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Raji critical to stopping the run


Ron from Turtle Lake, WI

I would like to see an article devoted to the logistics of how the Packers travel to away games, including equipment and staff, etc.

I'll give you a synopsis: The Packers usually fly to their destination the day before the game. The equipment people pack up the gear and send it to the Green Bay airport, where it is loaded into the belly of the plane. The coaches, players and traveling party arrive at the airport and board the plane. The plane flies to its destination airport, where buses and a truck are waiting. The equipment is removed from the plane, put in the truck and taken to the stadium, where the home team has a visiting locker room crew waiting to assist in unloading the truck and displaying the equipment at the players' locker stalls. The people get on the buses and go to the hotel. The next day, the people get back on the buses and go to the stadium. After the game, the equipment is loaded back onto the truck and taken to the airport, where it is loaded into the belly of the plane. The people go through security at the stadium and board the buses that take them to the airport, where they board the plane. The plane returns to Green Bay. Rule of thumb for every team I've covered is wheels up two hours after the game is over.

Nate from Amherst, WI

"Marriage, children and mortgages are all cures for your problem." Did you purposely withhold the Oxford comma? You are something of the Holden Caulfield of sports writers, after all.

I hate the Oxford comma. It's stupid. Why bother using "and" if you're going to use another comma. Plus, the AP Stylebook advises against using the Oxford comma. It's kind of a personal thing with writers. Mike Spofford loves the Oxford comma, and I know it drives him nuts when I take it out of his stories. One day, when he's the editor, he can put it back in. Until then, this is the way it is and this is the way it will continue to be. No Oxford comma for you, Spofford.

Jason from Summerville, SC

Vic, you always talk about preparing for the future financially. Did the Packers plan accordingly to keep Jennings for years to come, or could we very well be saying goodbye to a great player?

I don't know the answer to that question. What I know is that whatever the ultimate decision is to be, the Packers have already planned for it.

James from Chicago, IL

I think fans need to get their facts straight when speaking of the NFL in Los Angeles. They seem to believe the NFL had no success or longevity in L.A. The Rams were in L.A. for nearly five decades, made the playoffs in half of those years, won NFL titles, won numerous division titles. If I'm not mistaken, it was lack of a new stadium, not the success or popularity of the Rams that caused the move to St. Louis?

You're preaching to the choir; I've been saying this for a long time. The last game I covered in the L.A. Coliseum was a Raiders game in 1994. The press box was closed because it was condemned, so they provided temporary accommodations for the media at the peristyle end of the stadium. That's an NFL-caliber stadium? The place was always a dump. The walk from the visitors' locker room to the buses after the game was frightening. The Rams couldn't take any more, so they decided to play at Angels Stadium. I covered one game there, in 1993, and that's when I decided that franchise was on its way out of Los Angeles. Angels Stadium for football was like Candlestick, without the Bay Area charm. I remember the sound of high-tension wires crackling overhead in the parking lot. Nothing like a little tailgating under the high-tension wires, huh? The Rams were once a model franchise. They did a cutting-edge deal with Admiral TV that was visionary and scared the league into its leaguethink mentality. It was the equivalent of what Notre Dame has with NBC today. The Rams franchise, however, always seemed to be unsettled. Then Dan Reeves switched franchises with Carroll Rosenbloom, effectively making the Colts the Rams and the Rams the Colts, and that was a fateful turn. Rosenbloom died suspiciously, his widow took control of the franchise from Rosenbloom's son, a good man who knew football, and the franchise slowly unwound. Some things just aren't meant to work.

Dennis from Indianapolis, IN

"I've always felt like to have a successful team you've got to have a few bad citizens on the team," got Notre Dame analyst Allen Pinkett suspended for three games. Was he wrong for saying the right thing at the wrong time, or is this the Notre Dame administration dictating what he can/cannot say about the program? I don't see a problem with his viewpoint.

On the heels of the Penn State situation, Pinkett should've known he would be reprimanded for that kind of statement. College football is ultra-sensitive to bad behavior right now; player suspensions are rampant, and Notre Dame just had some. Pinkett needed to convey his thoughts more diplomatically. I think he was trying to say football is a tough game for tough guys, and you often find the tough guys you need living in the fast lane of life. Maybe that wouldn't have worked, either. I guess everybody expects football players to be angels now. Yeah, sure.

Ivan from Decatur, IL

Vic, your column is helping this old guy learn a lot more about football than he used to know. What happens to a player when he reaches three years on the practice squad?

He either makes it onto a roster, or he gets on with his life's work.

Jacob from Green Bay, WI

What do you think about college teams coloring their fields? I just read about an Oregon team changing to a black field.

Black grass? Very pastoral. I can't think of a more visually pleasing way to spend a Saturday afternoon than looking out over a field of black. It would be like attending a game at the site of a controlled burn. We're bored, aren't we?

Greg from North Little Rock, AR

Vic, don't you think it's essential for Raji to play on Sunday against the 49ers? In your opinion, is he probable or questionable? I think we have to have him.

We'll start to find out today what B.J. Raji's practice status is. Mike McCarthy said he didn't have a high degree of concern about Raji's ankle injury. I hope that proves to be the case because I think it's critical to the Packers' success at stopping the run that Raji play on Sunday. He's their run-stuffer. He's the guy that plugs the middle.

Detlef from Holzgerlingen, Deutschland

Is Desmond Bishop eligible for that new IR rule? Can he return during midseason?

No, he can't. For a player to be eligible to come off IR, he would've had to have been on the final 53 when he was placed on the injured reserve list; he would've had to have been designated as the team's IR exemption player. The Packers had a one-day window on Friday to bring Bishop off IR; they did not, sealing his fate for the season.

Charlie from Morgan Hill, CA

Vic, I'm not so sure I buy your evolutionary belief that an NFL team will land in London. If they do, I think they'll have big problems drawing talent outside of the draft and re-signing those they do draft. You have travel issues, a location with a time difference of eight hours and the tax concerns, just to name a few.

A London team would likely live and train in the U.S., probably in Florida, where there's no state income tax. Players really like no state income tax.

Nick from Blanchardville, WI

Vic, what do you believe will be the deciding factor in Sunday's game vs. the 49ers?

Turnovers. They almost always are, that's why I usually don't include them in my "10 things," because it's a given that they will likely decide the game. Coach Capers was the guy who sold me on the importance of turnovers, way back when I covered him in Pittsburgh. Now he's big on the passer-rating differential of quarterbacks, but I think that's the same thing as turnovers because this is a pass-first league and interceptions are the big thing in determining a quarterback's passer rating.

Brian from Sioux Falls, SD

You said probable is 75 percent, questionable is 50 percent and doubtful is 25 percent. Is there anything that stops the team from saying he is probable when they know there is no chance of him playing the next game?

The commissioner; he'll make a team forfeit a draft pick if he decides a team was fraudulent in representing its injury report.

Sean from Grand Prairie, TX

Why not just list every player as "questionable"?

The questionables outnumber the doubtfuls and probables. If a team has any uncertainty about a player's status, he's usually listed as questionable; it's a means for the team to protect itself against being accused of wrongdoing. Here's my definition of the designations: Probable—It's more likely the sun and moon will collide than it is the player won't play on Sunday. Doubtful—The undertaker has been notified. Questionable—We're doing our best to fool you.

Nick from Peterborough, ON

I understand your point about not making Super Bowl picks, especially regarding the Packers. I'm wondering what two teams you think will battle to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl?

I think the AFC is wide open. I don't see a dominant team. The NFC has dominant teams.

Brad from Parker, CO

Vic, a comment yesterday discussed players listed on the injury report, based on practice participation. Are there a certain number of practices a team is allowed to close each week or a certain number required to be made open?

The first 30 minutes of practice are open to the media. At that point, they can be asked to leave the field. I remember a big game when a certain quarterback's injury status was the big story. Would he play? Everybody wanted to know. Well, it so happened that the coach got caught on audio asking, at the end of the 30-minute period, if the media was gone. When he was informed that the media was, in fact, gone from the premises, the quarterback emerged and began practicing. The quarterback played in the game. Coaches and media don't mix. One seeks stealth; the other seeks transparency.

Chad from Stratford, WI

How come 15 NFL teams have never won a Super Bowl? I thought the league was set up so every team has a chance.

They haven't found the right quarterback.

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