Dominic from Glenelg, MD
What's more important when it comes to a run game, good blocking and offensive linemen, or a star running back?
Even a star running back needs help, but I tend to lean on the theory that great backs don't need great linemen in front of them. I was having this conversation with an offensive backfield coach a long time ago and he pointed to the fact that Tony Dorsett had just won the Heisman Trophy and set the all-time NCAA rushing record, but none of the linemen that had blocked for him had been drafted by an NFL team. A great back can bounce a play outside that was intended to go inside but wasn't blocked. A great back doesn't need much more than a sliver of daylight. What did Gale Sayers say? "Give me 18 inches of daylight. That's all I need."
Claus from Brondby, Denmark
Would you see a team having a lot of cap room as being a sign of good planning/negotiations or as a waste, as there would be room for more expensive (better) players?
In normal times, an excessive amount of cap room is indicative of either failed drafting or failed negotiations. These are not normal times, however, because we're just coming out of new CBA negotiations and an uncapped year that caused a lot of teams to take a conservative approach to their payroll structures, in fear of not getting the kind of CBA that would allow for spending. Those teams are now having to eat up that room they created and it's not as easy as you might think; do it recklessly and you'll have wasted a lot of real money, not just cap money. Sound cap management spends neither too little nor too much.
John from Pierceton, IN
I have been a Donald Driver fan for a long time. Will he be a Packer in 2012? What are your thoughts?
Mike McCarthy said on Tuesday that he expects Driver to be at next week's OTA practices. My expectation is that making the final roster will be the result of winning the competition. I don't like guarantees; this game isn't about guarantees. You win a job with your performance on the field. That's how Driver did it when he was a seventh-round draft pick coming out of Alcorn State. The need to do it on the field never changes. That's what I believe and that's what I respect about this game and the men who compete to play it.
David from Racine, WI
The sad undertone to emotional underdog stories such as Driver's is the realization that thousands more from the same troubled backgrounds and determination don't make it.
One of my favorite stories is of the undrafted free agent who was cut and somehow managed to stay in his dorm room and eat in the cafeteria without being detected for a couple of weeks. Eventually, he was noticed and when he was asked why he hadn't left, he said, "Because I have nowhere to go." That's the human side of football that interests me. Training camp has always been a place for the desperate. It's real life for a lot of young men who have nowhere else to go.
Bo from Ames, IA
Considering the coaches put Matthews and Perry at ROLB and LOLB, do you foresee that becoming the norm? Is Matthews a better blindside rusher? And can Perry play the run on the strong side?
At 270 pounds and having played down end at USC, Nick Perry clearly has the muscle and stamina to take on blocks and support against the run, which is a function of playing left outside linebacker against right-handed teams, which most teams are. Yeah, it would be my expectation that Clay Matthews is a better pass rusher than Perry is at this stage of the two players' careers, and it would seem Dom Capers' strategy is to move Matthews around so offenses can't target him for blocking. The hope is that Perry can develop quickly enough to allow Matthews to be used in that manner.
Chris from Appleton, WI
Vic, I see that knee and thigh pads will be mandatory for players in 2013. What impact if any do you see from this? Apparently players don't like wearing them.
A padded knee or thigh might save a tackler from sustaining a concussion when hit in the helmet by a knee or thigh. I'm surprised by the players' resistance to these safety measures. Do they want to be protected from injury? I can't imagine that their resistance to safety measures will curry them much favor in a litigation circumstance.
Monty from Steele, ND
Recently you said your favorite announcing duo was Meredith and Cosell. Where would you put the duo of Dick Enberg and Merlin Olsen?
I enjoyed their work, especially Olsen's. I loved Olsen's calm, even delivery. His analysis was spot on but never over the top or too technical for the average viewer to understand. I can remember meeting him for the first time, when he was a rising star in the broadcast business. I walked up to the registration desk at a hotel in Cleveland. Olsen was standing there and when he saw me he smiled and said, "Hi, Vic." I had never been introduced to him, so I knew instantly he was a guy who did his homework, since he obviously recognized me from a column picture in the clips he no doubt read in preparing for the game he was going to broadcast. The good ones are observant like that. They remember what they see. They're not above learning. Olsen was a brilliant man who was blessed with so many talents. I wish he had been blessed with a longer life.
Norm from Dothan, AL
With the talk about different views of the game, I'm wondering if you recall a TV test years ago, an entire NFL game with no announcers? All you heard during the game was crowd noise and the thunder of pad contact. I don't recall the two teams playing. Epic fail!
It sure was. It was a game in the Orange Bowl on Dec. 20, 1980, between the Jets and Dolphins, and what I remember is the feeling that the dead air made me feel as though someone had broken into the broadcast booth and kidnapped the broadcasters, or worse. It was eerie. The production gave those that complained about broadcasters a chance to view a football telecast without broadcasters. Reaction to the broadcast was a win for broadcasters everywhere.
Neil from Cheddar, UK
I've been thinking about instant replay over the last few days and wondered how you think the game would have developed without instant replay or replay review?
I don't think replay review has been critical to the growth of the game, but instant replay sure has been. I remember the first game for which it was used. Roger Staubach was the Navy quarterback and Rollie Stichweh was the Army quarterback in what was one of the all-time greatest Army-Navy games, in 1963. It was a game with added circumstances to it, since it was postponed due to the assassination of President Kennedy. Some felt the game shouldn't have been played. Needless to say, it was a high-profile game between two very good teams; Navy was No. 2 in the country. "Instant Replay," however, is the enduring star of that game. It's a brilliant invention that's perfect for the game for which it was created. We could not fully enjoy or understand the games we watch without instant replay.
Hansen from Waukesha, WI
Los Angeles Rams DE Jack Youngblood played in the 1979 playoffs and Pro Bowl with a broken leg. How the heck could he possibly play with a broken leg?
Smaller, weaker, slower, tougher?
Rob from Milwaukee, WI
There's a lot of hype about Andrew Luck not being at the Colts' OTAs due to regulations stating he must finish school before heading to Indy. Why isn't this the case for RGIII and what seems like many of the other draft picks?
It's all about the date of the last day of a school's final exams. Luck can't attend the Colts' OTAs until final exams at Stanford are complete.
Greg from Westerville, OH
Vic, I believe you meant the Nov. 19, 1966 (not 1965) game between Michigan State and Notre Dame. I attended that game and I remember it like it was yesterday. It was touted as the "Game of the Century" and it lived up to its hype. Most people remember it for Ara Parseghian's decision to "tie one for the Gipper," but most people didn't know Notre Dame's leading halfback, Nick Eddy, twisted his knee on ice while disembarking from the train in East Lansing and that Terry Hanratty, the first-string quarterback, left the game in the first quarter and never returned after being clobbered on a hit by Bubba Smith. It was a cloudy, dreary day, but it was the most electric atmosphere I have ever experienced at any sporting event in my life. Thanks for letting me relive a truly memorable moment.
Thanks for correcting me. There will only ever be one game of that century, and it was that game between Notre Dame and Michigan State. It's the most hyped game in college football history because the hype actually began the previous season. Those two teams were so dominant that everyone knew there was no chance of either one losing until they played against each other. Notre Dame won six games by shutout and nobody scored more than 14 points against them all season. The table was set weekly as each team's latest victim was brushed aside. The two teams were two trains on the same track heading for a collision. Playing for the tie was a courageous and well-calculated decision. Notre Dame didn't play in bowl games in those days, and Parseghian believed Notre Dame would remain No. 1 and win the national title by playing for the tie and then beating USC in Notre Dame's final game of the season, which Notre Dame did with ease and delight. Parseghian was right, but he was harshly criticized for his decision and some say he appeared to age 20 years before the next season began.
Marv from Houston, TX
Your statement that players who have kicked around the league can go on the practice squad is not quite correct. Only first-year players can go on the practice squad, and I think players can go on the practice squad a second year only if they haven't been on a roster. Two years is the maximum, not a few years (meaning more than the two-year period).
A player may belong to a practice squad for three years, provided he hasn't been on a 46-man roster for nine or more regular-season games in a season.
Todd from McKinney, TX
In a recent commercial for men's clothing, Steve Young referred to those who wear khakis to work as "schlubs." Do you care to reply?
I'm a "schlub." I remember covering a preseason game in Barcelona, and all week Young attended the press conferences wearing a golf shirt he buttoned to the top. Hey, Steve, loosen the button, put on a pair of khakis and enjoy life.
George from Scranton, PA
If Peyton Manning does have a decent year, can we pencil him in for comeback player of the year?
It would take a one-armed wide receiver to beat him.
Mike from Jacksonville, FL
For those of you on the fence about signing up for the Wisconsin version of Vic's golf tourney, don't hesitate. The fellas and I participated in all eight of the Florida version and we had a blast every time. Great golf, great camaraderie and a unique live "Ask Vic" afterwards. Wishing much success that the golf tradition successfully continues with Packers fans.
It's my favorite day of the year.