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Greatest team of all-time?


Jeff from Menasha, WI

Can you tell me who the Packers picked and what round/number in the subsequent draft after trading Favre?

Vic: The Packers received a third-round pick in the 2009 draft from the Jets in exchange for Brett Favre. That third-round pick, along with a second-rounder and another third-rounder, were traded to the Patriots to move into the 26th overall draft position, where the Packers selected Clay Matthews.

Tyler from Watertown, WI

Do you think the lockout will help the Packers repeat? Here's my theory: The lockout has put a halt to many of the celebratory things that come with winning a Super Bowl, so I feel that will make them even hungrier to get back. Am I crazy?

Vic: Here's my theory: The lockout could help the Packers get back to the Super Bowl because teams coming off a Super Bowl season tend to ease back into the routine more slowly than teams that have spent the offseason trying to fix their flaws, but in this case every team will be easing back into the routine because there may not be a routine.

Dave from Phillips, CA

Name one NFL player who was drafted as a snapper.

Vic: I can give you two off the top of my head: Kendall Gammon and Randy Chevrier. Gammon is one of the great long-snappers in NFL history.

Larry from Conifer, CO

In my humble opinion, Gale Sayers was the greatest running back of all-time. Your thoughts.

Vic: If you had said second-best, I might agree, from a skill-set standpoint. Jim Brown is the greatest running back of all-time, period, end of discussion. Sayers had the ability to beat you with the run, the catch, the kickoff return and the punt return. He was special. Unfortunately, he played at a time when they didn't know how to treat knee injuries. The same sad fact shortened and damaged Joe Namath's career. In those days, every knee injury was another surgery. Now we know that MCL tears, for example, don't require surgery. Sayers was amazing. I saw him return the opening kickoff in the 1968 season opener for a touchdown. I was a senior in high school, sitting in the opposite end zone and it was as though he was running right to me. It was hard to believe anybody could be that talented.

John from Austin, TX

I'm reading a book on the 1958 NFL title game (by Mark Bowden). The author refers to the fact that Unitas was actually cut by the Steelers and highlights the role of Raymond Berry, who was considered odd for being much more of a student of the game than other players of the time, in the development of Unitas. Bowden suggests the influence of Berry in Baltimore was instrumental in Unitas' rise to greatness and that he may never have flourished had he stayed in Pittsburgh. Do you agree or would you say that's hogwash?

Vic: I think it's a given that Johnny Unitas would not have flourished with the Steelers. They were a bad team in those days. What Bowden may be missing in his evaluation of Unitas' career is what he and Berry might've achieved had they been together on the Browns. Why do I say that? Because Paul Brown, the coach of the Browns, had scouted Unitas as he played for the Bloomfield Rams, a Pittsburgh sandlot team, after Unitas was cut by the Steelers. Brown was ready to sign Unitas to a contract and had also coveted Berry in the draft, but was beaten for the services of both by Weeb Ewbank, who had been an assistant on Brown's staff in Cleveland and had learned of Brown's regard for Unitas and Berry while on Brown's staff. What if Ewbank had not gotten the Baltimore job? Well, Unitas and Berry would've probably played together in Cleveland, with Jim Brown. How many titles do you think the Browns would've won with those three guys?

Bill from Waunakee, WI

Somebody just mentioned having an extra official in a replay booth. I think it would be better for the NFL to have a team of refs at the NFL headquarters. They would have access to all the replays that the refs have on the field. They should be able to make a more timely ruling.

Vic: You're kidding, right?

Eric from Princeton, NJ

I went to a talk from MLB CFO John Mariner, who spoke about baseball and the labor issues facing other sports. He mentioned that MLB is the only one of the four major leagues (NFL, NBA, NHL) without a salary cap, and it is the only one without a major labor problem. He said this is because MLB allows the Yankees and the Jerry Jones-types to flourish without pushing costs higher for the small-market types. What say you?

Vic: Did Mr. Mariner say anything about a luxury tax and how it's a device big-market teams, such as the Yankees, use to keep small-market teams in business so the Yankees can beat their brains in every year? Isn't that a lovely model for maintaining the integrity of athletic competition? Did Mr. Mariner say anything about baseball having not played a World Series one year because of a player strike? Eric, if there's one pro sports league that shouldn't be used as an example of how to do it, it's MLB.

John from Neptune Beach, FL

If the proliferation of spread offense continues in college, and the quarterback pool becomes increasingly populated with players geared to that type of offense, does the NFL not have to follow at some point, simply because that's where the talent will take them?

Vic: Did the NFL follow college football's lead during the wishbone years? The simple answer to your question is that those quarterbacks will have to be re-trained. It might even end up saving the NFL money because if these quarterbacks are so far behind the learning curve in how to play the pro game that they'll require years on the bench while they learn the pro game, then they will likely be selected later in the draft. I don't think you'll ever see NFL quarterbacks become the featured runners they are in college football. Too many of them would be lost to injury.

Phil from Albuquerque, NM

On the whole salt-water thing, it seems archaic but they were on the right track. It is about getting the sodium ions (electrolytes) in the water. Look at any sports drink and you will see a pretty high sodium content.

Vic: I gave up ions for Lent.

David from Wichita, KS

Besides the 47 consecutive games with a TD, why does Johnny Unitas rate number one in your thoughts?

Vic: Because he is the father of modern offense. He and Ray Berry invented and perfected the down-and-out to stop the clock in the two-minute drill. Because Unitas is one of the toughest men that ever played the game. Because his competitiveness was off the charts. Because he called his own plays and once, when new coach Don Shula sent a play in from the sideline, Unitas called time out, went to the sideline and asked Shula if he wanted to play quarterback. Because you didn't talk in Unitas' huddle. Because every player in the league respected him. Because he loved the game so much he played it on a field of rocks under the Bloomfield Bridge. Because he had a picture-perfect release. Because he was the star of the most important game in pro football history. Because he had a great crew cut and because he wore high-top black spikes and because he was a winner. I covered his final game. He was playing for the San Diego Chargers and he was wearing a uniform with lightning bolts on it. It was hard to watch.

Corey from Milton, WI

When you're watching the draft on TV and you see the prospects on the phone, who are they talking to? Is it the team welcoming them aboard, their agent letting them know they've been drafted?

Vic: He's probably talking to the team. If it's while the team is on the clock, the team is probably asking him a few questions before they submit the pick: Have you sustained a new injury recently? Have you been arrested or become involved with law enforcement? If it's after he's been drafted by the team, he may be accepting congratulations from the coach, the GM, the owner, or he may be talking to his position coach or with somebody in football ops or public relations, who might be advising the player on travel arrangements, the mini-camp schedule or simply asking him at what phone number it is best to reach him. They're not telling him they're going to use him in a five-wide formation; it's just simple logistical stuff.

Justin from Millsoro, DE

What would you say was the best team that ever played?

Vic: The usual candidates are one of the 1960s Packers teams (I'm partial to the '62 team), the 1978 Steelers, 1984 49ers and 1993 Cowboys. The '85 Bears get mentioned, too, but you don't see the 1972 Dolphins mentioned much, despite being undefeated and untied. The reason for that is the soft, very soft schedule that team played. It's kind of a shame. I think the '72 Dolphins belong in the conversation. I'm partial to the '78 Steelers because I covered that team and because they beat a really good Cowboys team in what was a great Super Bowl, and because 10 men from that team are in the Hall of Fame.

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