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Here are the dates practices are open to the public


Jim from Sioux Falls, SD

My daughter suffered two concussions playing high school basketball. We asked her concussion doctor if wearing a helmet would allow her to play soccer again. He said: "Helmets are designed to prevent skull fractures. They don't prevent concussions." If you are running full speed and slam into a wall, a helmet is not going to prevent your brain from banging into your skull. It's called inertia. I don't really see a good solution here, do you?

I need answers; I think we all need answers before we can understand this matter fully. Why do some football players suffer apparent consequences and others don't? I keep thinking about Jerome Bettis, who is a symbol of power football. Nobody has ever taken more of a pounding than Bettis, yet, he's one of the happiest, quick-witted men I've ever met. I can give lots of examples of guys that played long and hard, and they're still as stable and as sharp as the day I met them. How about Ditka? He's a symbol of power football. One of the all-time great catch-and-run plays is from a game in the Bears' 1963 NFL title season, on the infamous Kennedy Sunday when the games weren't televised and few people saw Ditka's catch and run, when he literally ran through an entire defense, one guy twice. Does he appear to be suffering from depression and dementia? I spoke to Jerry Kramer on the phone last season. It was one of the most entertaining interviews of my sports writing career. Why doesn't he suffer from depression and dementia? How do we explain this inconsistency? I want to know more about how other factors, generational and lifestyle things, might be involved.

Brandon from Ellenwood, GA

Would you encourage a loved one to go after his goal and play professional football?

I would encourage a loved one to play football on any level, as long as I believed football was for them. It's not for everyone. You have to be a person with a physical bent. Love of the game isn't enough; you have to love contact to enjoy and endure football. What I would tell them is this: It's football and you WILL get hurt. It's not if, it's how often? If you can accept that fact and still feel a burning desire to play, go for it.

Mark from Columbia, MO

"Football is beginning to imitate the combine." That really made me think about the evolution of the game. What do you think were some of the major evolutions of the game (in the NFL), and are we experiencing another one now?

I think the invention of the facemask has had more impact on the game than any other facet of the game's evolution. If we could've known then what the facemask would cause later, I think it would've been forbidden.

Dan from Grosse Pointe Park, MI

Your teeth are very nice, suspiciously so.

I'm glad you like them. I got the prettiest ones from playing football.

Jim from Des Peres, MO

Shame on you, Vic, for your ill-conceived, if not churlish, response to Fabrizio from Fossano, Italia ("well English"). Clearly, you have never lived in another culture that has a different language, struggling to employ that language, to do well and to improve. This is what Fabrizio is trying to do, and you either mock him or pull an inside linguistic joke that will set problems for him. Humor is the hardest thing to translate between cultures, and linguistic humor is the most difficult. Please reconsider that response, and please think twice about doing it again.

I feel terrible. OK, I'm over it now.

Fabrizio from Fossano, Italia

Vic, you are fantastic. I really like your sarcasm. Understanding humor in a foreign language is the key step.

Understanding humor; what a wonderful skill. We used to be able to do that in this country. Why did we stop?

Hansen from Waukesha, WI

What led to the demise of the USFL?

Expensive salaries and cheap seats. It's a bad combination.

Ryan from Las Vegas, NV

One of the most fascinating things to me in this column is learning about rules changes which had the opposite effect of the intent. If the three-point stance is eliminated, what unintended effect might that have?

That's a great question because I can see an unintended consequence that might even worsen the problem. Standing players up would cause them to play even higher, and that's where the head is. When I think of unintended consequences, the one that always comes to mind is the 1972 rule change that moved the hash marks toward the center of the field. The intent was to stimulate the passing game by creating more room laterally. So what happened? The league experienced the greatest explosion of thousand-yard rushers in its history.

Kevin from Hudson, WI

Vic, you've told us about the offenses you like. How about defenses? Any favorites?

Yeah, the 0-0-11. I call it the "Ketchman prevent." I invented it years ago and I've pitched it to a couple of my defensive coordinator friends, but nobody's used it, and I can't understand why not. Hey, if you're going to use a prevent defense, then why not go all the way? It's late in the game and you're ahead by more than one score. Your opponent has to pass and, of course, your goal is to prevent the deep completion and keep the clock running. Why waste men at the line of scrimmage on a rush that won't get home? Why even rush the quarterback? The longer he stands back there patting the ball, the more time comes off the clock. If he wants to run, good; that'll keep the clock running. Meanwhile, you've got 11 defenders against five receivers. If you can't defend that, then it's time to forfeit the rest of the season and move on to the draft.

Rene from La Habra, CA

Will the Packers be able to give contract extensions to all these key players, such as Aaron Rodgers, B.J. Raji, Clay Matthews and Greg Jennings, without going over the cap?

That's the goal and that's why the Packers don't spend like fools in free agency. The good teams have a nucleus of core players and they keep them together.

Mike from San Antonio, TX

Will the June mini-camp be open to the public like the fall training camp?

The practices on May 22, May 30 and June 5 are open to the public.

Dennis from Indianapolis, IN

Concerning bad-weather games, were you covering them when one of the Steelers nearly drowned at the bottom of a pile during a very wet game?

I think that was the rain game in Miami in 1989. I lived in Florida for 16 years, rode out two hurricanes, but I never saw rain as I saw it that day in Miami. It rained so hard and so long that the water turned the steps of the stadium into waterfalls. I can remember the sight of water cascading down the steps all over the stadium. The place looked like a water park. NFL Films loved it.

Bubba from Pocatello, ID

Vic, will there be random PED testing at your golf tournament?

At registration, each golfer will be handed a hat and a cup.

Mitch from Austin, TX

Vic, I purchased a share of Packers stock during the last sale and I was wondering about the annual shareholder's meeting. Does it cost anything to attend? What usually happens? I would love to attend one someday but I'm not sure what the experience is like.

It's festive. I covered my first one last summer and the event had a kind of joy to it that I enjoyed. It's more than a report on the state of the Packers. It's a celebration of the arrival of a new football season, and a celebration of Packers fans. There's nothing wrong or forbidden about having good, clean fun.

Jason from Summerville, SC

Can Finley meet or exceed his expectations this year?

Ask him that question today in the chat he's scheduled to do on at 12:30 p.m. CT. I think he's going to have a huge year.

Calvin from Seattle, WA

Vic, what are the main differences between mini-camp, training camp and OTAs?

OTAs are voluntary, mini-camp is mandatory and training camp is necessary.

Patrick from Fort Collins, CO

Vic, every day on my way home from work, I drive past City Park and there is a large organized league of junior high kids playing flag football. Do you think football will progress to this or move back to more of a rugby style game?

I think the most dramatic changes in the game will first be seen on the youth level. I think we are in the final days of block-and-tackle football, if we're even still in it. The foundations of the game I learned – initiate contact, run through the man, play with reckless abandon – are going to become foreign to our youth. The game is going to undergo a huge shift toward player safety and I don't think anybody has a true vision of how the new game will look. Look at it this way: We are living through what might possibly be the crossroads of the game. It's kind of exciting.

Ken from Birmingham, AL

I recall in the early '70s Bears coach Abe Gibron assigning a specific player to go after Packers kicker Chester Marcol on kickoffs. The player's assignment was to nail Marcol and get him out of the game. Gibron freely admitted this and when questioned about it, uttered the famous phrase: "What is he, some sort of Polish prince?" The league office didn't bat an eye. How times have changed.

How about the Oilers' "House of Pain"? It's all part of the culture that has to be changed.

Maggie from Ames, IA

What do you think is the most important attribute for a quarterback to develop?

An inner clock. He needs to hear an alarm that says, "Get rid of it."

Stephen from Chicago, IL

Can you add a "total consciousness package" to the golf outing? In the event I get killed at your tournament, having that on my death bed would be nice.

Anybody that registers for the golf tournament and agrees not to sue the Packers if they are killed by a bear or an errant shot will, on their death bed, receive total consciousness, so they'll have that going for them, which is nice.

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