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Packers trying to sell new identity to opponents

He who is first shall be last; it’s the gospel of the NFL


RB Johnathan Franklin

Jim from Waverly, NY

I remember those days of football being delayed because of the loud crowds. Recently, I read an article about the silent count and how Howard Mudd developed it in pro football after hearing of its usage by a deaf football team. Would you care to elaborate on that?

I'm not familiar with that story, but I am familiar with a school for the deaf, Gallaudet University, and its wonderful football history. Gallaudet invented the huddle, so they could hide their hand signals from opponents. For years, Gallaudet used a large drum along their sideline, the vibrations from which would be the equivalent of the quarterback barking signals. Everyone in the neighborhood knew when Gallaudet was practicing or playing a game, because they could hear that big drum pounding out the signals. Gallaudet football and that drum were one and the same, but in recent years the drum has been replaced by the silent count.

Mike from Dallas, TX

I think I'm starting to understand what you mean by changing an identity taking time. It's not enough that the Packers are learning to run the ball, it's also that the Packers have to figure out how to integrate that into their scheme. Am I near the mark?

That's part of it, but the biggest part of making it your identity is to have done it long enough and well enough that your opponents must integrate it into their scheme to defense it. Changing your personality is difficult. It takes time. Convincing others that you've changed takes even longer.

Ian from Fargo, ND

Having been born in 1997, I never knew about the refs stopping the game because of a loud crowd. That seems so bizarre and stupid to me. Isn't that supposed to be a huge part of home field advantage? I'm glad they got rid of it.

Where is it written that the visiting team must be at a disadvantage? Why should the home team be permitted to hear their quarterback but the visiting team not be permitted to hear its quarterback? I'm not trying to return us to the days of sportsmanship, because we must protect this house, but how did we acquire this ridiculous notion that competition should be unfairly tilted in the home team's favor?

Pat from Altoona, WI

I'm wondering if all the teams are starting to go with more youth and not hanging onto veteran players and this shift is causing the unpredicted changes, such as the AFC seems to be the powerhouse instead of the predicted NFC? Your thoughts?

The cost of quarterbacks, pass rushers and other such star players, as their salaries relate to the salary cap, are causing a decline in the NFL middle class. The veteran depth player is being replaced by a minimum-wage rookie, but I don't understand how that impacts the NFC any differently than it does the AFC; they're both in the same league. My inbox is full of Packers fans that are really struggling with this AFC-NFC thing. Hey, the war is over. The two leagues merged.

Dan from New Glarus, WI

Vic, I respect the way you responded to the cheap shot against the Jaguars. It seems like any team's fortunes can turn around on a dime; the worst team from two years ago, the Colts, finished 11-5, and the Chiefs appear to be on a similar path. What are some sleeping giants in the league right now? I see the Cardinals, Vikings and Browns as teams that are a franchise QB away from being Super Bowl favorites.

Just turn the standings upside down. If you draft high enough long enough, you'll be drafting near the bottom one day. Who couldn't see what was happening in San Francisco when Mike Singletary was coach and he was warring with Vernon Davis? Everybody was laughing at the 49ers. Meanwhile, they were collecting talent that would shape the future of the franchise. All franchises have down cycles. The good ones bounce back quickly.

Ken from Byron, IL

Recently, I read that Terrell Suggs believes Roger Goodell had something to do with the blackout at the Super Bowl and also said that (Goodell) plays favorites with some teams. What's your opinion on that?

If Suggs believes that to be true, then isn't he taking a heckuva chance?

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