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Sorry, George, football is not going away


Dan from Milwaukee, WI

Is it going to become standard for the best quarterbacks in the game to play past 40?

If protections on the quarterback increase, the length of quarterbacks' careers will similarly increase.

Brandon from Yucca Valley, CA

Vic, I'm driving to San Diego on Thursday to watch the Packers play the Chargers. I'm excited to see the young players compete against each other more than against the opposing team. Which positions should I keep an eye on?

The most competitive positions would seem to be on defense. There are several young "lions," players such as Nick Perry, Jerel Worthy, Davon House, Casey Hayward, D.J. Smith, M.D. Jennings, Jerron McMillian and more. That's where my interest will be, in addition to quarterback, where Graham Harrell will be a player of intense scrutiny.

Dirk from Munich, Germany

Loved your answer on the Campbell question. I think running back is the most interesting and fascinating position to watch, a player that's quick enough to avoid huge defensive linemen, strong enough to run through linebackers trying to take him down, and fast enough to outrun defensive backs, while still big and tough enough to withstand all those people attacking him every time he touches the ball. It must be a special mindset to know that every time you get the ball, 11 people are focusing all their attention on taking you out, and still running at them full speed. Sadly, I've missed the time when that was common and it seems only Adrian Peterson is that kind of player right now. Do you think there will still be running backs like that every once in a while, or do you think they'll die out?

I think the kind of running back you're describing, which is to say the premier runner on whom a defense would game-plan to stop, is going the way of the seven-man sled. Peterson has that kind of talent, but even last season when the Vikings were playing with a rookie quarterback, the Vikings didn't feature Peterson prominently enough to make him the focus of opponents' defensive game plan. The 4-3, for example, was created by Tom Landry to stop Jim Brown. I think those days have passed and they're not returning.

Bob from Greenwood, SC

Rodgers said Brady told him to work on three things each offseason. What three things did Aaron work on this year?

I don't know. I think the offseason is the time for a quarterback to work on his golf game and his portfolio. It's a long season. Rest is important, too.

Nate from Amherst, WI

Who decides how to paint the end zones?

There are strict league guidelines for marking the field. For example, years ago the Jaguars decided to paint a teal Santa's cap on the Jaguars logo at midfield during the Christmas season. The league informed the team that the cap had to go.

Al from Arcadia, CA

Vic, have you seen George Will's must-read column on football? My guess is you'll find it depressing, but even though I am a dyed-in-the-wool Packers fan I believe it is spot on, and that in a more enlightened world, tackle football, boxing and MMA will be things of the past. Ice hockey can continue, sans the violence.

George Will is a baseball guy. He longs for the day when baseball was our national pastime. Football isn't going away. Our nation's leaders can't allow that to happen because our economy is too dependent on football. Nobody wants it to go away, not even the players for whom liability threatens the game. Where are they going to make this kind of money in real life? Changes need to occur and we are in the midst of those changes. What we need is for dinosaurs such as myself to allow the game to evolve. It will.

Larry from Albuquerque, NM

I have been using the Packers app on my i-phone since midseason last year. Nothing has ever made me so anticipate an upcoming season like reading about workouts, practices and new upcoming stars. I am frustrated with the injury report within the app; it hasn't been updated since Week 19 of last season. Could you please ask whoever is responsible for updating that info to do it already? We want to know what's going on.

There is no injury report. Coaches are not required to provide injury information until the regular season begins.

Pat from Port Washington, WI

I played high school football in the late 1960s, so, of course, we had a seven-man sled. My senior year, I played end next to a sophomore tackle who was flat-out huge, if a bit slow- footed. The coach would blow the whistle, I'd slam into the sled and maybe a halt-count later the tackle would arrive and the whole sled would jump away from me.

My inbox is full of sled stories. Our sled was made by fathers who worked at the mill. They fabricated the steel and welded the whole thing together. Our sled even had a name, "Stush." I can remember seeing Stush parked against the fence in the winter, covered with snow, and almost feeling bad for him.

Bill from Raleigh, NC

I'm guessing you know this story, but maybe some of your readers do not. John Madden was not just a video game and announcer, but a great coach. He did not keep much memorabilia from his long football career, but he did keep the seven-man blocking sled. It still sits in his yard. He remarked that riding that sled with seven men pushing together was one of his fondest memories of coaching.

You know what George Will needs? He needs some sled time.

Jason from Austin, TX

Vic, I never know if I should be excited to hear that the defense shut down the offense, or that the offense flew through the defense in practice, because that means the other side of the ball struggled. I guess there is no right way to look at it unless it was a spectacular play.

Root for the defense in practice. We already know the offense is good.

Brent from Cedar Grove, WI

Vic, you seem to like the high school game around here. Most of the successful teams run the ball a lot and well. At my school, we have a blocking sled and it is tradition that the whole team push the sled up and down the field on the first day of hitting, and during the season even our wide receivers have to do blocking drills with the linemen. Thoughts?

Wide receivers should have to pay to play.

Dustin from Jacksonville, FL

I have a ton of respect for the old-school backs but their job was almost solely running the ball. Today's backs absolutely must be able to pass-block and catch or they are of very limited use. It's comparing apples to oranges. While today's backs on average may not run the ball as well as the old-timers, they have a lot of other things they must do better than Earl and his peers.

You need to read on a running back named Lenny Moore; he invented the back out of the backfield. In 1958, he caught 50 passes for 938 yards, which is an 18.8 yards-per-catch average, and seven touchdowns. In 1960, Moore caught 45 passes for 936 yards, a 20.8 yards-per-catch average, and nine touchdowns. Darren Sproles led the league in receiving yards by a running back last season with 710. He averaged 8.3 yards per catch and scored seven touchdowns receiving. Moore is in the Hall of Fame.

Jake from Aurora, IL

Here is a blocking sled story. We were doing drills on the sled, practicing exploding out of your stance, but not actually moving the sled, just hitting the pad. Only problem was the sled just happened to be right next to a dead squirrel that stunk to high heaven. Anybody whose technique wasn't perfect had to do the drill again. The coach wouldn't let us move the sled away from the squirrel because we were all doing the drill perfect so we could get away from the stink.

When the sled was struck hard enough to break one of its springs, the resulting doink resonated throughout the community, announcing reason for great celebration. Coaches have been brought to tears by that sound. The young man who caused that sound ascended to a higher place on the social ladder.

Conor from Glen Mills, PA

Do Mason Crosby's misses from almost every distance warrant worrying?

They do not warrant worry because Crosby is a kicker and they are a somewhat different breed. Kickers are thinkers. They have a very scientific approach to their craft. After listening to Crosby's explanation of his struggles on Family Night, there's no doubt in my mind that the new south end zone structure and the wind-current changes it might create were on his mind going into that scrimmage. He talked about feeling a right-to-left wind, putting the ball on the right upright, and it just staying there. He talked about not having a full pregame warmup to become accustomed to the changes in wind current. From where I sat in the press box, it appeared to be the most beautifully calm, clear summer night in the history of the world, but I'm not a kicker. He'll get it figured out.

Ryan from Las Vegas, NV

And what were these pictures of, Vic?

They were pictures of beautiful blocking sleds.

Matt from Oshkosh, WI

Based on what you've seen from Anthony Hargrove in training camp, what type of impact would he have on the Packers defense early on if his suspension is reduced or eliminated?

He's what Jerel Worthy is going to become. Hargrove is a veteran defensive lineman with verve. Worthy is a rookie defensive lineman with verve.

Earl from Winnipeg, Manitoba

Vic, I am bringing my fiancé and our two boys back to Green Bay this week. Sadly you will be in San Diego. She has asked for a one-of-a-kind Packers experience. Do you think a tour, lunch at Curly's and a Pro Shop visit covers it?

You might be missing something, Earl.

Jordan from Lafayette, LA

I am a girl and I'm gonna try out for my middle school football team. Do you have any advice to succeed?

The first chance you get, pick a fight with the toughest boy on the team. That'll get the coach's attention.

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