Powered by

Jennings, Finley: Who gets the ball?


John from Green Bay, WI

I've always wondered what players no longer on the team do on Sunday. Sundays have been such a big part of their lives for so long. Do you keep in touch and talk with ex-players? How do they handle Sundays after their playing days?

I stay in touch with a lot of ex-players; I had one as a radio partner in Jacksonville for a long time and he spent his Sundays watching football just as every other fan does. I also know some ex-players who walked away from the game completely when they retired. They spend Sundays hunting or fishing or engaged in family activity. It's a question I've often asked myself: How much football will I watch when I don't have to watch football? I think the answer is that I'll always spend Sundays watching football, but I'll do it in a different way. I'll do it as a fan wanting to enjoy the game, and not as a sportswriter who needs to acquire information.

Brian from Fort Atkinson, WI

Can you please tell me why seven of the 53 players on the roster are inactive each week? They still get paid, so why aren't they able to play?

You're looking at it the wrong way. If you go to the NFL Record and Fact Book, you'll see the roster sizes listed for every season in NFL history, and for the AFL, too, but you'll see no mention of 53 being a roster size; the roster size during those years will be listed as 45, with an asterisk referring to a "third quarterback." This year, the roster has been expanded to 46 without a "third quarterback." That's the official roster size, 46. The extra seven players are the equal of a taxi squad teams may train to have ready in case of injury. Why limit the roster to 46? Because if roster sizes are allowed to increase, specialization will increase and the NFL doesn't want groups of players running onto and off the field before and after every snap. Specialization creates a loss of identity and personality. It tends to turn the game into a chess match and it turns players into one-play wonders. There's also a financial consideration. Should the league go to 18 games, I think we'd see the roster size expand, but the players were adamantly opposed to an extra two games. Apparently, they're OK with the current roster size.

Grant from Honolulu, Hawaii

You've covered head coaches who played pro ball (Noll, Cowher, Del Rio) and those who haven't (Coughlin, McCarthy). Have you seen a difference in their coaching styles because they did or didn't play pro ball? How about how players respond to them? Does the fact that a coach has been in their shoes make any difference?

I can't say there's any difference at all in how they coached or how their players responded to them. Tom Coughlin and Mike McCarthy spent time in college football; the other three didn't. There's your difference. When you play in the NFL, I think you tend to come up through the NFL coaching ranks. When your playing career ends in college, I think you tend to spend time coaching in college football.

Mark from Yucaipa, CA

I am always hearing you say how valuable the big guys are and how hard good ones are to come by, but do their contracts reflect their worth on average? You never hear about an offensive lineman getting $20 million in guarantees.

You don't? Joe Thomas just got a deal worth $84 million, of which $40 million is guaranteed. Left tackles are among the highest-paid players in the game, and the money has even trickled down to guards and centers. In the last three years, we've had centers drafted among the top 21 picks. Offensive linemen have never been more valuable, and that's directly related to the need to protect the quarterback. As the money paid quarterbacks increases, so will the money paid to the men that protect them.

Aaqib from Hawthorn Woods, IL

A columnist on one of the sports websites said the 2010 Carolina Panthers would crush the 1966 Packers, due to "strength and size alone." Do you think that is true?

Columnists say the darndest things.

Doug from Sheboygan, WI

What have you enjoyed the most about being with/covering Green Bay so far?

I've enjoyed the change. It challenges you; it keeps you fresh. I went from Florida to Wisconsin, from the AFC to the NFC, and from an expansion franchise to one of the NFL's heritage franchises. It's like waking up and finding your head sewn to the carpet. You know what? It's been good for me. I've met new people. I've had to accept new ways. The summer weather has been fantastic. We did some sightseeing on the Lake Michigan shore recently; posed for pictures on the rocky cliffs. Those are pictures we'll have for the rest of our lives to remind us of this time in our lives. The biggest challenge, of course, is getting to know a whole new locker room full of players, and it's a stiff test, but as you do it you get a sense of accomplishment. This experience makes me feel as though I've broadened myself. I'll be able to tell people someday that I covered the Green Bay Packers, and they'll wanna know more because the Packers brand is a magical name. I'll tell them about covering this team on its trip to the White House. How big is that? I believe memories make us rich, and the more experiences we have to recall, the richer we are. I guess the thing I've enjoyed the most and of which I'll be proudest is just being able to say I covered the Green Bay Packers. I guess I'm a name-dropper, and that's a pretty good name to drop.

Kyle from Phoenix, AZ

For the past couple of years, the Packers and Steelers have been playing against each other in big games. Also, many players and coaches seem to float between the two teams. Do you think this will make a new rivalry for the league to enjoy?

I don't see a rivalry at all, and that's shocking because those are two heritage franchises and you'd think they would've played against each other a lot more than they have, but they haven't. I covered the Steelers for 23 years and I only covered five games between the two teams. Other than for last season's Super Bowl, the two teams have only met twice since 1999.

Lou from Vancouver, WA

If the Vikings were to move to Los Angeles, do you think the NFL would realign the divisions by, say, moving St. Louis into the NFC North and moving the Vikings into the NFC West? This would seem to be a geographical no-brainer.

Depending on what happens in Los Angeles, the NFL might have to move a couple of teams into new divisions or conferences.

Paul from Spencerville, IN

Let's say the Packers draft a player in the fifth round of the draft. The Packers sign the player to a contract, but at the end of training camp the player is cut and doesn't make the practice squad. What happens to the contract and the money the player was set to receive?

The practice squad has nothing to do with the situation you've described because it would require a new contract. Unless the player had a guaranteed contract, the contract would void and he would be due no money. Players receive signing bonuses; that's money they keep if they're released. I've never known a fifth-round pick to have any portion of his salary guaranteed.

Jaymin from Jacksonville, FL

Where is all this realignment in college football leading to? Is it good or bad for the game?

The Southwest Conference and the Big Eight were two of the power conferences in college football. The best of the SWC moved into the Big Eight to form the Big 12 and now it appears we are days away from the Big 12 disintegrating, which means three great conferences will be gone from college football. That's not good. That's a terrible loss of identity, history and tradition, and that's what happens when you don't have the framework for a strong central ruling body. If super conferences produce a strong central ruling body, then it will be for the better, but I don't get the sense that's going to happen. What I'm sensing is an even greater divide between the haves and the have-nots, and the game will shrink, as it has. Maybe it's time for the NFL to get into the business of minor league football.

Chuck from New York, NY

Who's the best quote in football?

If you're looking for the knockout punch, James Harrison is the guy. I loved his quote last year after knocking Josh Cribbs out of the game: "That's the end of (the Wildcat)."

Tou from Fresno, CA

How do you see Jennings and Finley splitting catches this year?

Aaron Rodgers says he throws to the open receiver, so I guess the receivers will decide on the split according to the number of times they get open. You don't force the ball to a pre-determined receiver. Here's a quote of Mike McCarthy's from Tuesday's press conference: "If you're going about your business the right way, your opponent will dictate where the ball goes. Our quarterback is trained to go through a progression."

L.J. from Chicago, IL

Vic, it seems like you've always been here. What did we do without you?

Win 13 league titles.

Tyler from Pierre, SD

Have you gotten any indication that Mike McCarthy would ever use Cobb in a "Wildcat" role, or use some other similar wrinkle? I keep hearing that as being a possibility because of how diverse Cobb's skills are, but I don't see why you would ever want to take Aaron out of the equation.

I didn't see the Packers use the "Wildcat" in practice during training camp, but that doesn't mean it isn't in the playbook. Practices are now closed to fans and to the media (media may attend the first 30 minutes), and that means the stuff they don't want us to see is being practiced now.

Kris from Las Vegas, NV

I noticed the past few seasons the "G" in the middle of the field wasn't fully painted in the preseason. Is there a reason for this?

It's because it's the preseason. It'll be fully painted on Thursday. You can count on that. Tomorrow, on packers.com, we'll show you a time lapse of the field being painted. Most of it will be from about 1 p.m. and onward.

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.

Action Needed: Update your Packers Mobile App!

Fans attending any games during the 2023 season should update their Packers mobile app due to important upgrades and enhancements.