Kris from Suring, WI
Maybe NFL teams change their uniforms because they think it will be a good marketing move. New jersey, new look, new sales. We are all obsessed with new, but don’t change the Packers jersey. If it's not broken, why fix it?
Merchandise sales can be stimulated by throwback jerseys. The best way to stimulate jersey sales is by developing new star players. Everybody wants the new star’s name on the back of their jersey. It also doesn’t hurt a team in the win column to develop new star players; nothing beats new stars. Changing uniform design is usually the way teams announce a new era, an era of winning to replace the past era of losing. Yeah, sure. New uniforms are a way of saying to the fans, “Forget about the way we were. This is the new and improved version.” A few years later, they’ll be doing the same thing. Hey, uniforms don’t win for teams, players win for teams. Get the right players and you can wear pink and look tough. In my mind, changing uniform design is what losers do. Winners don’t concern themselves with what they wear, only with how they play.
Josh from Austin, MN
I just got engaged to my beautiful girlfriend. Any words of advice from a wise, old married man?
There are wise married men and there are old married men, but there are no wise, old married men.
Tim from Chicago, IL
I’ll just cut to the chase on this one. Do you think this year our defense will be ranked better than last year?
Zach from Fort Leonard Wood, MO
Some days in my line of work are difficult. I can often find something in this column to help gain a little perspective. My grandfather grew up in the Pittsburgh area, so I have a strong appreciation for the Steelers. My father grew up watching the Packers of the 1960s. I believe these organizations to be the standard bearers for the NFL. Which players are the best examples of being leaders of men?
Joe Greene is the best leader of men I’ve covered. Reggie White has that reputation here. They were similar players in that they carried the esteem they achieved on the field with dignity and class off the field. They were philosophical and professorial, but they pulled it off without bluster. Joe is one of those people that could speak with his eyes. That’s when you know a guy’s got juice. I have no doubt Reggie was capable of the same. At the risk of repeating myself, I remember interviewing Joe when a young player was playing his music loud enough that it was making it difficult to conduct the interview. Joe stopped and stared in the kid’s direction. When the player finally saw that Joe was staring at him, the music was instantly turned off. I don’t know of many players that could pull that off without it resulting in some kind of angst. Joe could.
Paul from De Pere, WI
Do you subscribe to the notion that with evenly matched teams the difference between winning and losing may come down to the No. 14 guy on each respective depth chart?
I guess it could, but I’m of the belief that you win with star players. They must be maintained; the supporting cast must be replaced.
Dave from Bellingham, WA
I was surprised to learn recently that Green Bay had drafted Daryle Lamonica in 1963. Apparently contract disputes led him to go to Canada for a year and then to the AFL. Nowadays, the NFL's the only game in town. Back then, what was competition like with the AFL to sign college players? Did players ultimately simply follow the dollar or were there other considerations in play regarding where a guy would go? Any stories of high emotion around a GM losing a blue-chipper you recall?
Competition was intense and players followed the dollar then just as they do now. It’s professional football. There are legendary stories of the AFL “kidnapping” NFL draft prospects, holding them hostage in hotel rooms, where the prospects would be entertained, often in nefarious ways, until the kid agreed to sign a contract. The recruitment of Joe Namath is the defining story of the AFL-NFL signing wars.
Rick from Victoria, MN
Vic, players in the NFL get fined for wearing the wrong socks, yet, the league lets coach Belichick dress like a bum in sweatshirts with sleeves cut off. Seems like a double standard to me?
What’s more surprising is that it hasn’t caught on as a fashion statement. I figured the Belichick look would be marketed and become a big seller. Not.
Noah from Grand Rapids, MI
Why would you want to do that? I don’t understand that thinking. Cobb is a game-changing return man. Why would you want to lessen the role of a game-changer? Shouldn’t the attempt be to get the ball into his hands more often, not less often?
Dan from Vancouver, WA
What’s more impressive from Rodgers’ 2011 season, throwing 45 touchdowns or only throwing six interceptions?
It’s the combination of the two that’s most impressive. It doesn’t say a lot about a quarterback that he’s only thrown one interception if he’s only thrown a few touchdown passes. The ratio is the big thing. When a guy tosses 45 touchdown passes, it means he’s being aggressive in the passing game, and being able to avoid interceptions while being aggressive is a real accomplishment. One is not exclusive of the other; they should be weighed with and against each other.
John from Grayslake, IL
What's your favorite pass play that you have seen Rodgers throw? Mine has to be the third-and-10 conversion to Jennings in the Super Bowl.
That’s the defining play of Rodgers’ career so far. It’s also one of the best passes I’ve ever seen thrown. If that ball had been slightly lower, higher or wider, it would not have been completed, and I don’t think the Packers would’ve won the game. That was an MVP throw.
Rich from Nashville, TN
Although you think Rodgers has no weakness, at postgame press conferences he is always critiquing himself. What do you think he wants to work on improving in the next year?
He’s a perfectionist, and I think he wants to work on doing everything perfectly. He wants to put the ball on the back’s hip as he’s swinging out of the backfield. He wants to see the field more quickly. He wants to up the tempo. He wants to make everything he does routine. We see stats, he sees intricacies.
Devin from De Pere, WI
Last week on Colin Cowherd's radio show, he said Lambeau would be the only stadium in the NFL he would take his son to a game at, due to vulgarity and unruly fans at other stadiums around the league. I can't help but feel a tremendous amount of pride to hear people around the league really appreciate Green Bay for its small-town feel. Your thoughts?
It’s a unique place. I wrote this many times last year but it is no less true today that the most memorable experience from my first year covering the Packers is the walk I made from the press box to the pregame radio show in the Atrium. It allowed me to observe a very special fan base. People said hello. They had happy looks on their faces. I didn’t see staggering drunks. I didn’t hear look-at-me bravado. I saw people with whom I would gladly watch a football game. In my former life, I would get questions from fans who would say they were going to attend an away game, and they would ask what the crowd is like there, and I would advise against wearing any kind of apparel that would identify their allegiance. I would feel no need to offer that advice to a fan of another team visiting Lambeau Field.
Sam from Sneads Ferry, NC
Vic, welcome back. I agree that instant replay has made us less likely to accept defeat with dignity, however, in the 2009 playoff game against the Cardinals, Rodgers’ facemask wasn't brushed, he was intentionally pulled to the ground by it. I was very upset at the time. That being said, I think Mike had it right last week about that loss giving Rodgers and the team some resolve for the 2010 season. So I'm not sure how I feel about this. How should I feel?
I think you should let it go. That was a wild-card game and the Packers were really struggling in pass-defense late in that season, and I don’t think they would’ve matched up well with the Saints or the Vikings.
Bill from Raleigh, NC
Do you ever see fights break out in the locker room, training camp or practice where it gets serious to the point that long-standing grudges result? In this vein, what's the worst chemistry situation you've seen? You do not need to include player names in your reply.
Yeah, I’ve seen them. Usually they’ve been between offensive and defensive linemen. Jon Kolb and Ernie Holmes engaged in legendary fights at practice. I remember Chuck Noll getting so angry at them once for disrupting practice that he yelled out, “Let ’em go.” Football is an edge game. It’s OK to be angry. The worst chemistry situation I have ever seen occurred in 1996, on a Monday following a loss in which Andre Rison played poorly. Tom Coughlin cut Rison on Monday morning and when I went into the Jaguars locker room at noon, I could feel the chill. The room was physically and emotionally divided into pro-Rison and anti-Rison factions. Reporter after reporter said, “They won’t win another game.” Then the Jaguars went on a seven-game winning streak that carried them to the AFC title game. Chemistry, in my opinion, can be overrated. Just do your job.
John from Palatka, FL
If your career had started in 1960 and you had to cover the old AFL, which team would you have wanted to cover and why?
I would’ve liked to have covered the Titans. I would’ve liked to have witnessed all the days when they put the fans on one side of the field so the stands wouldn’t look empty to the TV cameras, and I would’ve liked to have witnessed the transformation of the Titans into the Jets, the move to Shea Stadium and the arrival of Joe Namath, and all of the excitement that caused, and I would’ve liked to have been in Miami when the Jets won Super Bowl III. It was the defining moment for the AFL and it gave us what we have today.
Dejan from Waterloo, Ontario
Ron Jaworski came out with a strongest arms list of current NFL quarterbacks and didn't name Rodgers in his top five. I think his top five is Vick, Flacco, Stafford, Newton and Cutler. I would have thought Rodgers’ 60-yard throw on the run in San Diego was good enough. Who's in your top five?
Jaworski knows this stuff as well as anybody, but Cam Newton kind of surprises me, so “Jaws” must know more about Newton’s arm strength than Newton shows in games. I have no doubt Newton has a strong arm, but he repeatedly throws off his back foot and takes something off his throws, instead of stepping into his throws and driving the ball. I would agree that it’s the sign of a strong arm that a quarterback need only throw at 70-80 percent, but I’d just once like to see Newton step into a throw and show me what he has. As for Rodgers, what’s not to like? He can make all of the throws. What else matters?
Kent from Eagle Grove, IA
My dad always says the greatest asset to a great athlete and person is a good work ethic. Vic, how much does a good work ethic help you get to the NFL, and who is the hardest working player you ever covered?
When I think about work ethic, the first player that comes to mind is Mike Webster, a native of Tomahawk, Wis. Some guys have the talent to get by with doing less than their teammates, but no player will ever maximize his ability if he doesn’t dedicate himself to his craft. Jerry Rice had a legendary work ethic.
Tim from Albuquerque, NM
Norman Sas, 1925-2012; Vic, we covered this last year but I would like to note that Norman Sas, the inventor of the tabletop electric football game, died last month. He invented the game in 1948 and it sold for $5.95. In 1967, he signed a deal with the NFL and you could get players in your favorite team colors. Thanks, Norman, for the hours of exasperating fun.
Clearly, he dared to go where no man had gone before, and it would’ve been better had he not gone there. I once kicked his game and all of its many pieces all over my room. Each attempt to make the game work would usually result in me screaming at the running back, “You’re running the wrong way.” I wonder how many children developed anger problems as a result of Norman’s game. I can remember seeing Norman’s game sticking out of garbage cans all over town. I have a mental picture of Norman having retired early, playing golf and telling people, “Can you believe those idiots keep buying that stupid game?”
Zach from Waukesha, WI
During your absence, Mike told a fan he felt Bulaga is the most underrated Packer. Would you tend to agree, and why?
You could say that about any good right tackle, and
Tom from Kenosha, WI
Everyone makes a big deal about the 32nd-ranked defense, but we won 15 games with it. In the two games we lost, wasn't it more of a problem that we couldn't keep the rush off Rodgers over LT, a problem we haven't really fixed?
I think it was a pretty big deal, and apparently the Packers agree because they sure spent a lot of energy in the offseason to fix their defense.
Dan from Houston, TX
We really wish you would get a Twitter. What say you, Mr. Ketchman?
I’d be fired in a week.