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Year of change for Packers, not rebuilding

On Bud Selig’s watch, baseball has recovered


John from Manitowoc, WI

All the media draftniks are very quick to assign grades to each team's draft, before any of the draft choices have even played a down in the NFL. Does anyone ever go back and give a grade years later, when the real results of a draft are apparent? Or does anyone ever grade the draftniks for accuracy? It allows us to separate the good draftniks from the bad ones.

Do it on your own. Decide for yourself who you can trust. I went back and watched the videos we did from the most recent Senior Bowl and my opinion of my man Tony Pauline was reinforced. He nailed it over and over. It was as though he was predicting how we'd feel about these guys two months later. I think Kiper, McShay and Mayock do excellent work. Mayock was on the money with Luke Kuechly, for example, and you remember something like that. Will they miss on a guy? Of course they will. The best GMs in history missed on guys. It's impossible to hit on everyone. It's a crystal ball business with hits and misses. Your opinion of the draftniks has to be based solely on your opinion of their presentation and track record. I like Tony because he has never held back his opinion and his track record is solid. Remember last year? He said Datone Jones would take time and he predicted that Eddie Lacy was just what the Packers needed.

Dan from Chippewa Falls, WI

How enriching is it to you personally, not only for your own knowledge but for your overall appreciation and understanding of this franchise, its fans and this state, to be able to sit down like that and interview VIPs such as Bud Selig?

I loved it. I loved listening to Commissioner Selig's address at the Packers' all-organization meeting on Thursday. He was sensational. He's what I think a commissioner of a major league sport should be, which is to say the guardian of the game. He was asked tough questions and he gave direct answers. One of those questions was would he favor Pete Rose being allowed into the Hall of Fame? No, he said, and his explanation was spot on. There can never be a scintilla of doubt as to the legitimacy of a sport, or the sport is dead. I think he has been an absolutely fantastic commissioner of baseball. He took over on the heels of very tough times and during his time at the top the game's popularity has skyrocketed. Baseball's luxury tax is resurrecting small-market franchises. Selig is the Pete Rozelle of baseball, and every bit as likeable. What he's done with the Milwaukee baseball club is miraculous.

Mike from Thornton, CO

Willie Mays is great, but how do you think he stacks up to Ken Griffey Jr. in his prime?

Griffey isn't even the best player from his hometown. Mike, this isn't football you're talking about. This is baseball and it respects its past, instead of living in contempt of it.

Hunter from Millersville, PA

I loved your segment with Bud Selig. It made me think about all my favorite and least favorite things about the commissioner of baseball. One thing has always been at the top, though: Do you think Pete Rose belongs in the Hall?

I don't and it's not for the same reason Commissioner Selig espoused. In my opinion, Rose may never enter the Hall of Fame because he agreed to that consequence to avoid further prosecution. A deal is a deal.

Alex from Orland Hills, IL

Vic, love the column. I have been looking at a lot of mock drafts on nfl.com and more than 50 percent of the analysts have the Packers taking C.J. Mosely. What are your thoughts on him?

I spoke with Tony Pauline last night and Tony said Mosley will be gone by the time the Packers pick. He thinks Minnesota could take Mosley if they don't pick a quarterback.

Ethan from Madison, WI

Vic, what player that is possibly going to still be there at pick 21 could have an immediate impact for the Packers in the 2014 season?

A center could be that player and one will almost surely be available at pick No. 21. Weston Richburg is arguably considered to be the top center, but he doesn't fit at pick No. 21. He probably fits somewhere between the Packers' first- and second-round picks, so they'd have to trade back from one or trade up from the other to pick him and feel good about it.

Ryan from Las Vegas, NV

Vic, I really think the Packers trading down and picking Ryan Shazier would be awesome. Shazier, in my opinion, is the most explosive linebacker in the draft and shows great instincts for making big plays. If you can trade down and get a linebacker weighing 237 pounds and runs a 4.38, jackpot! Your thoughts on Shazier to the Packers?

Something must've happened that escaped my attention because Shazier is the new Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. My inbox has gone gaga for Shazier. Did somebody say something to cause this? I asked Tony for his opinion and this is what he texted back: "Late first. More of a one-gap weakside linebacker. Really small and gets hammered by fullbacks."

Trent from Appleton, WI

Who do you have winning the Masters?

I haven't given it much thought. I'm not a big Masters guy. I'll watch on Sunday and I'll enjoy it, but it's my least favorite of the majors. It wasn't always that way, it's just that I'm tired of seeing the same guys hit the same shots from the same places on the same holes and hearing the broadcasters say the same things. Someone will go for the pin on the far right of 12 on Sunday, and the ball will hit the bank and roll back into the water, and we'll wait for the obligatory ripples to appear and there will be sadness. And then somebody will hit the ball just above the hole on 16, and the ball will begin its slow roll down toward the hole, cheered on by fans who obviously were cooped up too long this past winter. Verne Lundquist will say, "Yes, sir!" and every time TV goes to a commercial they'll play that whiney music. It's just not for me. I like respect, but on my feet, not on my knees. There are too many non-competitors in the field, and there's no rough. I want rough. I wanna see the best golfers in the world struggling to advance the ball 50 yards and then finding a way to save par. I'm a U.S. Open guy.

Paul from Beaver Dam, WI

Vic, do you believe the answer to safety is already on the roster?

Yes, I do, but that doesn't mean you can't draft one.

Adam from Wausau, WI

What's the difference between signing another team's unrestricted free agent and signing your own unrestricted free agent?

One counts against you in compensatory pick consideration; the other one doesn't.

Charles from Omaha, NE

Vic, I've been a fan of the Packers since before I moved to the United States in 1999, but I have to admit I did not develop an actual appreciation for the game itself until I began reading your column. This year feels like a rebuilding year. Do you think the team feels the same?


This is absolutely not a rebuilding year, but it's a year of change, especially on defense, and most people would view that as a good thing. At the NFL annual meeting two weeks ago, I asked Mike McCarthy if he thought his team was better on paper now than it was at this time last year, and he said it is. The Packers are loaded on offense. They need to fix their defense and I believe that can be done. There is every reason to believe the Packers will be a playoff contender in 2014, which means they'll be a championship contender.**

Chase from Morton, IL

Vic, I ran across an article saying Lynn Swann is one of the most overrated players in NFL history. What say you?

Did that article appear on statsrus.com? Hey, in the big game, and I mean the really big game, nobody played better than Swann.

Michael from Elizabethtown, KY

Kaepernick is in an investigation that includes sexual assault in Miami. Now, I know he's innocent until proven guilty, but there will always be speculation in my eyes. You can't be an immature, dumb athlete and succeed at quarterback. Wide receivers can, but not quarterbacks. Quarterbacks represent the NFL to the highest degree. Would you agree?

I absolutely agree. He is innocent until proven guilty.

Greg from Jacksonville, FL

Vic, in regards to the Jaguars and Alex Mack, what is an offer-sheet deal?

The Browns made Mack a transition-tag player, which means another team may sign Mack to an offer sheet, but the Browns can retain Mack by merely matching the offer. Poison pills are no longer permitted. For example, the Jaguars can't do a deal that would make Mack the highest paid player on the team if he played more than four games a year in Ohio. This is where the transition tag can work for the Browns. If Mack hadn't been tagged and was free to choose, he'd definitely pick the Jaguars because he'd put all of that Ohio state tax money in his pocket. This way, if the Browns match, Ohio wins and Mack loses. This could be fun to watch.

Greg from Bellevue, WA

Vic, if you won the Masters, six months later would you wear the green jacket out to a nice dinner?

No, I'm kind of funny about those things. I tend to hide the real meaningful memorabilia in my life. I put it in drawers and boxes so only I know where it is. Every so often, I look at it and reflect. I don't know what it is about me that causes me to do that, but I don't wish to share that kind of stuff with anyone else.

Jake from Franklin, WI

Vic, how about a nice memory about anything you feel like sharing to end the column this week? I'd love to have a good narrative to take into the weekend.

As I sat and listened to Commissioner Selig on Thursday, I thought back to the dark days of the 1980s. I remembered covering the drug trials in Pittsburgh. I remembered standing in front of the court house as the cars pulled up and the stars of the game emerged: Dave Parker, Lonnie Smith, Keith Hernandez, etc. It was stunning. How deep would this go? This was on the heels of a strike year, and there'd be another strike and a World Series lost, and the Pete Rose saga. I thought to myself on Thursday, what brought the game back? The answer is obvious: Ballparks brought the game back. It began with Camden Yards. It launched the greatest era of ballpark construction ever. Look at the great ballparks the game has today. Miller Park has taken the Brewers to unimaginable heights. PNC Park makes you want to ignore the game and just stare at the vista. Beautiful ballparks are everywhere and they are the stars, not the players. Lambeau Field, of course, has done that for the Packers, and Lambeau Field is the shining example of the next phase all of these parks must enter: preservation. Build something good and then preserve it. That's how you develop tradition.

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