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A great match as players and coach


The regular writer of "Ask Vic," Editor Vic Ketchman, is on vacation. Staff Writer Mike Spofford is temporarily filling in to answer your "Ask Vic" questions. Vic will resume writing his daily column on Monday, July 9.

Mark from Seattle, WA

Mike, I'm pretty sure Wally World is closed and John Candy is dead.

If you think that's going to stop Vic from having the world's greatest family vacation, you don't know him very well. I think he was even going to find his actual cousin Eddie.

Matthew from Brooksville, KY

Hey Vic, I noticed in your question about defensive players getting MVP you said a WR has never gotten MVP? I'm confused on this because … Don Hutson did win the MVP award in 1941 and '42. Why do people still say a WR has never won?

The official NFL Record & Fact Book notes that the Associated Press NFL MVP award was given beginning in 1961. From 1957-60, it was called the "Most Outstanding Player" award. A receiver has never won either. The awards you're referring to for Hutson were the two seasons he won the Joe F. Carr Trophy, which the league gave out to its "MVP" from 1938-46. I was referring to the official AP award, which the NFL currently recognizes.

Robert from Harvel, IL

Mike, would you agree that old Packers defensive coordinator, Fritz Shurmur, is one of the best innovators/defensive coordinators in NFL history?

I'm not versed enough in the league's long history, but I will say he was one of the most creative and successful I've seen. The way he moved LeRoy Butler around, maximizing on his many talents both in the secondary and at the line of scrimmage, made some of those Green Bay defenses pretty special, and Butler always speaks fondly of how Shurmur used him. Let's not forget, though, that in those 1996-97 seasons, Shurmur had a front four of Reggie White, Sean Jones, Santana Dotson and Gilbert Brown. That gave him the flexibility to move Butler around and let him free-lance. Those players and Shurmur were a great match.

Matt from Bloomington, IN

In the 2011 calendar year the Packers defeated the Bears four times. To your knowledge has any other team beaten another team four times in one year?

According to STATS, LLC (and courtesy of the Packers PR dept.), Green Bay became the second team in league history to accomplish this feat. In 1994, the Raiders defeated the Broncos four times in one calendar year – the 1993 regular-season finale on Jan. 2, 1994; the AFC Wild Card playoff the following week; and the two regular-season meetings in September and December of '94.

Dave from Bellingham, WA

Hi Mike, in partnering with Vic, what have you learned from him about the NFL game or players that you hadn't thought about before?

I've enjoyed learning more about the NFL in the 1970s from Vic. That's when he started covering the league, so his memories of that decade are very keen. Most of my "early" football memories are from the 1980s, and the first Super Bowl I remember watching was XIV between the Steelers and Rams (Jan. 20, 1980). As a Wisconsin native, I learned a lot about the 1960s Packers from my father and from reading books. But the 1970s were a bit of a black hole in my football knowledge and I've learned a lot.

Bart from Sanibel, FL

Nice to have you on board with this, Mike. Your answer to the Irish reader's question about the possibility of a popular visiting team helping to fill the stands was a new view of things for me. So, the bean counters in places like St. Louis or Tampa are happy to see teams like the Packers and Steelers and Cowboys come to town, even if it means that their team is likely to get dusted? If you need to fill the stands, then that makes good sense. Still, it would make us proud to see the Packers represented internationally. Vic's column shows that there are clearly a lot of Green Bay supporters in Europe and it would be nice for them to have the chance to see the team play live.

When you don't have gargantuan season-ticket waiting lists like the Packers and some other teams do, you love the marquee opponent coming to town to fill the stands. But I disagree with your "likely to get dusted" line. The ideal is to get the full house and have the home team notch a big win to fire up the fan base, and it happens. You mentioned Tampa. The Packers went to Raymond James Stadium in both '08 and '09 and lost. The loss in '09 was when the Bucs were 0-7 with a rookie QB making his first start, and that game launched Josh Freeman's career.

Tanner from LeRoy, IL

The "tuck rule" answer (yesterday) was quite thought-provoking. I never put two and two together to realize it was the same Charles Woodson. I have a "what if" question. What if the refs had ruled it a fumble, and Woodson became the hero for the Raiders? Would he be a Packer today still, or would the Raiders have not let him go?

Impossible to say. Would the 2001 Raiders have been able to go into Pittsburgh and beat the Steelers in the AFC Championship, and then go on to upset the Rams – "the greatest show on turf" – in the Super Bowl, as the Patriots did? The Raiders did make it to the Super Bowl the following year but lost to the Buccaneers. That obviously stuck with Woodson, too. Oakland franchise-tagged Woodson two years in a row, in 2004 and '05, the latter season ending early for Woodson with a broken leg, and then Green Bay was virtually his only suitor in free agency the following year. Woodson has said it was Green Bay or bust for him in '06, and he wasn't crazy about coming here at first. So here's maybe the more interesting question: If Woodson wins a Super Bowl in '01, comes close but not quite in '02, and then after the broken leg finds practically zero interest in free agency heading into '06, does he hang it up at that point rather than come to Green Bay for one last shot at a title?

Chan from Jacksonville Beach, FL

Hi Mike. Went to UW-Platteville in the late '80s and '90s. I remember the Bears coming to town during the summer. Shot pool against Dan Hampton and Richard Dent. Kevin Butler always made a lot of "friends." Remember the Cheese League Wisconsin had for a while? Kansas City was there I think in Superior or Stevens Point. I can't remember any of the others. Thought the Jags were there one year. There were five teams I think at one point. T-shirts were even made.

You could say my start in sports journalism was writing about the Cheese League for a local publication when I was home for the summer from college. The Bears were in P-ville, the Saints in La Crosse, the Chiefs in River Falls, and the Jaguars in Stevens Point (albeit briefly – Vic was glad for that, but little did he know Wisconsin was his destiny). With the Packers and nearby Vikings, that totaled six NFL teams holding their training camps in relative proximity, which led to some scrimmages amongst them. I really wish I had saved one of those T-shirts. As for meeting the players, when I was in high school I worked at the local Dairy Queen and was often frying up burgers right before closing time for the offensive linemen, center Jay Hilgenberg among them (double cheese with ketchup and pickle, if I recall correctly, or maybe that was Keith Van Horn's standing order). Anyway, now Hilgenberg's younger brother, Joel, is an assistant coach for the Packers, as is the former Bears center who replaced Hilgenberg, Jerry Fontenot. Both have offices just down the hall from my desk. Life is funny that way.

George from Scranton, PA

Do you think Vic is reading "Ask Mike" while he is on vacation?

You're not the only person to ask me that, and I have no doubt he is. In fact, I'll predict a question from Vic is going to show up in my inbox sometime this week or next, or both.

Charlie from Morgan Hill, CA

Mike - Hypothetically, if Aaron Rodgers wins another SB or two and has another great 7-10 years of stats I think he'll go down as the greatest QB to follow a HOF QB. Steve Young didn't play enough years as a starter. Is there anyone else you can think of that might wear that hypothetical crown?

No question it's Young, a Super Bowl MVP and two-time league MVP. Rodgers has often made passing reference to conversations he's had with Young, as has Young in his TV work. It's fitting the two apparently have a personal relationship, with their football careers so obviously linked and Rodgers being from the Bay area. The fun part is this story is nowhere near complete.

Chad from Middleton, WI

As a die-hard Driver man, I'm partial to his toe-tapping TD catch against the Giants as my favorite play from last year. What was your top 2011 Packers play to watch live?

That Driver TD ranks up there, but for me it was Greg Jennings' catch-and-run TD in Atlanta in Week 5. The TV angle didn't do it justice. Watching from the press box, the play looked like a simple crossing route to Jennings, but once he caught the ball, he suddenly found another gear. He outran the first wave of defenders to the sideline, turned upfield, and then outran the last guys on the back end to get to the pylon. On the TV replay, you couldn't see how he seemingly had nowhere to go when he caught the ball, yet he took off so explosively there was no stopping him. I was stunned at how he turned such a basic play into a TD.

Fernando from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Mike, will there be a "Video Ask Mike"? Great job on the column.

We're still going to call it "Video Ask Vic," because that has a better ring to it. But yeah, I will do one each week Vic is gone. We'll post the first one on Thursday, if all goes well.

Guy from Billings, MT

Mike, is Reggie White the only NFL player to have is number retired on two different teams? If not, who are the others? That seems like it would be a rare accomplishment.

I do believe Reggie White is the only one. Some quick research revealed one other possibility but it didn't happen.  Mike Haynes, a Hall of Fame defensive back, split his career between the Patriots and Raiders. The Patriots have retired Haynes' number, but the Raiders don't traditionally retire numbers. Neither do the Cowboys, apparently.

On a related note, regarding yesterday's question about the most Hall of Famers (players and coaches) involved in one game, thanks to Rob from Champaign, IL, for pointing out an online discussion on the Professional Football Researchers Association website on this topic. If you're interested,**check it out**. It appears a 1961 Packers-Colts game may have included as many as 20 HOFers, and other games with potential high totals are referenced.

Ed from Des Plaines, IL

Here's an idea for next year's golf outing: Schedule it near another event. For example, if the golf outing was the day before the shareholders meeting or a preseason game then people could double up on their trips to Green Bay.

There may be some complications to that, but it's a valid suggestion and I'll pass it along to Vic when he gets back. In the meantime, let's see how many folks we can get signed up and make the first Wisconsin version of the Ask Vic golf outing a good one. Register here.

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