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The days of boot camp are over


Keith from Greenville, SC

Vic, what do you think about the idea of giving Penn State the death penalty? Do you think the NCAA should impose any sanctions? I can see both sides to the argument, so I don't really know which side I'm on. How about you?

I think every concern should be for the families that have been devastated by Penn State's failure to act responsibly. In my opinion, those families have to be compensated; that's the penalty Penn State should bear. I don't like the idea of turning this into a football event. Football is a minor concern when compared to how Penn State's failures devastated the lives of the victims. Whatever the NCAA does is fine with me, but I would rather Penn State penalize itself. That says more.

Wes from San Antonio, TX

Vic, what happens to a player that applies for the supplemental draft and doesn't get picked by any team? Do they then become a free agent because he was draft eligible in the supplemental draft, or will he have to wait until the next year's regular draft?

He would immediately become a free agent, as he had gone through the draft process and was not selected.

Darrell from Atlanta, GA

I'm a little concerned about our left tackle position. Have you heard or seen anything on Derek Sherrod?

Mike McCarthy said toward the end of OTAs that he expected Sherrod to be full speed for the start of training camp. As it stands now, Marshall Newhouse is the Packers' starting left tackle.

Frank from Seattle, WA

In the last point/counterpoint article you said: "I can see it now. Cheerleaders will hold up applause cards." I find it interesting you say that because I think that's the way some stadiums are already.

I agree. I find it distasteful when teams and coaches beg fans to make noise. I'm a purist and I don't like the idea of fans having to be begged to be enthusiastic. You certainly don't have to do that in Green Bay and that's one of the things I love about covering this team. The enthusiasm is real and the fans live it every day.

Vance from Hartland, WI

If Aaron was left-handed, would Bulaga be considered the premier offensive lineman?

"Blindside protector" is meant to refer to the blind side of a right-handed quarterback. "Premier pass rusher protector" would be a more apt description. The right defensive end is usually a 4-3 team's premier pass rusher. If they move him to LDE to face a left-handed quarterback then, yeah, Bryan Bulaga would become the Packers' premier pass protector. The offensive lineman that draws the assignment of blocking against the opponent's premier pass rusher is, in my mind, the premier offensive lineman. Usually, the left tackle draws that assignment. Most premier pass rushers are right-handed and want to have their right hand, right shoulder and right leg on their outside.

Bill from Virginia Beach, VA

Last week, Kevin Seifert discussed the Packers recent financial report and said, "While the salary cap will always limit the Packers' ability to spend money, there is still a difference between what a high-revenue team might spend on its roster in pure cash terms and what a low-revenue team could spend." Can you explain how this happens?

He's probably referring to something called "cash over cap," which refers to the money a team spends that doesn't appear on that year's salary cap. Signing bonus is an example. Signing bonus is amortized evenly over the life of a contract, so when a team signs a guy to four-year contract with a $20 million signing bonus, $5 million goes into each year of the deal and in year one of the contract the team spent $15 million in cash over cap on that deal. Assuming high-revenue teams have cash reserves low-revenue teams don't, the high-revenue teams have the ability to spend more in the way of "cash over cap" money, and that allows for a lot more creativity in doing contracts. Teams that don't have large cash reserves have to pay higher salary amounts, and that makes it more difficult to get deals done because players prefer signing bonus to salary.

Sam from Janesville, WI

While I appreciate what you're trying to teach when telling us that we, as fans, shouldn't be emotionally crushed by defeat, that statement may show you don't fully understand the power of Packer Nation, yet, or how deeply our team affects our lives. I don't think I spoke for a day after the Giants loss last year, and I didn't stop cheering for a week after Super Bowl XLV. I remember every detail about the games I've been to and we've won. I remember almost nothing but agony about the game I went to and we lost. This is who we are. It's in our blood and it's in our soul. We, the diehard Cheeseheads, live breath and die for the Packers. The Packers are second to my daughter by a very small margin on my scale of priorities. This is Packer Nation!


Zach from Woodstock, IL

Will the huge contract Drew Brees signed with the Saints affect the money Rodgers will get after the 2014 season?


Tanner from Greenville, WI

Vic, I just turned 18 on July 11th (day of your golf outing; sorry I couldn't make it) and I played football for 10 years. It's hard enough for me to understand what it must take at that level, but to try and imagine the roughness of the game without ever playing it seems impossible. With parents holding their kids back from football, I fear this situation only gets worse. The true passion for the game may be gone.

It is imperative that football not lose the playing participation of our youth. When I was a kid, the baseball fields were crowded with kids all day long in the summer, and baseball was king. Then, all of a sudden, the fields went empty, and baseball went into a steep decline in popularity. The same will happen to football if its young people stop playing the game. The NFL knows this. The league's "Play 60!" program is aimed at attacking obesity, but it's also meant to deepen the association between young people and football. The game is changing and I think it's going to change most noticeably and most abruptly on the amateur level. I can tell you that high school football today is nothing as it was when I was young. Back then, high school football was a boot camp. It was an endurance test. Coaches were drill instructors. They were a cross between Vince Lombardi and Sgt. Carter. At the height of the baby boom, when there were more kids wanting to play than there were uniforms for them to wear, coaches used a punishing regimen to weed out the weaklings. Those days are over. The days of denying water are over. The days of practicing spearing are over. The days of coaches twisting facemasks are over. The culture of the game is undergoing change. I feel fortunate to be able to observe this dramatic evolutionary process. I feel as though I will have seen the game come from the Dark Ages to the Space Age. I'm not sure how it'll turn out, but I'm going to enjoy watching it unfold.

Brett from De Pere, WI

Jim Brown is not the greatest running back of all time. Just because he played forever ago doesn't make him any better than modern backs. I'm sick of sports writers always claiming that old players are the best just because they're old. Jim Brown only played nine years and all he did his whole career was run the ball right up the gut. There are tons of backs in the league today that could do just as well as he did in that era. Barry Sanders would've run circles around him.

I know how you feel, Brett, because I'm sick of young people claiming today's players are the best just because they're young. All Brown did in the nine years he played is to have pushed the all-time NFL rushing record to a level that stood for 20 years amidst the greatest era of running backs in NFL history, and Brown did it having played his whole career in 12-game and 14-game seasons. We're talking about a guy who was 6-2, 232, and was rarely caught from behind; I never saw it. He ran anywhere he wanted to run, inside or outside. No one man could tackle him. He was the greatest combination of power, speed and elusiveness the game has ever seen. Brown dominated his era as no back has ever dominated the game. That's why Brown is largely considered to be one of the two greatest football players in history. I'll tell you one card you can't play, Brett. Forget about playing the bigger, faster, stronger card, because there's never been a better combination of size, speed and strength. Earl Campbell and Bo Jackson were Brown-like, but nobody's better. I understand your love for Sanders. He was a great back, the greatest back in Fantasy Football history.

William from Jacksonville, FL

I lost it when I saw the picture of the deer at the golf tournament. Did you cue the deer, Vic?

Yeah, we got it from "Deer R Us." We thought it would add a nice touch.

Wendall from Forest City, NC

What type of running back do you think would best suit the Packers offense? I think a power back would be the best. He wouldn't need to catch the ball, considering all the talented receivers Green Bay has. He could totally commit to running the ball and every time the Packers would run their play-action, the defense might actually take the backfield seriously.

I don't think a power back fits what the Packers want to do. The Packers don't want to commit to a sledgehammer style of game. Their backs have to fit within the Packers' passing game because this is a pass-first offense that demands that its backs be able to catch the ball and protect the quarterback. In my opinion, a one-cut back that can catch and block is the best fit for the Packers offense. You want a one-cut guy because that's the style that works best in a zone-blocking scheme. He better hold onto the ball, too, or he won't play.

Kevin from Orland Park, IL

How does the Packers' approach to utilizing their practice squad differ from other teams around the league?

Other teams use the practice squad as an adjunct to the active roster, or they might use it to audition street talent. The Packers use it to develop talent. In my opinion, that's how it should be used.

Steve from Belleville, WI

Vic, with the recent news of the Packers excellent year financially, is it safe to assume will remain free to the fans? The state's newspapers are all starting to charge for their Internet content, so this is my last hope for free Packers information on the web.

Free is me and I'll take three.

Gary from Chippewa Falls, WI

What was Bert Bell's contribution to the game and does he get enough credit for his tenure?

I think the draft is his greatest contribution. In my opinion, Bell is the most underappreciated person in NFL history. He set the table for the success the game enjoyed under Pete Rozelle.

Teddy from Milwaukee, WI

Although you view it as an insulting comparison, isn't there a great lesson to be learned from the careers of Randy Moss and Jerry Rice? One was, perhaps, the most physically gifted, natural talent the position had ever seen, but had a poor attitude and didn't always give 100 percent. The other guy had average size and speed, but a legendary work ethic that allowed him to take over games in the fourth quarter when everyone else was gassed. I think we can all agree that Rice ended up in a league of his own, but doesn't this comparison show us that, although you need both, hard work and dedication can overcome superior talent?

Please don't tell me you're trying to turn Jerry Rice into a try-hard guy. He was a world-class athlete. His only physical flaw was his lack of straight-line speed. It's not that he was slow, it's just that he was never regarded as fast. His body control is legendary. His quickness into and out of his cuts was unprecedented. He played at 6-2, 200. That's average size? He was enough of a talent to have been made a first-round pick from Mississippi Valley State. Had he played at Notre Dame, he might've been a top five pick. I'm not sure why we feel a need to regard certain players as over-achievers. Chuck Bednarik is regarded that way. The popular opinion is that Bednarik was a try-hard tough guy. Hey, he was the first pick of the draft.

Bill from Tampa, FL

I just got through reading again "Run to Daylight" by Coach Lombardi. How has the play calling in the NFL become much more complex than from that time? For instance, Lombardi called a play "49 Toss," where now it's called "Razor Sharp Drop Kentucky Left."

It's because today's teams are doing much more by formation, motion, etc. One play will include several variations. It'll be run from a balanced line or an unbalanced line, motion from the tight end or motion from the fullback, a one-back or two-back set. The same plays are being run, there are just more variations of them.

Peter from Houston, TX

I was wondering if you see Calvin Johnson being the first receiver to win the MVP award?

I don't know who it'll be, but I think it's going to happen. The NFL is becoming a wide receiver league. I still think it's the easiest position at which to find talent, but the numbers they're posting and the fans' fascination for stats is making wide receivers more popular than ever before.

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