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What is the importance of OTAs?


Andrew from Plover, WI

I don't understand why you're picking on NASCAR now. It is sponsored by more Fortune 500 companies than any other sport. Besides, on average, each race has almost 100,000 fans in attendance.

All I had to do is mention it and here they come. Did you know that 10 million people in Charlotte watch NASCAR 24 hours a day?

Andy from Green Bay, WI

I like how Drew Brees was praised by so many last year for leading team workouts during the offseason, where this year he is skipping out on the team's OTAs because of contract issues. Shows the true power of the business.

Yes, it does. It also shows how quickly the other side of voluntary is employed when a player's team merely does what the player's union agreed to allow teams to do. I never bought into that whole players-only workouts thing during the lockout, and I'm glad I didn't because I suffered no illusions.

Bryce from Spokane, WA

Is it possible for a player who suffered a career-ending injury to still be inducted into the Hall of Fame? What might be the cut-off as far as how late in his career the player suffered the injury?

A player doesn't have to pass a physical for induction into the Hall of Fame. All he has to do is to have played long enough and well enough to be worthy of election. I started going back through the great players I've covered, and I can honestly say the majority of those players' careers were ended by a singular injury that either caused them to be unable to play or cost them their effectiveness: Joe Greene (neck), Jack Ham (ankle), Jack Lambert (toe), Terry Bradshaw (elbow), Tony Boselli (shoulder). Boselli is an example of a cut-off point. His career ended three games into his seventh season. He's the best offensive tackle I've ever covered and he was the best offensive tackle in the league in the late-'90s, but among modern-era offensive linemen in the Hall of Fame, nobody played fewer than eight seasons, and most played more than 10 seasons.

Brian from Ames, IA

In the history of the organization, have the Packers ever been part of relocation rumors like the Vikings, Rams and Jaguars have been?

The Internet has taken rumor reporting to previously unforeseen heights, and there was no Internet when the Packers were the subject of relocation talk, so those rumors are not to be compared to what the Vikings, Rams and Jaguars have experienced. The year was 1949 and Curly Lambeau was attempting to assemble an ownership group that would buy the Packers and move them to Los Angeles. Obviously, Lambeau failed in his attempt and resigned his job as the team's first and only coach.

Jason from Summerville, SC

Can a player decline to be on the cover of the Madden game?

He can request not to be featured on the game's cover, but Madden isn't required to honor the request since it purchased a licensing-rights agreement from the league.

Dave from Eau Claire, WI

Young man's game? How much can experience and savvy compensate for old and slow?

It can do that, briefly.

Corey from Lake Charles, LA

I was reading an article on and I had a few questions about it. The article was about Donald Driver and his future with the Packers. One quote from his agent suggested that he might restructure his contract to extend to until he's 40 and, if needed, to pay himself less so he could stay with the Packers. Is this uncommon? How do you feel about this?

It's common for older players to restructure their contracts to fit their changing role. I'm fine with it; I think it's a way of extending a player's career. Ultimately, however, it comes down to the player's ability to win a roster spot and provide a specific niche for himself. You can't negotiate your way onto the team. You can only play your way onto it.

Jim from Redfield, SD

You said Noll-Bradshaw had a good working relationship. From what I've heard and read from Bradshaw, their relationship was very rocky. Bradshaw makes it sound like the two of them haven't talked since he retired. Does that sound like a good working relationship?

It worked well enough to win more Super Bowls than any other quarterback-coach combination has won. Otto Graham and Paul Brown won seven titles together, yet, in an interview I did with Graham a few years before he died, he told me the story of how angry he was at Brown once when Brown pulled Graham from the game and then, while standing along the sideline, Brown spoke loudly enough for Graham to hear Brown say to an assistant coach that maybe the new quarterback would have the guts to stand in the pocket. Roger Staubach was so angry at Tom Landry that Staubach asked to be traded. The relationship between Dan Reeves and John Elway was very tense. Didn't Bart Starr have angry words with Lombardi early in Starr's career, telling Lombardi to never belittle him again in front of his teammates? I'm not sure what you're looking for here, wins or hugs. I don't judge quarterback-coach relationships on their affection for each other; I judge them on the titles they've won.

Ryan from San Antonio, TX

Hey, Vic, you seem like a bit of a narcissist. So when you go to the grocery store, which is it, KETCH-up or CATS-up?

I don't do a lot of food shopping.

Gil from Atlantic Beach, FL

Vic, what is the penalty for a member of the punting team either running into a punted ball, or having the ball hit him prior to the ball being touched by a member of the punt return team?

"First touching is a violation, and the receivers shall have the option of taking possession of the ball at the spot of first touching, provided no penalty is accepted on the play, or at the spot where the ball is dead."

Ryan from De Pere, WI

After being ranked the worst defense this past season, what are coaches emphasizing the most to get the defense back on track?

Right now, they're emphasizing that players learn the playbook and sharpen their skills. As we move forward toward the start of the season, I think the emphasis will be to get more speed onto the field. Maybe that's already begun.

Phil from Ardmore, OK

Aside from charity and fundraisers, what have you witnessed or heard a player or coach do that you will never forget?

Tom Coughlin required his players to do three "good things," meaning acts of charity, hospital visits, community service, etc., and he kept score. If it was late in the season and you were behind in your "good things," you got a message to see the coach.

Trevor from Green Bay, WI

Vic, I know there have been rumblings in the past about shortening the preseason games because of injuries and possibly adding games to the regular season. Do you foresee any more conversation about this even with the new CBA in place?

The players were adamant in their resistance to an 18-game regular season, to the point of making it a central issue in last summer's CBA negotiations. I have sensed no weakening on that subject. The owners aren't going to shorten the preseason without lengthening the regular season, because to do that would be to sacrifice revenue.

Chris from Appleton, WI

Vic, people often mention that they see little importance in OTAs as it relates to production on the field and Aaron Rodgers mocked it last offseason. Why do we hear the coaches then speak of how vital it is and about how some players were behind due to a lack of an offseason? McCarthy seems to put a lot of stock in it, especially in his quarterback school. So what is the most important part of the offseason and which position groups benefit the most?

OTAs are important if you want to get to the back of your playbook for the start of the season, and all coaches want to do that. Last season proved, however, that coaches can put a quality product on the field without getting to the back of their playbooks right away. OTAs are also good for teaching technique: quarterback mechanics, receiver's catching skills, the placement of hands by offensive linemen, ball security by running backs, etc. All of these things are good, but it's a different game when the pads go on. Scouts like to talk about evaluating players based on "padded exposures." The way training camp has been softened, I'm not even sure "padded exposures" are good enough for evaluating talent. The preseason has never been more important.

Zach from Green Bay, WI

Brett Favre was the gunslinger of the NFL. What kind of QB is Aaron Rodgers right now?

He's the MVP of the NFL.

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