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A fond memory of Bart Starr


John from Green Bay, WI

I was wondering if there is any consolation given to players who were part of the Packers during a Super Bowl season. I would like to see some love given to classy guys like Al Harris, who purchased a newspaper page to write a thank you to fans. Is he given anything?

Vic: You're giving it to him, John, and he knows he has it. I'm talking about the bond between players and fans. Packers fans love their players and Packers players love their fans. It's a love affair that goes way back and it's acted out every summer with the training camp bicycles ritual and every Sunday at Lambeau Field with the "Lambeau Leap." The relationship between players and fans is part of the football fraternity about which I wrote in yesterday's column. We're all in this together.

Ryan from Las Vegas, NV

If there is no CBA by the draft, does that mean there can be no trading?

Vic: Teams would only be permitted to trade picks in the draft.

James from Champaign, IL

What do you think of the coaching changes that have been made on the offensive side of the ball for the Packers?

Vic: Good football coaches can coach nearly any position and teach any scheme. The best football coach I've ever known, Chuck Noll, was an offensive linemen as a player, a defensive coordinator for Don Shula while with the Colts, and his own offensive coordinator and special teams coordinator while head coach of the Steelers. Coaching is teaching; it's the ability to communicate. Either you can or you can't do it. At this level of competition, all of these coaches have been judged to be capable of communicating. Edgar Bennett is an up-and-coming coach; his career is on the rise but he needs a deeper involvement in pass-offense to rise to the rank of an offensive coordinator, hence, his move from running backs coach to wide receivers coach. Obviously, Head Coach Mike McCarthy has judged Bennett to be ready to make the move into the pass-offense. I see no reason not to trust coach McCarthy's judgment.

Jonathan from Fort Benning, GA

If the Jags and the Packers played in the Super Bowl, as a person (I know sportswriters don't have feelings), who would you want to win?

Vic: Sportswriters aren't persons. We're part of the process that provides information and entertainment to the fans. It's our job. They don't pay us to cheer, they pay us to work. In fact, cheering is forbidden. I'll never understand why fans have so much trouble accepting that. We just watch. Try it sometime. It might give you a whole new perspective of football.

George from Eland, WI

With so many players having long hair, can they be tackled by the hair? I never heard the ruling.

Vic: They may be tackled by their hair, their eyebrows, their eyelashes or by anything else you can grab.

Daryl from Windsor, Ontario

Glad to see you on As a younger fan, I haven't had the pleasure of witnessing the "Ice Bowl" or the days of the AFL merger. I was wondering if you could share your fondest memory of Bart Starr.

Vic: My fondest memory of Bart Starr is from when he was the Packers' head coach. Football beat writers do a conference call with the opponent's head coach each week. It's usually an innocuous, often rushed ritual in which the coach goes through the motions of executing something he doesn't want to do but is largely required to do. They often start like this: "Hey, guys, I'm in a hurry so shoot." Well, back when Starr was the coach of the Packers, I participated in a conference call with him and it will be forever memorable to me because Starr afforded the interview the kind of respect it deserved and he demanded the same from the reporters participating in it. He asked that, as each of us asked a question, we identify ourselves. I remember saying, "Hi, coach, I'm Vic Ketchman," and he said, "Hi, Vic, I'm Bart Starr." I was just a kid in the business and I'm sure I blushed. Dignity is a very important quality.

Hans from Front Royal, VA

Great forum; so glad you've joined the team. In your opinion, what NFL stadium presents the best fan experience?

Vic: I think you know the answer is almost certain to be Lambeau Field. It's one of a kind. I also like the new stadiums, too, and I think they provide sensational atmospheres. I love the new ones in the AFC North. The one in Tennessee offers the best press box vantage in the league. The one in Seattle is super. They did a great job with the footprint issues they faced in Chicago. "The Linc" has all the bells and whistles but it still feels like football. The view out the open end of Heinz Field is like nothing else in the league. The NFL has recently completed a stadium construction phase in its history, and the renovation of Lambeau Field was a big part of that movement and it's helped take the game to a higher level of popularity. Frankly, without its renovation, I don't think Lambeau could boast the best game-day experience in the league. I covered a game at Lambeau in 1992 and I thought the place looked a little worn. Even tradition needs a little polishing every so often.

Ross from Rockford, IL

Excellent start to the new gig, Vic. Sam Shields started the season as a long shot to make the roster and ended it as a guy that Dom Capers trusted to put on an island. How rare is it to see a cornerback develop like he has over the course of one season?

Vic: It's rare. Coach Capers told me this past weekend that heading into training camp he didn't know who his "nickel" back was going to be and there remained a degree of uncertainty about the number two cornerback position. Well, Tramon Williams and Sam Shields quickly erased doubts about those two positions and, in the process, they changed the face of the Packers defense. It was the emergence of Williams and Shields that allowed coach Capers to call all those sexy blitzes.

Dean from Waukesha, WI

Perhaps you know what Earl from Winnipeg, Manitoba, was referring to was the intense pride that we, as Packers fans, take in our team, but his question is still valid. I'm a Packers stockholder. Every team has passionate fans, but because we own the team, the bond is deeper and more personal between the fans and the team than anywhere else. It may not be as obvious during a Super Bowl year but, more than any other franchise, this team literally represents the community and the state to the NFL and the world. There is a special pride associated with that. It's unique in the world of sports and he was wondering if you see that. Do you?

Vic: Absolutely.

Bob from Greenwood, SC

If the rookie cap comes in, won't it be more likely for teams to go for a Nick Fairley or some other position other than the standard QB or LT with the first pick of the draft?

Vic: That's an excellent observation. Yes, it would, and that alone is reason to have a rookie cap because the first overall pick is becoming more of a penalty than a reward.

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