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Tonight's game a landmark event


Robert from Sterling, VA

When the Packers take the field tonight, will you be looking to see anything in particular from the first teams, even though they won't play much?

I'd like to see the defense get a sack, not miss a tackle, but my true interest in tonight's game will begin when the starters leave the field and the second units take over. The first and last games of the preseason are about the backups. Those games are about your depth and your future.

Andrew from Whitewater, WI

Since you like sled stories, Vic, I wanted to tell you we ran over our line coach, who was standing on the sled, after he fell backwards off it. He got up limping and yelling, "Now that's how you hit a sled!"

Pride cometh after a fall.

Lance from Scappoose, OR

What's your favorite memory about a preseason game?

It's from a game in Barcelona I covered in 1993; actually it's from one of the combined practices leading up to the game. In fact, Packers coaches Dom Capers, Kevin Greene and Darren Perry will remember this one because they were part of it. The Steelers' and 49ers' respective offenses and defenses were scrimmaging against each other on adjacent fields. The Steelers were checking the ball down too much for Tim McDonald's tastes, so he decided to express his dissatisfaction by laying into some poor kid. On the adjacent field, Rod Woodson, Carnell Lake, Greg Lloyd, Levon Kirkland, Greene, Perry and company heard the whack, and their eyes immediately turned to the kid on the ground and McDonald standing over him. I knew right away what that meant. I think it was two plays later. It might've been Perry who hit the rookie 49ers receiver coming over the middle. At that point, Bill Cowher and George Seifert jointly announced to their teams, "That's enough of that." I liked it a lot. It wrote well.

Josh from Vermillion, SD

I recently made a bet with a friend that the Packers would finish higher in the playoff standings than the Bears this year. I don't disagree that the Bears could have a good team, but he seems to think they have the more complete team. I think we have a better offense and defense, but the Bears take special teams with Devin Hester. What do you think?

Not now, please. There'll be plenty of time for this later. It's the preseason. You know what I mean?

Kory from Juneau, AK

Hey, Vic, before my freshman year of high school, I got a severe sunburn that made me dizzy and sick at a light touch, but I didn't say a word to my coaches, even though tackling drills almost killed me. I knew that if I didn't practice, I wouldn't play, and the reason didn't matter. Should I have sat out that year instead?

No, you did the right thing. It's a tough game for tough guys, and for tough girls, too.

Scott from Norton Shores, MI

In 2011, there were nine kickoff returns for a touchdown and no player had more than one. In 2010, there were 22 kickoff returns for a touchdown, with five players having more than one. What is your opinion of this one year into the experiment? Did it actually help cut down the number of injuries?

Thanks for that information; it's enlightening. The NFL offered information after the season that supported the notion that reducing kickoff returns would reduce injuries. According to the NFL's information, the reduction of injuries was significant. According to your information, the reduction of action and entertainment was also significant. Sacrifices have to be made to make the game safer.

Michael from Clovis, NM

Vic, I read an interesting article about Justin Tuck from the Giants finding Clay Matthews' comments on the divisional playoff game last year "depressing." Clay said the Packers beat themselves. I know this is all opinionated and I give credit to the Giants, they are the champions, but the Packers just weren't themselves that game. I believe they beat themselves, to an extent; they fumbled the ball, the offensive line wasn't very sharp. They just seemed like they were in a slump. I would love to hear your thoughts on Clay's comments.

Proud players should feel that way. One of my all-time favorite players, Fred Taylor, refused to admit the Titans were a better team than the Jaguars, even after the Titans beat the Jaguars for the third time in the 1999 season and for the second time in Jacksonville that season. Fred was criticized for his remarks sounding like sour grapes, but I had no problem with what he said because he honestly believed what he was saying and I was glad he shared it with the media. I don't want to hear players say what they think they should say, I want to hear them say what they believe to be the truth. I thank Clay for telling us what he believes to be the truth, and I thank him for the conference-call question that is guaranteed to be asked of Justin Tuck the week of the Packers-Giants game this year. Hey, if you're afraid to talk, how are you going to find the courage to play a game as demanding as football. The Giants didn't hold back the week of the playoff game. They let everyone know they believed they were the hot team.

Daniel from Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

Mr. Goodell said football is very close to being an Olympic game. If it happens, do you see any chance for non-Americans to win a gold medal?

How long did it take the United States to lose an Olympic basketball game? Same thing. What's important to note about the commissioner's opinion that American-style football should be an Olympic sport is that I believe he was reaffirming his desire to take the game overseas. He was promoting the advancement of American-style football to the international level. If it ever happens that American-style football becomes an Olympic sport, look out.

Shawn from Madison, WI

Will the Packers send scouts to watch other teams' preseason games?

Ted Thompson would regard the answer to your question as being proprietary information, but I think I can say without reservation that the Packers will scout other teams' preseason games. I'm sure they'll scout the 49ers, Bears, Seahawks and Saints in the preseason, since they'll be doing advance scouting work on those teams for the Packers' opening-month-of-the-season games against them. The scouts attending those games will also look at players who might be potential cuts, on both teams. Why not? The more information, the better. You might find somebody you like and want to sign him to your practice squad, or maybe you'll need a guy at a position where you've sustained injuries. Even a dyed-in-the-wool draft-and-develop team such as the Packers doesn't dare allow itself to become so enamored with itself that it doesn't consider the possibility that somebody else might have good players, too. Never stop scouting. The search for talent must be endless.

Shawn from Madison, WI

What do you think of having only three preseason games, making the fourth preseason game a regular practice? I also think starting training camp a week earlier, allowing two days off a week instead of one, would help keep the players fresher. I think it's crazy they have their first preseason game three days after they finished installing their playbook.

You'd never be able to sell that earlier start to the players in a new CBA; at the least, it would cost too much money to get it. As for reducing the preseason games by one, you would effectively sacrifice the equivalent of one game worth of revenue, and that's not going to happen, either. I've decided there's nothing wrong with the preseason the way it is. Some years ago, I was of the absolute opposite opinion. I supported a potential move to 18 regular-season games and a reduction of two preseason games. I thought four were too many and it bothered me that preseason games were being played too casually. Why have I changed my opinion? Because the game has changed. The player-safety movement has softened the game and I think we're more accepting of that fact. The big shift to the passing game is also a factor in having changed my opinion, because the passing game allows football to be played a little more casually without reducing the entertainment value. Hey, it's Aug. 9 and we're going to watch a football game tonight. What's so bad about that? An artist needs dark to show light, and the preseason offers a contrast that heightens the excitement for the start of the regular season. The preseason is a good drum roll.

Paul from Ossian, IN

Vic, reading about how young players push veterans to make them better reminded me of a sound bite from Brett Favre that I found very interesting. Brett said the most impressive aspect of his consecutive-games streak was not that he could physically play every week for 16 years, but that he could play at a high enough level to hold off the young guys eager to take his job.

He's absolutely right, but I'll take it up a notch. Favre played the majority of his career in the salary cap era, a period in NFL history when veteran players have achieved a degree of insulation from competition for their jobs, by virtue of their cap hit. Hey, you can't cut a guy if his acceleration would put you over the cap, right? Now think about the days when there was no cap. Think about the days when teams could cut players who were injured and not have to settle with them financially. Think about a league of 26 teams, a weak players union, unlimited training camp roster size and a 40-man regular-season roster. Think about that kind of competition, which is to say more players competing for fewer roster spots. Football has always been a king-of-the-hill game and I hope it never changes. The best player is a hungry player.

Don from Rockford, IL

So before I proposed to my fiancé, I bought stock jointly in the Packers. It was filed under my name and her soon-to-be name so she'd have to marry me in order to be an NFL co-owner. She still claims she said yes "because New Year's Eve in New York is magic," but I think we both know the real reason. Our wedding is set for the Packers' bye week. Am I lucky or what?

Excellent strategy. She must be of fine stock herself. I would remind you, however, that should something unforeseen happen to you, she would become the sole owner of that share of stock in the Packers, if you know what I mean.

Jim from Pickerington, OH

I saw in a recent answer that you said B.J. Raji has been impressive in training camp. What's the big difference you've seen since last year, as he pretty much disappeared during the regular season.

He's quicker. I don't know how he did it but he did it. He's not slimmer, but he sure is quicker.

Donnie from Fairfax, VA

Hi, Vic, I thought you might be interested to learn that Toad Suck, Arkansas, has been voted the "most unfortunate" town name in America.

I had a big following in Toad Suck, but I lost it when Matt Jones got cut. Good town, Toad Suck. I was thinking about retiring there.

Mason from McFarland, WI

What are your thoughts on tonight's game being the first one a woman has officiated in the NFL?

I think it makes tonight's game a landmark event in football history, and I'll be proud to say I covered it. I'll give my opinion on that and more tonight in my in-game blog on Please join me. The blog will begin at 5 p.m. CDT.

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