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America's team? Just fill the seats

Ten wins might win the division


Michael from Eau Claire, WI

Help refresh an old man's memory. I remember when a team was penalized for excessive crowd noise. When did this change?

The league stopped calling it in 1989. Prior to that, the quarterback could step out from under center and complain to the referee crowd noise was preventing his offense from hearing his snap count. A tug of war between the referee and the crowd would follow. The quarterback would step back under center and the crowd would begin to roar, again. Then he'd step out and the crowd would boo. Eventually, the PA guy would warn the fans a penalty would be assessed the home team if the crowd continued to disrupt the game with noise. It was a disruptive process and the league discontinued it, putting the onus on offenses to play on despite the noise. It's created what I like to call "stand and howl."

Nathan from Merrill, WI

Couldn't help myself. Had to look up Natrona, Pa. Did you know air pollution levels (particularly chromium) measured in Natrona area schools are among the worst in the United States?

We call it bug control.

Joe from San Francisco, CA

In reference to your answer on "Ask Vic Extra!" I understand Aaron Ripkowski's contributions to the team, but what exactly has Brett Hundley brought to the table?

Promise for the future at the most important position in all of sports. How soon we forget.

William from Naples, FL


I know, William, and thanks for noticing.

Josh from Lancaster, PA

Vic, I know the Packers aren't the team that goes out and gets players aside from the draft, but what are your thoughts on the possibility of, say, a Dez Bryant signing in the offseason. It worked out great with the veteran Julius Peppers.

It would not be my expectation.

Kyle from Tampa, FL

Vic, I can't believe you let someone get away with writing such nonsense: "If you want to be the best, you gotta beat the best." One of the dumbest sayings and biggest myths in all of sports. Totally false.

If the team you're playing beat the best, doesn't that make them the best?

Nate from Tucson, AZ

Did the Steelers win?

No, they got clobbered. They turned in one of the worst performances in Bill Cowher's career as coach. I considered the possibility "Christmas Vacation" made them soft. They probably should've shown "Silence of the Lambs," or something like that. Tom Coughlin is probably right; you don't want guys with smiles on their faces. It's an edge game.

Ben from Alameda, CA

How many free hot dogs do you think you've eaten?

At an average of one free hot dog per game for 44 years – I was way over that average in my young years but I cut way back on hot dogs after I got colon cancer – I figure I've eaten nearly a thousand free hot dogs during my career as a sportswriter. A part of me is proud of that accomplishment. Another part of me wants the other half of my colon back.

James from Wausau, WI

Since the color rush topic was discussed, I have a good question for you. What would be the color for the Packers, in your opinion?

I'd go with screaming yellow: shoes, socks, pants, shirts, tape, towels, the whole bit. I have a feeling that's not going to happen.

Brian from Albertville, AL

Who is America's team now?

Let's not worry about that. Let's just make sure the seats in Lambeau Field on Sunday are full of Packers fans. I saw a lot of blue and white in those seats last January. We like to congratulate ourselves on how we travel to other teams' stadiums. Let's make sure we travel to our own stadium.

Isiah from Portland, OR

It's December football and I get the sense you are a little giggly. What's with all this dream playoff scenario talk? What happened to 10 wins first?

In my mind, 10 wins will win the division, and I don't think the division title will be decided before the final game of the season. I can't wait to talk about playoffs until then.

Corey from Whitehall, PA

Richard Rodgers has the hot hands and became the most reliable pass-catcher in the offense in the Lions game, even before the Hail Mary. Do you think the offense should build momentum off him by giving him a Jason Witten type role?

A couple of weeks ago, my inbox wanted to replace Rodgers. Now you want him to be the next Jason Witten. How about something between those two extremes? How about Rodgers being a young, ascending player who's learning how to become a two-tool tight end?

Brett from Green Bay, WI

Vic, would you be in favor of a third wild-card spot? If so, why?

I'm in favor of eight playoff teams per conference and no bye weeks. If we're going to give home playoff games to 7-9 teams, then let's give a playoff spot to the 10-6 teams the 7-9 teams keep out of the playoffs.

Chase from Morton, IL

Vic, my girlfriend and I just bought tickets to the Week 17 game against Minnesota. She has never been to any professional sporting event in her life. Look into your crystal ball, is this going to be the one she measures against any other she will attend in her life?

It'll be the game of the year. That's the best my crystal ball can do.

Josh from Saint Cloud, MN

Vic, who is the Cowboys' most dangerous weapon, outside of Dez Bryant?

Witten and Sean Lee are sensational football players. Lee's injuries have compromised his career; when he's healthy, he's the kind of rush-cover-tackle linebacker Clay Matthews is. The Cowboys' offensive line is star-studded. I think everyone knows injuries to Tony Romo have been the issue. The Cowboys do not lack for weapons.

Danny from Anaheim, CA

Christian McCaffrey would make an awesome addition to the Packers. Your thoughts?

There are a lot of players who would make an awesome addition to the Packers, and the Packers are in the process of identifying them. I've had my eye on a receiver named Tyler Boyd. In my opinion, he's the smoothest, most refined, big-play pass receiver in college football. He's a junior but I expect him to declare for the draft.

Trevor from Wausau, WI

Do you think Jake Ryan will be starting at inside linebacker by the end of the year, allowing Clay to move back outside more often?

I think Ryan has launched a long and productive pro career. I think he might even have star potential. I'm intrigued by Coach McCarthy's caution in commenting on Ryan's play. I thought Ryan was really strong last week, but I suspect he might've been the guilty party on that touchdown pass to Eric Ebron. Yesterday, Coach McCarthy referred to Ryan as a young player who has a lot to learn. He's learning. His arrow is pointing straight up.

Chris from Wauwatosa, WI

Have you noticed how soccer players don't even require helmets? Now their players are protected with giant inflatable balls.

I have not noticed and I'm not interested; I hate soccer. I recently read, however, steeplechase riding ranks right behind boxing for injuries to the head. That surprised me and I couldn't help but wonder what the horse thinks about that.

M.J. from Murphy, NC

I'm curious about the ongoing injuries in the NFL. Has anything changed with the playing surface? I frequently see sand fly up whenever players plant their feet, run or get tackled. Is this new?

You're probably seeing crumb rubber flying up from artificial turf. I recently saw a report on health concerns about crumb rubber. Imagine the health risk of a steeplechase rider eating a free hot dog while riding on artificial turf in Natrona, Pa.

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