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I'm predicting another Packers-Giants classic

When the doctor says “play,” I say give “The Man” the ball


Dan from Houston, TX

Vic, I was getting suckered into the group that thinks the Giants aren't very good, but your 10 things article brought all those memories back and have me ready to watch the Packers take on the Giants another time.

Good! It's going to be a great game, another Packers-Giants classic. I acknowledge the Broncos-Chiefs showdown, but I'll bet TV regrets having flexed out of Packers-Giants. The New York market? The Packers' huge fan base? We'll see.

William from Savannah, GA

As a journalist, part of the job is to be objective, to transfer information without prejudice. As a reader of the column from the beginning (back in Jax), I appreciate that you do not hold the company line if you do not agree with it, regardless of what some readers may think. I remember you sharply questioning several Jaguars draft choices. Has there ever been a time in your career, however, when you got too close to a player, a coach or a story, or too emotionally invested?

There was one time, early on, that I got too close to a story, and it was the best thing that ever happened to me because it hasn't happened since and it'll never happen again. It was 1977 and a certain star linebacker was a training camp holdout. I kept hearing (yeah, the old anonymous sources) that the team would not renegotiate with the player and they were prepared to play without him. The first-round pick that year was a linebacker and the linebackers coach was effusive in his praise of the rookie – I should've known the coach was trying to unnerve the star linebacker. Anyhow, I bought it all, and I wrote it, and then right before the regular season began the team and the star linebacker reached agreement on a new contract. I'll never forget attending the press conference and seeing the "team" and the star linebacker standing up there together, smiling and "hugging," and I remember thinking to myself, "So, this is how the game is played; never again." That's why I caution fans in this situation, as I did during the lockout, to not choose sides and get all emotionally worked up, because in the end they'll be smiling and hugging and you'll be left with the angst. Never again.

Ryan from Southaven, MS

Vic, you answered a question about the league's schedule maker and some of what you said made sense, but I thought I remember you saying the league makes the schedule years in advance.

The scheduling formula decides what teams you play; the schedule maker decides when you play those teams. For example, I can already tell you that next season the Packers will host the Falcons, Panthers, Patriots and Jets, and will travel to the Saints, Bucs, Bills and Dolphins, but I can't tell you when those games will be played. The schedule maker will decide that, and I think when is as important as who.

Tony from Saint Paul, MN

Remember what everyone was harping about during the preseason? I can't. You were correct. The preseason doesn't matter.


QB Scott Tolzien

Let's see, what were the issues? Much was being written about the prospect for the Packers producing three thousand-yard receivers. There might be one. There was intense scrutiny dedicated to the Packers' running game. They're No. 6 in the league in rushing and Eddie Lacy is a strong candidate for rookie of the year. We were drowning in tears of worry about the left tackle position. David Bakhtiari has made it one of the most secure positions on the team. If there was one training camp storyline that is still with us, it's concern for the backup quarterback position. Back then, the names were Graham Harrell, B.J. Coleman and Vince Young. Now the names are Scott Tolzien and Matt Flynn, neither of whom were on the Packers roster in August. Concern for the backup quarterback position can be eliminated this Sunday, possibly for the long-term future. Tolzien can do that with another strong performance. Do you understand why I say we worry too much? We make problems out of things that aren't problems, and those that are problems usually require time to resolve. The Tolzien storyline is strong.

Jesse from Cortland, NY

Vic, do you like the classics? About a month and a half ago, I realized you love drama. Not only do you love it, but you openly promote it. This has bothered me as you always have seemed to espouse enjoying the game for the game's sake, not getting worked up and all that. This seems to be a self-contradiction as I don't really see the two meshing well. You tell us to relax, that being upset isn't going to make a difference, but then you get us all in whipped up with intrigue and anticipation for the game by Sunday, especially when things aren't going well, such as is the case currently. I feel like we, your readers, have been had by some sneaky scheme of yours, that if you didn't somehow keep us on the edge of our seats, perhaps we wouldn't fill them.

I think you've created your own drama.

Jason from Summerville, SC

I just read an article about the league possibly extending protection that the QB already has. Will too much protection for one position ruin the game?

Yes, it will. Too much of anything is bad because it's too much. In this case, it's more rules and we already have too many rules. I've been saying it for years and Mike Pereira recently said the same. Just get rid of the intentional grounding rule. Being able to spike the ball to avoid a sack would be the ultimate protection for the quarterback. We can get rid of all of that other stuff, and that would help define the difference between pocket passers and running quarterbacks. Instead of sacks, rushers get spikes and a spike is the same as a sack.

Michael from Janesville, WI

The Chiefs are good because they have played a lot of bad teams.

Who are the good teams? Are the 49ers a good team? The Panthers just beat them in San Francisco. Does that make the Panthers a good team? We're going to find out in December and January who the good teams are. There's no need to draw any conclusions now. If a team is good now and it plays poorly in December, then it wasn't a good team. I honestly don't think I can put my finger on any one team in the league and say, "That's a good team." I won't do it until I see them win at crunch time. There are several teams I believe have the potential to be a good team, and the Packers are one of those teams. We'll see. Good teams win big games. The games are getting bigger every week.

Bill from Morris, IL

Did the NFL schedule maker come up with flexible scheduling just to mess with people? The Packers-Giants game this Sunday was originally scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Doesn't he know it throws a wrench into people's advanced scheduling, or is it all part of his master plan?

I completely agree with you. The starting time of the game was changed to accommodate TV, which accommodates people who don't have plans beyond sitting on the couch at home. What about the people who've made elaborate plans to attend the game? I think people can tell that I don't like this flex stuff. I think it's bad business because the ticket buyer is the No. 1 customer and his or her plans are the most important plans.

Mario from Burlingame, CA

Whatever job title – marketing copywriter, journalist, columnist – is used to depict how you earn a living, I love how you write words to describe football and the little things of life. Vic, where were you on November 22, 1963, when President Kennedy was assassinated? Were the Catholic sisters in tearful bereavement? Why did Pete Rozelle continue the games?

I was in the seventh grade, in Sister Rose Gertrude's room. We knew something bad had happened because all of the nuns were in the hallway talking and we could tell they had been crying. We were taken to the church, where our pastor told us the bad news. That was 50 years ago, but my memory of that event is still sharp. Kennedy was the country's first Catholic president, and it was a very big deal where I lived. Religion made the Kennedy-Nixon election a polarizing event. John Kerry didn't face the bias Kennedy did, and I think that's a great testimony to the barriers that have broken in my lifetime. Rozelle decided to allow NFL games to be played that weekend, but TV didn't televise them because it completely dedicated its coverage to Kennedy events. Rozelle later said that allowing the games to be played was the greatest regret of his time as commissioner.


Don Meredith

Andrew from Milwaukee, WI

Vic, please write to NFL Network and tell them you're going to take Mike Mayock's position. I'm sick of hearing about how Luck wanted the over route, it was there, the underneath route was covered, so he dumped it off. Let's just watch some football.

I miss Don Meredith singing "Turn Out The Lights." Can't we just make it fun?

Zach from Glen Ellyn, IL

My question is about Aaron's return. He was hinting that he may be back for the Vikings, but the Packers play just four days later in Detroit. Do you think Aaron should play in both games, or take it easy, play it smart and wait to play on Thanksgiving?

The moment the doctor says he's cleared to play, I'd give Rodgers the ball. It's his ball, it's his team, it's his season. We're just waiting for the doctor to say "play."

Nate from Pueblo, CO

Win as the second-to-last word, dairy cattle safety. Hilarious!

Hey, I'm a marketing copywriter. It's what I do.

Bob from Washington, DC

Vic, I think you are a great reporter, but I also think you are a little caught up in the scheme and players vs. plays stuff. Much of what's happened the last two weeks is about luck (bad luck in this case). My favorite plays of all time (Immaculate Reception, Tyree helmet catch, Rodgers tackling Urlacher) all had elements of luck, of chance, that are undeniable. What we need for the next few weeks is a little bit of luck.

Runner at second base with two out. The batter bloops a hit between the second baseman and right fielder and the runner scores because there are two out, so he's running with contact. If there's one out, he has to hold. It's just luck that there are two out. Games include huge elements of chance, for which we can neither plan nor strategize, only accept as rub of the green.

Adam from Wausau, WI

What players belonged to you as a reporter?

Fred Taylor was mine. He still is mine. I own him. By the way, I'm a marketing copywriter now.

John from Saint Augustine, FL

I love how you write for the Packers, but you still throw your old Jaguars contingent a bone every now and again. Gutting the roster to improve draft position at the start of a rebuilding process? Genius!

If it's genius, I stole it. In many cases, the key to long runs of winning were short but extreme periods of losing. It puts a team at the top of the draft and allows it the opportunity to select that centerpiece player. The Colts appear to be benefitting from that formula for a second time. It's wonderful to be at the bottom of the draft, and painfully sweet to be at the top of the draft, just don't be in the middle. The top will become the bottom and the bottom will become the top, but the middle just keeps being the middle. I'm speaking broadly and philosophically, of course.

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