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We have a winner! Two more tickets on Monday

Posted Feb 1, 2013

He's going to the Donald Driver retirement party next Wednesday at Lambeau Field

Stephen from Chicago, IL

I always got the sense the Jerry Joneses and Daniel Snyders of the world would instantly do away with the cap if they could. The result would likely be the death of every small-market team in the NFL, including the Packers. As Packers fans we are biased but do agree that without the cap, and especially without the Packers, this league whithers and dies.

I’m a big supporter of the salary cap concept – I have been since its inception – but I no longer consider it necessary to the future of the league. Why not? Because America has too much football talent available for a few teams to corner the market. The real issue is quarterback. Twenty years ago, I would’ve said that without the cap football would become baseball because the rich teams would have the best quarterbacks and there wouldn’t be enough left for everyone else. I’ve changed my opinion on that, however, as the league has continued to make it easier to play the quarterback position. We have kids coming out of college and becoming instant stars. When I started covering the NFL, it was said that it took five years to develop a starting quarterback. As much as scouts complain about the lack of quarterbacks, from where I sit the league has never had more talent at the position. What we’ve learned about that position is that you can deepen the talent at it very quickly by adjusting the rules, therefore, I don’t think a few rich teams could corner the quarterback market in a non-cap system because the league would adjust the rules to deepen the talent pool. Isn’t that what the league has done? I honestly believe a non-cap system would level the playing field because the wealthy owners would spend themselves into parity. It’s all about the talent pool. America is loaded with it, which means there’s plenty to go around.

Steve from Eau Claire, WI

Do you believe Nick Perry is the impact player on defense that will “grow into the game.”

Yes, I do. Why shouldn’t we believe that? He was drafted to be that player. He has all of the tools to be that player. The sack in Indianapolis that was penalized is what I envision Perry doing on a more regular basis next season.

Richie from Truckee, CA

Driver is clearly a competitor who still believes he has gas in the tank. I think he truly wants to play until he’s 40. What team could pull him out of retirement and give him a chance to play?

I think it would have to be a team that runs the “West Coast Offense” and needs wide receivers. He needs to play the role of a possession receiver, and the “West Coast Offense” favors that kind of role.

Grant from Platteville, WI

Vic, I just want to say you are dangling one heckuva carrot in front of Packers fans with the tickets to Driver’s farewell party. I would try to win it but I have classes that day so I wouldn’t be able to go. I still want to ask a question. If Kaepernick were to win the Super Bowl, would you think he would be mentioned in the same sentence as Rodgers? Do you think he might be the next man?

That’s a shame, Grant, because this was going to be the winning question. Maybe next time. As for your question, should Kaepernick win on Sunday, especially if he’s MVP, he will cement his status as poster child for the “New Age Quarterback.” The guy he’d be replacing isn’t Aaron Rodgers, it would be Cam Newton. Rodgers is in another category. He’s in with the pocket passers. Should Kaepernick win the MVP on Sunday, he will become the new heartbeat of the NFL. He’ll be hotter than any player this league has produced since Peyton Manning started piling up one-and-dones. Do you remember when I first used the words “New Age Quarterback”? I had people write to me and ask what that meant. Kaepernick is providing the answer.

Sean from Des Moines, IA

Vic, what are some past trends you would like to see return to football?

I’d like to see football players stop looking like sculptures and start looking like normal people again. I think the conditioning mania in football is threatening the future of the game because bigger and stronger means more dangerous, and we need less dangerous. I don’t know how you stop players from working out, but you asked what I would like to see return to football and that’s it. There’s a bar I like to frequent in Green Bay. On the wall is a picture of Starr, Taylor and some of the other great players from the ’60s Packers. They’re posing playfully for a picture that was taken in training camp, and they look nothing like the players of today, and that’s why we have a player-safety problem.

Matt from Waunakee, WI

Vic, you are my favorite Packer of all time. I was wondering how you became such a fascinating, articulate, worldly and knowledgeable sports writer? Mr. and Mrs. Ketchman must have been bursting with pride to have such an incredible son. “Double D” is my next favorite Packer.

Nice try. Try again. I’ll give two more tickets away on Monday to Donald Driver’s retirement party.

Jamie from Ashland, OR

We just heard from the President last week that he would think twice about letting his son play football, due to the risk of injury. Let’s not forget the countless positive life lessons that can be learned from this sport. What do you think is the most influential lesson kids can learn from playing this sport?

You learn about yourself. Are you a kid that needs to get knocked down, or are you a kid that needs to knock someone down? Football has the wonderful ability to humble and bolster. Football taught me how to pick myself up. I had a big self-esteem problem; it was too high. Football fixed that by allowing kids of lesser regard to knock me down. All of a sudden, they were my equal, and it felt wonderful. If I hadn’t played football for those few years that my youth allowed, I think my life would be empty.

Robert from Bear, DE

In 1964, I was growing up in Wisconsin, a diehard Cardinals fan, and loved Ernie Broglio. I hated GM Bing Devine for trading Broglio. I was totally crushed. Lesson: What does a fan know? Now I am a huge supporter of Ted Thompson because he is the pro that knows what he is doing.

Broglio for Brock; Devine should’ve been re-nicknamed Bang.

Eric from Madison, WI

Among all the other reasons we’re sorry to see him go, Green Bay will miss that classic Donald Driver smile. What are some of the other best smiles in NFL history?

Joe Greene has a smile that made a Coke commercial legendary, but a smile that could also chill you to your bones. Smiles are something we never forget. We should smile more.

Todd from Fitchburg, WI

Vic, what is the biggest change you have seen in the NFL since you became a writer?

The show is bigger than the game now. That bothers me. Maybe that’s why I like preseason games; they’re not about the show, they’re about the real-life, human drama of young men trying to carve a future in the game they love. I don’t like the show. I love the game.

Alex from Jacksonville, FL

Vic, if you had a Hall of Fame vote, would you be in support of Eddie DeBartolo being elected to be in Canton?

Jason Cole of “Yahoo Sports” asked me that question while we were waiting to board our plane in Mobile. He gave me a choice between Art Modell, Bill Parcells and DeBartolo and I said Modell. My main problem with DeBartolo is that he wasn’t an owner for all that long. There are also some nefarious circumstances from his time as owner, including a rebuke for salary cap improprieties that really bother me. The years immediately following the strike of 1987 were very sensitive to the future of the game, and I don’t think DeBartolo acted with much of a leaguethink mentality. He’s one of the owners that forced the birth of the salary cap, and that’s a good thing, but he forced it for all the wrong reasons. What I will acknowledge in his favor is that he produced one of the greatest runs of winning in pro football history. That’s what makes him a legitimate candidate for election to the Hall of Fame.

Adam from Madison, WI

Being relatively new to football, I appreciate the history in this column. Knowing how dominant the NFL is today, what were the conditions back in the day that allowed the AFL to rise and become a threat?

The NFL allowed it to happen by not expanding quickly enough in a new wave of growth markets in America. We were coming out of the baby boom ’50s and new markets were emerging in places such as Denver, San Diego, Oakland and Houston. Dallas is the defining example. The NFL hurriedly expanded to Dallas to block the AFL. The NFL was small enough to allow for another league, and the AFL settled into those new markets and also put teams in older, more established markets that didn’t have NFL teams, such as Buffalo and Boston. The other part of the equation is TV. The NFL was on CBS, which left ABC and NBC available to the AFL, which struck a deal with NBC. The landscape of pro football was more open to competition back then because there were good markets and good TV networks available. You might say the AFL did the expansion work for the NFL that would inevitably happen. The AFL just hastened it.

Jack from Jacksonville, FL

How did Coughlin break the news to the face of the franchise? Did he deliver it in person?

Tony Boselli called me on a Saturday morning and told me Tom Coughlin had just left Tony’s house, where Coughlin had told Tony he and a handful of other Jaguars players with big cap hits would be left unprotected for the Texans expansion draft, and that any player not selected by the Texans would be cut. It was with a sad tone of voice that Coughlin broke that news to Tony. That’s the other side of pro football. Next Wednesday, Donald Driver’s Packers career will end with a party. For most, it doesn’t happen that way. It’s a tough game for tough guys.

Mark from Seattle, WA

Vic, care to make a bet you get the most questions ever in your inbox as a result of offering two free tickets to Driver’s party?

Nothing could ever approach what happened to my inbox in the minutes, hours and days immediately following the game in Seattle. I’ll never forget my first look at my “Ask Vic” inbox following the game. It was right after we boarded the plane to return to Green Bay; it was about an hour-and-a-half after the game. The number next to my inbox read “647.” I remember thinking to myself, “This is gonna be a tough week.”

Troy from Stevens Point, WI

Vic, I remember meeting Donald at a Green Bay Packers youth football camp. He took the time to talk to us kids individually, even back then. You couldn't help but love the guy. I remember our conversation to this day. It was like talking to a good friend. This is why we love him, Vic.

Maybe that’s why he loves you, too. Congratulations, Troy! You’re going to the party.

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