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It doesn't get any better than this


Joseph from Long Beach, MS

I would be interested to know your definition of the word "clutch." A certain sports analyst believes Rodgers is not clutch because he has not had a (recent) two-minute touchdown drive. I always thought that was "crunch" and not necessarily "clutch." Isn't it clutch to win the Super Bowl with 15 starters on IR, or come from behind on the road against the Panthers, Falcons and Chargers?

Yes, it is. Aaron Rodgers hasn't had a game-winning, two-minute drive because he's had the Packers ahead of their opponents with two minutes left in the game. I covered another quarterback who did that, Terry Bradshaw. I can't remember Bradshaw ever having a game-winning, two-minute drive, for the obvious reason that they were always ahead and the defense was left to protect the lead. Bradshaw is 4-0 in Super Bowls. Is that clutch? Of course, it is. With the Rams on the verge of taking the lead in Super Bowl XIV, Bradshaw threw two bombs to John Stallworth to put the game out of reach. Is that clutch? Apply the same to Rodgers. With the Steelers threatening to take the lead in last season's Super Bowl, Rodgers made the big play on the third-down throw from deep in his own territory. Was that clutch? Clutch time is the same as crunch time. They're both about getting it done and Rodgers gets it done.

Al from Antioch, IL

Will the Packers get a middle-round pick when Flynn leaves in free agency, as compensation by the NFL?

That would depend on the size of the contract he receives. If he gets a big contract, yeah, the Packers would probably receive middle-round compensation for having lost Flynn in free agency, but that compensation would be for the 2013 draft, not next year's.

Mitch from Middleton, WI

The record for most "Lambeau Leaps" goes to Robert Brooks, one of the most underrated receivers in Green Bay Packers history. His name should be mentioned with Don Hutson and Donald Driver as the best receivers ever to wear green and gold.

I'll trust your information to be accurate, and I agree with your assessment.

Jim from Toledo, OH

Will the Packers trade up in the 2012 draft to pick Andrew Luck?

Congratulations, Jim, on becoming the first inductee into the Packers' wing of the "Ask Vic Hall of Fame."

Ben from Rochester, NY

Beyond the obvious homefield advantage of finishing first and hosting all three NFC playoff games, I presume there's a financial benefit. What is the revenue split for home/visitor?

First of all, the team that has homefield advantage throughout the playoffs would only have to host two playoff games to get to the Super Bowl. Secondly, there is no split of ticket revenue in the postseason because the league takes it all. The league does pay the participating teams' expenses.

Bryce from Ogden, UT

Vic, a friend of mine and I were arguing who was better out of Peyton Manning and Aaron Rodgers. I told him Manning is obviously a Hall of Fame quarterback, but by the time Rodgers is done with his career, he will have destroyed all of Manning's records and proven he is better. What do you think?

Those records mean little to me. If Rodgers was to win this season's Super Bowl, which would mean a back-to-back job, I would immediately put him ahead of Manning in my all-important, all-time quarterback rankings.

Otis from Pearland, TX

Vic, I heard an ESPN commentator refer to an instance several years ago involving an unnecessary roughness penalty. Apparently, when making the call on the field, the ref literally said the offending player was "giving him the business." Can you elaborate on that one?

Yeah, it was Ben Dreith; he's famous for it. It occurred shortly after the league gave referees microphones. Hey, they weren't hired to be spokesmen, they were hired to officiate games. When they were hired, all they had to do was give hand gestures to the crowd in explaining their calls. All of a sudden, they had to have oratory skills. Ben, clearly, lacked oratory skills. My favorite current referee is Gene Steratore. Not only is he the best in the business – sorry, Ben – Steratore entertains me with his explanations, which are also considered to be the best in the business, because he sounds like Norton from the Honeymooners. "Offsides by the defense; the 5-yard penalty results in a first down, Ralphie." Listen to him the next time he explains a call.

Jason from Charleston, SC

First off, I would just like to say thank you for all the hard work that you put into your columns. You give it to us straight, and that's how it should be. Who cares if you are sarcastic? No, really, who cares? I was watching ESPN yesterday and they made the observation that in every year that Rodgers has played, he has improved from the prior year. With the season Rodgers is having this year, how much improvement do you think he can really do for next season?

First of all, ESPN is right, and it speaks volumes about Rodgers' dedication to his craft, and for the coaching he's receiving from Tom Clements, Joe Philbin and Mike McCarthy. What a triumvirate that is. As for improvement next season, it can't be done. Nobody can play better than this. If he wins NFC offensive player of the month for December, he will have authored a season's sweep. I think we need to acknowledge that we are experiencing something extraordinary. I think we need to appreciate what we're seeing and understand that every season won't be like this one. This is special. Treasure every moment of it.

Thomas from Davie, FL

I understand that Grant is still a good running back; however, I have noticed that Starks hits the hole and makes things happen a little better than Grant. I also notice that Starks gets hot at the end of games after he has had a few touches to warm up, so why don't the Packers give Starks more carries early and take the pressure off Rodgers?

The way Rodgers is playing, it would be a difficult decision to take the ball out of his hands. I'm not saying I disagree with you; a part of me would like to see an expanded role for Starks. The Packers are 25th in the league in rushing attempts, and I'm not crazy about that, but it wouldn't be logical to reduce Rodgers' impact on the game. When you reach this point in the season, you dance with who brought you, and Rodgers is the guy that has brought the Packers this far.

Leonard from Jacksonville, NC

When players appeal their suspensions, why do they always win and get it reduced? I know it doesn't always happen but it seems like it does. I can't remember the last time someone appealed their suspension and got denied.

The league doesn't publish a record of appeal decisions. If what you say is true, then I would say that handing down a decision that might be a little on the harsh side is a way of inviting an appeal and stimulating dialogue between the league and the player, and communication is viewed as a good thing. It's a way for the commissioner to get his message across to the offending player. For allowing that to happen, maybe the league shows its appreciation by reducing the punishment a bit. Maybe its wiggle room that's built into the original decision.

Greg from Jacksonville, FL

Wayne Weaver is selling the Jaguars. What is your favorite memory of him while you were with the Jaguars?

It's from the summer of 2000. Wayne was head of the NFL's business ventures committee, at a time when the league was hard in promotion of and its team websites. I was doing the team newspaper at the time; it was a cutting edge project that included a partnership with the local metropolitan newspaper. Wayne asked me if I would do the team website, too. I said I would and at that precise moment, a door I never knew existed was opened in my career. Four years later, the team newspaper was gone and the website was exploding with growth. We never know how things might change. The call letters WGN stand for "World's Greatest Newspaper." It was intended to promote the Chicago Tribune. I think it's safe to say WGN's worth has exceeded that of a promotional tool.

Andrew from Altoona, WI

Hey, Vic, thought you might be able to answer this question. It says the Packers win the NFC North with a win and a loss by Detroit, or with losses by Detroit and Chicago. How come if we win this weekend we only need Detroit to lose but not Chicago?

It's because of how the tiebreaker dominoes change as you change one domino. In this case, it's probably a common opponents thing. I've learned not to waste my time trying to challenge the league on playoff scenarios. They have a computer that does it. It's never wrong.

Paul from De Pere, WI

I concur that Mike McCarthy wants to be undefeated, but his priority is to repeat as Super Bowl champs. Regardless, I expect him to play everyone and play to win every game. You?

I agree. I don't think Coach McCarthy is going to push a player nursing an injury to play in a game that lacks postseason meaning, but if the Packers have a chance to be undefeated, I fully expect Coach McCarthy to put his best players on the field. I'll never forget that sign in Lucas Oil Stadium the game after the Colts shut it down with the lead in a game. They were undefeated, but had they won the game, it would've toughened their road through the playoffs. As it turned out, by losing, they only had to defeat two wild-card teams to make it to the Super Bowl. Peyton Manning was taken out of the game, Curtis Painter replaced him and very quickly the Colts' lead evaporated and they suffered their first loss of the season. The following week, a sign hung in Lucas Oil Stadium: "It mattered to us." It's the best sign I ever saw. I think something more than a game was lost.

Patrick from Mesa, AZ

There is a report out of the Giants practice that Michael Strahan was there with the defensive line. Purportedly, he was pretty vocal and loud, focusing in on helping their techniques in preparation for Sunday. It seems over the past few weeks, when Strahan has been on FOX, he has been pretty strong about wanting the Giants to end the Packers' winning streak, much like the Giants did to the Patriots in the Super Bowl XLII (but was unable to do in their regular-season game). Nothing like employing extra "coaches" with free access to the other team's locker rooms to help right the Giants. How much help can Strahan actually give the Giants before crossing the line?

He can't help them at all, but I like the flavor he's adding to the storyline. I love good theater. Maybe he's trying to create a Tebow moment. It would certainly help Strahan's career.

J.C. from Flint, MI

Is the success of the Packers, Patriots and Saints offenses, along with each team's struggles on defense mean that the new cliche in football is offense wins championships?

Of course it is. Those are considered to be the top three Super Bowl contenders, yet, their defenses are 30th, 32nd and 25th in the league, respectively. Their offenses are fourth, second and first in the league, respectively. Do the math. The days of run the ball, stop the run and defenses winning championships are over. I cry about it every night.

Matthew from Ann Arbor, MI

Having watched Brady Hoke extensively over the last year, he seems like the embodiment of what you like about football, and he just guided Michigan to a 10-2 record and won his third coach of the year award in four years. Do you still think physicality is on its way out of the Big Ten?

There's a new sheriff in town, Matthew. His name is Urban Meyer and he is the king of finesse offense. Enjoy it while you can. Drop me a line next season.

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