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IR like another draft class


Devin from Whitewater, WI

What difficulties will the Packers have trying to reintegrate all of the injured talent back onto their roster? How have teams in similar situations kept the old and new starters happy?

Vic: Football is not a happy sport. Football is an edge sport. As Tom Coughlin once said to me, "I don't want guys walkin' around here with smiles on their faces." The Packers' injured reserve list is the equivalent of another draft class. Difficulty? What's difficult about that? The Packers are going to realize a serious addition of talent when those guys come off injured reserve, and talent is another word for competition.

Josh from Cottage Grove, WI

How are you finding the transition to life in Wisconsin?

Vic: I really don't have much of a life right now. I'm in the hotel room, I'm at work, I'm back in the hotel room. I'm looking forward to getting my family up here. I'm looking forward to more permanent housing and cutting the grass and having neighbors and playing golf on those deliciously fast bent-grass greens.

Dave from Burlington, CO

I would like to start by asking for your help in correcting the greatest wrong in the history of our great team: Jerry Kramer not in the Hall of Fame.

Vic: Kramer's not the only player from those teams of the '60's that I believe deserves a place in the Hall of Fame. I believe Dave Robinson is one of the most underrated players in NFL history. Had Robinson been used as Lawrence Taylor was, Robinson would've been the guy who changed the game. He had that kind of ability. He had the size, speed, strength and athletic ability to play the game in any style and in any era, as evidenced by his 27 interceptions. The problem is that back then they didn't count sacks or even use linebackers much in rushing the passer, so Robinson doesn't have the numbers to compete with the players of the Elias generation. The other thing that's held Kramer and Robinson back from getting into the Hall of Fame is the fact that they played on a team with "too many" guys in the Hall of Fame. Rick Gosselin of the Dallas Morning News once made an interesting remark to me about a team having so many players in the Hall of Fame. He said that if a team had that many great players on it, then the coach shouldn't be in the Hall of Fame. I don't agree.

John from Moenchengladbach, Germany

I have followed you to I wanted to ask you if you realize that you are one of the most fortunate sportswriters of all time? You covered a dynasty in Pittsburgh, witnessed the birth of a franchise in Jacksonville, and now you are with the team with perhaps the most tradition in football. That has to be the reason you became a sportswriter, to see and record these kinds of moments in sports history. Am I right?

Vic: Gee, that sounds really good, but I'd be lying to you if I said I picked being a sportswriter over being a doctor. I have limited intelligence, which is the standard for being a sportswriter. I just got lucky to have traveled the journey I have. By the way, John, you got a lot of vowels in the name of your hometown; not as many vowels as Chris Fuamatu-Ma'afala, but I had to impose vowel rationing on him and cut him down to Fu, so I'm thinkin' we may need to cut your hometown down to Mo or I'll run out of vowels.

Erik from Hales Corners, WI

Why did you decide to work for the Green Bay Packers? Understand who you work for. This is our team and we employ you. You, the coaches and the players come and go but we are here forever. We expect dedication and honesty. I am confident that you will do a great job and I look forward to following your work.

Vic: I'm a man of the people.

Mike from Osage Beach, MO

Who are the players that will be free agents this year?

Vic: That's an impossible question to answer without knowing whether the owners and players will agree to a new CBA and what the rules concerning free agents might be in a new CBA. Will it be four years to become an unrestricted free agent, or will it be more? See what I mean? The only thing we know for sure is that if a new CBA produces one of the two systems that's been used to govern such matters in the past, then Matt Wilhelm and Cullen Jenkins will be unrestricted free agents and Josh Bell will be a restricted free agent. The status of the other free-agent candidates will depend on the rules in a new CBA.

Jim from Los Angeles, CA

Well, you should feel right at home; the head coach is from Pittsburgh. He might just make your new-home adjustment a little easier.

Vic: I've heard some of his interviews and I think there's a strong chance he might understand what I'm saying, if yinze know what I mean.

Max from Terrebonne, OR

Do you consider Super Bowl championships more significant than NFL championships before the Super Bowl era?

Vic: I do not, and I think it's an outrage to place more value on Super Bowl titles than NFL titles from the years before the Super Bowl was played. Let's start with this: Once upon a time, the NFL was a 12-team league and rosters were painfully small, which means the supply of talent far outweighed the demand, especially when players such as Chuck Bednarik were coming back from World War II. That same period of time is considered the golden age of baseball, but pro football wasn't as popular then as it is now and it didn't command nearly as much attention, so the same esteem was not afforded pro football. That has always bothered me because I think the old-timers of our game have been grossly underappreciated, as compared to the reverence the old-timers in baseball command. Pro football has been a great game played by great men for a long time. I met one of them and had a chance to sit and talk with him during halftime at the Super Bowl. His name is Jim Taylor.

Cappie from Montgomery, IL

Why does not have an official message board like most of the other teams? I'm a lonely Packers fan in Illinois.

Vic: The Packers want this to be a site for families and young fans. I love discourse and I'd love for to have a message board, but they almost always get ugly and I don't like censorship. If I could do one thing, I would persuade today's fans to be more conscientious in expressing themselves. The right to free speech is our greatest asset. It should be treated with respect.

Matt from Ramstein, Germany

You have brought a loyal following of Jags fans to Your insight on the game had positively impacted many of us. How was your move from Florida to Wisconsin and how do you like your new town?

Vic: I really haven't made the big move, yet. I got on a plane in Jacksonville and flew to Chicago. Then I got on that little bus that takes you over to the little terminal for the little planes. Then I got on one of those little planes and flew here. By the way, the Green Bay airport is my favorite airport in the world. One day, I was early for my flight and I was the only person in the security check. The real move will come in June, when everybody and two dogs will pile into the car. I hope to make it here for the start of training camp.

Paul from Appleton, WI

Why are players penalized by going on injured reserve? In baseball and other sports players can come back and play if they can recover from an injury during the current season. Is it some contract item? Thanks for reading this. It is a question that I've been thinking about for a few years.

Vic: The reason is: Because teams abused the old system for allowing players to come back from injury. They started treating injured reserve as another roster on which they could store talent. I can remember that a long time ago teams were allowed to make four recalls from injured reserve in a season. The player had to sit out a minimum of four weeks before he could be recalled, if I remember correctly; it was something like that. Well, teams started playing games with injured reserve. They'd have a deficiency on their offensive line in a particular week, so they'd put an extra running back on injured reserve with the obligatory "pulled hamstring" and sign an offensive lineman. Four weeks later, they'd have a deficiency at running back and they'd put an offensive lineman on injured reserve with a pulled hamstring and recall the running back. That was not the intent of the rule; the intent was to allow time for injured players whose injuries might not be season-ending to recover and return to the roster, without causing their team to play with a reduced roster during that player's recovery. As a result of our abuses, we lose privileges, right?

Jason from Brookfield, WI

How many Heisman Trophy winners have played for the Green Bay Packers and who has been the most successful?

Vic: Bruce Smith (1941), Paul Hornung (1956), Ty Detmer (1990), Desmond Howard (1991), Danny Wuerffel (1996), Charles Woodson (1997). Most successful? That's a tossup between Hornung and Woodson. One's in the Hall of Fame and the other one is headed there.

Ziga from Ljublijana, Slovenia EU

I am a life-long Packers fan from Slovenia. I would love to see a Packers game live one day. I know there is a long waiting list for season tickets, but what about single games? If I come to Wisconsin one day to see everything I watch and admire on TV, would that be possible?

Vic: Are you willing to get on the little bus in Chicago? I don't think you'll be able to fly nonstop to Green Bay.

Lucas from Sioux Falls, SD

The NFC has been represented by a different team in each of the last 10 Super Bowls, yet, the Steelers have gone to three of the last six Super Bowls. Any thoughts on what the Packers need to do to match that success?

Vic: You're talking about two mirror-image franchises and I think the Packers are heading into a similar run. Those two franchises have a process for accumulating talent and it's especially impressive when you consider that they are not big participants in expensive free agency. Oh, they've each taken their swings in free agency – the Packers went after Charles Woodson and the Steelers signed James Farrior – and they've hit home runs with those players, too, but the Packers and Steelers are built through the draft and undrafted free agency. Frank Zombo and Sam Shields are undrafted guys. The Steelers acquired James Harrison and Super Bowl XL hero Willie Parker in undrafted free agency. It's no coincidence that those teams faced each other in the most recent Super Bowl, yet, so many teams reject the Packers' and Steelers' way. Why? Because it requires great patience and commitment. There's also another reason: The Packers and Steelers don't have to worry about selling tickets and that's what allows them to have the commitment and patience to execute their sound strategies for building and maintaining a strong roster. Fans matter.

Barb from Cavalier, ND

How does coach McCarthy build such outstanding qualities of character, leadership, team morale and respect in the locker room? It showed during the week of the Super Bowl in videos and interviews. I was very impressed.

Vic: Please read the scouting combine story I did that includes the interview with Packers Director of College Scouting John Dorsey because developing character in your locker room begins by identifying it during the scouting and evaluation process. Dorsey talked about the five intangibles that produce the kind of personality you want on your roster. I had never heard it put that way before; I really liked what I heard. I love talking to scouts and personnel directors because they bring football down to such an interesting level. After the right players are identified, they are turned over to Mike McCarthy and his coaching staff and they extract those qualities that had been identified and integrate them with the other personalities on the team to form, so to speak, one heartbeat. How does a coach do it? By being himself. You surround good people with good people. It's a winning formula.

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