I know I am looking a little ahead, but I must admit that when I first saw the schedule of Packers vs. New England, I was instantly excited. Of all games on the list, that is the one I am most excited about. I am hoping for some heavy snowfall, mild winds, a heavy dose of the run game and, of course, the aerial attacks by signal callers. What type of weather conditions do you prefer to watch a game in, Vic?
I like classic fall weather. I like the sun peeking out of the clouds, temperatures in the low 50s. It’s the kind of day that smells like football. It’s the kind of day that makes me think of Grantland Rice, who penned what is possibly the greatest lede in football history: “Outlined against a blue-gray October sky, the Four Horsemen rode again.”
Chris from Coquitlam, BC
Vic, do you think there’s any chance the starting safety duo is Hyde/Dix? Hyde seems like a strong fit at strong safety and if Dix performs well in camp, Burnett could be the odd man out.
I’m getting a lot of this, and I think it’s unfair to
Vic, based on your email and personal conversations, do Packer fans truly understand how fortunate they are to enjoy a run of success experienced over the last 12 to 13 years?
Yes and no. I think they understand a lot of fan bases haven’t had nearly as many opportunities to cheer as Packers fans have, but the mania to win the Super Bowl has become so intense that anything less than winning the Super Bowl is viewed as failure. That’s very unfortunate because it means most of the seasons of our life are viewed as failures. In my opinion, last season is one of the great success stories in Packers history.
Five players from last year’s draft are likely going to be key contributors to our team this year, one of which was the rookie of the year. That’s looking like a pretty good draft, huh? Do you think this year’s class can be as impactful?
I can see each of the Packers’ first five picks being major contributors this season.
Paul from Green Bay, WI
Vic, I would like your thoughts on the running backs of the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s vs. more recent backs. Maybe it’s my selective memory, but it seems the earlier running backs could flat outrun the secondary, even when the defense had an angle.
The backs of yesteryear were bigger, stronger, faster than today’s backs. Last year’s rushing champion, LeSean McCoy, would’ve been a utility back in the old days. Jim Brown, O.J. Simpson and Franco Harris were big, fast men. Today’s backs are being asked to do more. They’re play-in-space backs with more wiggle than wallop. The old guys were between-the-tackles pounders that possessed the speed to take it the distance if they broke the line of scrimmage.
Joe from Shenzhen, China
Vic, you’ve caused me to look up a lot of past players and football jargon that I didn’t know. My question is why did eastern Ohio/western Pennsylvania used to be such a hotbed for finding football talent?
That’s where the mills were. Football has always been a game played by hard-scrabble men from hard-scrabble places. The area to which you’re referring was known by recruiters as the “Fertile Crescent.” My high school plays in a league that’s produced Johnny Unitas, Joe Namath, Dan Marino, Joe Montana, Tony Dorsett, Darrelle Revis, Mike Ditka, Sean Gilbert, Paul Posluszny, Jimbo Covert, Mercury Morris, Russ Grimm, Bill Fralic, Joe Schmidt, George Blanda, Johnny Lujack, Chuck Muncie, Jack Ham and on and on. I played in a game against Tom Clements. Two African American players – Willie Thrower and Sandy Stephens – hold significant places in football history. Thrower is the first African American quarterback in Big 10 and NFL history. He won a national championship at Michigan State while playing with six of his high school teammates. Stephens led Minnesota to the national title. The old-timers consider Stephens to be one of the great athletes in football history; he’s an interesting read.
The poll on the home page asks which receiver will lead the Packers in touchdown receptions. What’s your guess? I think Nelson, with Cobb leading in yardage.
Joe from Decorah, IA
In retrospect, how much should John Madden be held accountable for the devastation of Jack Tatum and others like him?
Madden shouldn’t be held accountable because Tatum was playing by the rules. Coaches of that era allowed Tatum-like hits because that’s the way the game was played.
Nate from Rice Lake, WI
Vic, I hope that, as fans, we haven’t forever changed your positive outlook towards us.
Nothing could change my opinion of this fan base. It’s the most well-mannered and friendly fan base in the league.
Ryan from Greenfield, WI
I’m too young to know, but was there talk of building a new Lambeau before the renovations?
When I came here in 1983, there was talk around the league of something needing to be done about Lambeau Field. It was not up to league standards. There was speculation the franchise needed to be moved to Milwaukee and into a new stadium.
Mike from Chicago, IL
Vic, you’ve said at least twice that Unitas invented the game. I watched Packers-Colts a lot and realize he had ice in his veins, but some other guys of his era, like Jurgensen, could also throw it around. Please explain.
Johnny Unitas ushered in the modern passing game. Previous to Unitas, the NFL played what I like to call “lob ball.” The ball was thrown for receivers to run under. Unitas gave us the precision passing game. He gave us the sharp down and out, which gave birth to the two-minute drill that’s still used today. An “Ask Vic” reader recently attributed the creation of the back-shoulder pass to Unitas. Otto Graham was a great quarterback, but his game would not have fit in today’s game. Unitas, on the other hand, could’ve stepped right out of the 1958 title game and into last winter’s Super Bowl. I have no doubt he would’ve played better than Peyton Manning.
Justin from Milltown, WI
Who are your top five quarterbacks to never win a Super Bowl?
1) Dan Marino, 2) Jim Kelly, 3) Fran Tarkenton, 4) Dan Fouts, 5) Warren Moon.
John from Logan, UT
I watched “A Football Life” with Ditka the other day. That guy was a jerk to reporters. Do you have any good press room or interview stories about him?
He was great for reporters because he was always a story. I remember interviewing him in 1992. He expressed regret that he didn’t get more Super Bowl wins out of his great Bears teams, and he talked about his team getting old and needing to rebuild. He then spoke of regretting that he didn’t start the rebuilding process earlier, and blamed that on being too loyal to his players. What I remember most is that he said Lombardi did it the right way. He left. Mike Ditka is a treasure for reporters.
Russ from Tarpon Springs, FL
When are you going to answer my question(s) about No. 4? Third request.
You’re lucky. When I came to work this morning, there were only 928 emails in my inbox. It’s a slow day, so this is your big chance. Unfortunately, I don’t know what your question(s) is/are. Sorry, I deleted it/them.
Pablo from Oak Creek, WI
Vic, I took the time to read up on the rules changes of 1978 and compared the game footage. You’re right, it felt like I was watching two different sports. What was football like for you right after the changes?
I wrote a story that the Steelers defense had gotten old and lost a step, and a certain guy known for being mean informed me that it wasn’t age, it was the rules.
Spencer from Richmond, VA
Did the Peyton Manning-era Colts run a spread offense?
They used a lot of spread concepts. They were a thick-playbook team that employed a lot of scheme in their offense, but not when they got inside the 10-yard line. That’s when they tightened down and got real predictable. They ran trap, they ran trap pass. Everybody knew what was coming, but nobody could stop it.
Don from Long Lake, WI
No question, Vic, just a short comment. What makes a name like Redskins derogatory is when you’re a young native boy in the 1970s and boys of a different color put you up against a wall and call you names: redskin, squaw, chief, etc. You never forget that.
Dash 30 dash.