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Inbox: He’s the easy answer

CB Jaire Alexander
CB Jaire Alexander

Spencer from Rockford, IL

Weston had to wait 31 years to write that he buys his own pants. Spoff, what was your wait time? Does seniority get you any better employee perks than the young-un might receive?

We sit together on the charter flights, and he’s nice enough to let me choose window or aisle seat. Most of the time.

Paul from Shoreview, MN

Will Coach LaFleur have a "team building" day during OTAs, similar to what Coach McCarthy had?

I haven’t heard either way. It may depend on how things are going with the playbook installations and such as the offseason program starts to wrap up next month.

Grant from Honolulu, HI

Aloha II: I'm a Steelers fan who just happened to stumble upon Vic's Q&A column and fell in love with it. You guys have done an awesome job with the column that Vic built. It isn't just about the Packers.  Or even just about football. I've noticed that most (if not all) of the NFL team websites now have some sort of fan Q&A column. Did the NFL mandate this? Or is it more of a copycat thing to get website hits?

The NFL didn’t mandate anything, but from this chair it’s an honor to continue what Vic started way back with the Jaguars. It’s an avenue toward building “readership habit.” If Vic said that once, he said it a thousand times. It’s also a useful gateway to get fans interested in our site and all the other great content produced by a lot of talented people. Personally, as a writer who was pretty much a straight news and features guy for all my newspaper days and my first decade at this website, I enjoy the opportunity to share an opinion and generate debate and conversation. It’s been fun to branch out these past few years.

Tony from Aurora, CO

Hi Mike, thanks for the article on Tramon — what an impressive guy. You mentioned how play time affects how many official years he’s accrued as a player, and toward his pension. What does pension mean in the NFL? I thought players make as much money as they can, then manage that as they will.

I don’t know all the ins and outs, but the players’ union has a pension plan. Players become vested once they’ve accrued three years of service, and their benefit is based on their total years of service.

Chuck from Santa Ana, CA

After reading all the wonderful stories about Bart Starr this weekend, I was struck by how similar they were to those for another great player who passed away last year, although in another sport – Arnold Palmer. Character really does count...for everything.

You weren’t the only reader to bring up Palmer. As I mentioned on “Unscripted,” my first interview with Starr was somewhat unfortunate – I called to talk to him about the death of his Hall of Fame center, Jim Ringo, and it turned out I broke the news to him. I felt terrible, yet he remained gracious as always and actually thanked me for reaching out, which made me feel at least a little better. What I’ll always remember is getting the sense as he got off the phone that he was about to call all the teammates in his rolodex to make sure they knew and wouldn’t have to find out like he did. Starr was always a leader.

Joe from Bloomington, IN

The argument about who was more important, Bart Starr or Vince Lombardi, is similar to Tom Brady versus Bill Belichick. To me Belichick is indisputably more important than Brady. How would you rate Starr and Lombardi?

I think they’re two very different situations and questions. To me, the Belichick-Brady debate misses the point. I think Brady helped lay the foundation for Belichick, who has evolved considerably and has become much better than he was pre-Brady or in Brady’s early years, which in turn has extended Brady’s success. It’s truly symbiotic. There’s symbiosis in Starr-Lombardi, too, but not in the same way. The Packers’ 1958 roster included Howton, McGee, Gregg, Kramer, Ringo, Starr, Hornung, Ferguson and Taylor on offense, and Hanner, Currie, Forester, Nitschke, Dillon, Gremminger and Whittenton on defense. Yes, they were young, but they went 1-10-1 that year before Lombardi’s arrival. It indisputably started with Lombardi, and even Starr attested to that.

Megan from Quincy, IL

I was so sad to hear that Bart Starr had passed away. It is very heartwarming to read all of these great memories fans and players have of him. His legend will live on forever. My first trip and game at Lambeau Field was for the retirement of No. 4. Even though it was cold, and raining, and the Packers lost, it will be one of my favorite memories seeing those two together on the field.

Every time over the years when Starr came back for a game, the roar of the crowd when he was announced was just different, and that evening was certainly no exception. It’s hard to describe exactly what was different about his ovations, but it was easy to understand why.

Ken from Wisconsin Rapids, WI

Great piece by Larry McCarren. He nailed it!

Indeed.

Nick from Portland, OR

Meanwhile Bill Buckner dies and all we can do is talk about his mistake...man sports can be cruel.

Don’t get me started on Buckner. He was treated so wrong in so many ways. It was heartening to hear that he and Mookie Wilson had actually formed a pretty close friendship over the past 30 years. I’d never known that.

Paul from De Pere, WI

If all 32 coaching staffs looked at the same 90 players to select 53, how much variance would you see in the final roster and practice squad?

That’s quite the question, though to be clear, personnel staffs are generally more responsible for selecting the 53 than the coaching staffs. All schemes being equal, I’d guess there’d be little variance in the first 45 players or so. Practice squads could be all over the map, though. Not every team has the same priorities there.

Ross from Hudson, WI

How balanced would you anticipate the offense being this year? 50/50 run-pass?

No one plays the game like that anymore. I like the way LaFleur put it in one of his first news conferences. He said he wants to be close to 50/50 on first and second downs. I think that’s a reasonable target and definition of balance in today’s game.

Jeremy from Lethbridge, Canada

While I don’t begrudge Wes’ reply to Michael, is it fair to call Drake’s actions “Toronto’s antics”? The players didn’t choose him, nor the fans. Most fans I know hate the distraction. Our focus is on a team that has never been quite good enough getting a one-season pass to the big game, all thanks to a superstar being sent where most players won’t go (or stay) willingly. This is huge for us, as these miracle seasons are for all fan bases. Shouldn’t this be bigger than a controversial spokesman?

Of course it should, and regardless of the outcome against the Warriors in the NBA Finals, it’ll be remembered in time as such. But we live in an age of distraction, media-wise and otherwise, so it’s part of the deal in the moment. Distraction attracts the casual fan. I think many of those who express their displeasure actually enjoy getting worked up about something so trivial. Those who ignore it (easier said than done, I realize) are more likely the purebred fans who will remember what mattered.

Mark from Denver, CO

Well, Denver sports radio personalities are loathing the fact that the Broncos let Billy Turner get away. I guess other teams have their critics, too.

I was stunned at the contract Turner received when it was first announced, but the more I’ve gotten in tune with the internal reaction around the league, it wasn’t really a shock at all.

Jason from Des Plaines, IL

NFLPA warning agents of work stoppage. Though this has been brought up plenty of times in recent years, does this announcement carry more certainty? What’s causing the continuous possibility?

It’s nothing other than the usual rhetoric at this point. All indications so far are that initial CBA discussions have been productive. There’s plenty of nitty gritty to come with the actual negotiations, but this far ahead of the current CBA expiration is not a time to read too much into anything.

Tom from Douglassville, PA

Is there anyone left in free agency that the Packers have their eyes on, or barring injury is our team set?

The 90-man roster is never set. It’s constantly in flux. But at this stage, most of the roster shuffling that takes place does not involve veteran free agents who have been available for more than two months. It mostly involves young players, undrafted rookies or other prospects that become available and the team wants to take a closer look.

Blake from Orlando, FL

Between Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams, who does the outside zone run scheme most benefit based on their individual skill set?

I think Jones is the more natural fit, but there’s little doubt in my mind Williams can succeed in it as well, especially with the way he reshaped and leaned up his body in the offseason. If they have vision and instincts, power runners can adapt to a zone scheme rather smoothly. Ahman Green did it, rushing for more than 1,000 yards in McCarthy’s first year, including four 100-yard performances in the first six games.

Dana from Eau Claire, WI

With so many outside negative reports about the team, the structure, the breakdown between ARod and MM, etc., do you think any little negative thing that happens early this season – losing streak, blow-up on the sidelines – becomes a reported BIG deal in the media?

That’s a given. To be expected. In this respect, only two things matter. How the team handles it is one. The other is acknowledging the only way to change the narrative and the nitpicking is to win.

Chun form El Monte, CA

Who will be the most likely undrafted free agent to make the team this year?

On May 29, I have no idea. On Aug. 29, I might have a better idea.

Dan from Rothschild, WI

"All you can get" brat station? Not "all you can eat"? Does that imply limited supply? Are fistfights involved?

Only with AFC writers who visit Lambeau just once every eight years.

Ken from New York, NY

When you watch old film of football games (like we were treated to this weekend), is there anything that you particularly enjoy seeing? For me, I always get a laugh out of watching fans storm the field and tear down the goalposts.

I most enjoy the shots of the crowds, too. Their eyes are all directed at the field, not a video board or phone screen.

Jeff from Green Bay, WI

My question is about the ILB competition for the spot opposite Martinez. Is that spot simply won and played by the most athletic of the group as a starter, or will it be won by the most cerebral of the group, showing the most anticipation and being the most assignment-sure? I can't help but root for Captain America (Ty Summers) to win that spot with awesome awareness and motor.

It’s funny you speak of being athletic and assignment-sure as mutually exclusive. As a defender, if you’re deficient in some area in the NFL, the ball will find you. If you aren’t athletic enough, offensive coordinators will scheme a matchup to take advantage. If you’re slow to react and carry out an assignment, they’ll pick up on it. I think Oren Burks needs to win the job next to Martinez this season, and then Pettine can throw change-ups with hybrid safeties and other types as packages and preferences dictate. Pettine would love for the adjustments to be at his discretion. If they’re made out of necessity, offensive coordinators will notice that, too.

Mike from Cheshire, MA

Which second-year player do you see making the biggest impact in 2019?

Jaire Alexander. He’s the easy answer. The less obvious answer is JK Scott.

Brian from Chiba, Japan

Greg from Knoxville seems to have resigned to the idea that the Packers will not make the playoff this year because only "30 percent of first-year coaches between 2008 and 2018 made the playoffs." Since only 37.5 percent of teams make the playoffs each year, that doesn't seem like a significant drop.

I thought someone made a rule there’d be no math in the Inbox. Happy Wednesday.

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