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OK, here's what I see in OTAs, minicamp

Fans want a full report on practices


Mike from North Aurora, IL

How will moving the draft to May affect the offseason schedule? Will the teams now be able to keep the players for the summer, as you've suggested in the past?

It'll move the end of OTAs closer to the start of training camp, effectively narrowing that "dead zone" gap that allows players that one more fling before camp begins. That's been problematic for a lot of players in recent years.

Jessie from Hemet, CA

I was wondering how you felt about cameras in the locker room. I personally don't understand why the NFL wants this. I don't see how it will sell tickets. I feel like it would be an invasion of privacy.

I'm not against it, but where do we stop? I think someone needs to consider the possibility that we've reached or are near reaching a point of excess. You have to leave the fan wanting for more.

Deepak from Chicago, IL

Do teams develop relationships with players' agents that can lead to issues with future contracts with other players the agent represents?

Absolutely they do. You don't ever want to get to the point that you've estranged your relationship with an agent due to enmity that resulted from failed negotiations for another player. It's nothing personal; it's just business. They have what you want, the player; you have what they want, the money. Share!

Chris from White Bear Township, MN

How do you feel about our safeties? Nick Collins had the awareness and the physicality when tackling. Morgan Burnett seems to have the awareness and Jerron McMillian has some physicality. Neither seems to have both. Your thoughts?

Burnett has both. He's a complete safety. McMillian is a hitter and M.D. Jennings is a centerfielder. They'll have to be blended.

Ryan from Phelps, WI

I think the risk of holding Super Bowls above a certain weather line is clear, but the NFL is showing it may be willing to take that risk. I understand why Green Bay is out of the question even before that consideration. Do you think there would ever be a possibility of a Super Bowl at Camp Randall Stadium? Does Madison approach the requirements to host a Super Bowl?

Chicago and Milwaukee are both outside the one-hour drive-time consideration for hotel-room count, so I doubt that Madison has the 30,000 hotel rooms necessary to be considered for hosting a Super Bowl. I don't know that to be true or false, I'm just guessing. Beyond that, it's my opinion that the Super Bowl New York will host will be the first and last time the NFL will allow a harsh-winter city with an outdoor stadium to host a Super Bowl. New York isn't Madison or Green Bay. New York has entertainment resources as no other city in America does. If there's one place where it can work, it's New York, but I don't see it working there because the dead of winter is something most people are trying to escape, not endure. At best, I think this will be something that wasn't a disaster. At worst, look out. That's my opinion. I think this is, by far, the most daunting challenge the league has ever accepted in Super Bowl history. Bad weather could make the league long for the days of cruise ships in Jacksonville.

Tyler from Milwaukee, WI

Vic, I think it's interesting how football fans try to tell you players of today are better than those of the past. Basketball fans are the exact opposite in that they will argue to the death defending Jordan's legacy over Lebron James' obvious physical superiority and promising future. Same could be said for baseball fans. Why do you think that is?

I have thought about this ad nauseam and I can't figure it out. I look at pictures of old-time basketball players, some of the greats – Bill Russell, Jerry West, Oscar Robertson – and they look like stick men compared to today's muscle-bound players. Why don't basketball fans talk about how much bigger, stronger, faster today's players are? Instead, there's this great respect for Russell, West, Robertson, Chamberlain, Cousy, etc. I look at pictures of Ted Williams and I think to myself that he really was a splinter, yet, I don't hear baseball fans talk about how much bigger and stronger Miguel Cabrera is. Instead, Williams is still revered as the greatest hitter of all time. What did the old guys do to deserve the disrespect they've been made to endure?

Greg from Bellevue, WA

It's gratifying to read the kind words about Deacon Jones. The pictures of him in Los Angeles make me ask why did they get rid of those uniforms? They were classy, timeless.

They were absolutely gorgeous. I liked the next version, too, and then they dulled it all down. I don't get it. What a shame. If I was appointed commissioner, my first official act would be to order the Rams to change their uniforms back to the Roman Gabriel-era style.

Dan from Lake Tomahawk, WI

I think it's pretty simple to explain why football writers don't use flowery prose any more to describe a game. Back when the great writers were in their prime, there was no television. Nowadays, every football fan can see the big plays of every game that's played if they choose to. The great writers had no competition from the radio. Also, the writers of today have to get their stories in almost in real time. What do you think, Vic?

Yes and no. There's still a place for the great writer to put a different slant on what he's seen. Some of the best subject matter is training camp; it doesn't have to be a game. In my opinion, the reader is starved for the "good story." Shaky Smithson is a great example. A couple of years ago, Shaky was the classic "good story" of training camp. His was a story of determination and dedication. It jumped out at you. I think the locker room is full of those kinds of "good stories," but they're becoming tougher to find because players and reporters don't have the bond they did years ago, when reporters literally spent training camp afternoons in the players' rooms, interviewing them about what life was like back home. Training camp stories became travelogues. We learned about the different places that sent all of these men to one place. I loved those stories. Back then, we didn't "cover" practice. We never bothered to write about practice particulars. As Allen Iverson would say, "Practice?" If a player had a good day in practice, he'd be the subject of the next day's feature story. At the bottom of the story, we'd tack on some notes from practice. Nowadays, readers want the nuts and bolts from training camp. They want a full report on every little down and out, touchdown pass against air, etc.

Rod from Ephrata, PA

Been thinking about some emotional sports scenes I've seen on TV and thought of the Gene Hickerson HOF induction with Jim Brown and other Browns running backs behind Hickerson's wheel chair. What are a few of your emotional memories in sports?

I'll give you a similar one from a Hall of Fame induction ceremony. Dante Lavelli was one of the honored Hall of Fame members in attendance. He was unable to stand when recognized, so Mike Ditka and another Hall of Fame member lifted Lavelli in his chair for all to see and applaud. It is a very harsh game that exacts a terrible toll, and that makes the current player-safety movement very understandable, but never forget the men who gave so much of their futures to make the game what it is today.

Jeff from Englewood, FL

When Sean Payton was suspended for the year last season, the team went from a playoff team to an average team. Was it coaching or players that were the problem?

I chalked it up to the lame-duck coach syndrome.

Thomas from Fruit Cove, FL

The book on the Children of Fatima states that some of the witnesses of approximately 70,000 stated the same eyewitness account. They stated that "The sun seemed to come out of its socket and swirl toward the earth." According to the story, there was a torrential downpour just before the sun came out and everyone there was soaked, horse and buggies were stuck in the mud and the ground was flowing with water. Then it stopped raining and the sun came out. When it appeared to start to swirl toward the earth, all the people fell to their knees in fear, sure the sun was going to hit the earth and them. When they looked up, the sun was back in its socket and everyone and everything was dry.

I've heard the same thing happened just before Thorpe uncorked that punt against Pitt.

Jeff from Albuquerque, NM

Vic, we have speed at receiver and we have hands. Could you report on who you see in minicamp as having both, please?

As you've probably detected, I hesitate describing what I see in spring practices. Here's why: Football without full pads and full contact isn't football. Frankly, as far as evaluating talent goes, I think OTAs are worthless. The fans, however, won't accept that kind of dodge. They want to know who looks good. OK, here's what I see, based on OTAs: The Packers are loaded. They're loaded at all positions. This team is brimming with talent and, based on OTAs, all of the receivers can run and catch. The new guy, Eddie Lacy, made an inside-out move on a goal-line run on Tuesday that made me go wow inside. I think the Packers got more than a pounder. I think they got a difference maker. Jermichael Finley is playing as I've never seen him play. This is, far and away, the best-looking group of big guys on defense I've seen in three years. Frankly, I never thought the Packers' big guys on defense passed the eye test. They do this year. In evaluating a roster, I ask myself this question: Other than for the quarterback, how many teams in the league would trade their team head up for this team? Here's my answer: Nearly all of them. I'll be anxious to see if my evaluation remains the same once the pads go on.

Raymant from Graniteville, SC

We had a good web page then you came along and ruined it.

I'll cry all night.

Maria from St. Louis, MO

Now I've seen it all; ranking of head coaches on nfl.com. Really? So why is Sean Payton ranked higher than Mike McCarthy?

Because his team executed a successful onside kick in the Super Bowl.

Mike from Kernersville, NC

In my opinion, (Deacon Jones and Reggie White) are the two greatest defensive ends to ever don the pads. I grew up a diehard Packers fan in the golden era of pro football, the 1960s. The original Ed Sabol, poetry in motion, sports on TV was new, color TV was newer. It was a magical, larger-than-life time in the NFL. Today we create the hype. The '60s birthed the hype and didn't know they were doing it.

They knew they were doing it. That's one of the things that doesn't get mentioned enough about the players such as Deacon Jones. They were entrusted to popularize the game, not just play the game. They were personalities. Jones, Bednarik, Kramer, etc. were personalities that became NFL Films stars and gave the NFL the kind of flamboyance it needed to sell itself to the American public. I can't remember a player ever telling me, "I just want to contribute." That came much later. They were encouraged to talk to the media. The league needed them to be salesmen. Once the sale was made, the league told them to stop talking. Too bad.

Robert from Sheboygan, WI

I have to disagree that it's the players and not the coaches. Otto Graham without Paul Brown? Starr without Lombardi? Montana without Walsh?

Paul Brown never won a title without Graham as his quarterback. Chuck Noll never won a title without Terry Bradshaw as his quarterback. Tom Landry never won a title without Roger Staubach as his quarterback. Bill Belichick has never won a title without Tom Brady as his quarterback. Would Lombardi have won a title without Bart Starr? We'll never know. Would Walsh have won a title without Montana? We'll never know.

Brian from Johns Creek, GA

Vic, multiple times I have heard people talk about how amazing Harrison's 100-yard interception return was. It was great; great read, great run. But the thing is there were three or four blatant illegal blocks in the back. You can't miss those calls.

That's the attitude of a lot of contemporary fans. It's almost as though they don't want the great moment. It's as though they want replay review to reverse the great moments. It's as though they prefer the incremental to the dramatic. Hey, did Starr really score? Maybe we should go back and look at the replay and see if something touched the ground. Maybe the string from his pants touched the ground before he crossed the goal line. No thanks.

Lawrence from Missoula, MT

Alan Page went on to serve in the Minnesota Supreme Court. Other than Jack Kemp, what other former NFL players can you think of who had incredible achievements after their playing careers ended?

Byron "Whizzer" White became a U.S. Supreme Court Justice. Does it get any better than that?

John from Port Edwards, WI

So I guess the Jolly questions will stop.

Yes, he has gone through the process.

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