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Here's why Kramer belongs in the Hall of Fame


Thad from Chesterfield, VA

Does a one-day contract for a player who returns to a team to retire count against the salary cap?

They're strictly ceremonial. The contract provides that the player will receive a minimum-wage salary, but since he'll be cut a day after he signs the contract, there's no compensation and he likely won't count against the team's cap for a day because these things are usually done in the offseason and he probably won't represent one of the team's top 51 contracts. If he was one of the top 51, then he would count against the cap for a day.

Gina from Minneapolis, MN

Sweeping water moccasins out of the garage? OK, Vic, enlighten us northerners as to how you do this without ending up in the ER. Any gators in the backyard?

Hey, I'm from Pittsburgh; I didn't know anything about water moccasins or gators, but I quickly learned. For whatever reason, water moccasins love garages. So do skinks, but you want skinks in your garage because they eat the bugs; the Palmetto bugs (roaches) turn the garage into a dance hall at night when everyone is asleep. My first encounter with a water moccasin occurred when I moved something in the garage, which exposed a small, brown, pointy-headed snake. It looked like a baby so I decided to sweep it out into the grass, but every time I swept, it struck at me. Water moccasins are very aggressive and I was told I had met one. My wife would just beat their brains in and throw them into the pond out back, where the gators would eat them. My first encounter with a gator occurred when my wife called me in the press box on the day of a game to tell me she saw a four-foot alligator in the pond next to the house. When I came home that night, the headlights of my car lit up two red eyes in the front yard as I turned into the driveway, but they weren't the eyes of a four-foot gator; those eyes were a lot farther apart than a few inches. It was momma gator and she was a 10-footer that had to come out, so my wife called Bubba the gator getter, who explained that soon he would be coming to the house with a rope, a very large hook, a chicken and a gun. Apparently, relocating the gator was out of the question.

Chris from Jacksonville Beach, FL

Belated congrats on your alma mater's victory over Florida. The Golden Flashes may be flashing at the right time.

Tonight is a big night in the Ketchman house. You might say it'll be Gettysburg in Green Bay. You see, my wife is from South Carolina and she's a big Gamecocks fan. My Golden Flashes play the defending national-champion Gamecocks tonight, and ever since that matchup was set on Monday night, I've been walking around the house saying, in my best Bill Murray voice, "They're a Cinderella story," and it's really starting to wear on her. She didn't laugh when I asked her on Monday night, as South Carolina was losing to Arkansas, why all of the South Carolina players have last names for first names. Omaha is good ground; it's very good ground.

Greg from Bellevue, WA

Have you ever seen a team (or for that matter a fan base) obsess more on beating a rival than on winning a Super Bowl?

Losers do that. They know that's as close as they'll come to a big game.

Blaine from Madison, WI

You say more is better. Do you think Lambeau could ever have too many seats? And does the league limit teams to the number of seats a stadium can have? I can only imagine the crowd noise with 150,000 fans.

I can't remember the league exercising concern about the Redskins building a 90,000-seat stadium, but 150,000 might stimulate some conversation. Can you have too many seats? Absolutely. All it takes is one seat too many and ticket sales will begin declining. Why? Because one seat too many sends a message to fans that they can pick and choose the games they want to see; they don't have to buy a ticket to all of the games to have tickets for the big games. The balance between supply and demand is critical. Waiting lists for tickets create mystique; you don't want to lose that mystique.

Allen from Omro, WI

Will Mike Neal be able to participate in camp with his looming suspension? Do you see him as an every-down player or more of a rush end?

Yes, he may participate in training camp, and this could be the most important training camp of his life because he will be facing stiff competition for a roster spot. I think he has every-down potential and if he can realize that potential, all of the disappointment from last season will vanish. Draft-and-develop teams don't quit on players after two seasons, but year three is often decision time.

Randy from Milwaukee, WI

You said the rules changes of 1978 is when they legalized holding and banned bump and run. My question is since that was so long ago, I don't think that is the reason for the increase in yards passing. If it were the reason, it would have happened long ago. I personally think it's just cyclical and defenses are behind right now, not because of that rule change.

It did happen long ago; in fact, it happened immediately. Terry Bradshaw was the MVP of the next two Super Bowls and the Steelers went from the pound-and-ground team that won Super Bowls IX and X, to the high-octane passing team that won Super Bowls XIII and XIV. The rules changes of 1978 gave birth to the "West Coast Offense" and "Air Coryell." In time, defenses caught up to the rules and the league relaxed its enforcement of the no-chuck rule. When the Colts whined and cried about the Patriots being too physical with receivers in the 2003 AFC title game, the league instituted a major point of emphasis on the no-chuck rule for the 2004 season, and there was an explosion of passing yards and touchdown passes. It's conclusive proof that the rules changes of 1978 could still do for today's game what it did for the game in '78.

Dennis from Indianapolis, IN

I just read what Roger Angell wrote about Sandy Koufax in the 1965 World Series. Koufax pitched Game 5 and then, on two days of rest, Game 7. Angell wrote: "It is almost painful to watch, for Koufax, instead of merely overpowering hitters, as some fastball throwers do, appears to dismantle them, taking away first one and then another of their carefully developed offensive weapons and judgments, and leaving them only with the conviction that they are victims of a total mismatch." What a great example of romantic sports writing.

I'll never forget the sound Koufax's fastball made in the catcher's glove. I was a kid who lived to play baseball the first time I heard it, and I immediately knew what it meant. Since you like Roger Angell, read "Gone for Good."

Don from Greensboro, NC

I'm assuming players get paid once per week. Do they pay income tax to the city/state where the game is played?

Some cities and states deduct tax from the player's paycheck, even from the paycheck of the team's website editor. There were four games last season that produced withholdings for state and/or city taxes: Cleveland, Carolina, Giants, Kansas City.

Matt from Kula, HI

According to the Packers Hall of Fame website, Jerry Kramer was named All-Pro five times. This seems to me like a very impressive number. How does it compare with other offensive linemen that are in the Hall of Fame?

Kramer has the credentials of a Hall of Fame player, and I support and encourage his election. If I was a committee member, this is what I would say in making my pitch for Kramer: "We should elect him to the Hall of Fame because he's a five-time NFL champion, a member of the NFL 50th anniversary team, the identity of the Packers sweep, and one of the best players of his era. More importantly, we must elect him to the Hall of Fame because he executed the game-winning block on arguably the most celebrated play in pro football history. It's the most defining postseason moment of any offensive lineman in pro football history, and that's why he belongs in the Hall of Fame."

Chris from Appleton, WI

Vic, can you see Nick Perry playing a similar role to what Aldon Smith did last year for San Francisco?

Smith was used as a situational pass rusher. I see Perry's role as that of an every-downs player.

Ryan from West Milford, NJ

Vic, why are defenses judged by how many yards they give up? The defense's job is to prevent the other team from scoring, so shouldn't points allowed be the determining factor for how good a defense is?

I agree with using yards allowed to judge a defense. Points allowed is a stat bad defenses might use to defend themselves. Yards allowed are telling of the full body of work. It tells me that I'm going to lose the battle of field position, which is going to stress my kicking game. It tells me I'm going to lose the battle of time of possession, which is going to limit my offense's opportunity. Points allowed have to be examined closely. Did the kicker miss? Was there an unforced fumble? Has the defense just gotten lucky in the red zone? I don't want my defense to give up a lot of yards because I don't want to have to count on being lucky. In most cases, yards are points. I think it should be a goal of every defense to give up yardage grudgingly, to play hard on every down and at every place on the field, not just in the red zone.

Cliff from Wolfville, Nova Scotia

Vic, I just watched Anthony Hargrove's 12-minute statement about the evidence the NFL purports to have on the Saints' bounty issue. I have to admit, I liked his enthusiasm and determination. How does this look from your side of the stadium?

I don't know what to believe and I don't feel this crushing need to believe one way or the other. I apologize for that, but I can't change who I am nor can I wash away all of the years of covering this game that have calloused me to this event. I have never turned to professional football for, as General Ripper put it, my purity of essence. I've always been accepting of football as being a nasty game. I think we are possibly experiencing a turning point in the identity of the game. I am absolutely sure I am facing a turning point in my attitude toward the game.

Mike from Fort Wayne, IN

If reincarnation was a reality, what sport star would you like to come back as?

I couldn't limit it to one. I'd love to come back as Bart Starr on Dec. 31, 1967, and go to the sideline and tell Coach Lombardi that I think I can sneak it in, and see the look in his eye; would he believe in me as he believed in Starr? I'd love to stand in the batter's box as Willie Mays and take that wide stance and cock my bat, knowing the pitcher is afraid of me; I think he's the best baseball player of all time. I'd love to be Tony Dorsett as he breaks the line of scrimmage, slightly bent at the waist and exploding into the secondary knowing nobody can catch me; he's the best long-run back I've ever seen. I'd love to come back as Arnold Palmer on the charge after driving the first green at Cherry Hills, and I'd love to know if I could lose the 1962 U.S. Open playoff to Jack Nicklaus with the dignity and grace Palmer did. I'd love to come back as Joe Greene and talk to me, as Joe did all those years ago when he taught me about professional football. Ultimately, I'd like to come back as myself and do it all over.

Jarret from Crosby, ND

If you were going to assemble a team for next year, one year and one year only, who would you take, Jared Allen or Jason Pierre-Paul?

Pierre-Paul because he's just scratched the surface of his potential.

Nick from Toronto, Ontario

So far in your Packers tenure, what has been your most favorite and least favorite topics brought up by fans?

I think we spent too much time last season looking for that one reason the defense declined. Clearly, it wasn't one reason, it was many reasons. I've enjoyed the topics we seem to have created and then became hot stories, such as the all-22 view. This column has had an element of clairvoyance to it the past year, and it's not because of the answers, it's because of the questions. The readers of this column seem to have their finger on the pulse of football and more.

Richard from McFarland, WI

A physician friend of mine has a great interest in sports medicine and has studied concussions for years. Five years ago he was predicting the concern about head injuries that we are hearing today. He thinks the answer to the head-injury problem is to do away with helmets. I say this might work in high school and college but would never happen in professional football. Any thoughts?

It won't happen, but that's not what's important to note about what your physician friend is saying. He's saying the way to protect the head is to not protect the head. I think that concept has merit and needs to be applied practically.

Daniel from Los Angeles, CA

Vic, you're missing a major reason fans want the all-22 angle. It's what they've become accustomed to because it's the same view used in Madden.

Newman! I mean, Madden!

Michael from Kansas City, MO

Regarding the "Ice Bowl," I agree with all of your observations, however, the one player who stood out for me was Chuck Mercein. Mercein should have been at least a co-MVP of that game because without him there would never have been a Packers victory. That was his ultimate game as a Packer.

What if Lombardi had told Starr, no, give it to Mercein? What if Mercein would then have scored the winning touchdown? Imagine how his life would've changed.

John from Mosinee, WI

How is your golf tournament on July 11 stacking up?

We need more players.

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