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Training camp will give us new hope

It’s time for an offseason theme


Shehan from Los Angeles, CA

I'm an accountant and I rarely hear the word amortization outside of my normal course of business. Why, then, am I an outsider when it comes to the structuring of player contracts?

Amortization is a salary cap term and there aren't a lot of businesses in the outside world that include a salary cap.

Dave from Lake Zurich, IL

Would Bo Jackson and Earl Campbell be in your top 10 running backs? Someone once said these are the only players in football history who could've gone directly from high school to the NFL.

Campbell, yes; Jackson, no. The Hall of Fame isn't a talent scouting organization. It ranks performance, not promise. Jackson only rushed for 2,782 career yards. Do you want a separate wing for Jackson, Willie Galimore and Ernie Davis? By the way, Cookie Gilchrist signed with the Cleveland Browns right out of high school.

Randy from Green Bay, WI

Vic, is it safe to say the only reason Emmitt Smith is the all-time leading rusher is because of the mountain of men that set the line for him? What if he ran behind other blockers; would he still be as good? What if Barry Sanders ran behind that line? He would have been unstoppable.

Packers fans possess a natural dislike of all things Dallas, especially from the Emmitt Smith, Troy Aikman era? Gee, I wonder why. It's silly and probably makes Cowboys fans chuckle when they read examples of it. Emmitt Smith might be the most underrated player in NFL history.

Jerry from Wilmington, NC

Vic, what do you mean when you say Emmitt Smith ran behind his pads?

It's an old-school way for saying he initiated contact. That's what all good backs did. They initiated contact; they delivered the blow. Now we have a rule that forbids them from doing that. Of all the new player-safety rules, that's the one that frosted me the most. It literally tore the football heart out of me, as the idea of the big, pounding back doing to defenders what defenders were trying to do to him has always been my symbol of football's greatest confrontation. "He'll drop his pads on you," an old scout friend of mine would say. Right away, I knew the back he was describing was a hard runner.

Louis from Coral Springs, FL

Vic, when is it ever enough? Ask Yankees fans if 26 titles are enough. Ask Celtics fans if 17 titles are enough. Packers, Alabama and you know you wouldn't turn down a chance for the Steelers to take home Lombardi trophy No. 7. How about someone who just made their first billion and immediately goes after the next billion? The simple truth is it will never be enough. It must be human nature.

Human nature to be doomed to disappointment? I don't have that in my nature.

Eric from St. Louis, MO

I saw the Packers posted record profits. Who or what benefits from these profits?

The future of the Green Bay Packers is the beneficiary.

Paul from Bloomington, IN

If some teams are more profitable than others, can they spend more on players than other less-profitable teams? If not, what's the advantage of being more profitable?

They can spend more on coaches, facilities, the fans' gameday experience, color rush uniforms, team website columnists, etc. In the Packers' case, they can spend more on the expansion of their business footprint, which is a way of saying they can grow their business and their brand. If you love the Packers, reports of financial success are good.

Dave from Madison, WI

What was the culture around PEDs in the '70s? Were you aware of players using steroids or other PEDs? What did coaches think about PEDs?

Steroids were new and they were regarded to be a wonder drug for healing. Their use was not forbidden by the NFL and they were prescribed. It wasn't until the late '70s that we saw examples of their misuse. I'll never forget the training camp of 1977 and a rookie named Steve Courson. We just stared at him. We didn't understand. When Courson whipped Joe Greene in the camp-opening Oklahoma drill, Joe decided it was time he needed to become serious about weight training. He didn't understand, either. It was all new.

Mark from Stewartville, MN

Vic, what's your view of ex-NFL players who write books and articles critical of the very game they played?

Football is an edge game. Controversy has always grown the game because the fans who are attracted to it are as confrontational as the men who play it.

Max from Green Bay, WI

Vic, I wish you wouldn't dance around good questions with quotes from "The Natural." It takes little effort to type a decent response.

OK, he doesn't belong in the Hall of Fame. Feel better now?

Todd from Wauwatosa, WI

Dave from Madison may not be able to remember an Emmitt Smith highlight, but I can. His performance with a busted shoulder against the Giants is the most amazing performance I can recall by a player facing adversity by a physical injury in my 30 years of watching football. He ran over, around and through the Giants that day. What is the most amazing individual performance you've witnessed given the injury of the player?

It's by the players whose injuries were never revealed.

Braden from Brookfield, WI

What's your favorite thing about training camp? When does the excitement of the NFL season hit you?

It hits me in training camp, and that's the best thing about training camp, the anticipation it creates. It welcomes new players, new hope, new energy and new excitement. It's a time for rebirth.

Josh from Pullman, WA

The column this offseason has been very eventful and fun to read, but it seems to lack a theme or big-letters proclamation like we normally get. What would your offseason big-letters theme be, Vic?

Wait for it.

Mike from Fort Wayne, IN

When you have your "Ask Vic Day" at your house, should we bring something? Bottle of wine, lawn chairs?

Just bring some bug spray. I'm already making plans in my head. I'm going to have it catered by Bo's Po Pigs Bo-B-Q, and I'm going to also invite Gino the garter snake, Lizzy and Pierre the anoles, Skink and son of Skink, and all of my other outdoor friends, including Harry the dark fish spider. A good time will be had by all.

Kelly from Ellsworth, WI

I think Emmitt Smith is underrated and underappreciated by fans. After rushing for over 1,700 yards and a Super Bowl win in 1992, playing on a rookie contract, Emmitt held out to start the 1993 season. After starting the season 0-2, I believe the story goes that Charles Haley threw his helmet across the locker room, almost hitting Jerry Jones, and said something to the effect of we won't win another game until we get Emmitt back.  The Cowboys signed him that week and he went on to win the rushing title in 14 games, was named league MVP and Super Bowl MVP.

All he did was gain yards.

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