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Ask Vic

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This could be Packers' best team in McCarthy era

Posted Jun 6, 2014

Draft keeps your team young and your salary cap healthy


Justin from River Falls, WI

It’s a tough pill to swallow, knowing you were cheering against the Packers in Lambeau Field, but at the end of the day I get it. You were born and raised in Pennsylvania, and you got to experience the Steelers’ glory years. The reason I bleed green and gold is because of how and where I was raised.

You’re my kind of guy, Justin, a real kidder. I’m afraid most of my readers, however, don’t share your glib sense of humor, so I’ll offer this explanation. A long time ago, a reporter and writer I admired said to me, “In sports writing, it’s either the sublime or the ridiculous.” I tried the sublime. On several occasions I attempted to explain the media’s role in covering pro football, but there remains a disconnect between the media and the fans, a great divide that I am now absolutely certain can never be bridged. I gave it one more try. This time I attempted the ridiculous. It’s mind-boggling to think that 95 percent of the people in my inbox believe I actually chanted “Here we go, Steelers, here we go” in the Lambeau Field press box. Larry Fitzgerald’s father didn’t even cheer for his son. That’s how reverent we are of the No. 1 rule of our profession: No cheering in the press box. I thought the ridiculousness of the picture I painted would drive home that message once and for all, but my inbox is so jammed with people that believe I actually chanted “Here we go, Steelers, here we go,” that I’m having trouble finding enough questions to cobble together a column for today that speaks of anything other than chanting “Here we go, Steelers, here we go” in the Lambeau Field press box. I’ve tried the sublime and now I’ve tried the ridiculous, each with failed results. Believe what you wish. I guess you would have to spend a game in the press box to understand, but that won’t happen because the press box is for media, not fans.

Paul from Farnborough, UK

Vic, when a team has to pay “The Man” a vast sum and that team gets gutted because of it, does it leave any resentment among the other players when they see their team being ripped apart, or are they too professional to care?

They all want the same thing, which is to say maximum compensation for their efforts. One would never begrudge another. That’s the code of professional football.

Kurt from Berlin, Germany

Vic, you have a crystal ball and you look into the NFL’s future. What changes do you see that would have been easy to predict and what changes are surprising?

The continued move toward the passing game, yards and points would’ve been easy to predict. Offense has always rung the cash register. That’s the side of the ball where the most money is spent. That’s the side of the ball that dominates the Hall of Fame. That’s the side of the ball that has always and will always be favored by rules changes. Even during the defensive-minded 1970s, prior to the rules changes of 1978, the league attempted to favor offense with rules changes, such as moving in the hash marks. What I never expected to see was the day when training camps would be neutered. Training camp without two-a-days isn’t training camp. The training camps of today are the mini-camps of yesteryear.

Luke from Lenexa, KS

I laughed out loud at the answer about being a Steelers fan. Thank you for bringing some humor and entertainment to what is basically a football dry spell. Please don’t go.

Kansas gets it. A northeastern sense of humor in the middle of the country. Here we go, Kansas, here we go.

Bob from Westminster, CO

Sir, I wanted to let you know that you lost another daily reader. Like many Packers fans, I don’t enjoy and somewhat resent learning about and following our team via an individual (namely you), who is paid by the Packers and would openly root against them at Lambeau.

You and Justin are real kidders.

William from Omaha, NE

By saying baseball is a train and football is an airplane, you are really saying football is a waste of energy. Trains are the superior mode of transportation for all freight because it is far more efficient. But don’t worry, I still love you, even with your ill-informed analogies.

What could I have been thinking?

Jim from Manteca, CA

I just read that, in compliance with your wishes, the Super Bowl will become a number, instead of a Roman numeral, in 2016.

Yeah, the commissioner called me a couple of weeks ago. He said, “Vic, do you really think we should get rid of the Roman numerals?” I said, “Yeah, Rog, it’s time. I was starting to get the hang of the X’s and V’s, but these L’s are killing me.” Me and the commissioner go way back. He’s a khakis kind of guy, too.

Michael from Waukesha, WI

During which season will Kaepernick’s cap number spike to match the big contract he just got?

It spikes in 2015, from $3.8 this year to $17.3 next year. That’s not the real issue, though, because cap hits can be changed by re-structuring contracts. The real issue is the $61 million in guaranteed money. That money must pass through the 49ers’ books, and it won’t be a problem as long as Kaepernick is “The Man,” but that’s more of a projection than a guarantee right now, and if it turns out that Kaepernick doesn’t continue to grow in the position, then the $61 million becomes a tremendous burden. The 49ers are investing in a belief, not a guarantee that Kaepernick will become an elite quarterback.

Dan from Mauston, WI

Vic, I’ve been a regular reader for close to three years now. Cheer in the press box for anyone you like other than the Vikings, Lions and Bears. That would cross the line. Just keep “Ask Vic” going. You have honestly taught me to enjoy this game more than I ever have, and for that I am grateful. Thanks.

Here we go, (team of your choice), here we go.

Joe from Piscataway, NJ

Vic, you said Sanders was, perhaps, the greatest punt-returner ever. But what about Gale Sayers? Wasn’t he a great return man?

He was a fantastic return man. I saw him return a kickoff for a touchdown in the 1967 season opener. I was in awe of him, but his career as a return man was very short, effectively only three years. Deion Sanders was still returning punts in his 13th season. He returned punts for four touchdowns in his ninth, 10th and 11th seasons combined.

Dan from Ocala, FL

Has Bryan Bulaga been active during OTAs? I believe his healthy return is crucial for this young offensive line.

Yes, he’s practicing and he’s the Packers’ No. 1 right tackle. Mostly, Bulaga’s healthy return is important for Bulaga. He deserves to have an injury-free season. This is a contract year for him.

Alan from Milwaukee, WI

Vic, how exactly have the Packers managed to pay Aaron Rodgers a top-end deal and still be one of the teams with the most cap space?

The Packers have done it by relying on the draft to replace players lost to age, injury and free agency. The draft is what keeps your roster young and your salary cap healthy. If the Packers had re-signed every player the fans wanted them to re-sign, their cap would be a mess right now. It’s a game of replacement.

Alex from Hillsboro, KS

Do you think this 2014 Packers team could be the most talented team McCarthy’s ever coached here, if we can stay healthy?

What we’re looking at over the next couple of years is the peak of this current playoff run. Rodgers is in the prime of his career and he’s surrounded by players in the primes of their careers, too. Now is the time. Yes, I think this could be the most talented team in Mike McCarthy’s years as coach of the Packers.

James from Greensboro, NC

This question is concerning Datone Jones. I wasn’t very impressed with his rookie year. He was almost non-existent. I kept looking for him to be a huge force to reckon with. I think his second year will be better; at least I hope so. What do you think about this?

Tony Pauline called it. He said Jones would require time to be remolded into an Okie end. It didn’t help that Jones’ development was halted by an ankle injury that turned out to be more severe than originally thought, but he also needed time to develop his talents in a new scheme that required learning new technique. You assigned unrealistic expectations to his rookie year, and that’s what’s caused your disappointment. That’s why I have a dislike for expectations.

John from Saint Augustine, FL

Have we always taken ourselves so seriously?

No, we haven’t. My father was from the Depression Era. He took food very seriously. Today, we take football games and our happiness very seriously. Life is good.

Zack from Davenport, IA

Vic, does anybody have more fun at their job than you do? Consider me jealous.

I love my job. I love that it’s allowed me to pay the mortgage without having to lift heavy things. I love that it allows me to communicate with other people that love football as much as I do. Football is only ever fun for me. I won’t allow it to be anything but fun. I like to watch. That’s all. I sit and I watch and I enjoy what I see, and I write about it. Am I a fan? Yeah, I’m a fan of my job. Here we go, job, here we go.

 

 

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Vic Ketchman

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Do you have a question for Vic? Your question could be posted on packers.com. Vic has covered the NFL through 42 seasons, including 23 years covering the Steelers and 16 years covering the Jaguars.

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