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How many quarterbacks are 'The Man'?

Green Bay as important to NFL as Packers are to Green Bay


Keith from Taylors, SC

Vic, who do you think the trophy would've been named after if not Lombardi? What are the odds it would be named after another coach vs. a player?

Some have mentioned Bert Bell, and he certainly would've been deserving of the honor because he gave the NFL the foundation on which it would achieve its popularity; the draft is his real gem. In my opinion, however, the name on that trophy had to belong to either a legendary coach or Pete Rozelle. The Super Bowl was Pete's creation, but he didn't die. When Coach Lombardi passed so sadly and unexpectedly, Pete immediately knew he had a name for the trophy. It was absolutely the right thing to do by the man who did all of the right things to make the Super Bowl America's most popular sporting event.

Richard from Lake Havasu City, AZ

I am a huge admirer of Vince Lombardi, however, the coach I am most fascinated with is Chuck Noll. How would you compare him to Lombardi? I have read where he ran the Steelers with an iron fist.

His name was routinely misspelled, Knoll. That was OK for Chuck because he was always a private person. He actually enjoyed the slight. Coach Lombardi and Coach Noll achieved the same end with the same stern adherence to disciplined execution, it's just that one did it with flair and the other did it with reserve. Coach Lombardi was eloquent. He's famous for stern admonishments and fiery oratories to his players. Noll's practices included no horns or whistles; he rejected the boot camp mentality. He only ever gave one pep talk. It was brief and it was on a Monday, the first day of practice leading up to the 1974 AFC title game. The Raiders had just beaten the Dolphins in the playoffs. Sports Illustrated called it Super Bowl 8 ½. The Raiders had made some comments to the effect that they believed they had just defeated their most dangerous foe. Noll was incensed by that remark and he told his team, "They haven't seen the best team in the league, yet, because the best team in the league is sitting right here in this room." Lombardi and Noll were products of different eras, though they were linked by the merger. Lombardi's run capped the taskmaster era. His era was about coaches driving players to greatness. Noll was perfectly suited for his era. Players had become more independent. They were tuning out the grass-drills coaches. They wanted to be treated as professionals, and that's what Noll did. He replaced stern admonishments with exacting demands. "It had to come from within," he always said. That's the difference between the two coaches. Lombardi made sure he gave his players what they needed to win. Noll found players that already had it. Two different approaches, nine league titles and six Super Bowl championships. As Chuck liked to say, "Whatever it takes."

Ty from Dallas, TX

So what are the chances Jerry Kramer makes it into the Pro Football Hall of Fame?

Here's the problem: After having elected Dave Robinson to the Hall of Fame, I don't think the selection committee is saying to itself, "OK, now let's find another old Packer to elect to the Hall of Fame."

Mike from Pickerington, OH

"What Pete Rozelle did with television receipts," Packers coach Vince Lombardi said, "probably saved football in Green Bay." If Lombardi says it was Rozelle, you have to agree, right?

I absolutely agree. Commissioner Rozelle is as important to the success of professional football in Green Bay as Curly Lambeau was and Vince Lombardi still is. Rozelle's pool-the-revenues plan put Green Bay on the same level as New York, but Green Bay needed something else to go with that plan; it needed winning and Lombardi provided it.

Adriano from Cagliari, Sardinia

Dockett's new helmet is just a few steps away from a diving bell.

Maybe the designer of those bobblehead dolls in the '60s was clairvoyant.

Rob from Wilmington, NC

What about Lamar Hunt?

Rob, there's no chance a league dominated by old-guard, NFL owners such as George Halas, Wellington Mara and Art Rooney were going to name the NFL's championship trophy, at least not in 1970, after the driving force of the AFL and the man who helped torture the NFL during the 1960s. It wouldn't have happened then; it might've happened today because Mr. Hunt became a beloved figure among everyone in the NFL. It just goes to show you how time can heal all wounds.

Greg from Bellevue, WA

Vic, after the QB position, what is the most important position group on the team?

You have to be able to rush the passer in today's game.

Jake from Fredericton, NB

Vic, I wonder what you think of Tony Romo's comment that he feels the football media "just don't matter." It seems to me that too many players now view the media as their enemy, where once they were collaborators in promoting the game.

Maybe he's right. The truth is the pure defense, right? Yes, when I began covering the NFL, I "agreed" to an unspoken and unwritten treaty: I would be given access to cover the game in a direct and honest way, in exchange for helping promote the game. You make a very good point, Jake. Pro football needed help in promoting itself. I love the game and I've always promoted it, but the NFL has always given me access to its coaches and players so I might provide my readers with genuine information. That's the deal, right? As long as Romo remains true to that agreement, I don't care what he says. Go ahead, pick a fight with the media.

Don from Torrington, CT

I had always heard that sharing the TV money equally was only approved after Mr. Halas and Mr. Mara agreed to go along with it, since they were in the two biggest TV markets and they could have insisted on a bigger cut, which ultimately would have put Green Bay out of business. Do you know if there is any truth to that, Vic? I always admired the Halas and Mara families for that sacrifice and marveled at their insightfulness.

It's absolutely the truth, but it was Commissioner Rozelle who sold them on the idea. Back then, teams had their own TV contracts. The Rams had a cutting edge deal with Admiral TV. The Colts and Steelers had their own little network. Rozelle broke all of that up. He sold the owners on the concept of leaguethink. It was the difference-maker. You can't write the history of the NFL without going there.

Nick from Hollandale, WI

What team from each conference do you see that could surprise people this year?

The Chiefs in the AFC and the Bucs in the NFC. I will also tell you that my old radio partner, Jeff Lageman, always said I was a year early in those types of predictions.

Dylan from Mancos, CO

Vic, good call on Cobb's progression, though I have to believe it's one of the easiest prognostications you've ever made. My question is who do you predict will have a greater impact to Packer success this season: Cobb, Hayward, Lacy, Jones or Perry?

We know what Cobb and Hayward can do, and the expectation is that they'll do it again. We don't know to what degree Eddie Lacy, Datone Jones and Nick Perry might impact this season. I'm going to stick with Perry, but what if all three of those guys are impact players this season? If that happens, look out.

Randy from Medicine Hat, Alberta

Do you think oversaturation of the product could become a problem for the NFL in the future?

I'm going to say no and here's why: I can remember my father, back in the '60s, when we'd get NFL games on CBS at one o'clock and four o'clock and AFL games on NBC at the same times, repeatedly saying they were overexposing the product. I was loving it. I'd get Jim Brown and Cookie Gilchrist at one, and Les Josephson and Charlie Tolar at four. My only fear was that my dad might be right and they'd stop showing so many games. Then came the merger and they showed more games. Then came the CFA lawsuit and an explosion of college football games on something called ESPN. Hey, if the product isn't overexposed by now, it can't happen. Dad, I love you, but you were wrong.

Chris from Wyoming, OH

Vic, seeing the readers latch onto this question of whether Kramer jumped on the winning play of the "Ice Bowl" is extremely amusing to me. How can you, as a writer, and someone seen as "The Establishment" by some people, ever answer the question to the satisfaction of all?

Chris, before you get all worked up into a lather about something really meaningless, let me tell you about the old guys: They invented these little controversies because it helped them get speaking engagements in the offseason. Pro football didn't pay big bucks back then. Most of them had to work second jobs. The banquet circuit was a cottage industry; a guy could make easy dough on the banquet circuit in the offseason. So, if I'm a certain guard who just executed one of the most celebrated blocks in pro football history, I might throw a little gasoline on that I-jumped-the-count fire. You know what I mean? It didn't take Frenchy Fuqua long to figure out what his part in the "Immaculate Reception" was worth. By the time reporters reached the locker room, Frenchy had the truth sealed in an envelope. I love the old guys.

Jeff from Kenosha, WI

Why is it, Vic, that when you joined the Packers and posted about your exploits in Jaguar land I couldn't stand you. Couldn't read your articles, would not watch your video updates and even sent a very nasty email. But now you seem to have embraced Packer tradition and lore and I can't turn away from your columns! Why is that?

Maybe you've just become more of a fan of football, not just Packers football. Bart Starr is beloved by Packers fans. What if he had played for the Bears? They're all the same, Jeff. It's just that some of them play for your team and some of them play for the other teams.

Jared from Fargo, ND

Do you believe Green Bay will ever be in danger of losing the Packers again?

Of course not. The Green Bay mystique is as important to the NFL as the Packers are to Green Bay. Coach Lombardi did that, for both.

Travis from Eau Claire, WI

You have said Jim Brown is the greatest running back of all time. You also have said that if Gale Sayers had the modern knee medicine of today, he could be the greatest playmaker of all time. My question is how do you evaluate a guy like Barry Sanders?

When I think of elusiveness, I think of Sanders. Sanders was a stunning runner and he played with grace and dignity. I loved watching him play, but I favor the burst-and-bang backs. Sayers and Tony Dorsett always amazed me the way they could hit a crease and gone! I loved to watch Earl Campbell run over defenders. Brown could do both. He could hit a hole and be gone, or he could hit a wall and knock it down. I don't fawn over Sanders enough. He was an absolutely great running back.

Caleb from Wasilla, AK

How many teams in the league right now have "The Man"?

It depends on how strictly we apply the standards. Have Andrew Luck, RG3, Colin Kaepernick and Russell Wilson already achieved "Man" status? I would prefer to reserve "Man" status for the true stars of the position: Brady, both Mannings, Rodgers, Brees, Roethlisberger and now, of course, Flacco. All of them have won Super Bowls. I also regard Matt Ryan as "The Man," and several others are on the verge of "Man" status.

Scott from Jacksonville Beach, FL

When will we get an itinerary of your event? Would I also be able to bring Boselli?

We're putting the "Ask Vic Day" schedule of events together now. I would figure on a 10 a.m. registration. Tell Boselli to bring Brunell with him. He needs to get back in touch with his roots.

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