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Half-line drills best thing about training camp

Scott Tolzien can become reliable backup quarterback


Erik from Sanford, FL

Vic, didn't you get the memo? Everything old is bad and everything new is good. How many times as a Packers fan have I heard that nine of our 13 championships we won don't count because they didn't call the game the Super Bowl prior to January 1967. It's the same ridiculous historical bigotry that can make a man as great as Jim Brown nothing but your average running back today, in some folks' minds. According to reports, Secretariat would have beaten American Pharoah at Belmont by two seconds. How can that be? Everything old is bad. Nobody that did anything a long time ago was any good, except Mark Twain.

He was bigger, stronger, faster.

Kyle from Saint Paul, MN

After much consideration of the fourth head, I suggest John Madden. He represents many aspects of the game, past and present.

For lending his name to a video game? That disturbs me. Sometimes the younger generation of fans upset me with their disdain for the history of the game, and sometimes I genuinely feel bad for them that they'll never understand or feel the true love I feel for football and its human confrontation.

Matt from Verona, WI

What is the most memorable quote you ever received in an interview?

Following a game in the Astrodome late in the 1980 season, which eliminated the Steelers from playoff contention, Joe Greene said to me, "Tonight, they put the second number on the tombstone." He knew that was the end of their Super Bowl run.

Ross from Stephenson, MI

If Pharoah ever loses, he will blame the ride.

Vic: What happened out there today, Pharoah? Pharoah: Ask Mr. Whip.

Joe from Kenosha, WI

Talk of greatest QB can go on for hours. Who's your most entertaining QB? Being an '80's baby, mine's obviously Favre. Guessing yours is Tarkenton?

I would love to have covered Brett Favre. He had that free-wheeling personality I love to write. Bradshaw had it, too. I see Favre and Bradshaw as kindred spirits. I would also love to have covered Sammy Baugh. I covered a quarterback named Bubby Brister, who had Baugh's personality but lacked Baugh's talent. The Bubster was beautiful. A group of reporters were interviewing him at training camp, when he was competing with Todd Blackledge for the starting job, and Bubby pointed at our notebooks and said in his thick Louisiana accent, "Write it down. I'm the man." That was one of the few times the Bubster didn't include an expletive in something he said. He was great for print guys to cover because we could take his bombs out, but the TV guys couldn't, so they stopped interviewing him and Bubby became the exclusive property of the print guys. I think he's my all-time favorite quarterback to interview. After a loss in New York in which he played poorly, a bearded reporter asked him what he did on days like this. Bubby said he goes home and kicks the dog. The reporter asked him what kind of dog he has. Bubby said, "One with a beard."

Erik from Anchorage, AK

Vic, please don't vacillate. Do you give Jim Brown a head on Mount Rushmore?

You're not reading this column every day. I've already said it's Unitas or Brown, not both, and Unitas is on my Rushmore, and I said my fourth head is Lawrence Taylor.

Jordan from Pewaukee, WI

Vic, how much different will the Packers offense be now that McCarthy is no longer calling the plays?

We will detect no difference at all. This is still Mike McCarthy's offense. It's his playbook and it's his vision. McCarthy will be the main voice in the room during game-planning, and Tom Clements will be calling plays according to McCarthy's wishes. Beyond all of that, McCarthy will be wearing the headset and he'll hear everything going into the game and his veto power is absolute. The story isn't what the Packers will lose with McCarthy not calling the plays, it's what the Packers will gain by his added presence with special teams and defense, especially special teams. I'll be shocked if special teams aren't greatly improved this season.

Kyle from Black Earth, WI

Do you think Scott Tolzien has the potential to be a starting quarterback for an NFL team in the near future?

I would assume that's his goal, but it's not my concern. My concern is for his potential to be a reliable backup quarterback for the Packers. It could be critical to this team's success.

Brett from Green Bay, WI

Vic, do you think teams should play their starters more in the preseason games?

If you want to start fast, I think you have to play your starters in the preseason. Is a team with veteran starters willing to accept the risk of injury? No.

Shannon from Madison, WI

I have to say, I enjoy football so much more now that I am a regular reader of your column. What is the one thing you enjoy the most about football (besides the colors)?

And the contact? The anticipation that accompanies big games. I'll never lose my excitement for the big games.

Justin from Titonka, IA

Which Super Bowl you have watched is your favorite?

How does it get any better than the most recent one? Most of the recent ones have been very good games. In the '70's and '80's, most of them were not very good.

Mathew from Melbourne, Australia

Vic, the practice squad rules need amending. Would you be in favor of making it more difficult for teams to access other teams' practice-squad players, or would you prefer a system that compensates the team that loses the player?

It bothers me that teams out of contention late in the season clear space on their rosters and then cherry-pick practice-squad players who've spent a season being developed by another team. It becomes a reward for losing, and I don't like that. I would favor a system that protects practice-squad players as though they were on the regular roster, and would pay them minimum wage (nothing more or less), but it would not count against the cap. I would favor any system that would cause teams to use the practice squad in a dedicated developmental way, as opposed to an adjunct to the regular roster.

Mark from Seattle, WA

Vic, didn't Marcus Dupree possess the speed and size of Bo Jackson and Jim Brown?

He did, and so did Cookie Gilchrist and Joe Don Looney and a lot of other big, fast backs. What they didn't possess is Brown's and Jackson's extreme athletic ability. John Riggins had some of it.

Joe from Fitchburg, WI

Do you have a favorite Mike McCarthy quote? Mine is "statistics are for losers".

"Less volume, more creativity."

Bob from St. Charles, IA

Which part of the rookies' game needs improvement the most, mental or physical?'

They can't improve physically (execution) until they improve mentally (learn the playbook).

Rick from Shawano, WI

"Training camp just isn't the same for me." Why? Lack of practices?

It's lack of the grind. Two-a-days in full pads made training camp a proving ground for everyone. Veterans had to prove they still had the stamina to make it through training camp. Rookies had to prove they had the toughness to make it through training camp. It was a place where one man could physically defeat another man. Those days are largely gone and I miss them. I miss the Oklahoma drill and the endless nine-on-sevens. For me, the half-line drills are the best thing about training camp now, and I applaud Mike McCarthy for installing them. They made this team a running team.

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