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Ten underrated players


Leonard from Jacksonville, NC

How did teams draft before the merger? Did the two leagues have to fight over who was going to draft who, or was it to the highest bidder?

The NFL and the AFL held separate drafts; there not only wasn't any cooperation between the two leagues, the competition between the two was a war to sign players. There are confirmed stories about hiding players, nearly holding them hostage in hotels until they got them signed. A lot of those stories include unsavory tactics used to occupy the players as they were being hidden. The AFL drafted players with the intent of putting them with teams that would give the league the best chance of signing them. Struggling to survive, the AFL draft truly was a leaguethink project. It made sure Joe Namath, for example, played in New York. The Houston Oilers had owned the first pick of the 1965 draft, but the Jets acquired it in a trade and used it on Namath, who saved a troubled franchise and gave the league a headline player in its most important market. Namath, of course, forced the merger. The AFL-NFL draft and signing wars stories are great reading. I encourage everyone to research the subject. It was a truly romantic time in football history and I'm glad I lived through it.

Ryan from Chillicothe, OH

I know you have gotten away from your top 10 lists as of late, but I was curious if you would consider resurrecting them for sake of an idea that might spark debate/discussion. How about a top 10 most underrated players?

I don't have lists ready to go, but I'll give you the names of 10 guys I consider to be underrated, beginning with Packers center Scott Wells. Also: Leon Hall, Paul Posluszny, Lawrence Timmons, Tamba Hali, Darren McFadden, Casey Hampton, Marcedes Lewis, Luis Castillo and Kyle Orton.

Larry from Boulder, CO

I read that the Packers are one of seven teams that would be above a $120 salary cap. Why is their cap number so high? With such a young team, I would have thought they would be well below other teams. More importantly, are they going to run into problems in a couple of years when their young stars require more and more money to keep?

Nobody other than the team can know where the team stands relative to a potential salary cap because nobody other than the team knows the team's plan for cap compliance, if and when that day arrives. You wanna be tight to or over a projected cap ceiling at this point. If you're not, then you haven't taken advantage of the uncapped period. The Packers signed A.J. Hawk and Charlie Peprah to deals in March. Trust me when I tell you they didn't do that without a plan for adjusting their roster, if they need to do that, to become cap compliant. If a new CBA includes a salary cap, which it's expected to do, then the league will give teams a reasonable amount of time to get under the cap. That can be accomplished in a number of ways, releasing players and restructuring contracts or doing contract extensions being the most popular ways. I think the real concern is for teams that are under the expected floor. If the cap goes as high as expected, reaching the floor is going to be a tough pill to swallow for low-revenue teams that will be forced to spend a lot of money in a short period of time.

Adam from Des Moines, IA

Love "Ask Vic;" don't know if I would have survived the lockout without it. Now that it looks like the lockout is gonna end, do you see the Packers starting camp on time and still having "Family Night" as scheduled?

If an agreement is at hand, I have no doubt there will be a "Family Night," and that the start of camp will either be as scheduled or close to it. What I'm waiting to find out is what the early-camp regimen will be. Will they roll into pads as they normally do, or will there be a longer adjustment period? As I had written earlier, I'm expecting more players leaguewide to begin camp on PUP (physically unable to perform), because they've come to camp overweight and out of shape.

Paul from Spencerville, IN

With the NFL seemingly setting a new precedent by holding the Super Bowl in an outdoor, cold-weather stadium (New Meadowlands Stadium), do you think there's any chance the Packers could host a Super Bowl?

No, New York has more hotels than Green Bay does.

Michael from Andover, MA

With all the sports media people saying the lockout is coming to an end as early as this Friday, I was wondering what the Packers' first step will be when the NFL is back in business. Are there any free agents we need to sign?

The immediate attention will be on free agents, both pro and college. Every team is champing at the bit to get started on free agents. In the Packers' case, my guess is their interest in signing undrafted college free agents exceeds their interest in signing pro free agents, but that's not to say they don't have an unrestricted guy or two targeted; they'll take a couple of shots. What they're going to find, I'm afraid, is a panic buying spree, especially by teams needing to get to the cap floor, and that's going to drive prices up on these guys to the point that you'll have to overpay. Would I do it? No way. I would not overpay because that's a sure-fire way to ruin your salary structure. Restraint, in my opinion, will be rewarded in this free agency period.

Nathan from New Orleans, LA

From the looks of it, M&T Bank stadium was nestled in between two highway sections. If it had faced north-south, it would have made designing parking lots awkward and segmented.

Let's see, sun in the eyes or no parking concessions? Let's go with sun in the eyes.

Rene from La Habra, CA

Does the league have any rules for a player, if he wanted to play both on offense and defense?

Depending on the number he wears, he might have to report eligibility when he enters the game on offense. That's not the case on defense. Troy Brown is the example. He wore a receiver's number when he stepped in at cornerback; he did not have to report. Reporting is only required of a player entering the game as an eligible receiver.

Andy from Cadillac, MI

I'm not a huge follower of NCAA football, but the talk of the penalties has me curious about something. What exactly is the point of taking away past wins? Does anyone really care if, say, Ohio State beat Michigan the past seven years straight but now two of those wins don't count? Besides the coach's overall record or the school's overall record, what impact does taking away wins have on anything?

They didn't deserve the wins so why let them keep them? I have to believe public censure is humiliating for esteemed institutions of higher learning that are being identified as cheaters, and that should discourage other esteemed institutions of higher learning from doing the same. I think it does. I think a lot of university presidents are sensitive to such humiliation because they know their schools' academic reputations are where the real money is. Every time I hear someone say college football is big money, I laugh. Academics are where the real big money is. The big-time federal grant schools are pulling down close to a billion dollars a year in grant money, and they don't have to share it with anyone. Why would they risk losing that money by allowing the school's athletic department, which in many cases operates a few million dollars or less in the black, to tarnish that reputation. Wisconsin, for example, is an AAU member. Do you have any idea what that distinction is worth in academic reputation and federal grants? Ask Nebraska, because they just lost theirs.

Dustin from Jacksonville, FL

Boxers and mixed martial artists don't have rules that guard them from head injuries. Why should football players?

Because football is a civilized sport.

Ray from Tucson, AZ

Just want to say thank you for your outstanding stories through the (lockout). Every day you have brought out Packers history that, had the (lockout) not happened, you wouldn't have had as much opportunity to cover.

That's the gain from the nearly five months of the lockout. We've all been writing about our teams' histories. In my case, I've had a distinct advantage. We learned about players such as Mike Michalske. We examined more closely the career of Bart Starr. This has been a good thing for the old guys. They deserved some time in the spotlight. They made the game what it is today.

Mitch from Middleton, WI

Will you be at the first open-to-the-public practice this year?


Steve from Hazelwood, MO

As a long-time business manager whose experience includes hundreds of hiring decisions, I have to ask the following: Even if you strictly adhere to BAP, there will be times when there is a virtual tie for BAP. Isn't then a proper time to consider team needs or some generic preference by position?

Sure it is. I know a general manager that drafts according to BAP, but he ignores the hundredth of a point in player grades. For example, he considers all of the 4.3s to be in a tie because he considers the difference between a 4.32 and a 4.33 too negligible to make the final call. At that point, he'll allow need to determine the pick.

Marv from Houston, TX

Does this CBA include 48 percent of the money Green Bay makes in its Pro Shop? In other words, if a fan buys a t-shirt that says Green Bay Packers, do the Packers have to share this money with the players?

Will a new CBA be structured according to a Total Football Revenue model, as it has been since 2006? We'll find out soon. Expectations are that it will. In a TFR model, all revenue is shared with the players.

Greg from Bellevue, WA

Aside from the addition of Randall Cobb, what other steps do you see being taken by the Packers to address the problems in last year's special teams performance?

How many return guys do you need? The Packers drafted an excellent return prospect in Cobb, and then added some legitimate kick-coverage prospects later in the draft, such as D.J. Smith. It's possible the Packers could be interested in signing a player in free agency that has kick-return or kick-coverage ability, but based on what I saw of Cobb from his days at Kentucky, he's the man.

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