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Right now, 49ers are Packers' No. 1 rival

Take the psychosis test; can you pass?


Cliff from Jacksonville, FL

In the spirit of lighten up week, I'd like to take a minute to compliment Packers fans for the winsomeness of their town names: Beaver Dam, Greendale, Whitefish Bay, Elm Grove. I have no idea what they're really like, but they sound beautiful.

It's as though they were named by Carl Sandburg. Cottage Grove is my favorite. The right words can paint a picture.

Andrew from Edgewood, IA

Vic, I understand your view of the Packers-Bears rivalry. I'm 31 and have been a Packers fan since sixth grade. I can't remember wanting to beat the Bears the way I hope the Packers beat the Vikings, every year, no matter what. Times, they are a changin'.

Yeah, Bob Dylan is from Minnesota. I might be a victim of the same expectations I advise fans to resist. When I took this job, I got a lot of tingle for the Packers-Bears games I'd be covering. I had no such expectation for games against the Vikings. Three seasons later, it's been the games against the Vikings for which I have felt the tingle. My inbox is jammed every day with Vikings fans that don't like the Packers. I don't get that from Bears fans. It's as though they've become submissive or resigned. The Vikings have a new coach, new quarterback, new stadium and will host a Super Bowl. There's going to be a lot of buzz for that franchise over the next few years. My eyes are looking west.

Patrick from Middleton, WI

As a younger fan of the Packers, I can't help but agree with your view of the Packers-Bears rivalry. Older friends and family members speak of it bitterly, but it doesn't register for me. The contemporary rivalries of Favre and the Vikings, and now Kaepernick and the 49ers, get me far more revved up.

One day somebody will pop off and the tingle I want to feel will be there. By now, Ditka would've done it.

Carl from Dickinson, ND

Vic, when is "Tell Me How You Really Feel Week?"

Every week is "Tell Me How You Really Feel Week." To tell it any other way is disrespectful of people that invest their valuable time in reading this column.

Chris from Fond du Lac, WI

I've heard reports that Bakhtiari was able to bulk up in the offseason. I really think that will help the Packers' run blocking. To your eye, is this the case? Does he pass the eye test for an offensive lineman?

Mike McCarthy made a point of saying David Bakhtiari has bulked up. I see it in Bakhtiari's upper body, but he's a thin-hipped guy with great feet and, in my opinion, that makes him a natural, pass-blocking left tackle. I want my guards to have a little more trunk space.

Walt from Knoxville, TN

In your opinion, at what point does fandom cross over into psychosis?

Psychosis can manifest itself in hallucinations, delusions, violence and impaired insight. So, if you imagine yourself as playing in the game, having an impact on the outcome, break something when the Packers lose and complain that the play-calling lost the game, you might want to talk to a professional. I like to watch.

Jordan from Riverside, CA

What is your take on Bert Jones? I recently saw a highlight reel and he looked like he was going to be an amazing quarterback, but I never actually saw him play. I read that injuries derailed his career.

If he was playing today, he might have the best arm in the game.

Greg from Danbury, CT

Vic, in lighten up week, you tossed a ton of red meat to the Packers-Bears rivalry. Your inbox has exploded and you have yourself to blame.

My inbox has not exploded. What does that say?

Jaymes from Atlanta, GA

I think the reason you dislike soccer is because you know it is the only sport in the United States that could displace football as king. That's why you were saddened by all of those kids and parents having fun, right?

Allow me to begin by separating my dislike of soccer from my sadness. I dislike soccer because I think it is incredibly boring. For me, watching soccer is like being forced to listen to "These Eyes." The pain doesn't end until the music stops. My sadness is the result of a stigma that football is too dangerous for mothers to allow their sons to play, and in most cases it's mom that's making the call these days. I'm especially sad that we allowed it to come to this. We were warned. Joe Paterno predicted it a long time ago. He said if we didn't clean up our game we were going to lose kids to soccer. Others concurred, but we didn't heed the warnings. Now we have a real crisis on our hands, and the crisis is especially acute on the amateur level, where it's most important because it has its greatest participation. I am sad because I can't imagine my life without those few years of high school football that taught me everything I needed to know about myself for the rest of my life. They taught me where I was weak and where I was strong. They taught me how I needed to be. I played baseball all of my young life, but I never got those lessons from baseball, and I don't think kids can get those lessons from soccer.

David from Port Orange, FL

Vic, love the column. Why are more and more outdoor NFL stadiums using "Field Turf" as opposed to natural grass? Do the players prefer it?

The players like it because it has a softness to it the old artificial turfs didn't. With the players' approval, stadiums are using it because it guarantees a consistent quality into the non-growing season. A lot of stadiums host multiple events: college games, high school games, concerts. It's difficult to maintain a grass field to NFL standards when it lacks recovery time.

Tracey from Madison, WI

"Do you fall asleep, channel surf or talk on the phone while watching a game? If the answer is yes to any of those three, you're a casual fan." My mom and I are on the phone for a good chunk of the Packers' games so we can simulate watching the game together while in different cities. We take great offense to being categorized as casual fans.

On the final day of "Lighten Up and Have Some Fun Week," the first thing you need to do is stop taking great offense. If you take great offense at the suggestion you might be a casual fan, I fear you might have an emotional meltdown when someone actually does offend you. So, please, lighten up and have some fun. Having said all of that, you are exempted from the phone thing. I made a terrible mistake. I should've written it this way: Or talk on the phone while watching a game, unless you're on the phone with your mom for a good chunk of the Packers' games so you can simulate watching the game together while in different cities. When am I going to learn to stop offending people? Probably never. I'll get over it.

Christopher from Madison, WI

You said you have a hard time feeling it for the Packers-Bears lately because it's been too one-sided. How do you feel about Packers-49ers games then? Lately, it has been a little one-sided, but with the 49ers in the winning position. Does being on the losing side get you more emotionally involved? Personally, I can't wait to see the Packers play the 49ers again. I want to reestablish dominance, and I think this year we can.

Tingle? I feel a hard shake. I wish the two teams were playing today. I wish they'd play every week for 16 weeks. The games have been great and my inbox yanks me out of bed every morning for a week after the Packers play the 49ers. I have a healthy respect for history and tradition, and they add to the spice of a rivalry, but the most intense rivalry I ever covered had absolutely no history or tradition at all. It came out of nowhere. Right now, the 49ers are the Packers' No. 1 rival. My fondest wish for this season is that the Packers and 49ers meet in the playoffs. I want to feel that shake.

Jon from Bath, England

Vic, with regards to team rivalries, which are your all-time favorites?

They come and they go. There are too many of them to rank. The Seahawks and 49ers have a beauty going right now. One of my favorites was the Jaguars and Titans. It was short-lived but it was good. What made it good? Jeff Fisher popped off. After winning twice in Jacksonville in one season, he claimed Alltel Stadium as the Titans' home field. Rivalries need a catalyst. They need something to get the juices flowing. Ditka would have the juices flowing by now.

Mark from Ann Arbor, MI

Vic, the chat with was great. "I'm intense when I brush my teeth in the morning" is a classic and seems to represent your kind of football player. I also liked what he said about being disappointed following the Chicago game. As fans, we were so excited, but to him football is a job and he didn't do his job as well as he would have liked. That was a great insight into the difference between a fan and a player.

Isn't that what I've been saying? Players are focused on doing their jobs. If they don't do their jobs to their satisfaction, they cannot fully enjoy the fruits of victory.

Gabe from Cleghorn, WI

This new overhaul of the site is fantastic, Vic. It's got a fresh look and the background is perfect. Did you have a major hand in the changes?

The CONTENT Management System is fully responsible and I applaud their efforts. All hail, the CONTENT Management System.

Ross from Hudson, WI

Vic, I hear terms relating to defensive linemen playing (insert number 0-9) technique. To what do these numbers refer?

They refer to gaps along the line of scrimmage. Head up on the center is zero. If you can count to nine, you can be an NFL Network analyst.

Dustin from Salt Lake City, UT

How about a bold prediction for the fans? What are the top three things we will see that are different to this team this year than in previous years?

No. 1, the defense will be improved. Mike McCarthy said write it down in big letters. No. 2, Randall Cobb will lead the league in receptions. I'll announce my third prediction on Sept. 5.

Brian from Champaign, IL

Vic, are you planning on running the Lambeau Field 5K with us this year?

I'll wave to you from Curly's Pub.

Jerry from Harlingen, TX

Vic, you are hardly alone in believing the Vikings are more of a nemesis than the Bears. A lot of younger fans have that opinion, and since you've only been covering the Packers for a relatively short time, it's understandable. Being 64 and raised about an hour south of Green Bay, I was infused with being a Packers fan and hating the Bears. It's never left me.

I feel young again. I'm part of the younger generation. You old people kill me.

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