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What's football without violence?

Bigger staffs have made the game better


Lucas from Shepherd, MT

Vic, I am very unconcerned, you could say, about who's going to be calling the plays, who we draft and whatever else happens. Not because I don't care. It's just that I have more than enough faith in what the Packers decide to do. So the offseason for me is a time to relax and just merely keep an eye on things and hope my most liked players (and the best) stay. Am I too relaxed?

I think the draft process is a must-watch event, even for the most casual fan. For the hardcore fan, the start of free agency, which includes how teams shape their salary cap by the use of the tags and contract restructuring, is mandatory. If you don't know the cap, you're not a hardcore fan.

Larry from Stevensville, MT

If they had to block with 1966 rules and no lifting weights or nutrition supplements, they would not be bigger or faster, would they?

Today's players are bigger because the style of today's game demands that they be bigger. This isn't a hips and shoulders game anymore. This is a hands and feet game. Dip and drive has been replaced by stand and slide. Today's offensive linemen wall off; that's why they need to be bigger. Today's offensive linemen don't move defenders as much as they occupy defenders. If the 1966 game was played as it's played today, Jerry Kramer would've been a linebacker and his position on the offensive line would've been manned by a bigger man; they would've found those guys. Rosey Grier and Big Daddy Lipscomb were big guys. I don't know why we persist in this disrespect toward the teams of yesteryear. The demands of the game prior to the rules changes of 1978 make it impossible to compare the eras. Kramer blocked with his forearms; he wasn't allowed to use his hands. Could today's offensive linemen have blocked that way?

Ryan from Menomonie, WI

Is it possible to celebrate the player without celebrating the man?

If it's plays, not players, yes, it's possible to celebrate neither. That's why, for the good of the game, it has to be players, not plays. The player and the man he is are at the epicenter of pro football's success.

Bill from Raleigh, NC

Vic, I'm not quite old enough to have watched Gale Sayers. What made him a great back? Is there anybody since then that reminds you of him?

Sayers could get through a hole faster than anybody I can remember, except for Tony Dorsett. Those two guys could go from zero to gone faster than any running backs I've had the pleasure of watching, and I am a connoisseur of fine running backs.

Greyson from Peterson, MN

Vic, I just read the Seahawks are willing to pay Lynch upwards of $10 million if he plays next year. They have also said they will be making Russell Wilson the highest paid quarterback in the league next year. With the other contracts they have recently given out, especially in free agency, how are they able to do this?

You can push out a lot of money for a long time, but eventually the bill will come due. It's all a matter of how deep you want to dig the hole and how long you want to stay in it.

James from New York, NY

I get the Packers, Steelers and Cowboys, but can you explain what puts the Giants on your Mt. Rushmore?

If Wellington Mara hadn't campaigned to pool the revenue, there'd be no Packers, and the small-market franchises would be little more than punching bags for the big boys.



]( from Roswell, GA

At what point do additions to coaching staffs become excessive? Do the players really require so much specialization?

The explosion in the size of coaching staffs has made the game better. It is, yet, another reason the eras shouldn't be compared. In the Lombardi era, most staffs had seven coaches. Now, we're pushing toward 30. I would favor a cap on the size of coaching staffs.

Doug from Unity, NH

I'll bet you get more than one "Who's Raymond Berry?" in your inbox. Shameful.

Often, those that initiate the bigger, stronger, faster debate aren't old enough to have witnessed the game that made today's game popular. What those people fail to understand is the Packers Sweep, for example, is why defense has evolved the way it has. Gap-control technique was created to stop the Packers Sweep, Student Body Right, etc. Without the past, the present wouldn't be what it is. Why can't we leave it at that?

Nick from Duluth, MN

My money is on the 1966 Packers, they had the man (Starr), the leader of the men (Lombardi), and the crusher of men (Nitchske). I'll take that combination anywhere, anytime, any generation.

The '66 Packers would have to tear out pages in their playbook. Forget about running the Packers Sweep, for example. On the flip side, the '66 Packers had a secondary that could match up against any passing game in any era.

Ray from Jacksonville, FL

I enjoyed your column while you were in Jacksonville. I got on the Packers website and read your columns dating back to the Super Bowl. It brought back good memories.

Football is football on any team in any town. If you want to truly enjoy the game, know all teams.

Brian from Maple Grove, MN

The game has changed in not only rules favoring the offense, but also in the number of games played, gloves, etc. Given this, do records mean anything anymore?

Records are meaningless unless they transcend the ages. Few of them do.

Bram from Colorado Springs, CO

Vic, Ed Sabol romanticized football often by showing the violent nature of the game. How will today's game, focused on safety, be romanticized by the media? All of the acrobatic catches?

That's it. Football isn't selling violence as aggressively as it once did. The game's popularity was built on the celebration of violence. Can it sustain its popularity without celebrating violence? I'm not sure of the answer.

Dick from Wascott, WI

You have said the draft is at the heart of the Packers' success; that if they draft well, they'll win; if they don't draft well, they'll lose; and that what does it tell you that the Packers are winning? This is what it tells me: If it were not for, first, Brett Favre and now Aaron Rodgers, the Packers would be nothing more than a middle of the road team. I don't think you know very much about football after all these years.

You haven't seen me write that you have to have "The Man"? Would the Patriots have won the Super Bowl without Tom Brady? It's a quarterback-driven league. If you don't have one, you've got no shot.

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