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Why are fans just now getting it?


Ryan from San Diego, CA

I saw your post about the Internet and how it influenced your career and wanted to ask you whether you agreed with this statement: The Internet is the single-largest driving factor in football's transition to the modern pass-first offense.

Rules changes are the driving factor for the explosion of pass offense, and the rules changes are the result of the NFL's need to give the fans what they want, so, I would say the fans are the most important factor in the explosion of pass offense. I will agree with you that the Internet helped drive that explosion because it introduced a much greater audience to the NFL. The Internet delivered the "casual fan" in the largest numbers ever, and it is the "casual fan" that drives the success of the league.

Dennis from Indianapolis, IN

The Miami Heat apologized for their PA announcer saying Amare Stoudemire was "extinguished" from the game when he fouled out (he cut his hand punching a fire extinguisher case after the Game 2 loss, causing him to miss Game 3). Is everyone that oversensitive, or is it just pro sports?

We're bored. We need more issues in our lives. That's all it is. We're the kid in the neighborhood who always seemed to be looking for a fight. As soon as he showed up, all of the other kids immediately felt threatened and went into protection mode. We're angry and we look for ways to express it. If you doubt that statement, look at the proliferation of TV news channels. Most of them are anger-based.

Gil from Kenosha, WI

Bob from Tucson asked if you thought telecasts should show a larger field of view. Your answer seems so wrong. I'm wondering if you just were in a mood to stroke the party line: "If you want the coach's view, full-frame is the way to go. I want the entertainment view. I'll trust the analysts to tell me what the coverage is." Really, Vic? Are you spoiled because your seat is in a press box where you have a view of the whole field, are able to see the close-ups on TV and are informed by all of the analysts in the room? Many of us who suffer through the telecast feel differently. We want to be able to see the press coverage, the break on the ball that results in a defensed pass. Was the DB out of position because he hedged against a second (third, fourth, fifth) threat? Just how blanket is our primary CB? Why was our safety not in the picture? The decision to show no downfield DB/WR action until a pass has been thrown or the ball carrier is running through the secondary is ridiculous. We only find out if a video editor decides to give us a replay, or the announcer understood what was going on. Has some NFL Network pinhead decided the coaches' view is reserved for pay-per-view? There are still way too many poor NFL telecasts. One has to listen to the radio play-by-play to get excellent explanations and verbose descriptions of what's going on. The standard sideline entertainment view is …

Stop, please, I'm getting a headache. Gil, why are you so angry? It's free, baby. All you gotta do is buy a TV and pay the electric bill. The answer to your question is simple: TV shows the views it believes will help stimulate viewership. As I said, it's about the casual fan, and the casual fan wants to be entertained. The casual fan doesn't want to know if the defensive back is out of position because he hedged against a second, third, fourth or fifth threat? I don't even know what that means but I feel very strongly the casual fan doesn't want to know about it. How blanket is our primary cornerback? Are you trying out for the jockocracy? The reason the TV "pinheads" don't primarily show the coaches' view is because they don't want the telecasts' ratings to sink lower than soccer's. Gil, it's May. The sun is shining, the birds are chirping and there's love in the air. Feel the love, Gil.

Chris from Fort Worth, TX

How do expansion teams get players?

The most recent expansion team, the Houston Texans, got their players from a pool of players that were left unprotected by the league's other teams. That's the standard way for stocking a new team. The Texans' expansion draft, however, was unique in that the Texans had to assume the salary cap amortization of the players they drafted, which caused a lot of teams to use the Texans expansion draft pool as a dumping ground for players whose cap hits their teams wanted to extinguish from their caps.

Liz from Madison, WI

At rookie camp, there were undrafted free agents as well as tryout players. What's the difference?

The undrafted players had already been signed to a contract. The tryout players were trying to get a contract.

Kylon from Ipan Talofofo, Guam

Vic, what's your take on women's football? I know it's not nearly as big participation-wise compared to men's, but I think you would like it. The league that formed here on Guam was 85-15 percent when it came to run-pass. It was literally three yards and a cloud of dust. And they can hit pretty hard, too.

Is the press box air-conditioned?

Jani from Helsinki, Finland

There's one thing in which football clearly loses against soccer, the talent pool. According to a 2001 survey, over 240 million people from more than 200 countries regularly play soccer. It is called the most egalitarian sport, since even the poorest can play because there's no equipment cost except for a ball. Imagine the talent pool if 240 million people played football.

Did you know there are four trillion people in South America and they watch soccer 24 hours a day, every day?

Josh from Naperville, IL

Vic, I see the Packers signed all of our draft picks very quickly. I know we are a draft-and-develop team (which I love), so do you think the new rookie wage scale will hurt or help us?

Mike McCarthy said it all on Sunday: "It's a young man's league." The rookie wage scale is such that it allows teams to sign young talent far more affordably than it costs to sign "old" talent. I don't know why anybody wouldn't do it the way the Packers do it. I think you have to be stupid not to do it that way.

Joe from Estherville, IA

Vic, as a Packers fan, I watched every Packers game last year and I was just wondering what was your favorite game? What about play?

My favorite game was probably the first Giants game, and my favorite play was probably the goal-line stop on the final play of the Saints game.

Frederico from Sao Paulo, Brazil

Do you think the NFL should have a minor league of some sort?

The liability the NFL would accept for such a league would probably exceed the revenue such a league could generate. College football is where the NFL players have gotten their training. It's a good system.

David from Toronto, Ontario

Vic, what did you think of Chad Ochocinco's letter to the commissioner? "This is a nasty, dirty and violent game with consequences. It is really that simple. I know there are probably legal and financial implications that prevent this blunt depiction, but am not sure if you have a choice. If you don't say it now, the mounting evidence being revealed publicly will say it for you very soon." Do you think Goodell will really come to admit this at some point in time?

The fans need to be told this? They didn't already know football is a nasty, dirty and violent game? This is where I'm having my problem understanding all of this incredulousness and outrage by the fans. Where have they been for the last century? Vic to fans: This is a tough game for tough guys, and apparently for tough girls, too. Hey, that's why I've loved football for all these years.

Randy from Medicine Hat, Alberta

You mentioned that in the early NFL the teams were secondary tenants in baseball parks for the most part. Are there any ballparks that were good venues for NFL games? Any particularly bad ones?

Nearly all of them were bad ones. Baseball parks aren't good places to watch a football game. Forbes Field didn't have any seats on one side of the field. Wrigley Field had a wall practically on the back line of the end zone. I covered a game in 1975 in Milwaukee, where both teams sat on the same side of the field. Franklin Field was a college football stadium and it offered good viewing, as did Pitt Stadium, but the only amenities were splinters in your you-know-what. Yankee Stadium, Cleveland Stadium and Memorial Stadium were probably the best baseball parks for football, because they had more of an oval shape to them and they had large seating capacities. It's amazing how spoiled we've become. Now we complain if the turf isn't perfect. In the old days, the baseball teams that were the major tenants in the parks in which the NFL played wouldn't even take down the backstop screens for football games. Try watching a football game through a screen. We would never stand for that today.

David from Hilliard, OH

My opinion on the concussion issue and safety in the NFL is to step up the random testing of steroids and HGH for the players. Take the PEDs out of the game and you will see the magnitude of most of these collisions drop. The NFL is kidding themselves if they don't think the game is full of PEDs. The NFL needs a year-round, comprehensive, random drug-testing program for every player on every roster. Your thoughts on this?

What makes you think the NFL can unilaterally change its drug-testing program? It is what it is because the players agreed to it in the CBA. The NFL just can't arbitrarily hand its players a cup and tell them to fill it. The NFL was the first major pro sports league to get its players to agree to a testing program. I would agree there is a culture that attempts to beat testing, and I would also agree that an increase in size and power can result in an increase in injuries, and I think each has to be taken into consideration when we summarily assign blame to the game and to the league for those injuries.

Jerry from Erie, PA

Vic, I think in 50 years society will have robots playing football; too many injuries.

I don't agree. We find ways to deal with our problems and we will find a way to deal with this one. I think we're going to push the envelope of less protection for the shoulders down and faster players until it finally dawns on someone that less and faster is the problem. At some point, the game is going to come full circle and we're going to go back to a game played in closer quarters.

Michael from Mount Pleasant, WI

What does it take to join an NFL team as a tryout player?

It takes talent. These guys just didn't come in off the street. They were four-year starters in major college football programs. They are talented and accomplished football players who might not have the size or speed everyone wants at their position. The difference between them and a draft pick is very small, but it is usually a gap that can't be bridged. The proverbial "one step" can make all the difference.

Vic to fans: Those wishing to golf in the "Ask Vic Golf Outing" may register by clicking right here. The event is set for Thornberry Creek at Oneida on July 11. I look forward to meeting you.

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