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How does it get any better than this for the Packers?

New officiating emphasis should favor Packers


Andy from Sherwood, WI

Vic, you defend the Packers organization with zeal. Please relate your honest assessment of what McCarthy, Thompson and Murphy need to improve on.

Win the Super Bowl every year? I don't know what else they can do better; things are pretty good right now. The team has a strong and youthful roster that's on a five-year playoff run, Lambeau Field has never looked better, and the team's financials make the future of the franchise brighter than ever. The picture that'll be painted at tomorrow's shareholders meeting is as bright as the weather forecast.

Mike from Melbourne, FL

You said your top broadcaster was Howard Cosell. Can't say I disagree but don't you think Don Meredith had a lot to do with the dynamics. They seemed to argue and disagree but they played off each other very well. I think this made them a better team.

Their opposing styles and backgrounds complemented each other very well, but when they went their separate ways, Cosell fared much better than Meredith. Meredith needed Cosell; Cosell didn't need Meredith. Cosell was the star and it translated to any sport he did.

Ben from Columbus, WI

What's your favorite play of all time and why, college or NFL?

It was from the 1976 Pitt at Notre Dame game. It was the season opener, it was on national TV and it was hyped as a game that might decide the national championship. Notre Dame got the ball first and drove the length of the field to take a 7-0 lead. The crowd was howling now and a false-start penalty moved the ball back to the Pitt 16. I have never known a player to wear a bigger target on his back than Tony Dorsett did at that moment. He had rushed for 303 yards against Notre Dame the previous year. Everybody in Notre Dame Stadium knew who was getting the ball and all Pitt wanted to do was to run a play, which would be its first play of the season. It gave the ball to Dorsett on a simple off-tackle dive. Bye bye. Dorsett weaved his way for 61 yards through a star-laden Notre Dame defense, and there was stunned silence. Pitt scored and would win the game easily on the way to the national championship; Dorsett won the Heisman Trophy. Its first play of the season would be its most important play of the season. I've never known that to be true of any other season or team. I wouldn't have bet that he would've gained a yard on that play. Dorsett rushed for nearly a thousand yards in four games against Notre Dame, and that's back when Notre Dame was winning national titles.

Matthew from Maffra, Australia

Vic, Peppers could work out to be a great pick up or a great waste of money. If you had to guess, which will it be?

Something between the two would be a more realistic expectation. My excitement is for how Dom Capers will use Peppers.

Bob from Green Bay, WI

Vic, your sense of humor in the satirical sense reminds me of Steve Harvey's "Bottom 10" from back in the day. His column was painful because the Packers at the time were weekly targets, but some of his nicknames and comments were hilarious. Would like to see you do your version of it. How about it?

No, you can't do that today. We're too fragile, too sensitive. We don't know how to laugh at ourselves anymore; we only know how to be angry. I honestly believe cable TV news channels did this to us.

Jordan from Virginia Beach, VA

Vic, I agree with you on most topics you write about, but ESPN minimizing the coverage of Tiger is great for golf. He is no longer the threat to the field like he once was and these young guys coming up are good and deserve the TV time for being in contention. Tiger was finishing shortly after the leaders went off. They showed him finish as they showed Phil, Darren Clarke and other past Open winners. True golf fans want to see the shots that could change the outcome. Tiger couldn't have changed the outcome of that tournament if he had shot 10 under.

News deserves coverage and Woods was news because he's still the meal ticket for American golf. The casual fan wants to know one thing: How did Tiger do? They don't even know who Jordan Spieth is. It's still all about Tiger, as evidenced by ESPN's pre-tournament coverage. In the wake of his horrible performance last weekend, ESPN was compelled to answer the big question: Is Tiger done? It was a question that needed to be addressed during the main hours of the telecast and it needed to be posed to the star analysts.

Steve from St. Charles, MO

Why did you belittle the fan question about the truck that was misnamed on as a '57 Chevy? Truth and details are important. I find your recent use of truth as a defense hypocritical if you don't care about it on the media outlet you are part of.

Yes, the truth is the pure defense, and the truth is you lack a sense of humor. This is possibly the most absurd reaction ever to something I've written. Normally, I would have a little fun with something this ridiculous, but you've angered me that you would deny us a little fun with something as frivolous as the model year of a pickup truck. I won't be offended if you stop reading my column. I want this to be a happy place.

Steve from Austin, TX

Had to chuckle at your comment on the film "North Dallas Forty." I was wondering if you happened to read the Peter Gent novel that the film was based on and if so did you enjoy it? I thought it was much better than the film. I had the opportunity to visit with Gent at a book signing in the late '70s and found him to be an extraordinarily kind, soft spoken and gentle human being. He suffered from various problems later in life and died fairly young. Personally, I consider the novels of Peter Gent and Dan Jenkins to be the finest ever written on professional football.

I read it and I agree it was better than the movie, but it was not the equal of Jenkins' "Semi-Tough." Jenkins' "Semi-Tough" is the most wonderfully irreverent parody I have ever read. Put Jenkins at No. 2, right behind Jim Murray. Nobody could write football and golf better than Jenkins.

Scott from Lincoln City, OR

Vic, would you agree the reason players loved Lombardi but disliked Coughlin had more to do with the players and not the coaches? Do you think today's players (in general) have less respect and a greater sense of entitlement?

I don't think the issue is a lack of respect or a sense of entitlement. Today's players have more power; that's the difference. They have a powerful union behind them, and that union has shaped the game to favor its players. In the Lombardi era, there were 20 and 17 rounds of the draft, no limits on training camp roster size and regular-season rosters of 38, 36, 37 and 40 players. The competition was so intense that a player didn't dare speak out against the coach or he was gone. Today, there are only seven rounds of the draft, training camp rosters are capped at 90 and regular-season rosters are at 53. There's also an eight-man practice squad, many of whom earn more money than the stars of the Lombardi era did. The players union negotiated a CBA that eliminated two-a-days and limits coaches as to how many times a season they can practice their players in pads. What would Lombardi say to that? It was much easier to be a coach back then.

Rick from Holman, WI

Do you know why all old announcers and coaches really don't like the Packers? Because the Packers kicked their butts in the '60s and they don't forget.

If a former player, even the old guys, can't separate himself from his playing days, he shouldn't be permitted to be a broadcaster.

Kevin from La Crosse, WI

Mike Pereira recently said illegal contact and defensive holding calls will be emphasized this upcoming season. Do you think this is a positive for the Packers?

It's more bad news for defenses; more good news for offenses. I think it favors the Packers because the Packers favor offense. The Packers are more likely to win a game 35-34 than they are to win a game 17-14.

Nathan from Denver, CO

As a member of the media, which is more exciting for you, when the team you're covering is in the final minutes of a close game, or when you're trying to finish a good story in the final minutes before deadline?

Ah, a new approach to the same question: Are you a fan? When will this end? I've never considered writing a story to be exciting, but if you're talking about intensity, writing a story on deadline is far more intense for me than watching the final minutes of a close game. I'm about the story. While you're watching the game and tingling with excitement, I'm thinking about what my lede will be. Can we please end this insanity?

Jeff from Sioux Falls, SD

Vic, in South Dakota the token taker would be labeled rude, lazy and a crook, and with you saying how great it is to be back in the city, would be held with the same contempt. But I get it. I have been around enough to know that your behavior is normal on the East Coast. In the Midwest, especially South Dakota, we have a tendency to treat people a little nicer than that.

Man is a strange animal. When he lacks closeness, he seeks his fellow man. When he feels crowded, he treats his fellow man with contempt.

Terry from Blacksburg, VA

Vic, your recollection of stenciling Bobby Layne's number on a sweatshirt made me smile and remember. Mine was an old, discarded, white football helmet on which my brother's girlfriend drew a horseshoe on each side … so I could look like Johnny U. That's what football meant to me as a kid. One early afternoon Sunday TV game that I watched every down of, then went outside and played until dark. Those were the days. Thanks for prompting that memory.

We had to use our imaginations back then. I always hoped I'd get a nose bleed so I could wipe it on the right sleeve of my shirt, just as Layne did.

Patrick from New York, NY

Perhaps a golfer can never stop being a player. The physical demands of golf don't catch up with you quite the way they do in other, more contact-heavy sports. Terry Bradshaw was a player, but I think he's made the transition to being a member of the entertainment media. What do you think of his transition, having covered him during his playing career?

It was an easy transition for him because he was always an entertainer. I think he had as much or more interest in the entertainment business as he did in football.

Mike from McFarland, WI

Does the snowinator fly north for the summer?

The snowinator is safely in my garage. I poured some gas stuff in the tank to help ease the snowinator through its dog days. I start it once a week, just to keep it in shape for what's ahead. It knows how powerful it is. Without the snowinator in winter, I'm nothing.

Diana from Three Rivers, MI

Can the season just please start already?

The offseason reminds me of that old joke about the guy hitting his head against the wall. "Doesn't that hurt?" "Yeah, but it feels so good when I stop," he said.

Josh from Green Lake, WI

What is the worst interview you've conducted in your career, and what did you learn from it?

It's from the early days of my career. I was interviewing a young man who had been hit in the head with a javelin. He struggled to speak. So did I. From that interview, I learned of the need to connect with your subject.

Kevin from Omaha, NE

Vic, you're saying you like the human confrontation football provides, yet, condone Notre Dame going for a tie in 1966. Tom Osborne did it right in the 1984 Orange Bowl against Miami, in my humble opinion.

I totally disagree. Coach Parseghian played for a tie and won the national title. Coach Osborne played for the win and lost the national title. It's one of the worst coaching decisions in football history, in my opinion. All he had to do was kick the point after and Nebraska would've won the national championship. That's not good enough?

Dakota from Milwaukee, WI

Vic, I had a morbid dream you had died. It was vivid and disturbing. Over the past four years my views on football have changed. I couldn't love the game anymore and it's because of you. Don't die, Vic.

Did you happen to notice a date in that dream?

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