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I disagree with Skip Bayless; guard could change this year

Preseason would seem to be a good time to run the ball


Michael from Brookings, SD

How do you feel about Skip Bayless calling the Packers overrated?

I have two thoughts: 1.) I don't agree with him. I have a very high opinion of the Packers' roster talent and an even higher opinion of the Packers' star-quality players. When you have a quarterback the caliber of Aaron Rodgers, I don't think it's possible to overrate a team. 2.) When you give up 579 yards in your final game of the season, especially when it's in a high-profile playoff game, you can expect to get some shots. It's best to say nothing and speak with your performance on Sept. 8.

Eric from Amherst Junction, WI

Vic, what do you imagine future NFL stadiums will look like?

We've just come out of a leaguewide stadium-building era, so I think it's going to be a long time before we see today's stadiums replaced by new stadiums. When that happens, however, I think we're going to see smaller, more intimate stadiums, similar to the ballpark movement in baseball since Camden Yards. The TV home experience, in my opinion, will require more intimacy in NFL stadiums. One of the great things about Lambeau Field is that, despite its capacity, it has an intimate feel to it.

Kosta from Kiev, Ukraine

Vik, as one of the few winsome Packers fans in Ukraine, I would definitely support expansion of the league to Europe. For many European-based American football fans (football is called American football here), this can be the only opportunity to ever visit a live NFL football game. In most of the cases, we do not even dream to visit game of the team we diehard for. I have a question related to a salary cap. Is a salary cap of coaches in NFL somehow limited or owners of the team are free to offer any compensation package to coach they like?

There is no salary cap for coaching staffs. Teams may spend as much as they'd like.

Leonardo from Las Vegas, NV

Knowing your feelings about punters and kickers in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, do you think designated hitters should be kept out of the baseball Hall of Fame as well? Why or why not?

I absolutely do. I'm OK with a guy spending a portion of his career, especially when it's late in his career, as a DH, but when were fielding and throwing eliminated from the game? The DH is a terrible rule. It's allowed pitchers to work inside without having to worry about retaliation against them. It's even worse how it impacts strategy late in the game and in extra innings. It tacks years onto the careers of players that can continue their pursuit of home run records, for example, whereas they otherwise wouldn't still be playing or they'd strictly be a one-at-bat-a-game pinch hitter. Willie Mays and Roberto Clemente are probably the two players from when I was young that I admired the most, and they were revered as much for their fielding and throwing abilities as they were for the way they hit and ran. When I think of five-tool players, I think of Mays and Clemente, and in my opinion, a Hall of Fame player (pitchers excluded, of course) should be a five-tool player.

Billy from Las Cruces, NM

Hey, Vic, what are the chances a guy like you goes on ESPN's "First Take" with Skip Bayless and Stephan A. Smith? It would be interesting to see you and a guy like Skip Bayless butt heads for a couple of hours. After all, Skip does think Tom Brady is better right now than Aaron Rodgers. I'm sure we'd all love to see you make Skip look bad.

Bayless has really got into the heads of Packers fans, and he's loving it. Here are my thoughts on Brady and Rodgers: I have had Brady on a pedestal throughout his career. I have praised him so often and so long that I got the man-crush stuff for a long time. I still think he has game, a really good game, but I have a feeling the run in New England is nearing an end. That's just a feeling I have that is being impacted by recent events, and also by the fact that the Patriots appear to me to have been more desperate in their personnel decisions in recent years, which tells me they might be of the same opinion I am. I consider Rodgers to be the best quarterback in the league. As I've written, I believe he would be the consensus first pick of the draft, if there was a draft of current NFL players. I also believe he is poised to drive home that point. Brady and Peyton Manning have been the guard in this league for a long time, and I think we're about to see a changing of that guard.

Jim from Scottsdale, AZ

We are lucky to have such a good coach but I think Coach McCarthy does have poor clock-management skills that have hurt the team at halftime and in the fourth quarter for a few years now. Has that ever been questioned by reporters or by coach himself?

It's been questioned about every coach I've ever covered. Chuck Noll was accused of lacking clock-management skills. He won four Super Bowls. Tom Coughlin was repeatedly criticized for his clock-management skills, and Coach Coughlin is consumed by effective use of the clock and practiced it daily. Bill Cowher got some criticism, too, but not as much because he's famous for having a lead at the start of the fourth quarter and then taking the air out of the ball. What fans do after the game is sit down, go back over each play in the final drive of the game, add up the time spent between plays and decide how they might've milked another play or two out of the game had they spiked the ball here or called a time out there. OK, now do it as the clock is running and 70,000 people are screaming, and then communicate your instructions to the people who have to execute them, while the clock is running, of course.

Erik from Fargo, ND

So we're not running the Oklahoma drill because there's a chance someone might get hurt? In football? That's pretty humorous. We're not practicing physicality in a sport that is built around physicality because we're scared someone might get hurt.

I think that's essentially the issue, but there's also another issue: I don't know to what degree the Oklahoma drill even relates to the game that's played today, and that's the issue that bothers me the most.

Mike from Rockford, MI

What can you tell me about Sammy Baugh?

I can tell you that he would've been a megastar in today's game, and I can also tell you that it's best he didn't play in today's game because his TV interviews would've been a series of beeps. I covered a quarterback like that, Bubby Brister. He was really good for the print guys because the TV guys didn't go near his locker once the not-made-for-TV interviews started. We had him all to ourselves. I loved interviewing the Bubster. He gave me a quote I'll never forget. At the start of one training camp that was going to be highlighted by a battle for the starting quarterback job, he pointed to our notebooks and then said, "Write it down, I'm 'The Man.'"

James from Ilkley, UK

You say an 18-game season would likely lead to a greater emphasis on roster depth and that players would likely miss more games through injury. I agree. But you have talked about how the NFL seems to be driven by the fair-weather fan these days. Surely, those fans don't want to see roster depth, they just want to see the stars and the big names. Part-time fans aren't interested in back-ups.

The casual fan wants to see the quarterback. Just keep the quarterback upright and everything will be fine. Everybody else is replaceable. It's been that way in this league for a long time.

Court from Santiago, Chile

When I travel, I bring my laptop so I can work, but also so I can bring you. I like what you do and how you go about it, except for when you air the negative comments. I don't speak Spanish but I find myself among friends here, particularly since I get to bring you with me.

That's one of the nicest things anyone has ever said to me. I'm absolutely swollen with joy.

Sven from Berlin, Germany

I seriously hate you. Retire, please.

Come to balance, Vic.

Steve from Taos, NM

Vic, given that you hate the coach's challenge, what are some memorable games in history that might have ended differently had reviews existed earlier.

The Raiders would've probably played in Super Bowl XII instead of the Broncos.

David from Danville, CA

It's a game of replacement. You've beat this point into me. The Packers and Steelers are only two seasons removed from having met each other in the Super Bowl and there are only 10 starters from that game from each team that are still with their teams in a meaningful role. That's over 50 percent turnover of the two premier teams just two years ago. Pretty clearly illustrates the point of being a game of replacement.

Staying the same will do two things to a team: Damage its salary cap and make it old. Keep your core players, replace their supporting cast.

Chad from Chicago, IL

You mentioned the new CBA restored a leaguethink mentality. How had the league strayed from it before the new agreement?

Teams were cannibalizing each other by finding creative ways to give increasingly large sums of money to draft picks. The high-revenue teams were forcing the low-revenue teams to literally trade out of the top 10. During the lockout and the new CBA negotiations, the league took a unified stand to stop the rookie money grab.

Bill from Marion, WI

Vic, I played offensive and defensive line in school and I love your appreciation for the big guys up front when most of the sports media seem to ignore them. My question is, how has the game changed for linemen since the Lombardi years?

In the Lombardi era, offensive linemen played with their shoulders; now they play with their hands.

Mark from Stewartville, MN

Vic, in the film "Run to Daylight," Coach Lombardi said that when rookies came into the Packers camp, he tried to think of them in terms of what kind of players they would be two or three years down the road rather than what they were like at present. Would you say that's good advice for all coaches to follow?

That's always been the philosophy of good personnel managers. It's a crystal ball business. It's not about what a prospect is, it's about what he'll become.

Randall from Sun Prairie, WI

I suppose leaguethink is a more palatable term than what it actually is: socialism.

It's smart; that's what it is. It's men working together to achieve success. Pete Rozelle negotiated with the TV networks collectively for the league; that's collective bargaining. Different teams have different ticket prices; that's free markets. Adaptability is a quality, not a flaw. Whatever it takes.

Rodney from Moab, UT

Vic, I loved what you had to say about expectations. I'm a high school teacher and coach and I tell my kids expectations are future disappointments. Instead, we set goals. They are somehow more motivating to people than expectations.

Expectations are a set-up. When you expect, there's a tendency to stop your pursuit. I get the whole set-the-bar-high thing. I just don't like the word. To me, it implies complacency. I prefer to regard success to be a challenge, not an expectation.

Richard from New Glarus, WI

Ronald Reagan did better in his second term? Wow, I guess you forgot all about the Iran-Contra scandal. Stick to football, Vic.

I didn't say second term, I said second team. Ronald Reagan began his political career as a Democrat. He was elected president as a Republican.

Chris from Salem, SD

Vic, do you think the Packers will run the ball more in preseason so they can be better evaluated?

If I wanted to sell to my early-season opponents the notion that my team has a running game and a commitment to it you need to respect, the preseason would seem to be a perfect time to do it.

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