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Tough being good at something you can't practice

"Hail Mary" in Detroit biggest play I didn’t see


Nick from Seattle, WA

Vic, does the defense have all the pieces to become elite this season?

I believe it does.

Bill from Grandville, MI

Football is a tough game played by tough men. I hope we don't run out of tough men.

Hard times always provide an ample supply of tough guys and, unfortunately, we never run out of hard times.

Nathan from Morton, IL

"Vic, with all this college talk, what are your thoughts on the NCAA as a governing body? It's done a fantastic job with basketball." Just want to say thank you for your response above. Had a minute of out-loud laughter at my desk. Thank you for being you!

The greatest sports failure in my lifetime might be the NCAA's failure to author a legitimate major college football playoffs system. If the NCAA had succeeded, its power wouldn't have been usurped by the power five conferences. The playoff system we have now is a start, but it's far from good enough.

Bob from Kennesaw, GA

"The uniform craze is just beginning in the NFL." I hope not. I don't mind once in a blue moon, but more often would be a turn off. A team's uniform is its brand. Personally, I connect with the uniform as much as I do the players.

I feel the same way about maintaining identity in the uniform you wear, but the Cowboys went through a uniform craze a few years ago when they went stars crazy and even changed their uniform colors from blue and silver to blue and white. What did it do to their brand? If anything, it grew it. The logo is a team's brand, and the Cowboys' star is one of the best brands in all of sports. So is the Packers' G. Never worry about the Packers' brand. The G will live forever.

Benjamin from Bear, DE

Vic, in your opinion, does resting your most valuable veterans like Jordy Nelson in an attempt to stay healthy out-weigh the risk of not having your team ready for opening day and not getting off to the fast start Coach McCarthy talks about?

Let me put it this way: The reward may not justify the risk of losing those players to injury. I'm big on fast finishes.

Clay Matthews started all 16 games and recorded 49 solo tackles and 6.5 sacks during the 2015 season. Photos by Shawn Hubbard, Jim Biever, Matt Becker,

Taj from Central Coast, Australia

The NFL is definitely growing worldwide. Are there any international players you remember having a profound impact on you or a team?

I remember having covered good players who were born abroad, but I can't think of any who learned to play the game abroad. I think that's about to change.

Steve from Milwaukee, WI

Vic, as we pass through the dark side of the football year, has your inbox become more manageable?

My inbox is seeking conversation at a sedate time of the year. It's giving great effort to create topics. I think it's even gone so far as to intentionally overreact to the color-rush scare. I like this time of the year because it challenges the reader to think deeper. It's nice opening my inbox and not immediately reading 10 questions about play-calling.

Lawrence from Onalaska, WI

Vic, what is your opinion on the word overachiever? The way I see it, there is no such thing as overachieving. You either achieve or you don't. The best players achieve/succeed at their jobs the most often. In my opinion, calling someone an overachiever is a pejorative, as you're implying he wasn't expected to be so good. What do you think?

That's pretty deep. Allow me to simplify: Either Tom Brady has overachieved, or the scouts that graded his worth to be that of a sixth-round pick grossly underachieved. Take your pick. It has to be one or the other.

Marc from Hartford, VT

Vic, they won't accept reasonable things with their minds but the fantastic things they'll swallow whole when their emotions are brought into play, because the emotions have no limits on belief. The emotions will swallow anything and they do.

We think with our hearts. We use our minds to wear hats.

Joe from Bloomington, IN

My wife read "Ask Vic," looked at me gravely and told me I can keep reading it if it doesn't arrest my growth.

I hope she doesn't get cross with you when you get grass stains on the knees of your khakis.

Dave from Hartford, WI

How often are draft picks released/unable to make the team?

In today's seven-round draft, not often. In the days of 17 rounds and unlimited training camp rosters, as it was when I began covering the NFL, cuts started coming during the first week of training camp. The training camp regimen represents the greatest change in the league in the years I've covered it. When I started doing this, training camp was nine weeks long. It was full-pads, two-a-days every day, and the hitting was ferocious, especially in nine-on-sevens that seemed to go on forever. Unlimited roster sizes, punctuated by a 17-round draft, allowed that kind of physical training camp. With only 26 teams in the league, nearly 4,000 players in camps leaguewide and the final roster size at 40, competition was beyond anything we could imagine today. I can remember the Steelers cutting a third-round pick.

Ramon from Paramount, CA

Genius by the NFL to make every team wear the color rush uniform. If only one million people like it, you just sold one million extra jerseys.

I think it's about more than jersey sales. I think it was an idea born of wanting to give TV some Thursday night hype. View it any way you please, but the bottom line is my inbox is bulging with color-rush questions, which include yours. If hype was the intent, the NFL hit a home run.

Zachary from Mayville, WI

Vic, what was the biggest play you ever saw?

The Immaculate Reception. How about the biggest play I didn't see? It's the "Hail Mary" in Detroit last season. I was in the interview room when that play happened. The TV monitor we were watching was painfully delayed. I remember hearing the crowd go silent, which meant the ball was in the air, and then hearing a groan. I said, "They scored!" The other people in the room looked at me. Someone said, "No way." Then we saw the replay. It was a special moment in my career. I'll never forget it.

Steve from West Des Moines, IA

Vic, strong teams have to cut good players every year, but if a handful of the young offensive line group show they belong on the 53, does Ted Thompson keep them all knowing he has four UFAs in 2017?

Of course. He'll find a way to keep talent.

Nic from Minneapolis, MN

Are you enacting some sort of elaborate social satire through your column? Sometimes you say things that are so brash and make you sound so self-important, and other times you speak with a profundity that seems to reflect a self-effacing, humble nature. Are you just constantly messing with us?


Dave from Savage, MN

One area the Packers need to get better at is short yardage. More than losing possession of the ball, there is a mental and physical toughness issue. Whether they spread them out or load up, it just never seems to work. Any chance they try to load up on the line with the young offensive linemen instead of the ballast-challenged tight ends?

All teams are experiencing short-yardage difficulties, and I'll tell you why it's happening: They can't practice it. I agree, short yardage is about toughness. How do you develop toughness without practicing it?

George from Oshkosh, WI

Supposedly, Harvard has a fourth quarter student body cheer: "That's all right, that's OK. You'll be working for us someday."

Yeah, every brain academy that's above winning has that cheer. I guess it makes them feel better as their team is being plowed into the dirt. If I was the president of Harvard, provided I had such broad powers, I'd join the SEC (any conference would love to have Harvard's TV market and endowment), hire Nick Saban and prove to the football world something Chuck Noll said a long time ago: Geography has nothing to do with winning. Actually, Chuck said geography has nothing to do with losing, but you get the point. It's about commitment. Do you want to win or not?

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