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Packers-Lions game a little too much to digest


Greg from North Little Rock, AR

Vic, under the new CBA, is it correct that there are only 16 practices where full contact is allowed?

In training camp, from the fourth day to the final day, teams may conduct one full-pads practice a day, allowing for the mandatory day off per week. In the regular season, teams are allowed 11 full-pads practices in the first 11 weeks and two in the same week once. In the final six weeks of the regular season, teams may conduct a total of three full-pads practices but no more than one in any week. Teams in the postseason may conduct one full-pads practice per week.

Adam from Nestor Falls, ON

From ground and pound to defense wins championships to quarterbacks win championships to protecting the players, we have seen many different aspects of the NFL evolving. What's next in the evolutionary process?

Quarterbacks have always won championships. Even in the 1970s, when the game was about running the ball and stopping the run, you needed an elite quarterback to win the Super Bowl. Just look at the quarterbacks that won in that era: Bob Griese, Terry Bradshaw, Roger Staubach; they're all in the Hall of Fame. Yes, the game evolves, but this much stays the same: The quarterback is "The Man." Even in the 1950s, five of the 10 first overall draft picks were quarterbacks. In the entire history of the draft, quarterbacks lead by a wide margin in first overall picks. Thirty-one quarterbacks have been taken first overall; running back is second at 23, then come defensive linemen at 13, offensive linemen and wide receivers at six each, linebackers at three and defensive backs at one. I don't know what the next step will be in the evolutionary process of professional football, but I guarantee it will in some way shape or form include the quarterback.

Rich from Nashville, TN

How does the NFL's effort to control its product affect the content and design of official team websites and blogs? Did you ever have to get permission from the NFL to do "Ask Vic" or any other column?


Eli from Boston, MA

"Fans don't buy tickets to see moral courage; they buy tickets to see men push themselves to their physical limits." Not all fans think the same. Do the majority of readers seem to agree with your original response from Monday regarding courageousness?

Yes, they do. Responses overwhelmingly favor toughness over moral courage.

Chris from Goddard, KS

Can you explain how walk-through practices work? How can the reps be of any value if they're at walking pace?

Walk-throughs aren't intended to condition the body, they're intended to condition the mind. Coaches want to make sure everybody knows their assignment.

Cliff from Tomah, WI

It seems you are not the biggest fan of Madden, so I was wondering what other ways I can get my football fix during the offseason.

Read! The bookshelves are loaded with wonderful football books, from hard historical accounts such as "The League," to entertaining fiction such as Dan Jenkins' timeless classic "Semi-Tough." Football is a great writing sport. That's why I'm in this business. As a young reporter, football was an easy pick over baseball, because football and football players, coaches, owners and teams make for much more colorful and cooperative subject matter. Writing about the Green Bay Packers is a joy. That's why I'm here. I wanted to experience this before I go to that big press box in the sky. Packers fans can sink their teeth into David Maraniss' "When Pride Still Mattered" and Jerry Kramer's "Instant Replay." One of the great things about football books is that they're timeless. Alex Karras' "Even Big Guys Cry" is still a great read. Young football fans aren't readers, and I think that's a tragedy because, in my opinion, football reads better than any sport in the world. One of the funniest books I've ever read is Roy Blount's "About Three Bricks Shy of a Load," and it's a football book. Sometimes I enjoy reading about football more than I do watching football.

Steve from Green Bay, WI

Vic, I think one of the most enjoyable aspects of football is how well it can be discussed. Writers, newscasters and fans can find a lot of interesting aspects of the game to study and discuss. Each play is a drama, with a beginning and an end, so it is isolated and measurable. Big plays make for days, weeks and years of talk, or at least they used to. With the new higher scoring game, I wonder if some of the memorable-ness will fade into mist of Arena-like scoring. I hope not.

It's a valid concern. When I view a game, I analyze it according to how I'm going to write about it. I'm looking for key moments in the game, on which I can build a theme. As I watched last year's regular-season finale between the Packers and Lions, I became confused. The big plays were too many. All plays seemed to be big plays, which meant there were no truly big plays. I didn't enjoy it beyond the moment because the game lacked order. The "Ice Bowl," however, is a perfect drama. The game flowed slowly, allowing the viewer to gather himself for a big finish, which Bart Starr then delivered. Nothing about the "Ice Bowl" is forgettable because there wasn't too much to remember; there was just enough. I loved pumpkin pie when I was a kid. One day, the baker brought a pumpkin pie to the door, along with the other stuff. My mother wasn't home but I decided she wouldn't mind if I had a piece of the pie. It was so good I had to have another piece. At that point, I knew I was in trouble so there was nothing left to do but eat the whole pie and get rid of the evidence. It was too much. To this day, I have an aversion to pumpkin pie. I don't want to have an aversion to football.

Kyle from LaPorte, IN

I know it's obvious Packers management believes in James Starks and his abilities. I want to know what you believe. Can he do more than pick up the blitz and be the drop-down option, etc.?

I've said this before: Starks has big-time talent. He's a one-cut, cutback runner who's perfect for this offense. I think last season was a major step forward for Starks. He battled through some injuries but managed to play 13 games and post some respectable numbers on a team that doesn't feature its running game. He averaged 4.2 yards per carry, flashed some real talent in the Week 2 win in Carolina, and proved to me he can be a feature back. It was his first full season and I think he's a back with a lot of upside.

Casey from Lynchburg, VA

Rumors keep circulating the Jets will use Tebow in their special teams package. Why would they be willing to risk losing their primary backup QB to injury like that?

Tim Tebow isn't khaki, he's sharkskin, and that means he has to be "worn" on special occasions only. Tebow hangs in his own closet.

Mark from Nottingham, UK

With only a few days left to the Olympics, I was wondering how many NFL players were also Olympic medalists and who was the last player with a medal.

I don't know which NFL player last won an Olympic medal, but I know who immediately comes to mind when the NFL and the Olympics are mentioned in the same breath. It's Bob Hayes, "The Fastest Man in the World." He's the only man to have won an Olympic gold medal and a Super Bowl ring. Hayes is from Jacksonville and I saw him in the press box often on game days. He struggled later in life and I'm glad he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, even though he didn't live to see it, because he truly was a famous football player and the Hall of Fame is the Hall of Famous. I won't say another player with Hayes-like speed wouldn't have come along and changed the game as Hayes did, but Hayes was the first to do it and that gives him immortality. I wish he hadn't frozen up in the "Ice Bowl." It hurt his legend and probably delayed his election to the Hall of Fame until after he had passed.

Alex from New York, NY

What would you have done if you were Joe Posnanski and had signed on to write a laudatory book about Joe Paterno right before everything changed?

The plot thickens. Infamy sells a lot of books.

Richard from Lake Havasu City, AZ

The Packers' first two home games are against the 49ers and Bears. Can these games (even this early) be make or break for the Packers' season?


Andy from Denver, CO

"Fans don't buy tickets to see moral courage; they buy tickets to see men push themselves to their physical limits." I'm guessing that's what ancient Romans wanted when they went to gladiatorial bouts. Have we, as fans, not gained some sense of civility since then?

The popularity of the NFL wasn't built on civility.

Darrick from Green Bay, WI

You use the mantra "players, not plays" in reference to the success of a team. Who is the player with average skills that was most successful because of how he was utilized by his coach?

No player can succeed in this league without possessing a distinct skill. Some players have more skills than others, but you have to have at least one skill to be able to compete on a field full of world-class athletes. The Colts had a running back named Don Nottingham. His nickname was "The Human Bowling Ball," he spoke in a high-pitched voice and he was the most unlikely looking running back I've ever seen, but he had a knack for gaining the tough, inside yardage, and that allowed him to play in the league for seven years and gain nearly 2,500 yards. Don Shula loved him; Nottingham played for Shula in Baltimore and in Miami. The point is this: Don't ever make the mistake of thinking any of these guys are average. You can't play in this league unless there's something you do very well. Good coaches identify that thing and use it accordingly, but the player still has to execute the play. X's and O's don't move, only players do.

Tony from Saint Paul, MN

What are the top three things that will have your attention in training camp?

Nick Perry, Graham Harrell and the safety position.

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