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Is Aaron Ripkowski ready to take that step?

Aaron Rodgers, Packers, NFL believe education matters


Ken from Des Moines, IA

So Aaron Rodgers attends Randall Cobb's graduation at the University of Kentucky. How great is that?

When the face of the franchise makes a gesture that says education matters, the franchise is also saying education matters. Who will be the next to get their diploma?

Brett from Brisbane, Australia

Vic, can you please explain to those of us outside the U.S. how/why players from some schools (like Stanford) need to return to finish school?

It's the school schedule; it's not complete. The NFL respects those schools by forbidding players from those schools to participate in team activities until the school's semester is complete. The NFL is saying education matters.

Nick from State College, PA

Who do you think will win the AFC South? I think there is a lot of young talent that will surprise fans there.

It's the young quarterback division, and if all of those quarterbacks turn out to be stars, the AFC South will become one of the NFL's dominant divisions. I think the Colts have a head start on the other three teams.

James from Tualatin, OR

What do you think of the Raiders' 2010 draft evaluations being leaked? While I was troubled to hear of the leak, it was fascinating to read.

There is a fascination among fans to know teams' boards, so to speak. Fans want to know why player A was drafted over player B. As that fascination grows, there will be more leaks. I don't get it. Isn't it obvious why one player is picked over another player? They think player A is a better pick for the team than player B. We're obsessing on information, but I guess that's OK because it's more proof America can't live without football.

Eric from Grand Rapids, MI

Vic, are there 53 or 90 lockers in the locker room, and how do they accommodate for the few months when there will be more guys in there than usual?

There is a wing off of the main locker room.

Gary from Murrieta, CA

Vic, I enjoy your column very much and look forward to what I will learn next. You write a lot about the skill of the left tackle. I have to admit, I'm confused by this every time. What is it about the left tackle that makes him so valuable over the other positions?

He blocks the best pass rusher on the field. If you can block him, you can block anyone.

Russ from Bowie, MD

Vic, when a team is putting a value on a player before the draft, does the position influence the evaluation? Even if Kenny Clark weren't considered the best defensive tackle in the draft, I think he's more valuable than Myles Jack simply because good defensive linemen make linebackers great.

That's proprietary information and teams aren't going to share it. In my opinion, teams are definitely weighting the premium positions. Myles Jack's situation doesn't pertain to what you're proposing because he fell on injury concerns, and that's also information teams aren't going to share. If I was a GM and my team doctor had told me Jack's knee was truly problematic, I might've taken him off my board completely. I can't help but wonder if any teams did. That's one of the mysteries of this draft. Jack is one of the players who will define the 2016 draft. If he turns out to be a star, the message will be teams overreacted to the microfracture mention.

Harold from Chippewa Falls, WI

Dick "Night Train" Lane derails Charlie "Choo Choo" Justice. Do sports headlines like this still get used or are they considered silly and old-fashioned now?

That's an example of an old-fashioned broadsheet newspaper headline. Nowadays, tabloid-type headlines are fashionable, even in broadsheets. Shocker! Moving on! We did it! This is the golden age of exclamation points. We don't speak normally anymore, we shout. My inbox is full of exclamation points. Everyone is saying, "Listen to me!" I guess the newspapers are saying the same thing. They're seeking attention. Maybe they should've listened to others long ago when the media was changing but the newspaper industry wouldn't.

Dave from Long Beach, CA

Is the moral of the trade scenarios "get it right"?

If you want to be bold, you better get it right.

Dan from Madison, AL

Vic, your column does an excellent job of reporting, not only about the Packers but about football in general, to include the fan culture. I will be recommending your column to my German friends as the drafting of Moritz Bohringer has motivated them to learn about American football. Do you see the media starting to court Europeans to drive up interest abroad?

If the NFL wants to grow the sport internationally, that's exactly what it should do. Invest in the future. Bohringer could become known in Germany as the father of American football. If he becomes a star, there will be a fascination among Germans to know about their countryman. I greatly favor international expansion. Why? Because growth must be constant, and I think that's especially true as youth participation in football declines.

Mark from Studio City, CA

When discussing games played in heat, a lot of focus is on the fatigue of defensive line guys, not the offensive line. They are both big. Does the heat not affect them similarly? The offensive line doesn't seem to substitute as much, either. Is playing defense more taxing?

It can be because the defense doesn't know where the ball is going, so there can be a lot of wasted energy. Similarly, pass-blocking offensive linemen don't know where the rusher is going, so there can be a lot of wasted energy in pass blocking. That's why offensive linemen love to run the ball in the heat.

Courtney from Butte, MT

In regards to trading, how do you know the Steelers traded down and the Cowboys didn't trade up? Perhaps both teams were trading to fit BAP to a targeted player and the Cowboys just got lucky in that case?

The Steelers had drafted Tim Worley the previous year, so they probably felt they didn't need a running back. Who doesn't need Emmitt Smith?

Mark from Denver, CO

Which do you think fans like to read more, controversial stories or peace-and-harmony stories?

Fans will read both. Non-fans prefer stories involving controversy, thus, stories involving controversy give media outlets their widest range of readership. Just as it's about the casual fan, it's also about the casual reader.

Dave from Lake Zurich, IL

Yes, there is a greater supply of football players than baseball players. There are not too many humans who can play shortstop, catcher or pitcher at a major league level. In my opinion, these positions require a highly-refined and specialized skill.

That's not it. Youth baseball experienced a dramatic decline in participation during the rise of football's popularity. When I was a kid, I put the ball glove on the handle bars in the morning and didn't return home until it was time to dress for my Little League game. We played all day and rode from field to field looking for pickup games that needed players. The fields were jammed with kids all day long. Now, nobody's on them until evening when the organized games begin. Baseball was king … and then it was gone. It happened in a heartbeat. That's what the Packers of the '60s and Joe Namath did. They launched the football era. Nearly four decades later, football is at the height of its popularity, but can it remain there as it struggles through this concussion thing? What will happen to football as youth participation declines? If it can happen to baseball, it can happen to football. The game has to get safer. Can it?

Lupe from Minneapolis, MN

Thirteen players from Super Bowl XLV are still on the team, including injured reserve.

Including injured reserve, that's nearly an 80 percent turnover in just five years. It's a game of replacement.

Gary from Topeka, KS

Coach McCarthy says he can predict a player's future impact by his improvement between year one and two. Which Packer from last year's draft do you believe will take the biggest step forward?

I get the feeling Aaron Ripkowski will be given the opportunity to take that step. I think he will.

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