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This is not the first time football had to change its culture


Rob from Webb City, MO

Vic, are you planning to swing over to Whistling Straits to catch any of the PGA Championship?

I love to watch golf on TV, and Whistling Straits offers one of the best visuals in golf. It looks great on TV and I plan on watching as much of the tournament as possible, but by then my life will be all about football.

Terri from Hampton, VA

I know you don't like soccer, but what about horseracing? What do you think about American Pharoah's Triple Crown? I am a football fan first but watching that race was almost as exciting as watching the Packers win a Super Bowl.

I won't go that far, but I watched the race with friends in Bailey Island, SC, on Saturday and I enjoyed it. As American Pharoah held the lead through the backstretch, I thought to myself, "He's toying with them. He's going to bury them in the home stretch." That's exactly what he did. I think he had more left in the tank at the finish line.

Dan from Catonsville, MD

I will be attending the first two days of training camp. Help me with two things Coach McCarthy will be focusing on or looking for at that time?

He'll be looking for tempo and crispness of execution.

Dave from Mount Soma, NC

How about elite quarterbacks have the courage to keep their eyes downfield while 300-pound monsters are trying to kill them, the presence to feel the rush without looking, the intelligence to process and read defenses instantaneously, and the skill to beat nearly perfect coverage by leading receivers and delivering passes into tight windows? They are leaders of men, too.

Elite quarterbacks usually possess all of those traits, but it all begins with the courage to be the target of the defense's disdain. As Joe Namath said, "We're the trophy." Every defense is out to get the quarterback.

Richard from Madison, CT

Vic, as a middle school teacher, I get 22 minutes for lunch. I'd just like to thank you for getting up, getting out and getting it done in time for me to relax and enjoy "Ask Vic" during my 22 minutes.

That's the idea; we want to be on the site before lunch on the East Coast, but it's the person who posts the column who decides when it's available. I did this column in the Atlanta airport last night.

Dan from New Berlin, WI

Tell me you didn't write the headline, "Packers veterans focused on helping rookies."

You know me too well. My headline would've read, "Packers veterans help rookies focused on taking veterans' jobs."

Bud from Ladoga, WI

Everything nowadays is: "Look at me; just click like and I'll give you a treat." Thanks for keeping it real. Just look at the results of "Ask Vic," and you don't even ask for a like. Can people get over themselves these days?

I'd like to have buttons that say love and hate. Like is wimpy.

Charlie from Racine, WI

Don Hutson not deserving? The fourth head needs to belong to someone who changed the game? C'mon, Vic, Don Hutson's pass-receiving skills changed the game totally, from an all-run to a run-pass game, which opened the door for today's aerial assault. Don Hutson changed the game, and in a profound manner.

Cliff Christl says Hutson wasn't even the best player on his team. Cliff says Clarke Hinkle was better.

Nate from Minocqua, WI

Vic, a lot has been made of Matthews' 8.5 sacks after his move to ILB. I was wondering if he was playing inside or outside when he actually recorded those sacks.

We're attaching way too much importance to position, and not enough attention to what's being done to accommodate Clay Matthews' talents at that position. You can run stunts and twists to feature an inside linebacker in the pass rush. Coach Capers did that with an inside linebacker named Chad Brown. It turned Brown into a pass-rush star and earned him a big free-agent contract in Seattle.

Roland from Glen Cove, NY

My candidates for fourth head: Wellington Mara or Al Davis.

Mara is the guy who sold Pete Rozelle's pool-the-revenue plan to the rest of the owners. Without Mara, the game might not have succeeded as it has. He is worthy of the fourth head. In my opinion, Davis is not. Lamar Hunt blows away Davis, who spent much of his time in the game trying to bring down the league.

Matt from Vero Beach, FL

Fourth head? Whoever you most credit for the 1978 rules changes, or Mel Kiper; his hair would be great and he gave us year-round NFL on TV.

I give the rules-changes credit to Pete Rozelle. He had the vision to see what an explosion of offense would do for the game. You can't put a draft analyst on Mt. Rushmore, but the thought of Mel's head and hair carved in stone and sitting next to Unitas, Lombardi and Rozelle is priceless. It would be like the "Final Thoughts" intro winning the Academy Award.

John from Hales Corners, WI

Vic, what do you mean when you say Teddy Roosevelt saved football from extinction?

Between 1900 and 1905, 45 men died playing football. Eighteen died in '05, and that's when Roosevelt took action to save a game that had become too violent. Football was in danger of being abolished. In most cases, the cause of death was head trauma. Colleges began to drop football. Remember, football was the college game back then. There was public outcry to ban the game. Roosevelt spearheaded a safety movement, and the association he created would later become the NCAA.

Christian from Milwaukee, WI

Vic, would you write about what you see as the greatest threat the game has faced since Teddy Roosevelt saved it? How is the facemask at the root of that threat?

It turned the helmet into a weapon. Now, the facemask is an even greater threat, because the game wouldn't remain as popular as it is without it. You can't live with it, but you can't live without it. The NFL is doing a very good job of changing the culture. It's the only lasting solution to this problem.

Kyle from Virginia Beach, VA

What tiny things could Aaron Rodgers do to further improve his already elite game?

He doesn't need to do tiny things. He needs to do the really big thing: Win the Super Bowl. It's what all great quarterbacks aspire to do. The more you win, the greater you are.

Tim from Apple Valley, MN

This past weekend, we had the opportunity to take our daughter to the Junior Power Pack Clinic at Lambeau Field and the Don Hutson Center. I couldn't help but get a few chills when in the practice center thinking about all of the great players that had their careers formed on that practice field. Are there any stadiums or venues that give you the same feeling?

Yeah, but not for the same reasons. For me, covering football is a purely personal experience. I have emotional ties to stadiums that have defined my career. The one in Jacksonville evokes a lot of memories. I think of all the days I sat in the press box and looked beyond the south end zone to the St. Johns River and the boats out on the water. I think back to my days at Three Rivers Stadium and the sights and sounds of covering big games, games of historical significance. I think of gray November days at old Cleveland Stadium, and the cavernous sound of the fans coming to their feet and cheering as Eric Metcalf turned up field on another punt return for a touchdown in 1993. I think of the sound of those pom-poms as they swished in the stillness of the Astrodome during that brutal Luv Ya Blue game in 1978. I think of "The Autumn Wind" the band played as the Raiders took the field for the 1976 AFC title game in Oakland. I remember when the pipe in the front row of the press box in Riverfront Stadium burst from the cold in 1977, and I'll never forget the first snowflake that fell at Riverfront for that amazing game I covered in 1976. I'm still new in Green Bay, but already I'm accumulating special moments. I think the defining moment is still to come. Those are my chills.

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