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The dirty little secret


Jim from Tucson, WI

Every time I see 45 touchdowns and only six interceptions, I have to take a breath and say, wow! Has anybody been comparable?

Peyton Manning had that kind of season in 2004 and Tom Brady in 2007, but I've never covered anything close to that level of performance and I'll never forget it. I never covered a quarterback that made it look as easy as Aaron Rodgers did last season.

Dennis from Sheboygan, WI

Vic, I get this whole concussion/player safety thing in the NFL, but aren't the players more to blame because of the way they have blown up their bodies with weight training? I truly feel many of the injuries we see today are the result of over-training, in which the players' bodies never have a chance to rest and heal.

It's not over-training that concerns me. My concern is for the dangers of performance-enhancing drugs. I think they are a distinct threat to player safety. The league and the players association have partnered to provide for testing to keep PEDs out of the game, but we have evidence of attempts to defeat testing and I think that has to be acknowledged. We have a league that's being sued for failure to protect its players, and it's possible the league's efforts to protect its players have been sabotaged by players who have maliciously defeated those efforts. We're talking about a very big can of worms. I think the players need to ask themselves if they really want to open that can.

Ari from Las Vegas, NV

I read an article about what present coach resembles Vince Lombardi. In the article, Mike Tomlin and Tom Coughlin were mentioned. In your opinion, why do these coaches resemble Lombardi?

I was covering the Jaguars when David Maraniss wrote his book, "When Pride Still Mattered." I had conversations with Coach Coughlin about the book and I quickly came to realize that Lombardi was Coughlin's role model. It figures, since Coughlin is a product of the Lombardi era. Lombardi was a New York guy and Coach Coughlin is intensely proud of his New York roots. All of that legendary Coughlin toughness, I suspect, is intentionally Lombardiesque, so I think the comparison fits, mostly because Coach Coughlin wants it to fit. Tomlin is a Lombardi natural. Tomlin mixes toughness with a Lombardi-like eloquence of speech. Tomlin and Coughlin are good comparisons.

Sergio from Winnipeg, MB

Vic, I couldn't agree more with your "take what you want" comment about the offense; however, you talked about Packers signature plays without mentioning the post, seam routes to Jennings. Those two plays were the difference in the Super Bowl. In both cases, the defense knew it was coming and tried to stop it, but perfect execution got it done.

Teams usually have a half dozen or so signature plays, and a lot of good teams tend to use their signature plays at predictable times. For all of that intrigue the Colts employed when Peyton Manning was their quarterback and he was annoying everybody with all of his head-bobbing and play-changing and meaningless gestures, the simple fact of the matter is the Colts were the most predictable offense in the league when they got inside the 10-yard line. They ran trap and they ran trap-pass. That's all. Everybody knew they were going to get trap or trap-pass, but they couldn't stop it.

Lee from Mobile, AL

Vic, do you think the controversial things Belichick does helps the league just as much now as the solidarity of the old-school coaches did in the earlier days, just in a different way? Owing to the popularity of sensationalism in all facets of the media today, doesn't it seem like this, too, creates a lot of good theater the league promotes? I was also wondering who writes the headlines, because they're exactly what they should be, punchy and gripping. And how can you ever top "Martians land in Lambeau?"

Here's one: "World agrees; Packers greatest team ever." Do you think that would drive readership? You're right about Bill Belichick. Every story needs a villain.

Jim from Des Peres, MO

Queen for a Day? Great reference! My grandmother loved that show. I wonder how many readers are aware of the comparison you're making. Nice!

How about the contestants' stories? Contestant No. 1's husband has been out of work since being hit by a train. Contestant No. 2's 10 kids sleep on the floor since the gas was turned off and she had to burn the furniture to heat the house. Remember the applause meter? And it didn't matter if your husband was hit by a train or you had to burn the furniture to heat the house, everybody got a washer and dryer. It was reality TV before we knew what reality TV is. Fortunately, we've graduated to much more meaningful reality TV shows, such as "The Bachelorette." I wonder what its winner's reaction would be if she got a washer and dryer.

Greg from Bellevue, WA

I once heard that as far as GMs are concerned, winning the Super Bowl isn't the panacea it is for fans. Salary demands rise. Distractions increase. The best bet (profit-wise) for a team is to make the playoffs every year, but miss the Super Bowl. Is there truth to this or is it urban legend?

You've taken the dirty little secret too far. The dirty little secret is that the Super Bowl isn't the goal. The dirty little secret is that the goal is to be a Super Bowl contender every year, fill your stadium, keep your job and wait for the year when you get hot at the right time and win it all. Do the 2007 and 2011 Giants fit into that category? The 2005 Steelers? The 2010 Packers? The fact of the matter now is that the dirty little secret is no longer dirty or a secret; it's a plan for success. Be a contender every year, fill your stadium, keep your job and wait for the year when you get hot late in the season and ride that hot streak to the title.

Kyle from Dyersville, IA

Vic, if you love "Field of Dreams," you better come and visit us pretty quick. They are turning it into a youth baseball complex with 24 baseball and softball fields, as well as dorms. It's great for the local economy, as it will undoubtedly increase tourism and revenue due to the tournaments, but it will certainly take away part of the magic.

If you build it, they will come, but don't count on me. I'm looking for an old man golf complex; that's my "Field of Dreams."

George from Scranton, PA

Your description of what makes a good safety almost perfectly describes Charles Woodson. Is he practicing at safety at all during camp?

He did not participate in OTAs. Mike McCarthy said he expects Woodson to attend this week's minicamp.

David from Racine, WI

All these analysts keep saying the Patriots and Packers need to fix their defensive woes in order to become a Super Bowl contender. While I certainly agree that both teams have problems on defense that need to be addressed, I'm not sure I agree with that second part. I was under the impression that any team with Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady is never out of Super Bowl contention.

The Packers were No. 32 on defense and the Patriots were No. 31, and one was 15-1 and the other one was in the Super Bowl. Clearly, you don't need a strong defense to be a Super Bowl contender. I think a strong defense – 49ers, Ravens – can make you a contender, but I don't think you have to have one to be a contender. You better have "The Man," though, and the Packers and Patriots do.

Daren from Sydney, Australia

How similar are today's pass-oriented offenses to Jerry Glanville's "Run-and-Shoot" offenses of the late 1980s and early '90s?

The "Run and Shoot" may have been ahead of its time and I can envision it making a return to prominence. The big knock on the "Run and Shoot" was that it lacked a big, blocking tight end, which made it a bad offense for converting short-yardage and goal-line situations. It was a pop-gun offense at a sledgehammer time in football history. With the way the tight end position is going in today's game, you could make the point that offenses are moving toward the principles of the "Run and Shoot," which was all about flooding the passing lanes with receivers.

Kyler from Anderson, CA

After the Kansas City game, we didn't throw the back shoulder anymore. If you watch the tape, we completely went away from it.

Maybe that was a mistake. Did you ever think of it that way?

Patrick from Minneapolis, MN

When experienced veterans like Jeff Saturday go to a new team, do they generally participate in OTAs?

Yes; they need to learn a new system and bond with teammates within that system. Saturday is a pro. He knows what's expected of him.

Dan from Green Bay, WI

Is the golf tournament a scramble? When will registration end?

Yes, the format will be a scramble. What's important right now is that we get everyone who wants to play registered, because we need to give the golf course a definite go sign on the event. We can't wait for a rush of golfers to emerge in the week leading up to the tournament and, as it stands right now, we don't have enough golfers to fill the course. So, I'm going to make this week a last call for golfers. If we don't get a rush of golfers who want to register, then we'll change the format. If you want to play in the golf tournament, please register now. Thanks.

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