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Compared to now, football in the 1960s was not overexposed


Nathan from New Orleans, LA

I was watching the "Top 100 of 2011" shindig NFL Network put together, and while I think Aaron Rodgers at 11 is quite an accomplishment, I can't help but notice the lack of respect he seemed to get from a few of the network's personalities. They are muddled in sifting through stats and seemed to have forgotten that all Rodgers did was just win, baby.

That's the great thing about winning. It trumps all. It trumps stats, opinions and awards. You don't have to say anything. You certainly don't have to defend yourself; the ring on your finger does that for you. I think fans have gotten too caught up in this top 100 mania. What does it matter? Wanna be number one? Just win, baby; that's all you have to do. Losers rely on rankings. Winners say nothing because their deeds speak for them.

Sam from Fort Wayne, IN

Why is it quarterbacks in this league are judged by wins and losses, whereas all other positions are only judged by individual performance? Sometimes players like Dan Marino get the short end of the stick simply because their respective teams did not perform well enough to win; conversely, average players like Mark Sanchez are more highly regarded simply as a result of team wins. Isn't it time for some consistency?

It sounds to me as though you're one of those fans that like quarterbacks that put up big numbers but don't get it done, and now you want me to join you in making excuses for them. Sorry, Sam, you got the wrong guy.

David from Chuluota, FL

Stats or no stats, for me, if you want to determine who is a great quarterback, ask yourself this: Your team is in the championship game, down a score, waning seconds; who do you want taking the snap?

OK, I'll answer the question: I want Joe Montana taking the snap. I've been debating for years whether to make Montana or Johnny Unitas my number one all-time quarterback. Sometimes I'll lean toward Montana, but mostly I stick with Unitas, for a variety of reasons I offered in my all-time quarterback rankings editorial. With the game on the line, however, I think I'd pick Montana over Unitas. I also think that's a product of the eras in which they played and that Unitas would've been every bit as prolific as Montana was had Unitas played in Montana's era, but they didn't play in the same eras and it's difficult to erase the memory of Montana's magic, as in the great late-game drive to win Super Bowl XXIII; eight of nine for 97 yards with the game on the line. That's what I respect.

Bill from Arlington Heights, IL

My question is probably distant from your column's normal focus, but I am wondering if concealed carry weapons as defined by the recent Wisconsin law will be allowed at Lambeau Field?

Officially, the Packers are studying the issue. I've already made my decision: I'm just gonna bring my laptop to the games. It's my concealed weapon.

Lance from Scappoose, OR

What NFL rules would you change, institute or get rid of, if it was your decision to make?

If there's one rule I would eliminate, it's the intentional grounding rule. I would allow quarterbacks to spike the ball any time they want. I can't think of a better way to protect the quarterback. Instead of putting skirts on them, just let them throw the ball into the ground to avoid a sack. Let them put the skirt on themselves.

Jon from Durham, NC

With the rumors being that a new CBA is somewhere around a 50/50 split, what does that mean for small-market teams?

The big issue for small-market teams going forward would appear to be revenue generation; it's not just about the split, it's also about issues such as a limit on dead money on any one year's salary cap. I think teams are going to have to be aggressive in creating new revenue streams. The question confronting small-market teams is this: Under a new CBA, can small-market teams create new revenue streams in their markets so they can remain competitive with the large-market teams that certainly have greater market resources for driving those revenues? If the answer is no, then the new CBA might need to include some form of revenue sharing.

Dan from Marshfield, WI

Will we ever see cameras lined up at each side of the goal line so officials can see if a player crossed the goal line?

I'm not a big replay guy, but I wouldn't have a problem with this. I think that in the vast majority of cases the camera view is definitive. Hey, if there's one play we have to get right and should get right, this is the play. Did the ball cross the goal line? That's the one we have to get right.

Phillip from Bradenton, FL

Did you have a heart attack? You should know we worry about you when you take a day off.

Last week was moving week.

Ken from Las Vegas, NV

I read a really interesting article by an SI writer who asserted that former Cincinnati Bengals great Ken Anderson is the "most underrated" NFL quarterback ever and is worthy of the Hall of Fame. Do you agree with both comments?

Ken is a friend, so I admit to a degree of partiality. I covered a lot of great games in which he played for a lot of years and I always thought he was a quarterback I would fear at crunch time if I was an opposing coach. I have two strong memories of Kenny from games I covered: 1.) Of him standing in the pocket with Dwight White on the ground and holding his leg, in the great snow game of 1976. Isaac Curtis was open in the corner of the end zone on the last play of the game and every time Kenny would pump to throw, White would pull his leg. Eventually, all he could do is wobble a pass that fell short of the mark. 2.) In a Monday night game, Kenny nearly had his head twisted off by a defensive lineman named Keith Gary, who grabbed Ken's facemask. In just about every newspaper in the country the next day, a picture appeared that showed Ken's head turned around so that he was looking at the name on the back of his jersey. It's one of the most frightening pictures I have ever seen. Kenny had a great career that came up short at a few critical times, and that's why he's not in the Hall of Fame. It's real simple: If the Bengals had scored from the one-yard line in Super Bowl XVI, instead of being stopped on downs, Kenny would be in the Hall of Fame.

Bob from Fargo, ND

I was wondering if you knew how this top 100 voting works. Do the players rate 100 of their peers or what? It seems like it could be open to a lot of divisional bias.

I don't know exactly how it works, but I have no doubt the science of it would not satisfy most fans. The guy who came up with the idea should be promoted and given a raise. Every so often, something really stupid, like the Hula Hoop, hits a home run. This top 100 thing is probably the best thing NFL Network has ever done.

Nate from Jacksonville, FL

Great looking pic, Vic. What did it take to get you in a coat and tie?

A paycheck.

Larry from Tablerock Lake, MO

Thanks for making the offseason bearable. Please explain what the difference is between an H-back and a fullback.

Fullback is a specific position; H-back is a mixture of positions. An H-back is part tight end and part fullback. Most would tell you that an H-back is a tight end that is often used as a fullback. Here's what I say: When an H-back lines up as a fullback, he's a fullback.

Richie from Truckee, CA

I read your column every day and love it. It seems fans confuse popularity and drama for production. I was going to ask why, but I think I already know: video games, fantasy leagues and fans voting players into the Pro Bowl. I think these have greatly increased the sport's popularity, but they have also taken the spotlight away from the gritty performers that just win. Thoughts?

The spotlight doesn't matter to me. I live in my own little football world and what I think and believe matters more to me than what others think and believe. I know that sounds smug but, hey, it's my world. In my world, winning is the ultimate. I respect great performances, but I admire and elevate great performances that result in winning. When you do what Aaron Rodgers did in Super Bowl XLV, I admire you. When you do what Ben Roethlisberger did in XLIII, you move up my rankings. When you do what Montana did in XXIV or what Unitas did in the 1958 NFL title game, you achieve immortality. Why are fans so fragile about these rankings? Why are they consumed by the opinions of others? Form your own opinions. It should matter most to you. You shouldn't need somebody else to validate what you believe to be true.

Cappie from Montgomery, IL

In the latest poll about who's the greatest Packers player to wear No. 84, I see Sterling Sharpe way ahead of Carroll Dale. I'm kind of wondering if most of the people doing the voting are the younger people that don't remember how important Dale was to the Packers in the Lombardi era.

Obviously, the answer to that question is yes. The old-timers labored in anonymity, as compared to today's players. For starters, players back then didn't go from the field to the broadcast booth with the proclivity they do now. There was no ESPN or NFL Network back then. We didn't get Monday Night Football *until 1970, and a game from the West Coast on Sunday was the equivalent of *Sunday Night Football. By the time Ed Sullivan came on, your football weekend was over. Here's the big one: All home games were blacked out in the markets in which they were played, therefore, if you didn't buy a ticket, you only saw 50 percent of your home team's games. I can remember sportswriters of that era cautioning that football was becoming overexposed; that was during the AFL-NFL war. Now we have games from Thursday night through Monday night and something called Sunday Ticket that'll allow you to watch every game. Oh, and let's not forget the red zone channel, which shows every touchdown of every game. Overexposed? Compared to today, the players of the Lombardi era were barely visible. The old-timers don't stand a chance in these types of polls.

Wynn from Fort Worth, TX

I'm concerned about the Packers competing financially in the NFL. What options do you see them having? Talked with Murphy at last Fan Fest; know he is concerned, also.

The Packers can compete because the Packers have a following worldwide and that means the Packers can drive revenue. My guess is that Mark Murphy's greatest concern is for prices. Green Bay isn't New York and New York-type prices are the greatest threat to modest-market franchises such as the Packers. In my opinion, and I know it's shared by a lot of executives in the league, the NFL has to be vigilant about not pricing the fan out of the stadium.

Mike from Wonder Lake, IL

You've been to a lot of different venues over the years, I'm sure. Which stadiums provided the best homefield advantage for their teams, in your opinion?

You know the ones that have been tough to play in, but I'll give you one that's seldom mentioned: the one in San Diego that used to be called Jack Murphy Stadium. When the Chargers have had good teams, that has been a very tough place to play.

Jesse from St. Louis, MO

If you were a head coach in the NFL, what style offense and defense would you prefer to run and why?

I like the 3-4; I have for a long time. I like the talent pool of tweeners it offers. You don't have to waste high picks on every-downs, pass-rushing defensive ends that present an extremely high bust risk. The 3-4 also allows you to play without high-priced shut-down corners. It's great if you have one, but you can find ways to play with zone-type guys. Offensively, I like power football, but those days are over, so there's no choice but to spread it out and whip it around. I love the running game and balance is important, but you can't win with the run in today's game; you win with the pass.

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