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The Packers are now reaping the rewards

Julius Peppers will be fun to watch in his many roles


Julius Peppers

Chris from Fond du Lac, WI

Vic, do you think the league going to a pay-as-you-play ticket system for playoff games will encourage more home-team fans to attend the game, resulting in increased homefield advantage for playoff teams?

That's not the issue. Pay-as-you-play and variable-pricing programs are marketing measures. The fact that the league considers them to be necessary tells me everything about the need the league feels to reward the ticket-buying fan. It's all part of the worry that the TV presentation of games is becoming so good that it'll cause traditional ticket-buyers to want to stay home. TV provides the big revenue, but ticket revenue is still a major ingredient in the whole revenue pie and, even more importantly, the ticket-buying fan provides the atmosphere that makes a football game an event. The game must not lose that atmosphere. It knows that and these marketing measures are evidence of that awareness. The game needs to do more for its most loyal and supportive fan, the ticket buyer.

Tim from Woodbury, MN

With March Madness filling a void until the draft, I am reminded of a question I always have while watching college basketball. It's not uncommon for power forwards to develop into NFL tight ends. Why do we not see tenacious defenders convert from guard to defensive back? Scouts talk about hip flexibility, ball skills and athleticism in the secondary. These kids are explosive athletes with size.

It is not common for basketball-only players at any position to become NFL players. It happens, but it's not common. Very little about basketball translates to football. The growing popularity and exposure of the combine has caused fans to think football is a gym-class sport. Football is for guys that like to hit. You're right about those guards having the physical talent to play the game. So why don't they? Because in most cases football isn't in their personality. We're losing a sense for how vicious football still is. The league is promoting a changed culture, and it needs to do that to persuade young people to play football. The truth of the matter, however, is that football is still a violent game. It's not for everyone. It's for people that like to hit, and it starts with that.

Josh from Milwaukee, WI

A third-round and a fifth-round compensatory pick? That makes me so happy to be a fan of the way the Packers do free agency. I can't wait to see the players we get as free picks, all for being willing to let expensive players go.

It's a reward for commitment. It's a reward for patience. Would you have traded Greg Jennings for a third-round pick? Erik Walden for a fifth-round pick? You betcha.

Terry from Fond du lac, WI

I recently saw a program on NFL Network regarding the Immaculate Reception, and I must say, I did not realize that play had all sorts of conspiracy theories. I just wonder what today's instant replay would show and how it would be called.

Replay would not have reversed the call. It would've remained a touchdown. The only issue is which player touched the ball first and replay does not conclusively decide that issue. I saw the play in real time. I followed the ball into Franco Harris' hands. Whether he caught it without the ball hitting the ground was never an issue until years later when someone decided that since replay didn't show the catch, they'd add that to the controversy. It's a fun event.

Scott from Delafield, WI

Vic, I am a winsome Packers fan who has sent you several good questions in the past, which you have chosen not to answer, and now I am unable to get your column on my computer. Have I been unknowingly banned?

Yesterday, everybody was banned.


QB Terrelle Pryor

Jack from Charlotte, NC

What are the chances the Packers grab Terrelle Pryor?

I don't know what the chances are but if Pryor is to be released by the Raiders, I would favor it. I'd like to see this team add a run-around quarterback to Mike McCarthy's playbook. I think Coach McCarthy would enjoy having that kind of special-edition player, and I think Coach McCarthy would seriously enjoy trying to develop Pryor's talents more fully.

J.Q. from Salem, OR

Vic, who, in your opinion, is the best player in the draft?

Jadeveon Clowney fits my profile of a first overall pick. He looks the part. He's got the college pedigree and all of the measurables you want in a first overall pick. He plays a premium position and he offers the potential to be used in many roles. A lot of the draftniks are saying Khalil Mack also fits the profile. I don't see a quarterback in this draft that's worthy of the top pick. I wasn't crazy with what I saw of Clowney last season, but I still think he's the No. 1 guy in this draft.

Tim from Rosario, Argentina

Vic, the Packers stand at 33 total compensatory picks since comp picks began in 1994. That is the second-most behind Baltimore at 41. Seeing those additional 33 comp picks makes me like draft-and-develop even more.

It's the best way and every team in the league knows it. Enforcing it is the issue. Do you have the resolve to discipline yourself and your program to resist the temptation of the quick fix in free agency? Does your ownership have the patience to commit the time it takes to make draft-and-develop work? Can you keep the wolves away from your door? If you can answer yes to those questions, you will one day be very happy you did.

Ben from Chicago, IL

Vic, does Ted Thompson adjust a player's draft grade based on his estimate of other teams' grades for that player?

You don't change your grade but you must be aware of where the player fits in the big picture of the draft. That's why teams try to mock the draft. They want to know where a prospect fits so they don't take him higher than necessary. That's why there's so much stealth when it comes to draft information. You might think a guy has first-round talent, but why take him in the first round if you can get him in the second?

Rambo from Dayton, OH

If safety is such a big deal, why not just play flag football? There is always the risk of someone falling and hurting themselves, but you can't make a travesty of the game, right?

You can't let it die, either. Youth participation in football is declining. It's a major issue. Why is it declining? It's declining because mothers don't want their sons to play a game that could result in a life-long head injury. That fear exists now as a result of the new concussion-awareness problems. The league is deeply involved in a "Play 60" campaign that's intended to help popularize the game among young fans, and with their mothers, too. The game is changing. The game must change for it to grow.

Chester from Naples, FL

Vic, a sweater in Orlando? I left my sweaters in Wisconsin when I moved.

Florida is very proud of its air-conditioning.

Robb from Juneau, AK

Do I have this right? Part of Ted Thompson's draft strategy, in particular collecting compensatory picks, may be why he lets some quality players leave in free agency, especially since losing players calculates into determining how many extra picks the teams gets.

You got it. The salary cap/free agency system is sheer genius. It is an amazing combination of concepts that massage each other to create a strategy for sound football management. If you use that combination efficiently and effectively, it'll reward you. It'll keep your roster young and affordable. You don't have to be a genius. The system is the genius. Just execute the system. That's what Ted Thompson does. He executes the system by maximizing its rewards. To do that, however, you have to be willing to let players leave, and you have to be confident in your ability to replace them.

Scott from Lincoln City, OR

Vic, I really liked your explanation of why you are against the raising-the-uprights proposal, but you've also had some high praise for Belichick in the past. Doesn't tampering with the opponent's sideline communications system and displaying the wrong down on the scoreboard detract from him being considered one of the best coaches ever?

Yeah, it does. I wish those little things weren't in his resume because I think he is an absolutely fantastic football coach. He's a defensive genius; that's for starters. He's also the first coach to fully understand the new field position game, which is to say fewer punts and more fourth-down go-for-its. His ability to patch holes in his team with castoffs and marginal players might be the most impressive thing in his resume, and he does it every year. Bill Belichick might be the best pure coaching talent in the game since Vince Lombardi, but he lacks Lombardi-like reverence and esteem as a result of the dirty tricks and a body language that isn't consistent with a man of his position and place. I can't imagine hiring a better coach, but he's a guy I probably wouldn't hire because his style wouldn't fit the image I'd want my team to project. Maybe he's the embodiment of the modern-day coach. Maybe that's the kind of guy it takes to win in today's game. Maybe I'm stuck in the past. I've considered those possibilities.

Tom from Belgium, WI


Roger Goodell

Goodell is making too many changes. Now he wants a team in Europe. He should be fired. He's an idiot. What do you think?

I think I hate the casual use of the word idiot. I think that's the thing I dislike the most about the Internet. I think you should give strong consideration to being more respectful in how you speak of others. Otherwise, I think Roger Goodell is the most proactive commissioner in professional sports. He's initiating real change, scary change, alarming change. He's accepted the risk of being known as the man who ruined football, for the chance to be known as the man who saved the game. Which will it be? Time will tell.

Tyler from Cedar Falls, IA

What would you do if you were in Finley's shoes?

Knowing what I know about neck fusions, after having lived with one for 15 years, I would retire.

Nick from White Bear Township, MN

Why do you think the Packers felt Peppers would be a better fit than Jared Allen?

I think the answer is obvious: The Packers believed Julius Peppers was a better acquisition for their needs. Why did they feel that way? I think one of the reasons is that Peppers allows Dom Capers a lot of creativity. I think Peppers offers the potential to be a better player in space. I see Peppers dropping into coverage; I don't see Allen in that role. I think Peppers is going to resurrect the zone blitz for which Capers is famous. I think that in his many roles, Peppers is going to be fun to watch. Coach McCarthy gave us a preview on Tuesday of what we might see next fall.

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