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Inbox: The more you can do, the more you can play

You can play the blame game or you can strive to get better

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Ben from Pensacola, FL (Part 1)

We had a couple (dates), which was nice, but in the end, she chose another guy and I lost my best friend of four years. Tough break, but God is still good.

Wait, for real? This is a tough way for me to come back from vacation, Ben. If a friendship falls apart that fast, my only advice is you're well within your right to move on with your life. And on that note, we're back. Good morning, I guess, kind of/not really?

Ben from Pensacola, FL (Part 2)

That being said, I guess I'm not a diehard Packer fan. However, I've been following since Aaron Rodgers took the helm, watching every game by television or at least play-by-play. I've read pretty much all of the Inboxes, started reading them when Vic did it solo. I also watch the Rock Reports, Three Things and Final Thoughts religiously.

As far as the "diehard" questions – and we've received a lot of them – I think Spoff's point was slightly misconstrued. He's not questioning anyone's fandom. It's just your loyalty hasn't been tested often over the last 26 years. It's just a credit to those who survived the lean years of the '50s and '70s/80s and came out the other side.

Dave from Franklin, WI

The questions about Brett Favre and what it takes to be considered "diehard" makes me wonder, if a Packer fan wore a Favre Vikings jersey, did they give up any chance to be a diehard Packer fan? They flew the coop instead of sticking with the team through thick or thin.

This is the only comparable litmus test I can think of for fans in their 20s and 30s because it was a true moment of adversity. I go back to that Packers Fan Fest video of a fan talking down to Ted Thompson about letting Favre go. Rushing to conclusions doesn't get you anywhere. If you're right, terrific. Want a trophy? No one cares. If you're wrong, you just broadcasted that to the world. Congrats?

Paul from London, England

Darren from Alice Springs asked, "What makes a diehard fan?" You answered along the lines of someone having to stick with the team through the good and the bad times without jumping ship. That gives the impression that if someone's team is doing badly, for any length of time, they change teams. Is that the norm or the exception to the rule? In England, once your father, brother or family have got you to support a team (usually your local one), now you're signed up for life, good or bad. Loyalty?

It's neither the exception nor the rule – it's just reality. Bandwagons fill up and disperse every year. Personally, I live by the maxim Bill Simmons offered in his 2005 book, "Now I Can Die in Peace." In its simplest form, Simmons' point is once you choose a team, you stick with them unless they move to another city or your blood relative plays for someone else.

Darren from Wakefield, MI

Darn, looks like I missed Darren day. Anyway, I remember thinking for a QB to beat every team in the league you can't be on the same one forever. This is obviously a feat Brett Favre accomplished. Is the list long or short on QBs that have done this?

Favre and Peyton Manning are the only QBs to do it.

Jay from Land O'Lakes, FL

Guys, you think that Marquez Valdes-Scantling can be a slot receiver? I realize it breaks the mold but a height advantage inside isn't a bad thing, is it?

I think the mold has been broken with slot receivers in the NFL. They come in all shapes and sizes these days. If the quickness and separation are there, I don't see any reason MVS can't compete for a role inside. The more you can do, the more you can play. Players such as Randall Cobb and Tramon Williams are excellent examples of that.

Joshua from Modesto, CA

We will presumably be running more two-tight end sets this year. Do you think Randall Cobb will be the second WR? He has traditionally played more of a slot role, so I was wondering how you see him fitting into that role.

I don't think much changes, especially since Jimmy Graham has proven he can produce as a boundary target. The Packers will be flexible with their perimeter weapons.

Take a look at photos of Lambeau Field during the progression of the new field installation.

Nolan from West Salem, WI

ESPN had the Packers' "arsenal" ranked 23rd, citing Adams lack of a 1,000-yard season and Graham and Cobb on the decline. Do I have rose-colored glasses or does this seem super low? I mean how many other teams have three guys who have caught 12 or more TDs in a season?

I don't put much stock in preseason rankings or the justification for those rankings. However, it begs the question, how strongly are you grasping at the straw to use the lack of a 1,000-yard season for Adams as rationale for the rating of the entire unit? Bending statistics to validate your argument doesn't make said argument true. It just leads to bent arguments.

Conner from Tucson, AZ

I'm very curious about training camp start dates. Why do the Packers start so much later than a team like the Bears? I understand the new head coach, but that seems like a big competitive advantage.

Teams playing in the Pro Football Hall of Fame game get an extra week of training camp. The Packers received the same treatment in 2016 when Brett Favre was enshrined – they just didn't end up playing the game.

Jake from Athens, GA

What can Brett Hundley do to win the backup QB job? I'm not complaining about his play, but DeShone Kizer has more game experience, more upside as he learns the offense, and more than one year left on his contract, which means he still has trade value. It kind of seems to me like it's his spot to lose.

I urge you, and all fans, to exercise caution before writing off young players. I can think of countless examples of fans writing someone off and it coming back to bite them. Davante Adams, James Starks, Morgan Burnett and Casey Hayward just to name a few. As Spoff perfectly articulated in his preview, the quarterback who prevails won't be determined by what happened last year. It'll be the QB who learned the most from those experiences and made the necessary improvements because of them.

Trev from Omaha, NE

I have a hypothetical question that has been brought up before. The staff obviously loves Kizer's upside and made a trade for him. If he fully takes the No. 2 job, or they think he can handle being the only other QB on the active roster, then what would the compensation be for trading Brett Hundley during the preseason? Especially after some good showings in the preseason you have to think a team would offer a decent pick for him?

It's not as easy as fans think to work trades in training camp. Most teams will wait to see if that individual hits the waiver wire on cut-down day than relinquish a player and/or pick for him. The only recent example I can think of a cut-down trade that worked out was the Packers acquiring an eventual seventh-round pick in 2018 (which they used on Hunter Bradley) in a 2016 trade with Buffalo for Lerentee McCray.

Arthur from Chippewa Falls, WI

I had more than one person get upset with me when I didn't agree that it was all Hundley's fault. I put a share of the blame on the receivers for not adjusting to a different quarterback as well as dropping balls, not getting open and poor in-flight ball adjustments. In your opinion, was I incorrect with my reasoning?

You win as a team and you lose as a team. Anyone who says differently is fooling themselves. In the end, you can play the blame game or you can strive to get better. Only one leads to glory. The Packers chose the latter this offseason.

Greg from Bordentown, NJ

Which scenario of a player leaving the team do you think is hardest for you guys from the interviewer perspective: a well-liked veteran player with many published stories, a rising player you only got to interview once, or the bulk of players you never even got to personally interview?

Option A. Easily. Because those are the players who can bring context to any story. One player who comes to mind is Casey Hayward (and please don't turn this into a "why didn't they re-sign Hayward" saga). When I was at the Press-Gazette, I despised when USA TODAY would make its local affiliates ask survey questions for a story some national reporter I didn't know was writing. God bless Mike Vandermause, Robert Zizzo and Stu Courtney for usually taking the bullet for me. In 2015, however, I couldn't avoid it and there was one particular prompt I didn't agree with. The best compliment I can give Casey is I went to him and said, "Listen, I'm coming to you with this because I don't mind looking stupid in front of you." He laughed, I asked the questions and he actually gave a response that appeared in the article. Those are the relationships you covet most. I couldn't be happier for his success.

Jason from Lake View, NY

Slightly-above-average fan here for almost 30 years. Saw the interview that James Jones had with Aaron. In the interview Aaron told the viewers to follow JJ for the breaking news of his new contract. As a reporter, do you feel that ex-players who now are working in the media have an unfair advantage with the relationships they have with players and getting breaking news first?

Not at all. It's a relationship business, and really, what is breaking news anymore? Everything is so instantaneous with social media. I've had this conversation with a lot of my contemporaries. Most fans don't care about who's reporting the news – they just want the news. It's Rodgers' news to break, so I take no issue with him allowing Jones to break it.

Stan from Merrill, WI

When Ted Thompson drafted Aaron Rodgers, there were a lot of fans that wanted him fired. Then, when Aaron broke his ankle, the chatter got louder. Three years as a backup, now he walks on water. The question is can you think of any other QBs that took years to find their groove? You already referenced Steve Young.

Literally hundreds of quarterbacks who became stars in this league. Troy Aikman had 20 touchdowns against 36 interceptions after his first two seasons. Peyton Manning led the league in picks as a rookie. Bart Starr had a 41.2 passer rating and didn't win one of his seven starts during his third NFL season in 1958. Adversity finds them all. How they respond to it determines the course of their careers. Who knows what would have happened if Rodgers played more during his first three seasons, and honestly who cares? The end justifies the means. He is where he's supposed to be.

Scott from Woodland Hills, CA

We were wondering in the comments about how many support staff does Green Bay have (medical personnel, trainers, coaches and equipment personnel). How many people does it take to support the 46 on the field during a game?

I count 59 individuals among football operations, coaching, video, equipment and medical departments. There obviously are a lot of areas on the periphery (player personnel, communications, field managers, seamstresses, etc.) who have a daily impact on the team, as well.

Benjamin from Bear, DE

Simple question. What's your favorite thing about football? For me it's seeing a RB break tackles and the individual effort. That's why I enjoyed watching men like Barry Sanders and Walter Payton so much. Have a great day!

It has drama you cannot fabricate. Every game is so meaningful and the anticipation builds all week long until kickoff. It's appointment viewing in an age ruled and dictated by DVRs.

Tanner from Appleton, WI

The Steelers and Le'Veon Bell couldn't come to an agreement. His agent said this year will most likely be his last in PIT. He hits free agency next year, someone may make a mistake. I just don't trust running backs to stay healthy. He'll get more in free agency if he repeats production from last year. I can see both sides. PIT wants to pay the position, Bell wants to be paid for the player his is: 85 receptions and 1,100 rush yards. What would you do?

I can see where both sides are coming from. Bell wants to get paid and justifiably so. Meanwhile, Pittsburgh doesn't want to pay a premium at a position many other teams aren't. Bell is one of the faces of the Steelers' franchise. In my opinion, you have to find a way to get that deal done. He's earned it.

Brad from Minneapolis, MN

Is Jay Cutler a lazy genius?

Well, I now know a heck of a lot more about "Very Cavallari" than I ever intended to. As a fan of pro wrestling, I appreciate how easily viewers fall into the trap of reality television.

Ken from Racine, WI

What's your favorite athlete's nickname? The mention of the 1982 World Series between the Brewers and Cards reminded me of mine. Cards' Game 7 pitcher, Joaquin Andujar, liked to bill himself as "One Tough Dominican" but we local fans knew him as "Walking Underwear." I was in the centerfield bleachers that day and have a funny Gorman Thomas memory from it.

In any sport? "The Last Emperor" Fedor Emelianenko. In the NFL? "The Gravedigger" Gilbert Brown.

Derek from Eau Claire, WI

Can we get a turf update? I want to bring my son to the owners' meeting for his first look at the bowl, but I want him to see the grass.

We'll hopefully have a story up on packers.com this week chronicling all the changes, but the grass is in. There's only minor tweaks being made at this stage.

Shawn from Kissimmee, FL

Have you ever gone on vacation anywhere not expecting to find a Packers bar and restaurant? For me, it was when I went to Kailua Kona, Hawaii, and I found a restaurant called "Quinn's Almost By The Sea."

I did once in Arizona and then they kicked me out because I had a vertical driver's license instead of a horizontal one. Never mind the fact I was 22 at the time.

Check out photos of pets showing their Packers spirit.

Robert from Tallahassee, FL

T.O. and all "players" should be encouraged to be "themselves" during their careers. However, when "the game" offers legendary status, just be gracious!

It's Owens' career. He can do whatever he chooses to do to celebrate his enshrinement. I just hope this isn't about him not being a first-ballot Hall of Famer. That's all.

Matthias from Hartford, WI

You are going out on the town with your significant other, where is your go-to? The theater? A favorite restaurant? Bay Beach Amusement Park? A Door County weekend?

Restaurant.

Jonnie from Garden City, MI

More often than not, the questions I ask get answered whether it gets posted or not. That's more important to me than whether I have the spotlight as first question posted, last question answered, or lede line referenced in the Inbox. Have there been many times when you could pick one question and answer dozens or hundreds of people at once?

Yes. I did it last year to drive a point home.

Andy from Clive, IA

I like the "100 Moments" coffee table book idea. I do not have a coffee table. Think they could add some fold out legs to the book?

I'll send word to creative.

Kevin from Santa Rosa, CA

To help Thomas from PA get a bit of perspective about the season-ticket waiting list. I put myself and my son on the waiting list on his first birthday in 1991. Our first numbers were at about 34,000. Today, 27 years later, we are at 14,461. This also includes a stadium expansion. Last year we moved up 282 spots. At that pace I will only be 112 and my son will be 78 when we get our opportunity. Pass on your legacy, sign up today for your great-great grandkids.

So you're saying there's a chance.

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