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Hutson must be included in greatest receiver talk


Denny from Wesley Chapel, FL

Do you read all of the questions or do you have help screening the ones worth a reply?

I read every e-mail I receive to "Ask Vic." That's my promise to anyone who wishes to submit a question. I can't guarantee I'll use the question in "Ask Vic" or respond to it privately, but I promise to read it. This is an education process for me, too. I read things that make me think.

Charles from Statham, GA

I get the impression that many of the players' contracts have various incentive or performance clauses in them. How are those incentives or bonuses accounted for when determining a team's total player salary?

All incentives fall into one of two groups: likely to be earned (LTBE) or not likely to be earned (NLTBE). If an incentive in this year would've been equaled in the previous year, it's LTBE and that money must be counted on this year's cap. If it wouldn't have been equaled in the previous year, then it's NLTBE and won't count on this year's cap but will count on next year's cap if it's earned. That's a way of moving money out. It's one of the things the Jaguars did that got them into the worst salary cap mess in salary cap history. A little bit of NLTBE to make room in the current year is OK, but moving money out is like credit cards: You're delaying payment and, at some point, the bill is gonna come due, so make sure you can pay it.

Adam from Des Moines, IA

With "Family Night" fast approaching, I was wondering if it was going to be televised on TV or streamed on

It'll be telecast on the "Family Night" network, which includes these TV stations: WLUK/Fox 11- Green Bay/Fox Cities, WITI/Fox 6- Milwaukee, WFXS/Fox 55-Wausau, WMSN/Fox 44-Madison, WLAX/Fox 25 and Fox 48-LaCrosse/Eau Claire.

Pat from Port Washington, WI

I'm kind of torn on the two-a-day question. How do the best coaches manage training camp so they get the repetitions they need, but avoid a rash of injuries or excessive wear-and-tear on players?

That's the question every coach in the league is asking. Where do you draw the line? The coaches that identify that line will be the ones that get the most out of their players and their teams' practices, and that's a formula for winning. I know a strength and conditioning coach who has an intriguing philosophy: Don't do one thing more than you have to do to get ready for the season. It's his way of saying that one thing more than what's necessary is unnecessary wear and tear on the body. Find the line and don't cross it.

Tim from Normal, IL

Why did the NFL move the kickoff up, which will create more touchbacks? The kickoff return is one of the most exciting plays in the game.

A lot of high-speed collisions will have been eliminated, and that goes to player safety. Sounds nuts, doesn't it? I'm keeping an open mind. Change stimulates creativity. I'll wait and watch before I judge.

Eric from Los Angeles, CA

I completely disagree with you on Umenyiora fitting into the 3-4. Would he fit there as a two-gapping end? Absolutely not. He does, however, fit as a pass-rushing linebacker.

That's speculation and it would cost a team a high draft pick and a lot of money to find out if, indeed, Osi Umenyiora can successfully make that transition. The Packers aren't that desperate. They already have a linebacker who's a pretty good pass-rusher.

Aaron from Loves Park, IL

Does being one of the best wide receivers of all time qualify Randy Moss as a Hall of Famer? To say that "not getting it done in the postseason" is Randy's fault is pretty harsh. Dan Marino never won a Super Bowl, however, he entered the Hall of Fame as one of the best quarterbacks of all time. Randy Moss is indisputably one of the best receivers of all time. Doesn't that make him a Hall of Fame receiver?

OK, allow me, please, to be more specific: Moss' postseason stats are, to say the least, disappointing. Marino's postseason stats as a whole aren't up to his regular-season standards, but Marino turned in dominant postseason performances in the 1984 and '94 playoffs. I covered the '84 AFC title game, in which Marino turned in one of the most impressive passing performances I have ever seen; he was unstoppable. He just never won a Super Bowl. He played for a team that always seemed to be weak on defense and it caused Marino to have to do more than should've been expected of him, and that led to interceptions that were the result of desperation. Moss had a record-setting season in 2007, and then failed to score a touchdown in the first two playoff games, which was the first time that had happened all season. I covered the first of those two games. Tom Brady completed 26 of 28 passes in that game, yet, Moss caught only one pass for 14 yards. How can that be? Yes, being one of the best players at your position in your era usually qualifies you for the Hall of Fame, but postseason performance is a consideration, too, and my guess is that Moss' postseason record will hurt him. Look what sticking his hands in his pants in the "Ice Bowl" did to Bob Hayes' candidacy for the Hall of Fame. The old guys never forgot that. Great players don't do that in a game that big. Great feats are expected of great players.

Todd from Beaufort, SC

I love it, Vic. You have been in Green Bay five months and already you are a Green Bay homer.

What I keep forgetting is that when somebody asks me for my opinion, they don't want me to tell them what I think, they want me to tell them what they think. I have to learn that.

Sam from Burlington, WA

With all of the talent the Packers have on their team, will there be a point at which they won't be able to re-sign it all? If that's the case, would Ted just keep drafting players to take the place of the players he couldn't re-sign?

Bingo! You got it. You just described in two easy questions the entire draft-and-develop philosophy. This is not a game of maintenance, it is a game of replacement. The most lasting and affordable way for replacing players is through the draft, but it requires discipline and patience.

Tom from Flower Mound, TX

When was the last time an official signaled the end of a game by firing a pistol?

I don't know, but one of the most light-hearted moments I've experienced while covering a game is from a high school game when I was a young reporter, when the horn sounded to end the game and a radio guy in the press box said, "And there's the gun."

Bryce from Iron Mountain, MI

Vic, you know your stuff, but sometimes you give some of the most unsatisfactory answers, not all the time, though.

You should only read the good answers.

Kevin from Combined Locks, WI

When do the Packers normally make their first round of cuts to the roster?

It's mandated by the league. The first cut this year would be on Aug. 30 to 75. The cut to 53 is to be made by Sept. 3. Teams can cut their rosters before those dates, if they choose to do so.

Alan from Milwaukee, WI

You mentioned the most revolutionary players ever and said your vote was for Moss. Wouldn't a better choice be Don Hutson?

Do you ever wonder what some of the old guys would've been like in today's game? Hutson might've translated better than any of the old-timers. He was way ahead of his time. He was made for the modern game. It's an outrage that he isn't mentioned more prominently when discussing the greatest receivers of all time.

Andrea from Parma, Italy

Mr. Ketchman, which are the teams you like the most? I have a brand new tattoo on my ankle featuring the most beautiful green and yellow "G" in the world.

Yes, of course. Anyhow, the Packers, Jaguars and Steelers would be my favorite teams, for the obvious reasons. When you cover teams, you learn about them and you become interested in them. They become a part of you.

Aaron from Omaha, NE

"He is widely regarded as one of the hardest-working NFL players of all time." Does that guy realize he was talking about Randy Moss?

Yeah, he lost me on that one. Great talent? Absolutely. Great stats? No question. Difference-maker? Without a doubt. Hardest-working? Whoa! I covered a game between the Jaguars and the Titans last season in which Moss turned in one of the most dreadful efforts I have ever seen, and that was a theme in his career that's going to be the biggest knock against him five years from now.

Joe from Amherst, MA

For the Packers' (White House) visit, will they make any effort to invite players who played in the Super Bowl but are now on other teams?

That can't be done, Joe. For starters, no coach is going to allow one of his players to go off and celebrate with another team. I thought Nick Collins put it best: "They'll be with us."

Pedro from Sao Paulo, Brazil

In your opinion, is Hines Ward Hall of Fame worthy?

He's got a couple of ingredients going for him that a lot of other players with better stats don't have: 1.) He has a defining postseason moment (Super Bowl MVP). 2.) He changed the game. It's the second one for which I have a warm spot in my heart for Ward. I covered the NFL in the 1970s, when receivers were brutalized by defensive backs. I witnessed what Jack Tatum and George Atkinson did to Lynn Swann, Russ Francis and Darryl Stingley. It sickened me. I only wish Ward had played back then because he's the guy that turned the hunter into the hunted. Penalize him? They should pin a medal on him. He stood up for all receivers long before the league stepped forward with its "defenseless receiver" rule. If you were a defensive back in a game in which Ward was playing, you had to keep your head on a swivel because he was hunting you, too, and it was about time. I like that kind of football player. I like tough guys and Ward is a tough guy. Would I vote for him for the Hall of Fame? Probably not, at least not on the first ballot, because there are already too many receivers in the Hall of Fame. We're turning it into the Hall of Fame of wide receivers. I think we need to become more selective in electing wide receivers to the Hall of Fame. Be that as it may, there's no player in the league I respect more than Ward. He corrected a terrible wrong that had been unconscionably permitted for way too many years.

Martin from Bexley, OH

Are there any players currently in the Hall of Fame that don't meet your standards?

There's a quarterback whose postseason record leaves me cold.

Scott from Greensburg, IN

Are the skill sets of the middle linebacker in a 4-3 defense similar to the skill sets of the two inside linebackers in a 3-4?

Look at it this way: The strong side inside linebacker in a 3-4 is the middle linebacker in a 4-3, the weak side inside linebacker in a 3-4 is the weak side linebacker in a 4-3, the strong side outside linebacker in a 3-4 is the same guy in a 4-3, and the rush-backer in a 3-4 is a stand up defensive end. Yes, the skill sets are essentially the same. To a large degree, the skill set for the rush-backer is similar to the skill set for the right defensive end in a 4-3, which is to say the premier pass-rusher.

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