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Here are my top five teams

Mike Neal is a Dom Capers experiment


WR James Jones had four catches for 87 yards and a TD in the playoff loss at San Francisco last season.

Daniel from Pensacola, FL

Vic, I heard during the draft that Datone Jones was the one player that was able to consistently beat Eric Fisher when they went up against each other. Do you think Jones was a better pick than Eric Fisher?

I was sitting right there, in Ladd Peebles Stadium, and I can assure you that Jones was not consistently beating Fisher. As I reported, Jones was the one player that wasn't being dominated by Fisher; Jones held his own. I took notice of Jones on his first rush against Fisher. He bull-rushed him; walked him back to the quarterback. I could tell Fisher soft-set on that one. On the next one, Fisher stoned him. Of all the rushers Fisher faced, Jones was the best, but Fisher went from a player who was projected to be drafted in the top 20 picks, to the first overall pick, and it happened at the Senior Bowl. What does that say?

John from Las Vegas, NV

Come on, Vic, you can't just say you saw Raquel Welch in the press box. Explain.

It was about three hours before kickoff. There weren't many reporters in the press box yet. She was eating an apple. I turned to my buddy and said, "Hey, Vito, is that Raquel Welch?" He said, "Ooooh, yeah." We watched for a while. I couldn't figure out why she was in the press box, so I asked around and found out they were shooting a movie in the Orange Bowl that day. The name of the movie is "Black Sunday." It was about a fictional terrorist attack on the Super Bowl. They shot live Super Bowl scenes during the commercial breaks. I can remember guys running around with cameras chasing actors up and down the steps of the Orange Bowl during the commercials. It was cool. I wonder if the NFL would allow something like that now.

Paul from Kilrush, Ireland

Vic, I had a rugby coach whose tackling mantra was, "He can't run without his legs." Has tackling technique changed over the time you have been covering the game?

Everything was about sinking your hips, squaring your shoulders and striking the rising blow. "Play with leverage," the coaches said. "Under and up," they'd say. "First contact wins," Coach Noll would say. The game was played lower in those days. Now, you hear coaches say in practice, "Stay off the ground." The game is played higher now. What used to be a hips and shoulders game is now a hands and arms game. Sink and strike has become grab and pull. It's a different game because it has to be a different game, and we all have to give it time to evolve into the safer game it must be to survive.

Simon from Aalborg, Denmark

Vic, love reading your column! At the moment, there's so much hype regarding the young new quarterbacks like Kaepernick and Wilson. I'm opposed to heralding them as superstars/franchise savers after one season only; it's not enough in my book. What is your best example of a first-season wonder that turned out to be a bust, from the previous football era?

Is 1989 far back enough? If it is, then Don Majkowski might be a good example. He threw for 4,318 yards and 27 touchdowns in '89, but never topped 2,000 yards or 10 touchdowns in a season in the rest of his career.

Charles from Statham, GA

If Datone Jones is supposed to be part of the solution to the read-option quarterback, why is he being used on the right side of the defense (at least in practice)?

The quarterback is permitted to run to his left. Isn't that what Colin Kaepernick did on his first touchdown run in the playoff game? Jones is getting time on the right side because I think there's an expectation that he could become the Packers' best pass-rushing defensive lineman, and that's where you want your best rusher.

Elvy from Homer, AK

Vic, I love your column but I don't understand why you post peoples' comments bashing you and this column. If they don't like it, they shouldn't read it. Posting these comments takes away another opportunity to learn something new or old.

I post them because they offer another kind of learning experience. First of all, we need to hear both opinions, pro and con. I prefer a more measured tone, but I think we need to read the rants, too, and here's why: Expressing yourself is easy. Pushing the little button that sends that expression to someone is easy, too. The hard part is reading it print and being accountable for it. I think we all need to learn that lesson, including me.

Chris from Apple Valley, MN

Vic, you suck!


John from Olympia, WA

"Reports claim that all of his punts traveled between 50 and 70 yards." Other reports said that when Thorpe was a kid he had to walk five miles to school and back, in the snow, and that it was uphill both ways. That's what time does to people's recollection of things.

So, if it didn't happen now, then it can't be true? That's not fair. Those reports that claim all of Jim Thorpe's punts traveled between 50 and 70 yards that day when he caught one out of the air and ran with it 20 yards for a touchdown were from big-city newspapers that covered the game. I'll never understand why football fans are so threatened by the history of their game, while baseball fans embrace theirs.

Ronnie from Chicago, IL

With all these rule changes the NFL creates to make the league safer, do you think hockey will pass football in popularity in the future since hockey embraces the violent nature and football seems to be stepping further away year after year.

No, because you can't see the puck. Hockey is a great game. Playoff hockey is heart-throbbing, but I can't follow the puck when it gets near the goal. At that point, I wait for the players to raise their arms and celebrate. Maybe it's a good thing, like the ketchup you can't get out of the bottle. You can't see them score.

Karl from Santa Fe, NM

How do you feel about the challenges a breakout player faces in the following year. Example: Colin Kaepernick. He is going to have such a spotlight on him compared to last year, where he hadn't shown his talents as extensively prior to his game against the Packers. Subsequently, he wasn't nearly as successful. I have a feeling he is in for a much rougher sophomore season. My gut feeling is that game was more a result of coaches seeing a vulnerability in the Packers' defensive lineup and exploiting it. Against a younger Sir Charles, or with Nick Perry available, it might not have been such a lopsided contest. Your thoughts?

I think Kaepernick is a major talent that is likely to be a star player in this league for a long time. My only reservation about him is about staying healthy as a running quarterback. I still have my doubts about that. We'll get another look at him soon enough.

Edmundo from Mexico City, Mexico

Vic, what do you think about Mike Neal playing linebacker?

I think Dom Capers is trying to create another pass rusher, as he's done in the past. I saw him do that in 1992 with a linebacker named Jerrol Williams. He turned him into a full-time player that got a lot of money from San Diego in free agency. A year later he was in Kansas City and the following year he was out of the league. I also saw it in Jacksonville. He turned Kevin Hardy into a 10.5-sack Pro Bowl linebacker. The Neal experiment bears watching.

John from Port Edwards, WI

Bert Jones, QB for the Colts; what was your impression?

One of the best arms I've ever seen. He's in the same class with the great power arms in NFL history. He's one of those quarterbacks about whom I would say the ball they threw had a heat shield.

Craig from Wink, TX

Vic, pick one player on offense and one on defense that you're the most intrigued with, to see how they help the Packers this season.

Lacy and Jones.

Brandon from Milwaukee, WI

The Packers are charging admission to Family Night. Do you expect there to be a plethora of other teams' scouts in attendance?

No, because Mike McCarthy isn't going to show anything another team couldn't see on tape or in the preseason.

Michael from Los Angeles, CA

Vic, who are your top five teams going into this season?

Tis the season for lists and rankings, right? OK, I'll play along. 1.) 49ers, 2.) Falcons, 3.) Broncos, 4.) Packers, 5.) Texans.

Cody from Madison, WI

So certain numbers are inextricably linked in your mind to certain players. Who springs to mind when someone mentions 12?

It's Bradshaw. I covered him for too long in too many Super Bowls and in too many big games to lie to you and tell you it's Rodgers. You always remember your first 12, right?

John from Highlands Ranch, CO

Vic, the mention of Skip Bayless got me wondering about your thoughts on this new hybrid type of journalist that Bayless and others represent. They are a blend of robust and polarized opinion, celebrity-like personality and at least a history of good journalism. I know they reflect modern society and its entertainment demands, but real reporting keeps getting overshadowed and pushed aside. Your thoughts?

You have to have multimedia abilities to advance your voice in today's environment. Here's the issue: Can you do it without sacrificing your integrity as a reporter? When you're asked to give your opinion on multiple topics on a daily basis, you better have a good memory because contradiction is a credibility killer. There are times when my opinion changes, and that's when I need to let it be known that my opinion has changed. The reader wants to correct you. He wants to find fault with you. It's something reporters must understand: We are not liked.

Dan from Belvidere, IL

Vic, it sounds like your idea of decreasing injuries in the NFL by decreasing open space would lead to an NFL devoid of passing plays and a game like rugby. I like most of your opinions but that one misses the boat, in my opinion.

I don't think my idea would turn back the clock. I think it would promote more deep passing and fewer checkdown passes. My idea is for all defensive players to be required to be within a certain distance of the line of scrimmage at the snap of the ball. By moving everyone forward, you take away the open-space collision that occurs when a defensive back keeps everything in front of him and then flies up for the tackle. Make them run the other way.

Jeff from Sandy, UT

Do you post the criticism because you like to play the victim or because it increases the readership, or both?

Jeff, football is an edge game and this is a football column. I like it to have a little edge.

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