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I'll take an elite offense over an elite defense

Saturday's preseason opener big for players with something to prove


Drew from Gilbert, AZ

So with all this talk about Seattle's defense being an exception to the rule, can I assume you would take an elite offense over an elite defense?

Considering the new major point of emphasis that's going to be enforced this season, I absolutely would take an elite offense over an elite defense. Can a defense achieve elite status in this rules climate? I don't think you can win a championship without scoring a lot of points. The 2004 season was a major-point-of-emphasis year and Peyton Manning set a record for touchdown passes. I expect records for offense to fall this season. The league is bound and determined to make this a game of offense. I genuinely believe three- and four-point stances will be outlawed at some point in the future.

Michael from Breckenridge, CO

Vic, you were saying ACL injuries were a death knell back in the day. What guys were knelled back in the day that today would come back the following year sometimes stronger than ever?

Gale Sayers is the perfect example. Here's a quote from Dr. James Andrews: "In those days our ability to fix an ACL, MCL, PCL was in the dark ages. We didn't know how to fix the ACL, so we left it alone and operated on the peripheral tendons to make up for the ACL. That didn't work. With the cartilage, we would do a total menisectomy, just take it all out. That was a mistake too."

Nick from Long Beach, CA

Is the Vikings thing the only reason fans still dislike Favre? I mean, come on, even Lombardi left Green Bay.

We were different then. We understood the meaning of the term "professional football."

Justin from Danbury, CT

Do you think Andy Mulumba will make the team?

He caught my attention yesterday in one-on-one drills when he beat David Bakhtiari to the outside with a lightning-quick first step. It's the first time in all of training camp that I had seen someone beat Bakhtiari.

Tim from Lyme Regis, Dorset

Vic, I've spent a week away from the Internet and catching up on your column when I can and it made me wonder what you would be doing if football hadn't called you?

If I wasn't doing this column, I would likely never have known where Lyme Regis is. I had to look it up. Because of football and your question, I know something today I didn't know yesterday. Seriously, if it wasn't for football, I don't know what I would've done with the last 40-some years of my life. The sintering plant is still operating, but I wouldn't have lasted. I could barely get through one summer. Without football, I think there's a strong possibility I would've spent my adult life as a homeless, hopeless, wandering bum.

Tim from Grand Chute, WI

Do they pay U 2 write this lame website?

Yeah, and I'm glad they do.

Ryan from Minneapolis, MN

Vic, with the injury to Barclay, it's probably an obvious statement to say Sherrod is the next man up. Judging from what you've seen in camp, is he up for it?

Based on what I've seen in camp, I believe Derek Sherrod is ready to play and begin pursuit of the player he would've become had it not been for the broken leg he sustained in his rookie year. It's what he does in game competition, however, that'll answer your question best. It begins this Saturday. The preseason games are not meaningless for players such as Sherrod. Saturday is a big night in his life. It's big for all players that have something to prove.

Ed from Paradise, CA

Vic, you mentioned looking at potential changes that would make the game smaller. A good start would be examining what changes contributed to making the game bigger. Allowing 350-pound offensive tackles to hold on every play helps. The old chicken wing blocking didn't lend itself to offensive linemen that couldn't run.

You're right, the rules changes of 1978 that allowed offensive linemen to use their hands in blocking made the game bigger. What followed was an explosion of 300-pound offensive linemen. Movement wasn't as critical to blocking because you could lock up defenders with your hands. You didn't have to get out in front of the ball and block in space. Pulling and trapping became pushing and shoving, and bigger is better when you want to push and shove. That Rubicon has been crossed and there's no going back. If all of a sudden the NFL passed a rule that forbid offensive linemen to use their hands to block, the quarterback would get sacked on every play.

Josh from Brookfield, WI

Do yourself a favor and do not watch footage of why Martellus Bennett got suspended. If that piddly scuffle was worth a team suspension and fine nowadays, then I don't know how long I'm going to be a football fan. What a joke. If you have any legit training camp fight stories, we'd love to hear them.

Jon Kolb and Ernie "Fats" Holmes are my all-time favorite fighters. They fought all the time, but it's how they fought that I'll never forget. They fought quietly and everybody just stood around and watched. All of a sudden, you would hear some grunting and thumping, and then you'd see Kolb and Holmes hitting each other in the head. No words, just grunting and thumping. Practice would stop. Coach Noll would get a disgusted look on his face, but he'd say nothing. The grunting and thumping would go on for a while, and then Kolb and Holmes would get tired and stop. Often, after a few seconds of rest, the grunting and thumping would start again, and that's when Coach Noll would say, "OK, that's enough. George (Perles), step in there." Then there would be chuckles. Everything is such a major ordeal nowadays.

Tom from San Antonio, TX

Mazeroski's homer! One of the things all kids (from days gone by anyway) dream of doing, winning the World Series in the bottom of the ninth, game seven. Wow! Only one in the history of baseball. I can't imagine a feat like that ever being displaced in your study.

I was nine years old; it was the first significant event of my life. The nuns sent us home early to see the end of the game. I got home in time to see Tony Kubek get hit in the throat and Hal Smith hit a three-run homer. He should've been the hero. Think about what it cost Smith when the Yankees rallied to tie the game in the top of the ninth. Maz was first up in the bottom of the ninth. "Back to the wall goes Berra, it is over the fence, home run." Last Christmas, my youngest son gave me a t-shirt on which a mock scoreboard of that game appears on the front of the shirt. It provides the by-innings scoring and the pitch count, as it was when Maz hit the home run. The shirt hangs in my study.

Mark from Stewartville, MN

Vic, it hasn't been that hot for the Packers' training camp this year. Can you describe the heat for the Jaguars' training camps?

Yesterday's practice was clearly the hottest of training camp. To put it into perspective, it never gets that cold in training camp in Jacksonville.

Trevor from Peoria, IL

Which single rule change had the greatest impact on football?

I guess you could say it was the rule that allowed for the invention of the forward pass, or maybe it was the 1978 chuck rule or the rule that allowed offensive linemen to use their hands to block, but the one that doesn't get much attention is the rule that moved the hash marks toward the center of the field in 1972. It was intended to stimulate the passing game, but it created an explosion of thousand-yard rushers. I can't help but wonder how the game would be different if the hash marks were farther apart.

Joachim from Kassel, Germany

How do you rate the Packers' return game potential and how important do you consider an elite return game to be in today's NFL?

If you have one, it's important. The Packers have one any time they want one: Just put Randall Cobb back there.

Rusty from Fond du Lac, WI

I was reading an article online and saw the Seahawks play the Broncos for their preseason opener. Did they plan this on purpose or is it just coincidence?

They've often played each other in the preseason. They're from different conferences and the matchup makes sense geographically. In this case, it's good theater for the two teams that ended last season to kick off the new one. It's planned.

Nehemiah from Norfolk, VA

Vic, I love the segment "Top 3 at TC," but it's not enough. How about some live training camp highlights? Would love to get a glimpse of the live action … like those spectacular catches you and Mike have been seeing from the WRs in camp.

It's not permitted.

Jake from Franklin, WI

Vic, on the eve of the Packers' first preseason game, would you mind sharing your favorite preseason memory from your time with the Packers and your time before the Packers?

My favorite preseason memory with the Packers is my all-time favorite preseason memory. It's the visit to the White House in 2011 en route to the game in Cleveland. In all of the years I covered games in Cleveland, I never stopped at the White House on the way. In my years prior to covering the Packers, my favorite preseason memory is also from a game in Cleveland. The Steelers and Browns didn't normally face each other in the preseason, but they did that year for some special reason. Anyhow, it was the preseason opener, and somebody in the Browns' front office decided to paint the chairs in the press box, which looked like somebody stuck a bus sideways in the corner of the upper deck. The old Cleveland Stadium press box also housed the world's highest outhouse. Well, they painted the chairs and when they were done they closed the door and left. They forgot about something called ventilation. On the night of the game, we sat down in those chairs and when the first guy got up to the use the world's highest outhouse, we all laughed because the back of his pants and shirt were covered in orange paint. Then the laughter stopped, and one by one we stood up to find that we, too, were covered in orange paint. Memories make us rich.

Ben from Wauwatosa, WI

Be honest, Vic, you do not actually read all the questions e-mailed to you. You recently claimed you do, but I know the truth. Great column, though.

Send me a question and I'll promise not to read it.

Aaron from Ashland, WI

How has David Bakhtiari looked so far this camp?

Like a franchise left tackle.

David from Honolulu, HI

Vic, you probably already answered this, but when the conversation continues about who is the best QB of all time, Brett Favre's toughness factor is in line with what you're always talking about, right?

Great quarterbacks are tough, and they don't come any tougher than Favre. Johnny Unitas' toughness left him with a crippled arm later in life. Joe Montana played with a back that was so painful most people wouldn't have been able to get out of bed with it, let alone get knocked into tomorrow by Leonard Marshall. Terry Bradshaw played with a cast on his broken left wrist. Favre set endurance records. Where's the stat for toughness? I feel sorry for fans that don't appreciate toughness. It's the No. 1 "stat" in my book.

Sammy from Crystal Springs, MS

Vic, I just had the most incredible experience of my life, other than my children being born. I was able to go to Birmingham and meet my all-time favorite football player, Bart Starr. He was fantastic in meeting with and I spent about an hour with him talking Packers football in his day. Have you spent much time with Bart Starr? What was the experience like for you?

I did a Q&A interview with him a few years ago. At one point in the interview, I found myself not paying attention to what he was saying. Instead, I was thinking about interviewing the man I watched score the winning touchdown when I was a teenage boy sitting in my grandparents' basement on New Year's Eve, 1967, watching the game on a black and white TV and sitting next to a root cellar full of all the pop I could drink. How could that kid have grown up to be so lucky?

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