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Was Lombardi working on West Coast-like offense?


Joe from Charlotte, NC

Reports are the new CBA would give the players about 48 percent of revenues. Since all players have a contract that dictates how much each are paid, where does this proposed 48 percent go and how do the individual players benefit from it?

If a salary cap system is employed, the players' share would be distributed by the salary cap for each season, which is determined by revenue. The cap would equal the percentage of the league's gross revenue to which the owners and the players agreed, whatever that percentage is.

Jeff from Grandville, MI

I really do not see why Los Angeles is such a big deal to have a team in. Whenever there has been a team, the attendance has been dismal. Size of the market matters, but LA only supports a winner; see Lakers vs. Warriors, check out Dodgers attendance this year. Big market does not necessarily mean a good thing.

Big markets do mean lots of TV households, and that makes the TV networks very happy. There's a lot more that goes into the revenue mix than just ticket sales. Merchandise sales are a big part of NFL revenue, too. The numbers in LA are just too big to ignore. As I said in yesterday's column, you can't leave the nation's second-largest market vacant. How much revenue is lost from not having a team there? The situation in Los Angeles has never been conducive to growing and rooting a franchise, and the reason is that the city has never been willing to provide the facilities that other cities in the league have provided for their teams. The Coliseum? The last time I was there, the press box was condemned for being too dangerous for occupancy. Angels Stadium? It's possibly the most forgettable, flavorless stadium in which I have ever covered a football game. The Rose Bowl is a lovely place, but it's a long way out of town and in no way is it an NFL-caliber facility. Los Angeles is going to get another chance. This time, it would appear an NFL-caliber stadium or the plans for one will be in place before a team decides to make LA its home.

Scott from Mukwonago, WI

In my opinion, Mike McCarthy's only weakness is his time management at the end of games. What is your opinion of McCarthy's strengths and weaknesses?

I think he's a sensational coach who is shooting up the coaching ranks. He's one of the finest offensive minds in the game today and his leadership qualities are just now being acknowledged by the national media. He coached this franchise through a very controversial period and came out the other end with a Super Bowl championship. That's huge with me. By the way, I have never covered a coach that wasn't harshly criticized by his team's fans for his clock management. That includes Chuck Noll, Bill Cowher and Tom Coughlin, all of whom won Super Bowls. On the day after games, my inbox is flooded with e-mail from fans complaining about clock management. It's a real hot-button topic with fans; so is play-calling, of course.

Dwight from Athens, WI

I can understand why the league wants a team in Los Angeles but I can't understand why Los Angeles hasn't been able to keep a franchise once they have one. What's your take on that?

Los Angeles lost the Rams and the Raiders for the same reason: stadium free agency. LA wouldn't give the Rams and the Raiders want they wanted in the way of stadium upgrades, so the Rams moved to St. Louis, which promised to build the Rams a domed stadium, and the Raiders moved back to Oakland, which promised to renovate the stadium there to provide the premium seats the LA Coliseum didn't. If the Rams and Raiders had gotten the stadium improvements they wanted from Los Angeles, they would've never left LA.

Chris from Bayport, MN

Do you think it's fair to compare athletes across generations?

No, I don't, but it's fun to do. The big problem with comparing athletes and coaches of past eras to athletes and coaches of today is that we can't possibly know how they would've been different had they played or coached in today's game. Joe Greene might be the most perfect and natural football player I have ever covered. He was so quick and so naturally powerful that he didn't have to lift weights. Then, late in his career, he was matched up in an Oklahoma drill in training camp against a rookie lineman named Steve Courson, who was the first super-sized lineman I had ever seen. Courson whipped Joe in the Oklahoma and that's when Joe knew he had to get serious about conditioning if he was going to continue to play in this "new" NFL. So what would Greene have been like had he played in today's game? I guarantee he would've been a lot bigger and stronger. Here's another example, from a coaching standpoint. Vince Lombardi is famous for the precision of the "Packer Sweep." It was the cornerstone play of his ball-control offense. Well, in doing the interviews yesterday for the story on the play "Lombardi," Producer Tony Ponturo told me that Sonny Jurgensen said Lombardi was working on an offensive design similar to the "West Coast Offense," when Lombardi became ill. My point is this: When comparing players and coaches from the past to today's players and coaches, don't ever think the players and coaches of the past wouldn't have adapted to the demands of today's game. Dominant players and coaches would dominate in any era.

Rob from Oshkosh, WI

I know Commissioner Goodell wants to expand the league internationally, with particular interest in Canada and London. It seems to me like having a team in London would be somewhat impractical. I think it would really wear on a team to cross the Atlantic eight times a year, especially if they're going someplace like Seattle. What are your thoughts?

There's a lot of merit to what you're saying, but they said similar things when baseball and football expanded to the West Coast. The world is getting smaller. We continue to find new ways to bridge the distances.

Casey from Mountain View, WY

In end-of-the-game situations, do you think it is better to go for the win or kick an extra point/field goal to send the game into overtime?

Each situation is different. If I'm coaching a team that is depleted by injury, I might go for two. If I'm coaching a northern team that's playing in the Florida heat and doesn't appear to have much left in the tank, I might go for the win. In most cases, you'll play for overtime, but I'm not opposed to letting the outcome ride on one play, provided it has a reasonable expectation of success. Look at it this way: At that point, all you have to make is one more play to win the game. If you go into overtime, you'll have to make several more plays. Sometimes, the bold play is the right play, but when? That's the big question. When do you do the bold thing? Winning coaches have a feel for that. Obviously, Lombardi had a feel for it, right?

Randy from Medicine Hat, Alberta

If you were to compile a list of all-time great clutch quarterbacks, where would Joe Namath rank?

How good would Namath have been had he not sustained so many knee injuries? He had it all. I think he had the most beautiful throwing motion I have ever seen. Before the knee injuries happened, he was a sensational scrambler. He might've become the greatest quarterback of all-time, but the knee injuries and medical science's ignorance of how to deal with them back then ruined his career. Yes, he was a clutch quarterback, it's just that the prime of his career was too short for him to be compared to the best quarterbacks of all-time. I can think of another such quarterback: Greg Cook. He would've been one of the best of all-time, but he injured his arm and they didn't know how to treat it, and it ruined his career.

Dominic from Mukilteo, WA

Over Mike McCarthy's coaching career, I've noticed one odd stat. Every season of his career, the Packers alternate between winning more games than the previous season and losing more. Over the last five seasons, the Packers have gone 8-8, then 13-3, then 6-10, then 11-5, and this year, 10-6. Do you think there's a cause for this?

I think you're overdramatizing the situation. The only year in question is 2007, the 13-3 year. Throw that out and what you've got is incremental improvement. McCarthy and Ted Thompson inherited a team in need of rebuilding. It had a star quarterback who eased the Packers through the first few years of that rebuilding process, but the 13-3 record, in my opinion, is misleading because I don't think it's indicative of where the Packers were in their rebuilding project. The team I saw play in Jacksonville the following year needed a lot of help on defense. What you're getting now is a true read of where this team is. It's on back-to-back playoff seasons and last year's 10-6 record was achieved against one of the most demanding schedules in recent history.

Jeff from Fayetteville, NC

Here it is, the beginning of July. This is the time of year I am usually marking off the days on my calendar before the Packers get to training camp. Are we gonna have any football this fall?

All of the recent signs have been encouraging. Yes, I believe we're going to have a football season. What I'm wondering is how they're going to structure training camp and what they'll decide on roster exemptions to help give rookies a fair chance to make the team. It's Fourth of July weekend. Let's enjoy it and hope football is just around the corner.

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