, that’s what they called him, until you crossed his “Concentration Line.” Let’s cut the baloney, OK? This class thing is starting to wear me out. This isn’t about class, this is about sour grapes. Here’s how you fix that: Win!

Scott from Wausau, WI

Vic, time to talk draft. If Vic is the Packers GM this year, does he trade up in the first round, stand pat or trade back for more picks?

I have to have a target before I decide to trade up or back. If my target fits behind my pick, I trade back. If my target is ahead of my pick, I trade up, but I better be very, very sure of that target because it’s going to come with a heavy price. Clay Matthews and Troy Polamalu were trade-up targets that worked. Joe Flacco was a trade-back target that worked. In a deep draft, I think most experts would agree that trading back makes more sense than trading up. In a thin draft, it would be the opposite.

Jim from Woodman, WI

Now that the April 1 foolishness is over, I’ll ask again: Why do players move up and down the draft boards at this time? Are there legitimate reasons, like team days and background checks? Or is it mock draft foolishness, like the all-time QB brackets I was reading about here last week?

Players don’t move much on team boards. You’re describing the changes in public perception because one guy had a good pro day and another guy had a bad one. Johnny Manziel’s pro day was widely celebrated last week. Teddy Bridgewater was said to have laid an egg in his. I doubt either guy moved much on team boards. Did Manziel grow three inches in one day? Was Bridgewater exposed for something that isn’t evident on tape? No to both. Draft hype is about intrigue. If you’re trying to avoid foolishness, the draft is not the place to go.

Jesus from El Paso, TX

What’s the most delicious slice of humble pie you’ve ever eaten?

I’ve eaten so many pieces of humble pie I can’t remember the last piece I ate. I try to eat a couple of slices every day. It’s health food. It’s good to say I was wrong. It’s cleansing and it sends a message to your fellow man that you don’t take yourself too seriously. I enjoy expressing my opinion. That’s the joy of living in this country. Millions have died to defend our right to express ourselves. I hate it when somebody says, “Tell us what you really think.” I just did. Why wouldn’t I tell you what I really think? I’ll also tell you I was wrong, and every time I say I was wrong, I’ve earned the right to tell you what I really think. It’s a wonderful exercise in humility and the pie is delicious.

Benjamin from Wellsville, OH

Do you think Aaron Rodgers can continue to play on the level he plays on for the remainder of his career?

One day he’ll try to scramble away from a rusher and he’ll be tackled, and he’ll know his scrambling days are over and Rodgers will become more of a throw-it-away pocket passer, and the change in style will launch him into the final phase of his career as the savvy veteran. Then, one day a defensive back will step in front of one of his throws toward the sideline, and every defensive coordinator in the league will see it and know Rodgers can’t hit the honey hole anymore, and that’ll be the end of Rodgers as we’ve known him, but that day is a long way down the road. He’s in the middle of a long run as one of the top quarterbacks in the game and he’s headed for the Hall of Fame. Don’t worry about the end. It’s not in sight. Enjoy the run.

Justin from Fairhaven, MA

What is your take on the whole DeSean Jackson fiasco?

It’s not a fiasco. The Eagles didn’t want him so they cut him prior to a draft that is said to be loaded with wide receivers. Dime a dozen. The Redskins then did what the Redskins have always done: overpaid.

Paul from Zanesville, IN

Vic, in Mike Spofford’s story about Harlan Plaza, there was a virtual picture of the renovation, but I couldn’t see Vince and Curly. Will they be in their same locations after the renovation is done?

If you look very closely in the bottom right of the picture, you can see Curly sticking his arm out. Behind it is the Lambeau Leap area.

John from Grand Forks, ND

Can you post the “Lost Vic” column on the extra day for leap year, Feb. 29, 2016? It’s a Monday.

Write it down and remind me to do it.

Randy from Wells, MN

Seriously, neon and Packers uniforms in the same sentence? Darren from Fargo is banned.

If the Vince statue read yesterday’s “Ask Vic,” it might walk to Fargo and slap Darren, but Curly might’ve liked the idea.

Joey from Brookings, SD

Some people are pulling for the Seahawks for the opener. I’d prefer late season with playoff implications when the teams have actually had some reps against other teams. Where would you rather see the Fail Mary 2.0?

I’m all for opening in Seattle. I thought the opener in San Francisco last year was fantastic.

Doug from Unity, NH

Bart Starr has the most championships with five? Not! Ask Bart. He’ll know who has the most. His initials are Otto Graham. He has seven championships. Now who’s the best QB of all time?

I thought the same thing when I cut and pasted that answer, but it must be mentioned that four of those titles were in the AAFC. Be that as it may, Graham may be the most underrated and least appreciated quarterback in the history of the game.

Zach from Omaha, NE

If you have J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney on the same team, then you more than likely have the talent required to use a 4-3 alignment and put pressure on the QB with four guys. Do you agree?

Yes, I do. The big thing for me would be allowing Clowney to do what he’s always done, which is to say put his hand on the ground. If you’re going to draft a guy No. 1 overall, you don’t want to experiment with him at a new position. When you stand a guy up, you move him a little farther from the ball, and sometimes that’s a gap a player can’t close. I think that was the issue with Aaron Kampman. He needed to be one yard closer to the ball, and he also needed to be able to get his hands on the blocker quicker.

Andrew from Fort Collins, CO

Since we lost Evan Dietrich-Smith, James Jones, Marshall Newhouse and C.J. Wilson, can we expect four compensatory picks in the next draft?

I’m thinking three, one each in rounds four, five and six.

Marc from Roxbury, WI

Vic, Donovan McNabb is currently leading Johnny Unitas in votes for best ever, 64-36. Are you crying in your beer?

I’m not but nfl.com should be. This is embarrassing.

Rick from Appleton, WI

Vic, what’s the one question you keep getting which, more than any others, you wouldn’t mind never seeing again?

I’m getting a lot of questions about the Packers trading up to draft Clowney. That would be a real head-sewn-to-the-carpet move for me.

Mark from Stewartville, MN

Vic, what do you think about instant replay for basketball and baseball?

It seems to work for basketball, but it’s a disaster for baseball. No more arguments with the umpire. No more kicking dirt on the umpire’s shoes. What would Leo Durocher have done? Hey, Leo, it’s on the tape. In our quest for perfection, are we losing personality?

Gary from Topeka, KS

Can a player’s treatment of the media keep him from being elected to the Hall of Fame? If so, name one player who you believe this to be the reason they are not elected.

It didn’t keep Steve Carlton out. He was elected with one of the highest percentages of votes in history, despite having had a terrible relationship with the media. If a player clearly belongs in the Hall of Fame, the media isn’t going to keep him out. If he’s borderline, however, it won’t help him to have had a bad relationship with the media. I think it’s more likely that other factors will play into the decision. I think Bob Hayes was kept out of the Hall of Fame for putting his hands in his pants during the Ice Bowl. The old reporters didn’t like that. It wasn’t until they were gone that Hayes made it in.


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