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Drum roll: Here's my pick for the Super Bowl


Andrew from Columbia, MO

The other day I was trying to compose my All-Packers team and I ran into an interesting decision. Should the all-time Packers defense be a 4-3 or a 3-4? Who would be the key members in that lineup and what position would you have them playing?

I think it should be a 4-3 because it best accommodates the personnel that needs to be named to your all-time Packers defense. Willie Davis and Reggie White were 4-3 ends and Ray Nitschke was a middle linebacker.

Allen from Brodhead, WI

How is it determined what round a compensatory draft pick is awarded to a team? Also, are those picks at the end of the round in which they are rewarded?

There's a formula for weighing gains and losses in free agency. If a player that was lost in free agency is regarded to be ranked within the top half of the players in the league, then he counts as a free agent loss. If you've sustained more free agent losses than gains, you get a compensatory pick or picks. Where or how many of those picks you're awarded is incorporated within that formula. Compensatory picks are at the end of the rounds in which they are awarded.

Tom from Fairborn, OH

Great answer on Namath's significance. I was reading about Johnny U. lately and learned that Weeb Ewbank was the coach on the winning team in arguably the two most important games in NFL history. The Weeb musta been some character, too.

I've never heard of him described as a character. Ewbank was a straight-laced, no-nonsense football coach who, yes, was the winning coach in the two games that more than any others shaped the game of football we watch today: the 1958 NFL title game, which is known as "The Greatest Game Ever Played," and Super Bowl III, in which the AFL Jets, led by Joe Namath and his guarantee of victory, upset the heavily favored Colts, Ewbank's former team. Ewbank wasn't what you'd a call a personality, but he delivered a famous pep talk to his Colts team for the '58 title game. He went around the locker room, calling out players' names and reminding them of the rejection that brought them to the Colts. When he got to Unitas, he reminded him that he wasn't even good enough to play for his hometown team, and that Unitas was found on a sandlot field playing for a semi-pro team. Then Unitas went out and scored the first sudden-death victory in NFL history.

Richard from Lake Havasu City, AZ

With the Packers in the 28th spot in the draft and a lot of needs on both sides of the ball, would it be a good idea to try and trade down to get extra picks?

I love trading down and getting extra picks, but I think that's more of a strategy for a team in rebuilding than it is for a championship-caliber team that has a few specific needs. The Packers don't need a lot of picks for the purpose of rebuilding their roster. They need to put themselves into position to get the players that'll address specific needs. Having said that, if a player the Packers believe addresses a need can be drafted a few spots lower than where the Packers are, then go ahead and trade back and get an extra pick. I'd never frown on that. The more the merrier.

Ryan from Las Vegas, NV

If you were given an equal pool of talent, would you still prefer the 3-4 to 4-3?

Yeah, I would. I'm a 3-4 guy, especially in this day and age. I think the 3-4 allows for more creativity in rush and cover schemes.

Parvati from Santa Monica, CA

What I'm gathering is that Joe Namath should make the Hall of Fame simply for winning one game that he "guaranteed," and being mediocre in that game at that. This is a perfect of example of a high-profile quarterback getting too much credit for a team accomplishment.

Just win, baby. He did, and when the lights were brightest.

William from Jacksonville, FL

Both are pass-heavy teams, but will the running game ultimately decide the winner on Sunday? If Brandon Jacobs finally starts lowering his pads, then Brady can be kept off the field. If the Pats can get a run game going to slow down the Giants rush, then Brady may face only six in coverage and a defensive line that can't just dig in and go. How do you see it playing out?

I see the Giants getting pressure with four and crowding the passing lanes with seven, and that's a formula for victory against pass-heavy teams. On the other side of the ball, I see the Patriots reverting to their true personality of a 31st-ranked defense. I'm picking the Giants.

Ryan from Lancaster, PA

I've been watching the Packers for a long time and have grown used to their success. Why was there a gap of mediocrity in the 1970s and 1980s?

Look at the drafts. They always tell the tale.

Jon from Lynchburg, VA

Wanna trade a Clarence Peaks for a Minnie Minoso baseball card? I know how you felt. Same source of income, too. And did your mom throw out your cards like mine and so many others did?

I had a Minoso, when he played for the White Sox after they won the World Series. The card I kept getting was Roman Mejias. I had so many Mejias cards that I used the extras to put on my bicycle to make that clicking sound. My mother didn't throw them out, but they kept getting washed, as in they were in the pockets of my pants when they were put in the washing machine.

Mike from Bridgeport, CT

I listened to an interview with Deacon Jones yesterday. I think I could listen to that guy talk all day long. Where would you rank Deacon Jones on a "greatest player ever" list?

I don't think I've ever seen Jones interviewed that he hasn't used the words "upside the head." He played in the head-slap era and he wrapped his hands hard with tape and, I've heard, soaked them in water, which helped give him the most feared head slap in the league. Imagine that in today's game: As the offensive lineman grabs the front of his jersey so as to avoid being called for holding, he's getting hit in the head by a defensive lineman's fist. It was called "ringing his bell" because the old metallic-like helmets would making a ringing sound when they were struck just right. It's almost comical sounding, but that was the violent nature of the game in Jones' era. Greatest player ever? No. Greatest head slap ever? Absolutely. Right upside the head.

Benjamin from Dewitt, IA

Should the Packers franchise Flynn and then trade him? Do you think they can get a first-round pick for Flynn?

I think it might be worth the gamble, but you're likely to lose some trade leverage in doing that because teams willing to trade for him would know you're desperate to do the deal. The Patriots got a two for Matt Cassel.

Otis from Pearland, TX

Vic, is a team required to stay under the salary cap at all times? Or is a team allowed to exceed its cap during the offseason, when rosters can swell to 80 players.

The salary cap is in force at all times during the year, but its enforcement rules change in the offseason when rosters swell to 80 players. In the offseason, the top 51 contracts count toward the cap.

Kasey from Oxford, OH

A lot of frustration from fans has come up with the league implementing more rules that are done to increase player safety. Would I like to not see video-game numbers where multiple quarterbacks throw for over 5,000 yards in a season? Sure. But I would rather them be able to walk away from the game healthy when it's over.

A couple of months ago, I mentioned in this column a player named Cookie Gilchrist. A new author named Chris Garbarino from Staten Island contacted me and asked if I would like a copy of a book he had written on Gilchrist. The book is "The Cookie That Didn't Crumble," and I enjoyed reading about a very underrated player from a very different era in professional football. Chris did an especially good job in the book of detailing the effects of an injury diagnosed today as chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a progressive degenerative disease found in individuals who have been subjected to multiple concussions. As I read the book, I gained a greater understanding and appreciation for Commissioner Roger Goodell's and the league's efforts to eliminate unnecessary contact to the head and in making the game safer for its players.

Nick from Water Mill, NY

What is it exactly that separates great quarterbacks?

People's prejudices.

Bryce from Iron Mountain, MI

Give me one name. The person you most compare to Aaron Rodgers is?

Bert Jones.

Mike from Park Ridge, NJ

Is it enough that our great athletes will outperform other teams' lesser athletes or does Coach McCarthy have to find new schemes or develop new plays to stay ahead? Same idea on defense. We'll add a few great athletes there, too, but do we also have to tweak within the 3-4?

Teams must constantly re-invent and re-design themselves, to stay fresh, but I think fans put too much stock in plays and not enough emphasis on players executing plays. My all-time favorite Bill Walshism is: "At some point in the season, the coach has to turn the team over to the team." You can teach them how to do it and give them a playbook with which to do it, but when they take the field on the day of the game, the rest is up to them. There's nothing wrong with the Packers' playbook, on either side of the ball.

Andy from Green Bay, WI

Is it possible that a team could get a first-round draft pick for a compensatory pick if a lost free agent performed that well?

The third round is the highest round in which a team may be awarded a compensatory pick.

Mariano from Buena Park, CA

Simpson or Dickerson?


Michael from Norfolk, VA

What constitutes a dropped pass?

The old definition of it was two feet on the ground and the ball within reach of both hands, but I suspect that definition has been greatly expanded, as well it should, based on the "defenseless receiver" rule and those gloves receivers are wearing nowadays. Those aren't gloves, they're flypaper with fingers.

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