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Packers trying to fortify defensive end


Matt from Kula, HI

I remember the no-announcer game as a failure but think we have gone way too far the other direction with announcers apparently feeling the need to be speaking every moment of every game.

I agree. I think analysts are feeling too much pressure to analyze. They're obsessed with the need to explain why everything happened, almost as though the next play can't begin until the last play is fully understood. I would rather the analyst tell me what's going to happen, instead of telling me what did happen. I know what happened. I just watched it.

Bill from Jeffersonville, IN

Ted Thompson has a great eye for picking great players, but one pick that sometimes gets overlooked is when he hired Mike McCarthy. At the time, McCarthy was the offensive coordinator on a 49ers team that went 4-12 and basically finished last in the league in offense. What did Thompson see in him that allowed him to make such a good and, perhaps, unexpected pick?

He saw the qualities that caused McCarthy to have moved up through the coaching ranks. If we should only evaluate coaches on their records, then Chuck Noll, Bill Walsh and Jimmy Johnson should've been fired after their first seasons as NFL head coaches. Smart people look past the record. Is the coach a leader of men? Does he know the game and is he an effective communicator and teacher? Is he calm at crunch time? Does he remain committed when confronted by doubt? Is he a visionary? Does he have a plan, and does that plan promote order and execution? Those are some of the questions you need to answer about him. His record and stats are usually a reflection of the players he coached.

Mary from Casper, WY

Vic, I find your comments on the evolution of sports writers with the advent of the Internet to be interesting. I think one of the most important aspects of the Internet and sports is the recent ability of a fan to reconnect with their team after having moved from their home state.

I had no idea what was meant when I first heard the words "worldwide web" and "information superhighway." I dismissed it as meaningless chatter. Now, that meaningless chatter is the centerpiece of my work life. I consider the Internet to be one of the three most important inventions of my lifetime, the other two being the Salk vaccine and the garage door opener.

Matt from Eau Claire, WI

All this talk about TV views. What do you think about listening to a game on the radio? Any good memories?

From baseball, yes, from football, not really. Baseball is the radio sport. It's how we followed baseball as kids. I can remember delivering newspapers door to door and being able to listen to every pitch of Pirates games because there was always somebody on a front porch listening to the game on radio. Baseball dominated the airwaves. The big stations in each city carried the baseball games and that was always a problem for the NFL because it forced a lot of NFL teams onto low-watt stations whose signals barely carried outside the city limits. When I was a kid, it was tough to get the Steelers on radio because they were forced onto FM until the Pirates completed their season, even if they were eliminated from the pennant race going into September, and nobody had a radio that got FM back then. Radio was never as good a marriage for football as it was for baseball, but Johnny Unitas and Pete Rozelle changed all of that when they made the NFL a TV league. Baseball fans were left holding their little transistor radios to their ears as football fans plopped down in front of their TV sets. All of a sudden, getting on the air of the big radio station in town didn't matter anymore.

Mark from Reno, NV

I read an article about a Packers WR (I think it was Gurley), who turned down a chance to move from the Green Bay practice squad to the Vikings active roster late in the season last year. Is this another example of your thoughts on the true intention of a practice squad?

That's an example of a player being made to feel as though he has a future with the team on whose practice squad he spent the year. If he had been on and off that practice squad, he probably would've signed with the Vikings, but because he was put on and kept on, he sensed the Packers have plans for him and have committed to his development. That's the true spirit of the practice squad and teams that don't use it that way aren't truly committed to the draft-and-develop philosophy. I'm not saying there's not going to be movement within the practice squad, I'm just saying it should be kept to a minimum if you truly believe the players you've assigned to it are worthy of development.

Tom from Indianapolis, IN

It seems silly that a player who stays in school cannot take part in OTAs while another player can drop his classes after the first semester ends and participate in all offseason activities. I'm not saying it's a bad rule, it just seems inconsistent.

A player can't avoid the "final exams" rule by dropping out of school. Whether he's enrolled or not, he's subject to the rule. In other words, if Andrew Luck had dropped out of school after the fall semester, he would still be unable to attend OTAs.

Hazel and Edna from Cebu City, The Philippines

What does it take to become a player's agent?

Agents have to pass a test and pay a yearly fee to become certified by the NFL.

Courtney from Butte, MT

If the NFL does indeed get a foreign city to join the league, we ought to change NFL to IFL for International Football League. I don't like it either way.

A lot of people didn't like it when baseball moved to the West Coast. Also, the final words of "The Victors" are "champions of the west," but the Western Conference has long since been renamed the Big Ten, which has 12 teams in it now, whereas the Big 12 has 10 teams in it. Progress means accepting change.

Matt from Omaha, NE

Vic, as a (mostly approving) fan of your column, I was struck by your defense of Ara Parseghian playing chicken against Michigan State in 1966. Question: Do you know if any of your readers are Alabama fans? Oh, my goodness, are you about to hear from them.

I don't think I'll hear from them because, if I do, I'll remind them of how Parseghian didn't play "chicken" against Alabama in the Sugar Bowl, when Parseghian allowed Tom Clements to throw from his own end zone and complete a third-down pass that won the 1973 national title. Parseghian answered his critics that day. He did what he needed to do to win the national title in '73, just as he did what he needed to do to win the national title in '66. A lot of people forget that Tom Schoen had just fumbled Michigan State's punt when Notre Dame took the ball for the final time. The wheels were coming off. I've never understood the criticism of Parseghian for playing for the tie. A tie was a win.

John from Green Bay, WI

Vic, do you think the new slotting system for rookie contracts will allow teams to miss badly on high draft picks without completely screwing up their cap situations? In other words, have poor drafting teams benefited more than good drafting teams with the new CBA?

Missing on a first-round pick won't hurt as much, but it'll still hurt. The "dead money" will still be significant, and the waste of a pick that should produce a core player will remain difficult to overcome.

Joe from Clio, MI

Why hasn't football, the biggest and best game in America, not caught on around the rest of the world? Basketball, baseball and hockey are all played at a professional level worldwide, but football really is not. Why do you think that is so?

It's because colleges worldwide haven't embraced American football. I don't know why they haven't; maybe they're waiting for a playoff system. Whatever it is, I think it's important to understand the foundation of the game was built on America's college campuses. College football has always been the place where the NFL has identified talent and where that talent was developed. The NFL needs college football, and whatever the NFL does to preserve this game, it does for college football, too, and that's a good thing.

Chris from Appleton, WI

Vic, what impact do you see from the change in the trade deadline this year from Week 6 to Week 8? There is also talk of moving it back even later. What do you think is the right time for the trade deadline and what impact will this have considering the salary cap and potential future draft picks?

When I think of potential impact of moving the trade deadline back, the name that comes to mind is Tom Matte. He was a running back who was forced to play quarterback against the Packers in the Don Chandler playoff game, because the Colts were decimated by injury at the quarterback position. That's where the impact would be, at the quarterback position. If the trade deadline is moved too deep into the season, it would allow a contending team that's sustained an injury at quarterback to trade for a veteran guy on an out-of-contention team that's headed for rebuilding. I don't like that.

Alex from Allentown, PA

What exactly does the signing of DE Phillip Merling mean for the team?

It means the Packers are trying to fortify that position. Hey, they lost Cullen Jenkins, which was the reason they didn't go to the Super Bowl, right?

C.T. from Jacksonville, FL

Can the owners say "we're fed up" and give the players what they think they want? Toss out the salary cap and floor, get rid of the draft, no more benefits or retirement provided by the CBA, and no more easy targets to sue. The top one percent of players making 99 percent of the money. They wouldn't last two years before they came crawling back.

I don't think any of that is going to happen. We have a workable CBA right now and both sides need to remember that it's an agreement that was achieved by acting as partners, not adversaries. I think everybody needs to remember what happened in 1987: The owners crushed, I mean absolutely crushed, the players union. What was the result? The emergence of an even stronger, more militant and adversarial players union. It's a fact of life that every action results in an equal and opposite reaction. We need to stay in the middle, where the actions don't swing too far right or left.

Bram from Colorado Springs, CO

Ty Cobb was known to be disliked throughout the baseball community, even though he was an outstanding player. Did you have many experiences with football players that were just plain nasty people?

I can't help but chuckle at the thought of what Jack Tatum or Glen Edwards would do to Ty Cobb if he slid spikes high into them. Bye, bye, Ty.

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