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Pro Bowl isn't satisfying fans

Welcome to Super Bowl week


James from Paderborn, WI

Vic, I just watched the Pro Bowl highlights. That was an abomination of a game: Zero sacks, defenders letting players run by them. It makes me sick!

Well, fortunately, you didn't watch the game. I think you made a good decision.

Joshua from Burns Harbor, IN

Vic, I decided to fill my Sunday football void by watching as many of the NFL Network's 30-minute Super Bowl recaps as I could. As a Packers fan who wasn't alive for the Lombardi era, my most treasured Super Bowl memory is the 2010 championship run. I don't think you could have written a more perfect script for a Packers championship. What is your favorite Super Bowl memory as a fan and a writer respectively?

As a fan, I think the New England-Carolina, New England-Seattle and Pittsburgh-Arizona Super Bowls are the best. As a writer, my fondest memory is of Super Bowl XIII. There's never been a greater collection of talent on one field, and it was a great week to be a sportswriter because those guys talked up a storm, beginning with Hollywood Henderson's can't-spell-cat rant on Terry Bradshaw. It's the best week of football in my life.

Alex from Stockton, CA

Longshot here but how does this sound: Replace the Pro Bowl with the top college players of the year playing some NFL players?

I don't think the top college players would agree to it. A lot of them refuse to play in the Senior Bowl. What do they have to gain? The risk is too great. The all-star football game is a failed concept. The combine is the natural replacement for the Pro Bowl.

Nate from Minneapolis, MN

Is it time to sell the Pro Bowl and buy the Senior Bowl?

The idea has merit, but it would have to be moved from Mobile to Hawaii or another such site that could accommodate the game and its festivities. I'd hate to see that happen. It's Mobile's game.

Dan from Saint Peters, MO

What impactful rules changes do you see coming in 2016?

I think we're headed for more player-safety legislation. The Ryan Shazier hit on Gio Bernard is the trigger. It was a clean hit, but it was a frightening hit. I think the league will at some point protect all ball carriers as the rules protect defenseless receivers.

Joe from Clio, MI

Forty-seven players voted into the Pro Bowl declined to participate this year. I read an article suggesting it might be the players' way of sending a message to the league they want the game to end. Do you agree with that?

The message I get is that life is so good for the players they don't even want a paid vacation in Hawaii. In the old days, that was the attraction. If a player turned down a trip to the Pro Bowl, his wife would hit the roof.

Daniel from Kobenhavn, Denmark

So the Packers have played both Super Bowl participants. What did you learn from seeing the two teams in person that will apply this Sunday?

Yinz got some serious consonant issues going on over there, but I like your question. They both have top defenses, and that intrigues me because defense appears to be making a comeback despite the league's efforts to tilt the game toward offense. I think Carolina is a more well-rounded team, and that's the result of having a franchise quarterback coming into his prime. This game will be all about how Cam Newton plays. The Super Bowl is a bright-lights game.

Henry from Jackson, WY

When did you know you arrived?

Coach Noll said you never arrive.

Graham from Lake Cowichan, Canada

Vic, what do you believe to be the ideal weight for Lacy? With nutritionist and trainers galore, what excuse is there for a highly paid pro athlete to be overweight?

A lot of great players have had weight issues and had to find ways to overcome them. Jerome Bettis makes Eddie Lacy look like Twiggy, but it didn't hurt Bettis to play at that weight. It's all about performance. Some guys need to play heavy, some need to play light. I don't know what Lacy's target weight and condition is, but he does. I guarantee the Packers' training department has given him targets to hit during the offseason. He'll have a specific training regimen to follow in the spring.

Phil from Melbourne, Australia

It seems to me if the quality of QBs coming out of college is on the decline, this also means the urgent need to get them on the field should decline as well, and teams will feel more comfortable actually training and developing talent.

I agree. Teams will need to address the quarterback position more often because they'll need a constant supply of developmental quarterbacks to find the few that can develop to the NFL level. I think we're headed for a day of increased quarterback movement from team to team, as it would pertain to young, developmental quarterbacks who're reaching the ends of their rookie contracts. It's the value position and the supply-demand balance is tilting heavily toward demand.

Nick from Seattle, WA

Vic, is there a formula for stopping Cam Newton?

It's the same formula for any quarterback: Disguise fronts and coverages. Wade Phillips has a decision to make. Will he go heavy with scheme, which means playing more zone coverage? Or will he line his guys up and play man-to-man, which is an invitation to beat us if you can?

Steve from Austin, TX

Vic, Gruden not so subtlety mentioned the receivers' sticky gloves throughout the 10 minutes of the Pro Bowl I watched. I got the feeling he's not buying these one-handed catches either.

Fans love one-handed catches and hurdling runners. I've never understood the fascination with either, but it is what it is and the league loves what the fans love. In other words, those gloves aren't going away. When I think of how the game has been tilted to favor offense, from the protections on the quarterbacks and receivers to the gloves they wear, I'm amazed at how defense has been able to cope. It has never been easier to throw and catch a pass, but I suspect we'll be discussing defense next Monday.

Chris from Wyoming, PA

I lost my good friend, Lou Michaels, a few weeks ago. What are your memories of Lou?

He's the star of one of my fondest football memories. I was about 10 or 11 years old and my father took me to a Redskins-Steelers game. The Steelers were trailing by two or three touchdowns heading into the fourth quarter when my dad said, "That's all, let's go." When we got to the car across the street from Forbes Field, we found it trapped in the middle of a lot full of cars. There was no leaving and we were denied re-entry to the ballpark, so we had no choice but to sit in the car and listen to the radio and the crowd's cheers from across the street as Ed Brown rallied the Steelers. Your friend kicked the game-winner on the last play of the game. As we drove home my dad apologized for leaving early. I said, "It's OK, dad."

Mike from Des Plaines, IL

Vic, do the Packers' coaches take anything away from the Pro Bowl?

Yeah, a suntan.

Matt from Waunakee, WI

The great thing about the history of the Super Bowl is many of the men who created it are still available for questions.

One of them is not. His name is Don Weiss and he was Pete Rozelle's right-hand man and the creator of the first several Super Bowls. Before he died, Don wrote a book, "The Making of the Super Bowl." I highly recommend it.

Justin from St. Louis, MO

What positions would you draft if all teams were drafted again? Give me a five-round mock.

Quarterback, left tackle, pass rusher, pass defender, defensive tackle.

Justin from La Crosse, WI

Is writing that this year's Ha-Ha is Hunter Henry a self-fulfilling prophecy?

I don't know. If his name was Larry Lipfungus would fans still want to draft him?

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