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Here's the big idea


The regular writer of "Ask Vic," Editor Vic Ketchman, is on vacation. Staff Writer Mike Spofford is temporarily filling in to answer your "Ask Vic" questions. Vic will resume writing his daily column on Monday, July 9.

Matt from Eau Claire, WI

Where are you going for vacation? What is your big idea for this column?

I'm the big idea. Sorry if that disappoints you, but I'll do my best to carry on this daily column with as much of Vic's vim and vigor as I can muster over the next two weeks while Vic re-charges his batteries for a new season. As for where he's going, I think he said something about Wally World. I hope it's not closed when he gets there, and I fear for his dogs.

Mike from Bridgeport, CT

Hey, Mike. Welcome. Which team did you root for growing up and what is your first football memory?

I grew up in Platteville, Wis., which was both Packers and Bears country through my teen years, because the Bears began holding their training camp on the college campus in P-ville when I was 11. I'll admit I've been a fan of both teams at different stages of my life, as hard as that may be for some of you to fathom. I've loved the rivalry but not necessarily in the same way most of you do. The first NFL game I attended was Packers-Bears at Soldier Field in December of 1984, which was the first season the Bears trained in my hometown. The die-hard Green Bay fans will remember this one, because it turned out to be the last Packers victory over the Bears until 1989. Both teams were decimated by injuries at quarterback and were playing third-stringers. Rusty Lisch was so bad for Chicago that Walter Payton took a few snaps in the shotgun and threw an interception (so the "Wildcat" didn't exactly catch on). With Lynn Dickey out and Randy Wright injured during the game, the Packers were down to Rich Campbell, and Campbell threw a bomb to Phillip Epps in the final minute to give the Packers a 20-14 win. It was just like being at Lambeau on Sept. 20, 1992, except the guy who came off the bench to throw the dramatic, game-winning pass wasn't Brett Favre.

Jim from Sioux Falls, SD

Vic, your "players, not plays" answer reminded me of a question posed many years ago to UCLA basketball coach John Wooden. Wooden was asked if there was a coach he feared in the then PAC 8 conference? Wooden said absolutely there was. The interviewer was excited because he thought he had a scoop. "Well Coach Wooden, who is it?" And Wooden said, "The one with the best players."

Now I get it. It must have been Vic who asked the question, right? He was outwitted by Wooden and has been using a variation of that line ever since.

Brett from Brisbane, Australia

I just read Ron Wolf saying that Brett Favre is the best Packer ever, but with a history as rich as the Packers' surely there's a better player than Favre. He only won one championship after all. Who do you think is the best Packer of all time?

I'm pretty sure Vic's answer would be Bart Starr. In fact I know it would be. I might have to go with Don Hutson. He played both ways for three championship teams and has the franchise record for TD receptions at 99, which no one has ever approached, and Hutson retired in 1945. His TD catches stood as the league record for 44 years until Steve Largent broke it. Forty-four years! The only Packer, so far, who had a shot at it was Sterling Sharpe. He had 65 TDs but was unfortunately forced to retire after seven seasons. For those who are wondering, Greg Jennings has 49 TD catches in six seasons, so he'd have to play another six years with the same level of production to get there. Hutson played 11 seasons in an era when the Packers normally averaged between 20 and 25 points per game. He was in a different league, in more ways than one.

Kris from Suring, WI

I agree that Hall Of Fame players need that defining moment in their careers in order to be inducted (like your Lynn Swan example). Going off that, a lot of "sports analysts" are saying LaDanian Tomlinson will be a first-ballot Hall of Famer, but he never won that big game. If you had a vote, would you vote him in five years from now?

Multiple questions came in regarding Tomlinson, so I'll take Kris's. I would vote him in five years from now, absolutely. Tomlinson was the guy every defensive coach game-planned around, and he was one of the best of his era. That's my top criteria. I don't necessarily agree that players "need" a defining moment to get into the Hall of Fame. I think it can be part, and even a key part, of the discussion for certain players, but its absence shouldn't exclude someone. In a 17-year career, Dan Marino won just one MVP, never won a Super Bowl, and never made it back to a Super Bowl after his second season, but he was a first-ballot inductee, and deservedly so.

Jason from Maumee, OH

"As I've written, it's not the Hall of Fame committee's job to put men into the Hall of Fame, it's their job to keep men out of the Hall of Fame. There's no shortage of great players to induct." Shouldn't it be the Hall of Fame's duty to represent the history of the game from a historical perspective? The '60s Packers are perhaps the most storied roster in NFL history and deserve a little extra attention in my opinion.

Extra attention? Easy, Jason. There are 11 individuals from the 1960s Packers teams, including the head coach, in the Hall. They were inducted over a quarter-century span (Vince Lombardi in 1971 through Henry Jordan in 1995). Five offensive players and five defensive players from those teams are in. That dynasty has received plenty of attention. That said, I do think Jerry Kramer should be in as well. He's the one who's missing. If that's what you mean by "a little extra attention" – one more player – then I agree.

Steve from Hazelwood, MO

Jim Ringo was a fine player, but the most famous thing he did as a Packer was get himself traded. His being in the HOF as a reason for Jerry Kramer not being is just wrong! I have heard the argument that there are already too many Lombardi Packers in the Hall, but that too is 'cow crap.' When a player does as much as Kramer, was a key player for one of the most famous plays as type (the sweep), and the most famous individual play (the Ice Bowl sneak), it is inexcusable for the committee to bypass Jerry. Vic has already told his guess as to why. What's yours, Mike?

Whoa on Ringo. He was named All-Pro eight times. That's more than all of those '60s Packers except Willie Wood (nine) and Forrest Gregg (also eight). And I don't subscribe to Vic's individual play discussion, either. That's not how I look at things. Besides, as another reader pointed out (Tom from Waltham, MA), Ken Bowman's block was just as crucial, if not moreso, on that play than Kramer's. Another reader (Paul from Madison, WI) wrote in wondering about a Hall of individual plays, like the David Tyree catch. That's an interesting concept. I actually think it's a disservice to Kramer's career to focus too much on the Ice Bowl sneak. He's not Tyree or Santonio Holmes. As for my guess as to why on Kramer, … it may stink, as you said, but I think it's the sheer volume of '60s Packers who are in. And I think that's wrong, too.

Bruce from Minot, ND

With all the talk about Jerry Kramer, which I strongly support, how about Sterling Sharpe? Will his chilly relations with the press cause him to be ignored?

I would hope his relations with the media haven't been a factor, but I'm not on the committee. Back in my newspaper days when Sharpe first became eligible in 1999, I remember writing a story about his chances, and the committee members I talked to then felt the shortened career, just seven years, would ultimately keep him out. Their feeling was he wasn't on the same level as players like Jim Brown and Gale Sayers, whose careers also lasted under a decade, and it's hard to argue that point. Now that we're almost 20 years removed from Sharpe's abrupt retirement, the ongoing explosion of passing games, receiving stats, etc., would seem to make it even harder, if not impossible, for him, even with the senior committee.

Michael from Reno, NV

It is pretty apparent that the Packers have a successor in place for Donald Driver, when he retires, with all the young wideouts they have. But the same can't be true about the other elder statesman on the team, Charles Woodson. I don't believe that the Packers have another defensive back who seems to be as athletic, has good instinct, or can line up as Woodson can in different positions. With his age, do you see anyone that can do what Woodson can or do you see the defense adjusting the playbook to life after him?

You hit the nail on the head. The defense will have to adjust, and good defensive coordinators can. Dom Capers has adjusted his scheme since he got here to maximize on Woodson's playmaking ability. Down the line, there will be other playmakers with different abilities than Woodson's, and the scheme will be designed accordingly. With all due respect to Driver, who has had a tremendous career, Woodson is in a different class of players. He's truly a rare breed and you can't just replace him. Good defensive coordinators don't simply plug-and-play.

Margo from Bloomington, IL

The fans control the game? You gotta be kidding! TV contracts control the game. Shared revenue from TV contracts equalizes the playing field for small and big market teams. TV contracts are why the Packers played on every holiday last year.

Margo, both you and Vic are right. The one thing left out in last week's question-and-answer to which you're referring is that the TV contracts provide a huge chunk of the league's revenue, and it's the fans watching on TV who allow for those contracts to be as lucrative as they are. If the fans didn't watch, there'd be no TV contracts, and a lot less shared revenue.

Stevie from Draperstown, Northern Ireland

Vic, this week on they stated there is a possibility that a regular season game will be played in Croke Park, Dublin. If it ever happens, when do you see this happening? And will the Packers ever take part in the international series of games?

I can't speak on whether or not any plans involving Dublin are in the works, but your latter question is one that has intrigued me for some time now. One team has to give up a home game to play overseas, and that's generally a team that doesn't sell out all its games. That's not the Packers, obviously. As for going overseas as the "visitor," the Packers are often one of the best draws at road stadiums throughout the league, so I don't know if a home team would give up its date with the Packers and a likely guaranteed sellout. Yet, I would think the league might be interested in showcasing the Packers internationally at some point. It's a curious situation. Stay tuned.

Milond from Omaha, NE

If you had one football play to gain one yard to save your life, would you rather give the ball to Sam Cunningham or Earl Campbell? I'd take Earl Campbell.

I like that choice, too. Growing up, if I was watching an NFL game that didn't involve the NFC Central, I was watching either San Diego's Air Coryell or Houston's Big Earl. I couldn't turn away.

Hansen from Waukesha, WI

Former Seattle Seahawks defensive lineman Cortez Kennedy, who is being enshrined in the Hall of Fame later this summer, was named the Defensive Player of the Year in 1992, despite the Seahawks going a lowly 2-14 on the season. Do you ever see a player that plays for a lousy team being named league MVP or Defensive Player of the Year again, like Cortez Kennedy? I think possibly Jared Allen if he continues playing at the level he does, but the Vikings keep losing.

Allen is definitely a possibility, if he can break Michael Strahan's single-season sack record, which he almost did last year. The year Strahan set the record, in 2001, he got the Defensive Player of the Year award and the Giants were 7-9. Jason Taylor won it for a Miami team in 2006 that went 6-10. I think what you're talking about is far more likely for DPOY than MVP. In doing some quick research, the only MVP I see since your Kennedy DPOY example that even remotely fits the scenario is Barry Sanders in 1997, when he shared Favre's third MVP. The Lions were just 9-7 but did make the playoffs as a wild card. Sanders rushed for 2,000 yards and had 14 straight 100-yard games. I'm sure the thinking was the Lions would have been a 2-14 team that year without Sanders.

Dan from Vancouver, WA

As a fan, it's fun to play GM at times, but I also understand there is a great disparity between what we know, as fans, and what the GM knows about their players and team. Do you think it is important, as fans, to keep our expectations in check heading into a new training camp?

As long as those expectations are held with the knowledge of the unpredictability of this game, then fans should get as excited as they want. Don't go making any grand pronouncements during the preseason about the defense being fixed or the offense heading for more records, though, and that's where I'm afraid fans might get too hyped too soon. The preseason won't tell us anything other than who's going to make the roster, and you have to be patient and let the regular season play out. In 2010, when the Packers were 3-3 with a roster resembling a MASH unit, no one thought they'd win the Super Bowl. Last year, when they were 13-0, losing in the first playoff game seemed highly unlikely. Fans should enjoy the hype but understand it guarantees nothing. That's part of the fun, too.

Eric from Neenah, WI

I just signed up for the golf outing. Is there still a chance you will have to cancel it or is there enough people registered to reserve the course?

The numbers are climbing, but we still need more. How about we surprise Vic upon his return by filling up the tournament while he's gone? Register here.

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