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Inbox: It's etched in the visual memory bank

Functional football speed can be viewed so many different ways

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Green Bay Packers' Jordy Nelson breaks away for a 45-yard touchdown catch during the first half of an NFL football game against the New England Patriots Sunday, Nov. 30, 2014, in Green Bay, Wis.

Ron from Waukesha, WI

Can you wake me up when the season starts? Then I'll decide if it's worth watching or not. Thanks.

Sure thing, though I'm a bit baffled as to what would influence that decision in the interim, unless you're truly not tired of having no sports to watch.

Dan from Oregon, WI

Is Packer training camp open to the public this year?

The organization announced yesterday it is not, nor will fans be allowed for any preseason home games. Family Night is still in the plans (date TBA), without fans, and with the practice being televised statewide.

Chris from Eau Claire, WI

The Detroit Lions have never won the NFC North. You have to go back to the Central division to find their last division title. Are there any other teams that haven't won a title from their current division?

Since the current divisional alignment took effect in 2002, Buffalo has never won the AFC East and Cleveland has never won the AFC North.

Susan from Santa Cruz, CA

The health and vulnerability of the family members of players and coaches also need to be part of the equation as the NFL looks toward starting the season. Some MLB players are opting out of their season, because they have children and/or spouses who are in high-risk groups (e.g., cancer survivors, prematurely born infants, etc.). The NBA is isolating their players, but they are having a short season. How much can we ask our players to sacrifice for our entertainment?

An opt-out almost certainly will be available, and it's up to each player to make the best decision for him and his family. I can't speak to any choices coaches might have, but you raise a valid point there. I've been saying for months none of this is simple and easy.

Bruce from Milltown, WI

I have a feeling that we will have a shortened football season and the players' pay may be prorated which would make sense to me. Do you think that in this scenario we will see some of the more expensive players sit out the season in fear of injury? If truly this were the case, I also feel it would have a very negative effect on the NFL.

I don't sense any big groundswell of star players opting out, though all the health and safety protocols are not yet official. During our recent pontificating about a shortened season, I've learned there's actually no provision in the CBA for prorated pay (barring a protracted negotiation of a new emergency agreement, which we just saw baseball took months to work on and ultimately fail to reach). So that could explain the league's insistence on pushing forward with a full slate of games, because I'm guessing the TV money would be prorated based on the number of weeks of programming. Ergo, a shortened season could mean a lot less TV money but full salaries to pay, not a workable recipe for the league.

Mike from St. Louis Park, MN

Thanks to Michael from Alameda I was finally able to stump my sports trivia friends, re: Eddie Mathews and his one team in three cities. My friend countered with, "What is the only university to have the No. 1 overall pick in both football and basketball in the same year?" Ironically this one actually had Packer implications.

As well as an impact on Wisconsin's pro basketball team, though it didn't work out so well for the Bucks. I'll put the answer at the bottom of the column for those who still want to think about it.

Justin from Wausau, WI

I'm with you on fantasy football, Mike, and your distaste for the way it changes one's enjoyment of the game. I participated in a league many years ago at the request of a friend and avid player. I don't recall the specifics, but I needed Adrian Peterson to have a big day against the Pack to get me to the playoffs. If I went, the Packers likely would not. It was gut-wrenching. The Packers' D bent but didn't break, and I was eliminated, and that was the day I hung it up forever.

I'm not here to criticize one's form of entertainment. If it works for you, be my guest. But I often wonder if fans' questions and criticisms about play-calling are rooted in their running back or receiver not getting the ball enough. I have no time for that. What triggered my exit from the activity was my own success. I once won a matchup (which ultimately propelled me to the league championship) because Miami RB Karim Abdul-Jabbar had three rushing TDs in one game, all from the 1-yard line, after the Dolphins were hopelessly behind in the second half. Dumb luck in garbage time made me a winner. Woohoo. No thanks.

Tom from Menomonee Falls, WI

I get that having no fans in the seats will greatly affect revenue, but don't get how the salary cap could be lowered next year as a result. I would think existing contracts would make that impossible. Are the players going to have to take pay cuts? Is there language in their contracts that covers disruption to the revenue stream? Please help me understand this.

The salary cap for the upcoming year is calculated based on a percentage of league revenues from the previous year, divided by 32 (per team). So technically, revenue losses in 2020 would be accounted for in the 2021 cap. But as you point out, chaos could result due to existing contracts. The players have proposed spreading out the cap hit over the next decade, the length of the new CBA, but nothing's been agreed upon. It's all part of the ongoing negotiations.

Thomas from Cedar Rapids, IA

"Humanity first" almost begs to be followed (or preceded) by "Serenity now." I'd buy one.

The "Seinfeld" crew has made plenty in royalties already.

Cole from Rutland, VT

Made the mistake of looking at 2023 free agents today. Preston Smith, Za'Darius Smith, Adrian Amos, Elgton Jenkins, Jace Sternberger, and Jaire Alexander (after fifth year). Obviously way out there (it's been a long offseason) but do you see Packers having the room to sign everyone? If not, who gets left out?

Serenity now.

Statham from Pineview, GA

Do you think Philly's statement on no fans at games this year was premature? Moreover, if they have announced that already, what must the NFL do to support it? I know it has been mentioned in II multiple times that the fans at games issue would be a league matter, and that it would be the same standard for each franchise.

The edict from Philly came from the city, not the team, as a result of banning any large gatherings through February 2021. The city backed off a bit Wednesday, saying events in private venues aren't necessarily subject to the policy, which is constantly under review anyway. Clear as mud, of course. But that aside, having fans at games is up to each team and locality, not the league. I had made this point a while back, that home-field advantages could certainly differ, because the league wasn't about to turn down any revenue streams during this difficult year. Wes disagreed and said the league would have one set of rules for all. I wouldn't normally gloat about being right, but Wes is on vacation, so why not.

Dan from Toledo, OH

Was thinking of what award, if any, basically guaranteed HOF admission. Has an NFL MVP ever not been inducted into the Hall of Fame?

Plenty. My cross-check came up with 13 NFL MVPs not in Canton, among players eligible and already considered for induction (so not including Brady, Aaron Rodgers, etc.). They are Earl Morrall, Roman Gabriel, John Brodie, Larry Brown, Bert Jones, Brian Sipe, Ken Anderson, Mark Moseley, Joe Theismann, Boomer Esiason, Rich Gannon, Steve McNair and Shaun Alexander. The one on that list I'd stump for would be Anderson.

Matt from Irvine, CA

Who was the last Packers player to be franchise tagged? Do you see anyone as a possibility next year with several key players set to hit free agency?

The Packers haven't used their franchise tag since 2010, on Ryan Pickett. I think they would prefer to avoid using it on anyone, but if it's needed to keep a player off the market to buy more time to work out a long-term deal, I don't rule it out.

KB from Kaiserslautern, Germany

There was a discussion a while ago on the fastest Packers ever in regards to sprint times. I'm curious about your take on who played the game the fastest. My vote is for Jordy Nelson. As a 4.51 guy, he made a career of burning DBs that were much "faster" than him.

Functional football speed can be viewed so many different ways. Nelson didn't have the first step at the line of scrimmage Davante Adams has, for example, but his downfield/open-field speed could kill. That crossing route he took the distance against Revis and the Patriots in '14 will always stick with me. Watching the play unfold from the press box, it's etched in the visual memory bank. Woodson was not even considered fast anymore when he won NFL Defensive POY in '09, his 12th year in the league, but nobody broke on a ball faster than he did, a combination of his smarts, anticipation and quick twitch. The game is about using whatever you have to play it faster than the other guy.

Etienne from Tourelle, Quebec

In the wake of the Raiders moving, again, out of Oakland, what franchise move out of town was the most heartbreaker for fans you figure? Nordiques moving to Denver to win the Stanley Cup has to be on top of the list in my book. Expos, too. Were they ever good the year of the strike.

My Jersey-native father was 13 when the Dodgers left Brooklyn. I could never in good conscience rank a franchise move as more devastating than that one.

Doug from Union Grove, WI

Mike, the country is stressed. How are "you" doing?

Hangin' in as best I can, like everyone else. All hail the Utes (University of Utah's Alex Smith and Andrew Bogut in 2005, the trivia answer). Happy Thursday.

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