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Hightower can do it all


Peter from Toledo, OH

Vic, every time the issue of the violence and toughness of yesteryear's NFL comes up vis-a-vis today's NFL, I hear you channeling Col. Jessup from A *Few Good Men*: "You can't handle the truth!" Does that pretty much sum up your position?


Phil from Ardmore, OK

Arizona at 13 looks like a good place to do a trade in the first round and grab Upshaw.

A lot of draftniks don't think Courtney Upshaw translates to linebacker in any scheme. Tony Pauline is one of them. He believes Upshaw needs to play down end in a 4-3, which would mean he's not a fit for the Packers.

Eric from Amhurst, WI

Vic, everyone knows Matthews' No. 1 attribute is pass-rush. What else makes him a game-changer?

The interception and return for a touchdown against the Giants and the fumble he forced in Super Bowl XLV would be two good examples.

J.R. from Shawano, WI

When does the full NFL regular season schedule come out?

I'm expecting it to be released between now and the draft.

Tony from Eau Galle, WI

Does each team make their own mock draft so they can try to predict where each player will get taken, especially the ones of interest to them?

Yes, each team conducts mock drafts. Everybody's trying to get a bead on everybody else, especially on those teams directly ahead of them in the draft and those teams that might have interest in the players they've targeted. Darrelle Revis is the perfect example of how information benefitted a team. It got out that the Jags wanted Revis and had worked a trade with the Steelers to move up six spots, ostensibly to pick Revis. That trade never happened, however, because when Carolina went on the clock one pick ahead of the Steelers, the Jets traded with Carolina and then picked Revis. Why are personnel people so guarded with their information? That's why.

David from Chicago, IL

I took your advice and instead of looking at mock drafts for the Packers, I looked at where the draft prospects ranked at around number 28. I saw Dont'a Hightower at 28. I love watching this guy play. Some say he could even play some outside linebacker. What's your take on him?

I looked at my combine notebook and this is what I have written for him: "4.6s helped him." You bet they helped him, because 4.6s at the combine are eye-popping for a linebacker. Hightower can do it all as a forward and short-area linebacker. He was a run-stopper supreme at Alabama, but he wasn't featured as a pass rusher and that could potentially cause him to be selected lower than his real value. This guy should be a top 10 pick, in my opinion, because he has both the power and speed to be a 3-4 pass rusher, and he shows instinct in covering backs out of the backfield. He has the size to play inside and the speed to play outside in a 3-4. I like him better than Upshaw. He won't be there at 28.

Andrew from Oglesby, IL

Has any player you've known had to use the rest room in the middle of a game?

It's common. I even know a former player who didn't use the rest room.

Jeremy from De Soto, KS

How does the team determine if a player to be drafted will be a good fit?

They ask themselves: Can he do what the position he would play in our scheme would require him to do? If the answer is no, then why draft him?

Rick from Palm Desert, CA

What are some of the funniest pranks you've seen done to the rookies?

The Thanksgiving turkey prank never gets old. The week before Thanksgiving, the coach announces that players can get a free turkey by calling a certain super market, which is often one of the team sponsors. Often, one of the rookies will call the number and arrange for a time to pick up the turkey. When the rookie arrives to pick up his turkey, one of the team's video guys is positioned with a hidden camera to record the event, which is then shown to his teammates' delight at a team meeting.

Chad from Middleton, WI

Do you think the 2010 Packers or the 2011 Packers were the superior team?

I think the 2011 team was better, but not in January, and that's when it counts the most.

Ioana from Orlando, FL

How much do the draft picks now count towards the cap? Does it only matter when they actually make the team or when they are selected?

In the offseason, only a team's top 51 contracts could toward its salary cap. When a rookie is drafted, he would count $390,000, which is the one-year rookie minimum wage, on a team's cap, but that's not likely to be one of the team's top 51 contracts and that means it won't count toward the cap. When the first-round pick signs his contract, that's likely to be one of the team's top 51 contracts, which means it would count toward the team's cap.

Robert from Albuquerque, NM

I really enjoyed "Tuesdays with McCarthy" and I think it would be great for our fans if we could enjoy a similar post with Ted, our fantastic GM.

The stories Ted Thompson could tell would fascinate us, but personnel is a stealth business. You have to have an inner strength and security to be a good GM, because you have to have the ability to absorb criticism without uttering a word in your defense. Once you start talking, the secrets start coming out.

Jake from Stevens Point, WI

If you had the opportunity to interview anyone in the history of football, who would it be and why?

As I watched the performance of "Lombardi" last summer, I imagined I was the reporter in the script. I imagined myself interacting with Lombardi. Would he have accepted me? Would he have felt comfortable enough with me to allow me a look into his life? I decided the answer to those questions was yes, and it caused me to fantasize about it. Lombardi's the one. He's the guy I'd like to interview. I'm fascinated by him.

Jim from Fond du Lac, WI

Whenever a draft prospect has character issues, the experts suggest he go to a team with a strong locker room. Why? What makes a strong locker room, and which teams have it?

Teams with strong personalities have strong locker rooms. Charles Woodson is a veteran player with the kind of esteem and strength of personality that gives the Packers a strong locker room. He has the kind of presence young players will respect and emulate. I remember interviewing Joe Greene when a rookie was playing music loudly a few locker stalls away. The rookie was singing along with the music and it made it difficult to hear what Joe was saying. All of a sudden, Joe stopped talking, turned toward the rookie and just stared at him. The rookie kept singing and failed to notice Joe was staring at him. Other players saw it and started to laugh. The rookie sensed eyes were on him and began to look around. His eyes fell on Joe's and the rookie quickly turned the music off. Not a word was spoken.

Vince from Parish, NY

I really like RB Doug Martin out of Boise State and LeMichael James out of Oregon. Do you think the Packers would bring either of them into the fold for the upcoming season?

As I watched Martin at the Senior Bowl, I kept thinking to myself how well he'd fit with the Packers. He's their kind of back, which is to say a guy that can do it all. He's not a premier guy, but he runs and catches and blocks at the high end of each scale.

Dylan from Arcata, CA

In your opinion, what is the greatest drive in the Packers' history?

In my opinion, the "Ice Bowl" drive and the Colts' game-winning drive in the 1958 NFL title game are the two greatest drives in the history of the game.

Terry from Junction City, WI

I am not quite sure what you meant in your statement: "They started using the Wonderlic as part of the draft evaluation process back when the current generation of coaches were players, and that's become a little bit of a problem." I don't get what the problem is?

Their scores.

Mike from Fort Wayne, IN

Look into your crystal ball and you're watching an NFL football game 50 years into the future. What do you see?

Players wearing little in the way of padding on their bodies, but gigantic helmets on their heads.

David from Richmond, IN

The athletes have new uniforms, but I think the coaches need an upgrade. Most wear team caps/jerseys that look like a movie cliche; I prefer the look of Lombardi, Stram or Landry from the 1960s: shirt, tie. What do you think?

I fully understand the team apparel thing because it's a major revenue source, but I sense a loss in individuality and expression due to the homogenization of sideline apparel. When the cold weather arrived and the long coats came out, that's when you could get a real sense of the team's personality. How flashy was the stuff it wore on the sideline? Usually, the sideline fashion gave you a look "inside" the team, maybe even a picture of the personality of the town it represented. In those days, the teams designed their own apparel, and some teams put a little more effort into the fashion side of it. For example, I can remember seeing the Cowboys play on a cold day at old Pitt Stadium, and I remember how the Cowboys' long coats glistened in the sun. Everything about the Cowboys' sideline looked fashionable, especially compared to the Steelers' drab sideline attire. It was symbolic of the personality difference between the two franchises. Vince Lombardi was a coat-and-tie guy. Chuck Noll was a black-windbreaker-with-the-sleeves-pushed-up coach. Today, they'd both be wearing official team apparel. Yeah, I miss the individuality.

Brandon from Fairfield, CA

Is that salty language, as you called it, truly necessary? These are professional athletes, and do they need that much inspiration?

No, they don't need it and they really don't want it. A well-spoken word here or there can bond a team, but diatribes such as the one Gregg Williams was caught delivering are often tuned out by the players. I don't think Williams would've spoken in that manner had Charles Woodson been in the locker room. I think Charles would've stopped it. Players prepare themselves emotionally to execute their assigned roles. All of their focus is on what they have to do. They want a coach who will tell them, "This is what we're going to do and this is how we're going to do it." Pep talks are for show.

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