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Dominant defense would fix everything

What is the role of media in press conferences?


Jeff from Brooklyn, WI

I'm looking forward to seeing if the Packers have worked out their communication issues they had last week. Hopefully, the run game will be better. Run the ball, stop the run. While this is a passing league these days, those words stand true for any team that wants to be a winner this year, I think. So what will you be looking for as to improvements this week?

I want to see a lights-out, dominant performance by the defense. I think this defense has it in them to do that, and I think it would sure help quiet everybody down, re-instill confidence in this team's direction and set the bar for an early-season showdown in Detroit against one of the league's most explosive offenses.

Richard from Wauwatosa, WI

Vic, what are your thoughts on the NCAA lifting the postseason ban and reinstating scholarships for the Penn State football program?

Four years were cut to two and I think it was the right decision. I didn't favor the original decision, other than the stiff fine Penn State had to pay. Everything else was about punishing the innocent: the players that stayed, the fans that stayed, the Big 10 and more. What did they do to deserve that punishment? The men who were guilty were either dead, in jail or exiled to a life of shame. Corrections have been made. Reparations have been paid. Punishment has been assigned. That's enough.

Brent from Chippewa Falls, WI

Vic, you're a writer and, perhaps, you can answer a question about irony. I read your article every day and hear the fans wanting a 4-3. Now we find out we used a 4-3 against the Seahawks and still lost. I guess it highlights your point about players not scheme. Does this meet the definition of irony?

I opened my inbox the morning after the game and fans were demanding the Packers switch to a 4-3. I was exasperated. It took several minutes and sips of coffee before I could begin. What do you say to someone who says the Packers should've been playing something they, in fact, played? They don't even know what it looks like but they're absolutely sure it's the solution to the problem. This is why I have such a problem with this whole bash-the-scheme thing.

Matthew from Las Vegas, NV

Vic, there is talk the FCC will lift the NFL blackout rule. Can you provide some insight into when and why this rule originated and its relevance in today's market?

The TV blackout rule by which the NFL has lived through five decades was established by an Act of Congress right before the start of the 1973 season. The games of Dec. 23-24, 1972, were the impetus to the blackout rule. Prior to 1973, all home games were blacked out, period. Dec. 23, 1972, gave us the "Immaculate Reception" and the Cowboys' rally in San Francisco, and the following day the Redskins hosted the Packers and the game was blacked out in Washington, of course, and that was the final straw for congressmen that wanted to see the game. The original Act of Congress expired a few years later, but the NFL voluntarily lived according to it for all of the years since then. The owners were originally furious they had to give away their product, but the fallout wasn't as bad as they thought, so peace reigned for 40 years, and I don't fully understand why it's become an issue again. As I wrote in today's earlier "Ask Vic," I think elimination of the blackout policy is a threat to small-market franchises that have tickets to sell and lack the other sources of revenue the big-market teams possess.

Brett from Green Bay, WI

Vic, what are your goals as a reporter in a press conference?

I have one goal: acquire information. That's all. A press conference isn't an interrogation; it's not supposed to be hostile. You ask a question, get an answer and provide that answer to your readers. You don't go into a press conference with the idea you're going to badger a coach or player until he agrees with your point of view. Fans have the opinion that's our job. They think a press conference should be a forum for demanding an explanation for a poor performance. Fans want us to demand the coach call out the players that played poorly. Fans think these guys are going to submit to our harangue. Yeah, sure. See how fast that press conference lasts. What the collective media is looking for is a sense of cooperation between us and the interviewee. We'll ask pertinent questions in a respectful manner, and it's our hope the interviewee will do his best to answer those questions in a similarly respectful tone. What's the interviewee's intent? Coach Noll believed in the "mushroom approach" to dealing with the media: "Keep them in the dark and feed them a lot of manure," except he didn't say manure. If you covered him long enough to learn his mannerisms and his use of the language, he'd give you the answers you needed. I never needed him to make proclamations.

Dave from Bellingham, WA

Vic, are great sports writers born or made?

Great reporters are made. Great writers are born.

Jeff from Oshkosh, WI

I have seen the light and it is glorious. I was a big believer in the pass, but now I realize pounding down the defense and preventing the pass is the only real way to stay successful.

Run the ball and stop the pass? That's a rare but wonderful combination because it almost certainly means you've also stopped the run, or you wouldn't have had the chance to stop the pass. Run the ball and stop everything is a winning formula.

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