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It's about more than catches, yards and TDs

What story will grab headlines during the "Dead Zone"?


Chaston from Blackfoot, ID

According to Bucky Brooks and some "AFC West personnel man," Clay Matthews is a guy who is only good because he thrives in a system in which Dom Capers allows him to take impromptu blitzes from random angles, or something to that affect. I am inclined to disagree, but I'm also biased. What is your opinion of this assessment?

Players, not plays. It works both ways.

David from Madison, WI

Which second-year man would you advise I observe more closely?

Aaron Ripkowski and Jake Ryan each appear to have an opportunity to make a major move in their careers this season. I think they will.

Bryan from Hobart, WI

Following the Brexit vote, there are some in Texas who are striving for their own Texit vote, which would call for Texas to once again become an independent nation. Granted this situation is highly unlikely, but what impact, if any, do you think that would have on the NFL, since there are two teams there currently?

I can't think of anything big, but I can't help but wonder what the vote would be. Have we turned voting into entertainment?

Mark from Stewartville, MN

Vic, you mentioned the roar of the crowd. After a great player retires, is that what he misses most?

I've heard some players say they miss the roar of the crowd, but most say they miss the daily camaraderie of the locker room. What they're really saying is they miss home. The locker room is home for a player.

Paul from De Pere, WI

Steady improvement or breakout? What do you expect from Jeff Janis this year as a receiver?

I view the Arizona playoff game as his breakout game. The next step for Janis is reliability.

The Crawford Center in Shawano, Wis. was the final stop on the 2016 Tailgate Tour. The party benefited the Red River Riders Therapeutic Riding Program for the Disabled. Photos by Aaron Popkey and Ryan Hartwig,

Adam from Hillsboro, KS

What will be the biggest story between now and training camp?

Something always gets us through the "Dead Zone." Isn't it about time for "Deflategate" to resurface?

Jenny from Jersey City, NJ

Vic, so glad you are on the mend. Your column makes me smile and the Packers make my heart race. I am going through a heartbreak right now. Any parallels between love and football that might make me smile?

They'll both break your heart, but football will never leave you.

Tal from Ascot, UK

What questions will only be answered later in the season?

When will the season end and how will history record it?

George from San Diego, CA

Run, pass and catch may be the essential elements for offense, but don't lend much for the defense. Disrupt, anticipate and tackle come to mind for defensive success. I also can see a team-wide philosophy of plan, prepare and execute being emphasized for the Packers' success. Any thoughts?

The keys to success on defense can be as simple as win up front and keep everything in front of you in the back.

Aaron from Wheeling, IL

If he wins another one or two Super Bowls, will Coach McCarthy be looked at as one of the greatest coaches of this era?

One more Super Bowl win will likely put Mike McCarthy into the Hall of Fame, where he will join the greatest coaches of all time.

Ryan from Stevens Point, WI

Vic, who are your heroes?

It was Bobby Layne when I was a kid, because I liked the way his nose bled. We change as we age. Now, my heroes are those in families that deal with hardship. I see a father attending to his handicapped son and my eyes water. How do they do it? How do they buck up every day and get it done? I am in awe of their energy, toughness and devotion.

Jarrod from Riverview, WI

"Get busy livin' or get busy dyin'." You've made the right choice, Vic.

I had nothing to do with it. The choice was made for me. That's what you learn when you take a helicopter ride. You're not the pilot.

Warren from Mount Holly, NC

You've said you'd be in favor of allowing teams to protect some of the players on their practice squad. What would be the advantage of that, over expanding the roster to 59?

I don't like the practice squad being used as a free-agent pool. There's too much come and go. I believe it's a place to develop players for a team's future. Designating players for protection would promote development.

Patrick from Ashland, WI

Then what receivers do belong in the Hall of Fame?

It has to be about more than catches, yards and touchdowns. They all have big numbers. What distinguishes one from the other? I think a defining postseason moment should weigh heavily in a candidate's favor. For example, that catch and run by Larry Fitzgerald, who already had a Super Bowl moment, might be a clincher for him. I also think a player's impact on the game should be considered. Hines Ward changed the game. Most of all, is the player famous? It's the Hall of Famous and its members should be famous, not infamous. There's a difference.

Richard from Bradenton, FL

In situations in which a new coach arrives and a losing team becomes a winning team with the same players (Lombardi, Harbaugh with the 49ers, etc.), what are the factors you see that make for the winning difference?

Lombardi and Harbaugh inherited teams that had been accumulating talent. Noll, Walsh and Johnson inherited teams depleted of talent and then struck gold in the draft. Belichick was 5-13 and on his way to being fired when he found a quarterback for the ages. What are the factors you see that make for a winning difference? Talented players.

Nick from State College, PA

What is the difference between signing bonus and guaranteed salary? Aren't they both just guaranteed money?

Signing bonus is divided evenly over the life of the contract; guaranteed salary is declared in full in the year it's paid. The big difference comes when a team releases a player. A portion of the remaining proration of his signing bonus can be pushed out a year if he's designated a June 1 cut, but guaranteed salary accelerates into the current year. Guaranteeing salary is a major leap of faith for a team.

Frank from Oshkosh, WI

I just wanted to say I'm glad you are recovering and in good spirits. I also had a bad experience. Two weeks ago, I was biking to go get pizza for my family when I wiped out. I broke my femur and laid there as nobody was around. I passed out and then the next thing I can remember is being soaking wet in the hospital (I guess I weathered a thunderstorm when I was passed out). Starting to recover now, but I have a long road ahead of me. To add insult to injury, somebody stole my bike. Anyway, I am thankful things turned out as good as they have. It just makes me realize there are so many more important things in life and I should try and keep a good head on my shoulders. You have suffered through a terrible experience. I watched a lot of episodes of "Queen for a Day," but I never heard a story as sad as yours. I think I speak for the entire "Ask Vic" community in wishing you a full and speedy recovery. By the way, what happened to the pizza?HAVE A QUESTION FOR VIC?

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