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If Packers have to play SF, I want it to be in Lambeau

NFL has discovered football fans love bad calls


Geoffery from Athens, GA

If every team in the NFL finished 8-8 and 3-3 in their division (losing once to each division rival and winning once). What would be the playoff scenario?

I'm not a mathematician, so I'll leave this for somebody who likes working with tiebreakers and is trapped at home by the snow and waiting for the meteor shower. I will remind you, however, that the final tiebreaker is flip a coin.

Brett from Saint Cloud, MN

What do you like about game day in Green Bay that is unique or different from other teams and cities you have covered and been in over the years?

Green Bay has far fewer no-shows than other cities, and what no-shows there are don't show because of the bench seats. People just stretch out a little more. I don't like the empty-seats visual you get in other stadiums. A Packers football game is an event and it doesn't matter if the Packers are playing one of the best teams in the league or one of the worst, the fans come to the game because Lambeau Field is the place to be. The day before a game, Lambeau Field is a hub of activity because people come from out of town to attend Packers games and Lambeau is the main attraction. In other cities, where they have MLB, the NBA and the NHL, there's a pro sports overload and fans take days off. It's always bothered me that tickets go to waste, just sitting in a drawer at home. I remember how much a ticket to a game meant to me as a kid.

P.J. from Liberty Lake, WA

Wouldn't it be cool if Adrian Peterson received the MVP award? This is an era when everybody is so obsessed with the passing game, we're almost ignoring the importance of other positions. I hope AP gets it; he'd be bucking the trend of the automatic QB MVP. I like people who buck trends.

I like the running game and Peterson is one of the best of all-time, but I honestly believe he could rush for 3,000 yards and not win the MVP. That's how deep the prejudice is for the passing game. We have very little appreciation today for the special quality required to carry a football for long distances through 11 big, fast men focused on stopping you. It's really a shame.

Lloyd from Albuquerque, NM

Recent references to Clay Matthews' victory celebration after a sack raises this question: What would the old-timers such as Karras, Nitschke, Gregg have thought of this new addition to the game?

Somebody would've taken a shot at Matthews' knees, from behind.

Tom from Lehighton, PA

I was at last year's game when the starters sat and that looked like it hurt the team once in the playoffs. Will the starters play through to the very end of the season this year?

If the Packers win on Sunday, I would have to believe the starters would play against Minnesota because the Packers would still be able to move up to the No. 2 playoff position, or hold it should the 49ers lose in Seattle.

Iveroni from White Bear Lake, MN

How do you like living in Green Bay? I'm thinking about moving there.

I bought a snow blower a couple of weeks ago. It has increased my enjoyment.

William from Savannah, GA

Vic, I'm still here. You still there? Wow, what a night!

Unknown to me, my wife turned up the heat before she went to bed. I woke up in the middle of the night and the room was on "fire." I thought to myself: This is it.

Michael from Madison, WI

Because of the replacement referee bonanza this year, even routine calls on the field have been scrutinized far more than ever before. Can you imagine the outcry when a ref blows a relatively big call this year in the playoffs? You like drama? You better really, really like drama.

The NFL has come to realize that fans love bad calls. They can't get enough of the controversy that accompanies bad calls and it's created another level of football entertainment. All of a sudden, referees have become celebrities. We know their names. We know the sounds of their voices. We hate them. We can't get enough of them and the calls they make that we also hate. The NFL gives the fans what they want. They want passing, so the NFL gives them passing. They want yards and points and records being broken, so the NFL gives them yards and points and records being broken. The fans also want controversy, so the NFL offers up the men in stripes as targets of disdain. Look what NFL Network did to its 40th anniversary celebration of the "Immaculate Reception." They resurrected the controversy and heightened it by presenting it in the form of conspiracy theories. It's all in the name of entertainment.

Nick from Vancouver, BC

Aaron Rodgers has taken more sacks than any other QB in the league and has the best passer rating. This suggests that he'd rather hold onto the ball and take the sack than risk forcing a throw and turning the ball over. It's a hard tradeoff: Risk the injury and the long-term harm to the team, or risk the interception that might lose the game. Thoughts?

That's not the decision he's making. He takes the sack because he's an extremely courageous quarterback with a disregard for injury. That's the thing about Aaron Rodgers that doesn't get enough play.

Lynn from Diamond Bar, CA

Has anybody ever checked the relevance between high school and college grades and high-achieving quarterbacks in the NFL? I know the value of arm strength, body size, etc., are essential, but academic achievement should count for something, or am I wrong?

Academic achievement is meaningless unless it translates to football smarts. Hollywood Henderson said Terry Bradshaw couldn't spell cat if you spotted him the c and the a, but Bradshaw was the MVP of that Super Bowl. Some of the best players in this game struggled to stay academically eligible in college. I go to Lambeau Field on Sunday to see a football game, not the "G.E. College Bowl."

Rob from Merrill, WI

I'll be heading to Lambeau for the game with a buddy of mine. When do you walk through the seats and talk to fans? I'd like to say hello.

I'll walk from the press box to the Atrium at 10:30 a.m. on Sunday. Please say hello.

Jason from Dillsburg, PA

Do you think that if college football actually implemented a real, fair playoff, their popularity in December and their ratings would rival that of the NFL?


James from Wausau, WI

I found it funny how they talked about the refs. They made it sound that if they took the touchdown away, the refs were going to be savagely beaten by some rogue Steelers fans.

There was some concern about that because the night before the game a Raiders player had gotten into some kind of fight with Steelers fans outside the Raiders hotel. The police got involved and I think the Raiders player got roughed up. That rivalry was the real thing. It wasn't hype.

Sam from Lakeville, MN

I wasn't around for the "Immaculate Reception," so I had always thought the controversy with the call was whether the ball hit the ground or not. After watching the special on NFL Network, the play lost a lot of its lore. It is impossible to tell if the ball touched Fuqua and in today's game it would have been called exactly how it was. I'm not sure how it became such a big deal.

It was a playoff game, it was fourth down, and it was Saturday of Christmas weekend. We didn't have a thousand TV channels back then, only three, and America was a captive audience looking for something more exciting to do than drinking eggnog out of a moose cup. It was also a matter of how the whole thing played out. Curt Gowdy missed the call. He didn't have a clue what had happened. The TV cameras didn't follow the ball, so the TV viewers were all left to wonder, "What happened?" All of a sudden a man is running with the ball for a touchdown, and the only people that know what's happened are the people in attendance. Then came the delay, as referee Fred Swearingen sorted everything out. He disappeared into the first base dugout for a long time. That's where he made the call to Art McNally, who was up in the press box. The suspense was like nothing I have ever covered. It might've been 10 minutes; I'm not sure, but it seemed like an eternity. Then Swearingen emerged from the dugout and began his walk to midfield. In those days, referees didn't speak. Swearingen walked to midfield, turned toward the press box side, and paused. The silence was deafening. You could hear your heart pounding. Then he raised his arms. That's all. America was left to figure it all out for itself. Forty years later, it is still the most dramatic sports event I have ever witnessed.

David from Rancho Cucamonga, CA

Vic, I just read your column about playoff seedings and how you see things shaping out. You say you want the two seed to avoid playing either the 49ers or the Giants in the divisional round. I guess you have the Giants beating the Niners in SF for the second time this year. If the seedings work out the way you predicted, and the Niners beat the Giants in the wild-card round, the Niners would travel to Lambeau for the divisional round. I would want no part of that. Whose running game do you trust?

Would you rather play them in San Francisco? That's what would have to happen if the Packers were No. 3. If I have to play the 49ers, I want to play them in Lambeau Field in January.

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