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Don't lose your quarterback now


Brandon from Tampa, FL

In the Monday night game, the Chiefs scored a defensive TD and were flagged for excessive celebration. The play was overturned on review and the Steelers were awarded the first down because of the penalty. If there's one lasting legacy you leave, I'd love to see actual celebration circles painted on the sidelines.

I immediately knew it was going to be an incomplete pass – so did Jon Gruden – and when the Chiefs players went into their end zone dance and were flagged, I knew the penalty would be tacked onto the previous spot of the ball. When I saw the replay of the celebration, I felt terrible for Romeo Crennel. Eight Chiefs players participated in it. Eight! They stood there and wiggled and jiggled and dared a flag be thrown. They had to know they were going to be penalized. What an affront to a proud coach, a players coach, a guy who has always loved and supported his players. He doesn't deserve to be humiliated by his players as he was with that celebration display. If I were Coach Crennel, I would feel worse about that display than I would about losing the game.

Charlie from Misawa AFB, Japan

Call me an optimist but all of these injuries seem to have some positives to them: Young, untested guys get time to develop and grow. Also, other teams don't have tape on these guys who have rarely played, so it feels like the team has an element of surprise. We always fear what we don't understand, right? What are your thoughts?

George Young, one of the most esteemed general managers, talent evaluators and team builders in NFL history, was fond of likening football players to Marines, "the younger the better." Being forced to turn to young talent to replace injured players has and will continue to build long-term depth for the Packers, but the volume of injuries the Packers have sustained is going to make winning more difficult. When the Packers start getting back some of their injured stars, such as Clay Matthews, Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson, Charles Woodson, etc., the depth the Packers built by playing young players will be doubly felt. It can be one of the ingredients for a team getting hot late in the season.

Randy from Medicine Hat, Alberta

Would you be in favor of shrinking the goal posts to make it more difficult to kick a field goal?

No, but I would be in favor of capping field goal attempts. I don't like the flurry of "Hail Mary" field goal attempts we're beginning to see. Yardage between the 20s has become so easily gained that the potential loss of field position that would accompany a missed long kick is not discouraging coaches from attempting "Hail Mary" kicks. I'd like to see kick attempts capped, so they might be used more strategically. It would cause coaches to be more aggressive with their play-calling inside the 40. It would also cause more controversy in how coaches strategically use their kicks, and if there's one thing we know about the NFL, it's that controversy drives popularity.

Tyler from Redlands, CA

Vic, I'm in awe at how clear and focused Coach McCarthy's answers are every week in "Tuesdays with McCarthy." I don't see a point in the near, or even somewhat distant future, when he isn't our coach. How could it happen? I certainly don't want it to.

Don't worry about it. Coaches and quarterbacks are joined at the hip, so to speak. Their time together define periods of their teams' histories: Lombardi/Starr, Brown/Graham, Walsh/Montana, Noll/Bradshaw, etc. McCarthy/Rodgers is at the beginning of a long run. Neither man is going to be anywhere else for a long time.

Jesus from El Paso, TX

You know who can live with a tie? Futbol fans. When will you learn that we have much to offer?

I just changed my mind. All games should be played to a decision.

Andrew from Jacksonville, FL

A North Carolina prep quarterback set a national record with 837 passing yards and tied another national record with 10 touchdown passes in a 104-80 win.

In 1916, Georgia Tech defeated Cumberland, 222-0; the Bulldogs were missing a few players due to injuries. I don't think we'll ever see a game that lopsided again, but 222 points might not be out of reach.

Christopher from Fond du Lac, WI

My dad grew up in Baltimore. He had great things to say about Memorial Stadium. What was your take on that place?

I remember they served crab cakes in the press box, and I remember that you had to exit the visitors' clubhouse through the dugout and walk across the field to get to the buses. That's when I saw the airplane stuck in the upper deck.

Adam from Wausau, WI

Quoting Mike McCarthy after being asked what he does with his extra time off in preparation during the bye week, "We don't want to do too much schematically."

I smiled when he said that.

David from Richmond, IN

With all of these injuries, I couldn't help but recall a line from my favorite sports book, "Instant Replay," by Jerry Kramer. "Vince Lombardi has the highest pain threshold I know. None of our injuries hurt him at all."

Football has always attracted writers with a romantic view of sports. Recently, one of my readers sent me an "SI Vault" story of Tex Maule's account of the "Ice Bowl." Maule is a legendary football writer. I read his account with great delight. It wasn't a report, it was art, a beautiful retelling of a beautiful football game, as witnessed by the eyes and emotions of a man with a literary pulse. When I finished reading the story, I thought to myself: We have too many reporters; we need more writers.

Erick from Mooresville, NC

I just recently started reading your column and I love it. My question is, since there seem to be so many injuries lately, what percentage of them are caused from turf compared to natural grass?

Jay Cutler, Alex Smith and Ben Roethlisberger were all injured on soft grass fields, but nobody is saying the league should outlaw grass fields. What if they had all been injured on artificial turf fields?

Evan from Oshkosh, WI

You talked about good stats and bad stats. Everybody seems to rip on Brett Favre for holding the record for most interceptions, however, he also holds the record for most attempts and completions. People seem to forget that the more you throw the ball, the higher the chances are that you might throw an interception. Would you consider the interception stat a bad stat then?

There are "good" interceptions and bad interceptions. A good interception, for example, is one that doesn't affect field position or erase the potential for a score. A bad interception is one that kills a scoring drive or directly leads to points by the opponent. Go back through all of the interceptions and decide whether they were good or bad interceptions. It's the only way of quantifying a stat's true worth. Painting with a broad brush is usually messy.

Daniel from Greenwood, IN

I personally like your idea of letting quarterbacks intentionally ground the ball, however, defensive players would throw a fit about the avoided sack. How would the league approach this?

Sacks weren't an official stat credited to defensive players until 1982. How did we measure the great defensive players prior to then? I didn't need a sacks stat to know Alex Karras was a good football player. If we must have a stat, then call it a spike. When the quarterback spikes the ball to avoid a sack, the closest defender gets a spike.

Chris from New Canaan, CT

I think "Night Train" is hands down the coolest nickname in the history of sports. Do you have an opinion?

Here are some other ones I've always liked: Hugh "The King" McElhenny, "Mean Joe" Greene, Bucky "The Catawba Claw" Pope, Fred "The Hammer" Williamson, "Broadway Joe" Namath and Dick "Little Mo" Modzelewski.

Don from Torrington, CT

Did the league intentionally backload all the division games this year, or did it just happen to work out that way? If they did it intentionally, do you think we will see it this way every year? I like it.

They did it intentionally and they've been doing it this way for the past few years. I like it, but I also see a problem with concentrating such important games into segment of the schedule: If you lose your quarterback for a few weeks at the wrong time of the season, you might not be able to recover.

Bryan from Waverly, IA

Do you believe the Packers will sweep the division?

That might be an unrealistic expectation, but it might be what they'll have to do to win the NFC North.

Chris from Petaluma, CA

Vic, in power polls, the Rams should be tied with the 49ers.

I used to do things like that with my all-important power rankings. My No. 1 team, for example, would get upset by the No. 20 team, and I'd move the former No. 1 team below the former No. 20 team for a week, and people would go crazy. The anger was off the charts. I would explain over and over that my all-important power rankings were for amusement only and should not be taken seriously, but they wouldn't listen. I'd ask them not to read my all-important power rankings, but they kept reading. When I came here, I quickly got the feeling Packers fans might be a little too intense for my all-important power rankings.

Moose from Seattle, WA

Why are the hash marks in college football wider than in the NFL?

When the NFL moved the hash marks toward the center of the field in 1972, college football didn't do the same. That's the reason. The NFL moved the hash marks for the purpose of opening the field for the passing game. What resulted was one of the greatest explosions of thousand-yard rushers in NFL history. Moving the hash marks is probably the single-greatest rules change failure in NFL history. It ushered in an era of low-scoring, run-the-ball football that forced the rules changes of 1978 that did, in fact, change the game in the manner the league wanted in 1972.

Roger from Indianapolis, IN

You mention the toughness of Bobby Layne. Some players said he was known to have the scent of liquor on his breath.

One of my best friends covered Layne. He loved Layne and I loved to listen to the stories. One of those stories involved an all-nighter that concluded with the police pouring coffee into Layne in the wee hours of game day. A few hours later, Layne threw for 409 yards, a team record that stood for 44 years. Layne is the hero of guys that don't like to work out.

Hector from Chicago, IL

Vic, you are like the boyfriend who never calls. I have written to you a vast amount of times, but you have yet to publish a question of mine. I don't know where this relationship is going.

I think we can end it now, Hector.

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