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I'll pick Alabama and Florida State

Football fans are beginning to join the Hot Stove League


Ben from Indianapolis, IN

Vic, I love the entertainment that trade rumors give us but I do not understand how people think they are completely serious. I read Larry Fitzgerald to Detroit and all the Detroit fans on the forum were going crazy. Simple cap management dictates that can't and will not happen. Am I just too cynical?

What you're describing is what baseball has long called its Hot Stove League, which is to say a bunch of men sitting around a hot stove on a winter day and talking about trades that would improve their favorite teams for the coming season. Football has never had that because football has been a draft-and-replace sport; it just hasn't been big on trading players for players. The Trent Richardson trade triggered the Hot Stove League mentality in football fans; they want a Hot Stove League and the media always gives the fans what they want. You're not being cynical. You're just refusing the Hot Stove League mentality to overwhelm your sense of logic.

Alex from London, England

Will Green Bay's Week 1 loss to San Francisco factor in the event of a tie with Seattle?

Yes, and it's a big one because it would go to both common games and conference games. Of course, Seattle plays San Francisco twice, which makes the San Francisco game even more important in the tiebreaking procedure.

Brandon from Marion, OH

The college football season is over and you are solely responsible for choosing the two teams in the National Championship. Who do you choose and why?

Alabama and Florida State, for the obvious reason that I believe they are the two best teams in the country. Having said that, I will also tell you that this is the worst college football season I can ever remember, and I am a college football junkie. The movers and shakers in college football better take a hard look at their game. It needs help.

Earl from Winnipeg, Manitoba

Vic, a Vikings fan friend of mine asked about the first touching rule. On the play when the Vikings had an onside kick and touched the ball prior to it going 10 yards, we were wondering how the first touching rule would apply if a Packers player had picked up the ball and run with it, fumbled it and the Vikings recovered. I read the rule as the Packers could take the point of first touching and maintain possession as long as there was not a foul by the Packers. This first touching rule is beyond confusing; please put it into English for me.

I've never seen it applied in an onside kick situation, but I know how it works on a punt. It is a violation for the punting team to touch the ball first after the ball has been kicked and has crossed the line of scrimmage. At the point of first touching, the receiving team may advance the ball without risk of losing it, provided it doesn't foul after the kicking team regains possession. In other words, the receiving team may pick up the ball, run with it for 90 yards, fumble it and lose it to the punting team, and it's the receiving team's ball at the point it was first touched by the punting team. Here's the rule: "First touching is when a player of the kicking team touches a scrimmage kick that is beyond the line of scrimmage before it has been touched by a player of the receiving team beyond the line. If the ball is first touched by a player of the kicking team, it remains in play. First touching is a violation and the receivers shall have the option of taking possession of the ball at the spot of first touching, provided no penalty is accepted on the play, or at the spot where the ball is dead. First touching does not offset a foul by the receivers."

Matt from Florence, SC

Vic, why do you think it is that the Packers defense has so much trouble in garbage time stopping teams?

It's because the focus changes from yardage to time. You give yardage to expire time.

Paul from Hewitt, WI

Vic, you have articulated that you would have the rights for practice squad player belong to the team. You also stated you would not increase the number of players on team rosters because of costs. Do practice squad salaries count against the cap? Are they members of the players union? If they are members of the union, does their time on the practice squad count the same as active players toward their pension?

Yes, yes, no. I would change the practice squad rules so the players' rights belong to their respective teams – that's the big one with me – and players on the practice squad would be paid to the level of a minimum-wage rookie down amount, $288,000 a year. That's an increase from the $102,000 a year that is currently paid to practice squad players. The rookie minimum for 53-man rookies is $405,000 a year. I would not, however, increase the size of the active roster. Players could be merely promoted from the practice squad to the active roster, but they could not be returned to the practice squad without going back through waivers. Using the practice squad as I'm proposing would provide an increase in pay to these young men, but it would still represent a cost savings over increasing the 53-man roster to, say, 58. In short, teams would get the equivalent of an extra eight players, but without the cost of increasing the active roster by five players. More importantly, you're not increasing the overall size, and that becomes a major medical liability savings.

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