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Putting Driver's career in perspective


Ben from Dover, CT

Is it against league policy or is there a gentleman's agreement not to send scouts to another team's OTAs, or do they not go because there's nothing to learn? If they do go, what can they learn?

I love that line about "nothing to learn." That's beautiful. You should be a sports writer. Actually, Ben, scouts are only permitted to attend another team's practice if the team charges admission to attend the practice. The Redskins learned a harsh lesson about charging admission to their training camp some years ago. The Cowboys paid the price of admission and learned a lot about their NFC East rivals.

Robert from New York, NY

How important is pride of place to the players?

That's a fantastic question and I watch for indications that provide an answer. In my opinion, there's a point at which successful veteran players develop a pride of place, even if they're originally from far away. I've covered players from Texas who were passionate about Pittsburgh and players from California who fell in love with Florida and I think we can all see that Donald Driver has a special attachment to Green Bay. It's not uncommon among players who've spent long stretches of their careers to invest themselves in the places where they've played, but not all of them do it. Some of them never settle in, and it shows. I watch for it, because I think pride of place matters; the more invested you are, the more it hurts to lose. I watch for how long it takes young players to stop talking about their college team. In my opinion, to become a true pro, you have to leave college, and some guys never do. The true pros invest themselves in the communities in which they play. They understand that this is where they live and play, and that the people who buy the tickets are also the people who pay the players' salaries, and the best way to return the love those fans give the players is to love the town they represent.

David from Columbus, OH

As far as career-ending injuries and the Hall of Fame, remember Gale Sayers? Best possible example right there.

Yeah, he is. Derrick Thomas is another kind of example of a guy whose career ended abruptly.

Jamie from London, Ontario

I understand it to be a foul for a punting team to touch first. I also know the receiving team can then run with the ball without worrying about the turnover. But what about a forward pass, as it is not a cleanly received punt? Can the receiving team then throw down the field or is the lateral only in play still?

I think I'd almost like to see this happen. Talk about open the field for punt returners.

James from Wausau, WI

I had my first glimpse of a Packers game in person when Tim Couch was contending for a backup position during one of the preseason games. We lost the game but I still remember what happened. Couch was playing so bad, at one point everyone was chanting Pederson until the coaches put him in, then everyone cheered. This was my turning point of football and will never forget it and will always be a Packers backer. All that enthusiasm kept me loving my hometown team.

I've had people write to me and tell me they attended the "Ice Bowl" and they'll never forget the exhilaration they felt when Bart Starr crossed the goal line, and I've had people write to me and tell me they'll always remember the feeling they had when they were a kid and their favorite player rode their bicycle to practice, but yours is a truly unique story.

Paul from Nuremberg, Germany

American football is watched by (at least) 100 million people in Green Bay 24 hours a day and 100 zillion Ketchmans don't get it. Respect every sport and its tradition. I am a fan of American football and a fan of soccer and, yes, I am even a Packers stockholder, and I like car racing, too. Don't argue with other sports if you don't understand them, and don't use those pathetic arguments. I will be in Green Bay for the game vs. the 49ers and if I meet you we can discuss it.

No, that's OK. I get it now.

LeRoy from Allen, TX

If you could take one player from any team's roster and add him to the Packers roster, who would it be and why?

It would be Darrelle Revis because he eliminates one side of the field and allows you to commit more players to the pass rush. My guess is that if you asked every team in the league – other than the Jets, of course – what player on another team they'd like to have, other than a quarterback, Revis might be the player most named.

Ryan from Fredericton, NB

Vic, I read a report that Driver has restructured his deal and will return to the Packers. I am hesitant to write off the young practice squad talent but, to be selfish, I am overjoyed that Driver is back. Could you give me Driver's career from your perspective?

He's a great player, a popular player and the best kind of symbol of the town and the team he represents. He's a heritage player and it's important that he goes out in style.

Jacob from Brownwood, TX

Do you ever read the comments at the bottom of the column?

Yes, I do, because I need to check and make sure no one is using bad words. It's happened only once or twice, and I think that's one of the proudest facts about this forum. The people who read it and participate in it are responsible and use the forum that way. Thank you.

Paul from De Pere, WI

Who makes the 53-man roster then, the best 53, or the best 53 for the money?

Who told you money doesn't matter? It always has. It mattered before there was a salary cap and it matters more now that there is one. You can't allow part-time players to eat up major chunks of your salary cap. That formula won't work. A player's contribution to the team has to be commensurate with the team's compensation to him.

Dan from Charlotte, NC

I live in Charlotte, just a few miles from the racetrack, and I hate NASCAR. Make fun of them all you want.

I never said a word about NASCAR. Not one word! I want everyone to think about that. Are we going through life looking for a fight? By the way, I love Charlotte. It's one of my favorite towns.

Jed from Des Moines, IA

I have to ask: Do the Packers have what it takes to go undefeated this year?

I don't know and it's not a question I'm asking myself because it's not where my interests are. My interests are in enjoying a season that'll lead to the playoffs and, hopefully, a run to the Super Bowl. If the Packers get there at 10-6, fine. What I sensed last year was an unsettling kind of anxiety among fans as the Packers tried to stay undefeated each week. I think it became an encumbrance for the fans; they were never able to relax and fully enjoy the great football that was being played. You know what that loss in Kansas City meant? Nothing, absolutely nothing, but it had an end-of-the-world feeling to it, and I think it's unfortunate for fans to have felt that way in a season that presented them with 15 wins. I think undefeated seasons are obsessive compulsives. I'm not obsessive about football, only my sock drawer.

Vince from Alto, WI

After reading your question-and-answer column, I have noticed a global following. Are you more popular than the Beatles?

I was a Motown guy.

Cesar from Santa Ana, CA

Ryan from San Antonio, TX—"Hey, Vic, you seem like a bit of a narcissist." Nailed it.

Yes, but I'm a very humble narcissist.

Jake from Billings, MT

I feel like if you removed the facemasks, nothing would change except more broken faces.

Any guy who would continue to use his head as a weapon, despite not having it protected by a facemask, has problems more severe than a broken face.

Luke from Mechanicsburg, PA

The NCAA makes its football rule book available to the general public in PDF and hard copy format. Why doesn't the NFL do the same?

Because they don't want the fans to suffer unnecessarily. Believe me, the NFL rule book is the most frustrating book you would ever read. Half of the rules are hidden within other rules. I honestly believe the language for some rules contradicts the language for other rules. The NFL rule book will drive you nuts. You'll find yourself spending hours trying to find an answer to your question, and you never will find it. As I've said, there was an around-the-world rule in the book for years but it wasn't applied. I once asked a coach why it wasn't called that way and he said, "Because Mike (Pereira) doesn't want it called that way." So why have it in the book? Sensibly, it was removed a few years ago. I have great respect for the men who officiate this game. They were able to learn the rule book and maintain their sanity, I think.

James from Wausau, WI

Vic, you have a cynical, yet, funny way of taking things. I love it. I'm speaking about your point, counterpoint section talking about the knee.

That's a true story.

Zach from Woodstock, IL

Rex Ryan said that he was going to use more of the "46 Defense." Thoughts?

He can do it because he has Darrelle Revis.

Jeff from Brooklyn, NY

Vic, am I nuts for connecting the rash of off-field incidents the Lions have had lately with Jim Schwartz's bizarre outburst after the Lions-49ers game last season? Seems to me that when your head coach of all people isn't setting an example of discipline and self-control, the players are bound to run riot. I thought so after Ndamukong Suh's arm-stomp last season and I think so now.

Let's not forget this: Coach Schwartz took that team from a winless season in 2008 to the playoffs in 2011. I covered one of the Lions' 16 losses in '08. They were very well-behaved.

Andrew from Jacksonville, FL

I would buy an "Ask Vic" video game. The game would have a mode with no referees or penalties, where the passing game wouldn't work very well. In an alternate mode, it would remove the facemask, increasing risk of injury if you didn't hit properly. The game would be a combination of ideas from the past and future, enabling the gamer to determine which mode they enjoy playing the most.

There would be two versions: Mike Ditka would be on the cover of one, Peyton Manning on the other.

Kevin from Atlanta, GA

Vic, do you answer questions to give us outsiders an accurate look at our beloved Packers, or do you answer them to entertain us and prove your wit? I'd ask that you save the wit. You're not that funny.

Let me guess, NASCAR, right?

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