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I'm back, baby, richer than ever

"Ice Bowl" pro football's last innocent game


Chase from Madisonville, KY

How's the dead period going for you, Vic?

I'm happy to report I'm still in the live period.

Josh from Tucson, AZ

Everything OK with Vic? I've been reading the column since the beginning in Jacksonville. The last time there was an unannounced absence, he was in the hospital after a heart attack.

I got a visit from my old friend last Friday. This visit included a helicopter ride. Oh, the thoughts that run through a man's mind when it appears the clock is running out. Fortunately, I was granted another overtime period. Well, I'm back, baby, and it feels great. Today is wonderful. It's all the tomorrows I fear, so I'll try to make every day today. Maybe we could apply that philosophy to football. Let's try to make every season this season. Let's sharpen our senses so we accumulate as many memories as possible, even the ones that hurt, because memories make us rich, even the ones that hurt. Without the visit from my old friend, I might've never taken a helicopter ride – yeah, it was my first – and I would've never met Robert the wheelchair guy. As he wheeled me to my waiting car on Monday, he asked, "Mr. Ketchman, are you the sportswriter?" I confessed and then asked him how he knew. "I read your column," he said. "Are you a Packers fan?" I asked. "Yeah," he said. God, I love football. It's made me so rich.

Steven from Milwaukee, WI

Do you think the league should have some sort of protected practice squad player designation that allows a team to stash one player on their practice squad without fear of losing him on waivers?

I favor expanding the size of the practice squad and allowing teams to protect up to five of those players. I think such a revision of the practice squad rules would dovetail nicely with a developmental league.

Alan from Jefferson City, MO

Are there any 3-4 nose tackles in the Hall of Fame?

Curley Culp is the standard, but he played in the stop-the-run era, and he was still able to record 66 sacks. I don't think it's possible in today's sack-happy game to make it into the Hall of Fame as a run-stuffer, and nose tackles are cast nearly exclusively in that role. In today's game, if you're a nose tackle, you pretty much have to accept you're not likely going to be elected to the Hall of Fame.

Tom from Grafton, WI

Is there any position that offers a somewhat accurate evaluation during OTAs?

If there is one, it's cornerback. Can they cover? That's really all you need to know, and OTAs offer a strong indication of a cornerback's coverage ability. The ability to tackle is a bonus. A lot of them can't, but there's always room on a roster for a guy who can cover.

Tom from Crystal Falls, MI

Vic, have you had a chance to cut grass with a zero-turn mower yet?

I'd screw myself into the ground.

Bill from Staten Island, NY

Regarding Sunday's final round of the U.S. Open, we saw yet another sporting event affected by video replay. In a game where players call penalties on themselves, I find it disturbing the USGA basically said, "We don't believe you, Dustin." Even his playing partner said Johnson did nothing to cause the ball to move. Then the USGA waits until after the round to make the decision and apply the penalty. Imagine if in the Super Bowl the officials reviewing a touchdown said, "We'll let you know after the game is over." I call a penalty on the USGA for that one!

I support the USGA's ruling, but they had plenty of time to pass judgment. They should've made the ruling and informed Johnson of the penalty when he made the turn, at the latest. I'm more offended by what happened on No. 10. Johnson sought line-of-sight relief, and then hit the ball directly over the TV tower. Clearly, he was seeking lie relief, which I consider to be a gross violation of the spirit of the rule.

Abiegail from Granada Hills, CA

What is the best advice you have given to your sons or have received from your father?

I asked my father for his opinion on going to Jacksonville. Should I go, dad? I asked. He told me to never say no to opportunity. It's the best advice he ever gave me and it's the same advice I give to my sons. When we say no to opportunity, we say no to growth. Never say no to growth.

Rob from Madison, WI

If a team is up by one point late in a game and scores a touchdown, would you consider going for two to make it a two-score game?

No. You're allowed to win with defense. If you don't challenge your defense, it'll get soft.

Chad from Tarpon Springs, FL

Is football losing its innocence?

All sports lose their innocence when they sell out to TV. The "Ice Bowl" was pro football's last innocent game.

William from Savannah, GA

Vic, has instant replay damaged another sport?

Yes. We have become slaves to the eye in the sky. It's another example of TV's control of the sports we love. How much did the on-air "official" influence the USGA's decision to delay its ruling on Sunday? I have a friend who officiates golf tournaments, and he believes the USGA was intimidated by the rules commentary being offered to viewers.

Jerry from Wilmington, NC

Vic, what did you think of FOX's coverage of the U.S. Open?

They made tremendous gains over last year's coverage. Joe Buck guided the coverage expertly. The visuals were sensational, especially following last year's visual disaster at Chambers Bay. Oakmont's "church pews" were mesmerizing and Fox played on them all weekend. I loved Fox's coverage until the Johnson controversy began. That's when it all went bad. Not one of the analysts didn't rush to Johnson's defense or fail to harshly criticize the USGA. It was players reporting on players. The jockocracy. Cosell called it.

Dustin from Orlando, FL

If you had been covering the Open, what would've been your lede?

This time, he didn't miss.

Christopher from Cudahy, WI

How about an AFL Mt. Rushmore? Lamar Hunt, Al Davis, Joe Namath and?

Sid Gillman.

Mark from Iowa City, IA

Vic, I have a feeling the Packers can have a top five defense in 2016. Do you think they have the potential to do it and does your inbox believe so as well?

Me? Yes. My inbox? I sense doubt.

Tom from Suwanee, GA

A colleague of mine is L.C. Greenwood's son. Can you tell us a good L.C. story even his son might not know?

As the players arrived at the stadium in Oakland on the day of the 1974 AFC title game, L.C. was sitting on a folding chair in the hallway outside the Steelers locker room, watching the NFC title game on a TV. Gene Upshaw walked by and playfully said, "What are you doing, L.C.?" "Just looking to see who we're going to play in the Super Bowl," L.C. said. There was no reaction from Upshaw. They're both gone now, but the memories never die.

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