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Beat the Seahawks and Packers will be No. 1

Fact of life in the NFL: You can't win it all without "The Man"


Dylan from Amery, WI

I've heard a few times that Carl Bradford plays like his hair is on fire. I mean, could you imagine literally playing with your hair on fire? What's the craziest/funniest analogy you've ever heard?

A few years ago, the Jaguars mascot was standing too close to that fire thing they do when the team comes onto the field during its dramatic entrance. Well, the Jaguars mascot's hair really did catch fire and the guy inside got burned bad, but to his credit he never took off the head to reveal the man inside. To this day, little kids and a few really dumb adults think Jaxson de Ville is a real person.

Dave from Lafayette, NY

I plan on making a trip to Green Bay in August for preseason practices. Are there any days of the week or even certain weeks that would be more interesting/exciting to attend?

I think the first week of training camp is usually the best, but the Packers were doing half-line drills deep into training camp last summer, so I think it's just a matter of getting lucky. With the kicking competition between Mason Crosby and Giorgio "Don't Call Me Sergio" Tavecchio, and then later the guy from Oregon, I thought last summer's training camp was the most memorable in recent history. I hope this summer's camp is just as good. It was great for the media, and that's good for Vic.

Joey from Chicago, IL

Vic, I don't believe the bit about you cheering for the Steelers in the press box. I don't know if you're a Steelers fan or not, but I do know you're far too professional to cheer like an idiot in the press box and get kicked out. Like you have for the veteran players, I have too much respect for you to believe it.

Would I lie to you, Joey?

Dan from Rapid City, SD

It seems foolish to ridicule your fellow journalist in the press box at the expense of his team and your employer. Fly a kite, Ketchman.

I'm not proud of what I did.

Mark from Stewartville, MN

Vic, is baseball more appreciated historically because its numbers have more of a magical staying power than football's numbers? For example, Ted Williams' .406 batting average, Joe DiMaggio's 56-game hitting streak, Babe Ruth's 714 home runs? Do the numbers make baseball's history more attractive?

For stats people, yeah, they do. Baseball's records tend to last longer, and part of the reason for that is that baseball has tinkered less with its rules than football has. Baseball is the equivalent of the trains. Football is the jet age. Baseball is for people that like to move in slow circles. Football is for people that like to move quickly in a straight line. I think we have more of the latter in today's culture, and I think the cross into that culture coincided with the rise in football's popularity, especially as it pertains to pro football. I was a huge baseball fan – I still follow and enjoy baseball – but football was always my first love because I loved the confrontation. That's where my concern is for the game going forward. The player-safety era is costing us some human confrontation. Can the game overcome that loss?

Gayle from Dallas, TX

Vic, I was surprised that you admitted to having an emotional fan attachment to another team, but I really respect your coverage of the Packers more so now that I know your deepest heart lies elsewhere. I never could have detected it in your Packers coverage.

Thanks, Gayle. It was time for me to come out of the closet. Your understanding helps.

Tom from Wisconsin Rapids, WI

That Steelers story was hilarious. You really messed with some heads on that one.


Sean from Des Moines, IA

Vic, suppose the Packers beat the Seahawks on opening day; do the Packers immediately jump to the top of the media's power rankings?


Randy from Westboro, WI

Vic, during the Super Bowl era, what do you think has had the greatest influence in changing the way the game is played, safety concerns, innovative coaches and coaching, or the development of bigger, faster athletes?

The emphasis on player safety has caused and will continue to cause the most cataclysmic shift in the style and personality of the game since Teddy Roosevelt "invented" the forward pass. I have a feeling we have only witnessed the beginning of change in the player-safety era.

Bill from Houston, TX

During a game, coaching decisions have to be made and carried out quickly. On offense, when coach calls a play, he also has to call the personnel. How does that get communicated to the players so the right players are sent onto the field and the right ones come off?

It's all according to packages that are linked to certain plays, and there are a lot of people on the sideline involved in the process, from Coach McCarthy calling the play into Aaron Rodgers via the communicator, and to the various position coaches whose responsibility it is to get the right personnel into the game. Everybody hears the call and reacts accordingly. When I was covering the Jaguars, Jack Del Rio did something at the end of the first week of training camp called a "mock game." I had never seen or heard of it previously, and it wasn't much of a game, but it wasn't intended to be a game, it was intended to simulate a game. It even began with the singing of the National Anthem. The mock game was mostly intended for sideline people and for the coaches in the press box and all of the communication that had to be achieved. The National Anthem literally taught everyone, which included a whole lot of rookies, how to line up and conduct themselves during the song. Most importantly, shuttling plays into the game taught the sideline personnel how to communicate within the time allotments of a game. I thought it was a great idea.

Thomas from Milwaukee, WI

Who is the best kick and punt returner of all time, in your opinion?

Deion Sanders is the best punt returner. Maurice Jones-Drew might be the best kickoff returner I've ever seen.

Grant from Dubuque, IA

Vic, I recently read a column stating football was moving to a seven-on-seven, no-contact format. The column suggested these changes are imminent in high school and college, and eventually in the NFL. Do you see this happening?

The college recruiters do a lot of their work at seven-on-seven passing camps. Yes, I see a lot of smaller high schools and high schools that want to take a less aggressive approach to football going to a seven-on-seven type of format. I think we'll see seven-on-seven type of leagues, vs. the schools that wish to continue their traditions in full-contact football. I don't see it in college football or the NFL, but hasn't college football already evolved into a passing-camps type of game? How many programs play the game as Alabama does?

Don from Greensboro, NC

Waiting for "Cliff's Notes". Where's the column?

It runs once a month, near the end of the month, but he's accepting questions now at****.

Paul from Wauwatosa, WI

With what you have taught all of us about salary cap ramifications of big signings, how does the big, new contract of Colin Kaepernick, combined with the re-signing of Boldin and the deal given to Bethea affect the 49ers' future?

All aboard!

Ryan from Boulder, CO

Vic, why doesn't film OTA and training camp practices and put them up on the site for fans to watch? Does the team prohibit it?


Michael from N. Richland Hills, TX

A couple of days ago you argued that fans are accountable for their behavior. To quote you, if they run a coach out of town and that coach goes on to win two Super Bowls, are the fans accountable? I feel your resentment towards fans, but I would counter with each of the coaches you mentioned having later said they learned from the experience and came back stronger. In fact, it could be said the fans were smarter than the coaches and acted accordingly. The fans were just giving the coaches a learning opportunity.

Don't forget the learning opportunity the fans were giving their favorite teams. When do the fans learn?

Chad from Tarpon Springs, FL

Sports improve the racial consciousness of society, right?

We wouldn't be where we are today without Jackie Robinson, Branch Rickey Larry Doby, Fritz Pollard, James Harris, Joe Gilliam and a lot of other courageous men that broke barriers in sports that knocked down walls in daily life.

Ian from Milwaukee, WI

When I read that you admit to cheering against the team that employs you, I immediately thought about starting a blog called "Vic Ketchman is an idiot," but it looks like somebody has already done that. Also, my golden retriever has a better grasp of the English language than you ever will. Are relative pronouns really that complicated?

Yinze is mean. Lance from Chicago, IL

Vic, looking back at the AFL/NFL merger, if that doesn't happen, how would football as we know it today be different?

Could the AFL have endured financially? That's a question historians answer differently. The ones that think the AFL was running out of gas point to the fact the NFL still had the big markets and would've retained market share for too long for the AFL to fund itself in the war between the leagues. Those that think the AFL would've been able to hang on point to the fact that it had just gotten a new, lucrative TV deal and that pro football was heading into a golden era in which the TV deals would just keep getting richer and richer. It would've been CBS vs. NBC, and CBS was so dominant that it would've likely kept the NFL No. 1. In my opinion, it was only a matter of time before the two leagues merged. I think the AFL would've been able to endure, but the two leagues would've continued to spend unnecessarily. I also think the rules changes of 1978 would've happened a lot sooner than 1978 had there not been a merger. The NFL would've had to go to a more wide open game had it not merged with the AFL.

Mike from Huntersville, NC

Isn't Wilson and his low salary cap more of a trend for recent Super Bowl winners?

If three of the last four years is a trend, then the answer is yes. It sure helps to have money to spend on the other positions, but you can't win it all without "The Man." Seattle will have to pay "The Man." The 49ers just paid "The Man" and it might be a little early to proclaim him "The Man." The Ravens rode Joe Flacco's contract as long as they could, and then they paid "The Man," which forced them to gut their team. How you manage that position largely determines your franchise's fate.

Sandy from Austin, TX

Vic, since you love the Steelers sooo much, why don't you do us a favor and write for them?

They don't want me, and now you don't want me either, and my inbox is full of people that are angry at me and want me to leave town. I should've never answered that question.

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