Dustin from Dell Rapids, SD
The Packers have 27 interceptions, a huge lead on any other team right now, but looking at the record book, the 1969 Chargers had 49 and the '43 Packers had 42, the two highest totals in league history. With the game being so much more run-oriented, why were there so many more interceptions back then than there are now?
The AFL was not a run-oriented league; it was pass-happy, and that's why the '69 Chargers had so many interceptions. It was a pass-happy league but with rules that favored defense, such as bump-and-run coverage and head slap. The AFL played wild, wide-open football. It was also a league that had several struggling franchises that put inferior teams and quarterbacks on the field, and that's another reason interceptions were high. The 1943 season was played at the height of World War II, when the league was struggling just to put a product on the field. Some teams had to merge just to find enough players to field a team. The 27 interceptions by the Packers this season have been against top-flight competition and during a time when the rules clearly favor offense. I think this is a meaningful accomplishment by the Packers defense.
Kris from San Diego, CA
Thursday's press conference displayed Mike McCarthy's distaste for the repeated questions concerning a perfect season. He even went so far as to infer that these questions were a distraction and detrimental to the team's preparation. I know the writers in the room want the story, but obviously they are not going to get it. So why will they continue to ask these questions in as many ways as they can imagine?
Why do 25 percent, at least, of the questions I receive to "Ask Vic" wanna know if the Packers will go for the undefeated season or rest their players? As you said, it's "the story." The fan wants to know and won't stop asking that question, and the media is driven by what fans wanna read. We are nothing more than your representatives in that room. When the fans stop asking that question, the media will stop asking that question.
Konor from Winona, MN
Noting the recent discussion on signing practice-squad players, I was interested in the fact that Tori Gurley declined to sign with the Vikings and remain on the practice squad. What are your thoughts on this?
Practice-squad players are free agents free to sign with any team in the league. I don't think we get that. Most people see practice-squad players as possessions of the teams whose practice squads they're on, but that's just not the way it is. I don't know why Gurley declined to sign with the Vikings. Maybe he got more money from the Packers, or assurances, or whatever. That's how it works for practice-squad players. They can cut any deal they want.
Paul from De Pere, WI
Will the greatest challenge in repeating as Super Bowl champs be internal or external?
The greatest challenge will be on the field for the six-plus hours in January that must be negotiated to earn the right to represent the NFC in Super Bowl XLVI. You win or lose on the field. What happens off the field is preparation and Mike McCarthy's got that covered. I don't know what internal or external means. What I know is that when the "light" goes on, you gotta perform. Playoff football is pressure-packed. It's high drama, high stakes. It's about playing your best football under the most difficult circumstances. In my mind, playoff football is about courage and toughness.
Randy from Eagle, WI
I have several sock drawers. Each drawer only contains one style of sock and there are multiple identical pairs. When I need new socks, I buy a bunch of the exact same socks so I never have to sort them.
That's smart. I'm a compulsive socks buyer. I have socks in the back of my drawer that I bought 10 years ago and still have the paper between them. All socks have to wait their turn before they can move into the active stacks. They'll get there eventually because the inevitable hole in the heel or toe will occur and, of course, we know what that means. It's always tough to say goodbye to a good pair of socks.
James from Ilkley, England
I did have a question to ask you but I decided it could wait, but then I saw that you had a question from a Steve in Ilkley, England. I can tell you Ilkley is not a big place and I am amazed to find another Packers fan lives there.
We should do a "Packers Everywhere" rally in Ilkley.
Nancy from Saginaw, MI
Do the players get new jerseys for every game?
Player jerseys are like tailored suits; you wear them until they wear out. The Packers employ a group of seamstresses that do all of the alterations and repairs. On teams that don't change jersey styles, I've seen long-term players wear jerseys for multiple years; they were literally a mass of stitching that was required to fix all of the jersey's little tears and bruises. That's not the case with most players, but teams do not issue new jerseys for every game.
David from Honolulu, HI
Do you ever just kick your feet up on the desk and relish your job as the crown of a great career?
Never. My focus is always on the next game. My only thoughts now are on 14-0. If the Packers win on Sunday, then we can talk about the next goal. One day, there will be time to sit back and reflect.
Alan from Manila, Philippines
I wonder who really calls the play, the quarterback, the offensive coordinator or the head coach?
Mike McCarthy is the Packers' chief play-caller, but it's becoming obvious that Aaron Rodgers is doing more of it all the time, and by using the no-huddle offense, McCarthy is clearly promoting that kind of control by his quarterback. Rodgers has become the new Peyton Manning, but with far fewer gyrations.
Pat from San Francisco, CA
You say the criteria for the greatest team of all-time should be what they accomplished on the field and I wholeheartedly agree, but I'm not sure the 2011 Packers would be the greatest of all-time, unless you limit it to a single-year accomplishment. With the 1960s Packers winning five titles in seven years and three in a row, it would seem these Packers still have a little ways to go to earn the greatest team ever distinction.
Yeah, those were great teams, but I have trouble with '60s football because there were two leagues and the product was terribly diluted, and a significant portion of the teams in each league were not competitive. Nobody respects the history of football more than I do, and I think anybody who reads this column knows that, but if this team goes 19-0, I will consider it to be the greatest team of all-time and, of course, that means it will be the greatest Packers team of all-time.
Raymond from Marquette, MI
Where did the expression "America's Team" come from and when did it start?
It originated in the '70s, when the NFC was really weak and the AFC was the dominant conference. CBS was the dominant TV network and it owned the television rights to NFC games, and because the Cowboys were the class of a weak conference, Cowboys games were nationally telecast more than any other team's games. Hey, the Cowboys were all CBS had. Someone inside the Cowboys, probably Tex Schramm, decided that being telecast nationally nearly every week made the Cowboys "America's Team." It made sense and I didn't have a problem with it, until the Cowboys put those blue and red stripes on each side of the 20-yard lines at Texas Stadium. That was too much for me to take.
J.D. from Louisville, KY
In my opinion, Johnny Unitas, Jim Brown and Walter Payton are the three greatest players of all time. Who's your top three?
Unitas and Brown always top my list, but the No. 3 guy changes. I've made Jim Thorpe, Joe Montana and Lawrence Taylor No. 3, but there's another guy I've always considered and I think I'm ready to make him my official No. 3 all-time player, at least until I get a new No. 3: Anthony Munoz.
Nathan from Fort Worth, TX
Is it true the spiking-the-ball celebration has its roots in rugby, in which you physically have to put the ball on the ground in the end zone for a touchdown?
I doubt Homer Jones was thinking about rugby when he spiked the ball for the first time as he crossed the goal line. He once said that he just felt like throwing the ball down. What such an innocent gesture has become.
Todd from Farmingville, NY
If a visiting coach decides to fly his team to Wisconsin a day early – for instance on Friday before a Sunday game – does the Packers organization allow them use of their practice facilities?
Back when I started doing this, the home team was required to provide practice time for the visiting team the day before the game. When the plane landed, the buses would go to the stadium and players would engage in a brief practice that would acquaint them with the field conditions. That ended at some point in the early 1980s. Field conditions became so standardized that playing in one stadium was no different than playing in any other stadium. Teams usually conduct a short practice at home on Saturday morning before flying to their destination, where they go straight to the hotel and set up camp, so to speak. I don't know if the old rule for providing use of facility still exists – it probably does – but it was only for the day before the game.
Jeremiah from Two Rivers, WI
Speaking of player safety, did any players during the leather helmet era die because of head injuries?
Nineteen players died nationally from injuries sustained in football in 1905. President Theodore Roosevelt threatened to outlaw the sport. The deaths were not the result of helmet-to-helmet hits; however, they were the result of players being trampled to death by the flying wedge and other mass-type formations. They were outlawed in a modernization of the game that gave us today's NCAA.
Dana from Washougal, WA
What are the specific responsibilities of each official in a typical game?
Referee—Has general oversight and control of game. He is the final authority for the score and the number of a down in case of a disagreement. His decisions … are to be final.
Umpire—Has primary jurisdiction over the equipment and the conduct and actions of players on the line of scrimmage.
Linesman—Operates on the side of the field designated by the referee during the first half and on the opposite side during the second half unless ordered otherwise. He is responsible for illegal motion, offside, encroaching and any actions pertaining to scrimmage line prior to or at the snap, and for covering in his side zone.
Line Judge—Operates on the side of field opposite the linesman. LJ is responsible for the timing of the game. He is also responsible for illegal motion, illegal shift and for covering in his side zone. He will count offensive players.
Field Judge—Will operate on same side of field as LJ, 20 yards deep. FJ will count defensive players. Responsible for all eligible receivers on his side of the field. After receivers have cleared line of scrimmage, will concentrate on action in the area between the umpire and back judge.
Side Judge—Will operate on same side of field as Head Linesman, 20 yards deep. SJ will count number on defensive players on field. Responsible for eligible receivers on his side of field. Will concentrate on action in the area between the umpire and back judge.
Back Judge—Primarily responsible for covering kicks from scrimmage or passes crossing the defensive goal line and all such loose balls out of the range of the umpire, field judge and linesman. He notes illegal substitution or withdrawal during dead ball with time in. He will count defensive players.
Wayne from Vallejo, CA
Vince Lombardi was heard to say, "The knee, always the knee," when speaking of football injuries. Is that as prevalent in today's game?
Knee injuries are every bit as prevalent; the difference is that medical science knows how to treat them properly now. In the old days, when you heard that a player had a knee injury, there was an immediate concern that he would never be the same again. Any kind of significant knee injury resulted in invasive surgery that usually cost a player speed. Now we know that a lot of knee injuries don't require surgery to heal, and in the cases of those knee injuries that do require surgery, the procedures are far less invasive and players usually return to full speed. Micro-fracture surgery is the latest and greatest invention to save the knee. It is literally growing new cartilage in the knees of players. ACLs were once the death knell of player's career, but no more.
Igor from Kiev, Ukraine
We have big love of this, how do you say, American football, here in Ukraine. What chance do you think we will get team?
Kiev Vikings? Now that's a road trip.
Paul from Spencerville, IN
What city across the league offers you the best restaurant options?
Mike from Socorro, NM
I was at that game and I didn't think the kick was good, either. I was in the Racine Kilties and we played the halftime show, so we were sitting right on the sideline, near the Colts bench. Our line of sight was such that I thought Chandler missed it and we have to continue to freeze our butts off. Trust me, those kilts aren't the warmest thing one could wear at a football game.
I hope you weren't sitting on a metal bleacher.