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Do the Packers have an unfair advantage?

Posted Jun 30, 2014

Rodgers, Favre have natural feel for playing quarterback

Willie from Hayward, WI

I think it’s easier for the media to disassociate from the win or lose feeling because it’s a job. Regardless of the result, you have a story to write and deadlines to meet. There is no time to feel good or bad about who won. As fans, we can be “invested” in the team and feel good with a win and disappointment with the loss. So if it’s not football, what do you “invest” your passion in for no particular reason?

Nobody invests their passion in something for no particular reason. I invest my passion in my job, and it’s for the same reason you invest your passion in football: It’s important to me. My job is No. 1. It’s more important to me than the game I’m covering. My job is the game and I’m playing in it. When I have a good game, which means I’m satisfied with the work I’ve done, I can sit back in my plane seat and enjoy the ride home. If I had a bad game, it’s going to be a long ride home, regardless of who won or lost the game.

Mark from Stewartville, MN

Vic, I have a vague memory of myself as a kid watching Notre Dame games on tape on a black-and-white television on Sunday mornings. Lindsey Nelson was the announcer. Why were these games shown on tape a day later, as opposed to live as they were happening?

Back then, the NCAA was in complete control of the TV presentation of its product, and the NCAA limited its TV exposure to a few regional games and a national game every Saturday. Then came the CFA (Oklahoma and Georgia) lawsuit in 1984, and it produced an explosion in televised college football games. It was no coincidence that ESPN was new to sports broadcasting at the time. Is it better now? I don’t know. That’s a good question. There was something magical to Lindsey Nelson saying, “We move to further action.”

Kylon from Talofofo, Guam

Vic, when watching some older interviews of players, they would say they hate this team or that. Did the free-agent era change football so much that it went from it’s personal to it’s business?

In all of the years I’ve covered the NFL, it’s always been about business. The players always wanted free agency because they wanted to max out their financial reward. Having said that, I will also say free agency has changed the game. Julius Peppers said it best this past spring when he was asked about going from the Bears’ locker room to the Packers’. He said it wasn’t a big deal because the NFL is a “family.” That’s what free agency has produced. It’s produced a feeling among players that they’re all members of the same team, the NFL. There is a feeling among players that they play for the NFL.

Dave from Elroy, WI

What about Troy Aikman in his postseason victories. How does he rate? It seems the media overlooks Aikman quite often. Would you agree?

He’s in the Hall of Fame, elected by members of the media. I don’t think the media has overlooked him. Maybe the fans have overlooked him. Aikman is one of the most accurate passers in the history of the game. He not only completed passes, he made it easy for his receivers to catch the ball because he put it where it needed to be put. He truly threw receivers open. Aikman isn’t often mentioned in the greatest-quarterbacks-of-all-time conversation for two reasons: 1) He was surrounded by great players – I’ll never understand that criticism; 2) Head injuries compromised his effectiveness late in his career. Aikman played at the start of the stats era. It was during his career that NFL fans and a lot of media went stats crazy. Stats don’t define Aikman’s career. Big games, big plays, defining postseason moments and accuracy define Aikman. At the peak of his career, he was as good as any quarterback that has ever played the game.

Greg from Bellevue, WA

Vic, I know you believe the Packers match up well against the Seahawks. Which team don’t we match up as well against?

The Packers haven’t matched up well against the Giants and 49ers in recent years, but neither team is on the schedule this season.

Drew from Dallas, TX

You recently said Aaron Rodgers has no weakness in his game. What would you say is his greatest strength?

I could say it’s his ability to throw a football, which includes his arm strength, release and accuracy, and I’d be right. I could say it’s his ability to extend plays, and I’d also be right. I sense in Rodgers, however, a special feel and natural acumen for the position that is especially rare. Favre had it; so did Unitas and Montana. It’s an eyes-in-the-back-of-their-head kind of talent that’s difficult to describe. Some call it the “it factor.” Rodgers has it, and I think that’s his greatest strength.

Kasey from Walnut Creek, CA

Marshawn Lynch is a guy I think could have played back in the day. He’s a bruiser and has just enough speed, but his strong desire to avoid the media is what I love. If you had the chance to get a one-on-one with him, would you?

Oh, no. I wouldn’t want to offend you.

Paul from Chicago, IL

Vic, does the Packers’ unique ownership structure translate to an advantage on the football field?

Some of the team owners would say it does. They consider the Packers’ unique ability to raise money by selling shares of stock to be a competitive advantage. If it is, I would counter by saying the Packers franchise is unique. There is no other franchise in the league like it. The Packers play in a tiny market. It’s mind-boggling that a team could rise to this kind of esteem and financial stability in a market this size. It never ceases to amaze me as I drive north from Milwaukee to Green Bay that I am actually driving toward my job, not away from it. The Packers franchise is one of the league’s great success stories. It’s a source of pride that is worthy of the special arrangement it’s allowed.

Dan from Herriman, UT

Vic, maybe you have answered this and I’ve missed it, but wondering why they waste a roster spot for a snapper for field goals and punts? How long has this been the norm?

The last starting center I covered that doubled as the team’s long-snapper is Dave Widell. That goes back to the late ’90s. Today’s game is a game of specialization. I first noticed the trend toward long-snappers in the early ’80s. We’re talking about a player that does one thing, and he must do it with perfection to remain employed. The big thing is that while the starting center is practicing with the offense, the long-snapper is on a separate field working with the holder, kicker and punter. It’s not a waste of a roster spot.

Ron from Lees Summit, MI

This is the slow time before training camp and the new season. Do you get away?

Tuesday’s column will be my last until July 10. I’m taking some time off. I’m doing a live chat at noon CT today (Monday). We can make it a kind of farewell chat. Please join me.

Charlie from Bella Vista, AR

I’ve always felt the fans could boycott the games and there’d still be plenty of money from TV and luxury boxes. Being in the position you are, do you have a breakdown of NFL income sources? I’d love it if Joe and Jane Sixpack could have some control, but I doubt it.

Joe and Jane are still in control, Charlie. Ticket revenue is still the No. 1 source of local income for teams. TV revenue is the No. 1 source of national revenue but, by and large, TV revenue has been equal to the salary cap, which means the players have taken the TV revenue. That’s going to change a little bit in 2014. The new TV deal will spike revenue to put some of it into the team column this year, but the old formula still works.

Noah from Brisbane, Queensland

Vic, what do you think the NFL will be like in 90 years?

The salary cap has increased by about a $100 million per team since the salary cap era began. I’m not a numbers guy, but I believe today’s young fans will see the day when each team’s salary cap will be a billion dollars.

Mary from Duluth, MN

Why didn’t the Packers listen? Several years ago, I sent the Packers some information about dynamic flexibility, the ability to perform physical activity without warming up. You know static stretching actually can lead to more injuries and that’s not funny. Apparently change is hard when it comes to long-held beliefs about exercise. If the Packers had not dismissed me as a crazy female, they might have won a few more Super Bowls by now instead of all of those needless injuries.

To stretch or not to stretch, that is the question.

Mark from Bismarck, ND

I want to know what is taking so long to sign Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb? Also, why did we let the starting center sign somewhere else for cheap money?

In the salary cap era, you must be willing to allow players to leave. It’s a game of replacement. You are what you cap. Take care of the future and the future will take care of the present. Healthy cap, healthy team. Yeah, I know, you’re tired of having to read those clichés. You want to win the Super Bowl now, not five years from now. Well, Mark, it’s because the Packers adhered to those clichés in past years that they have a chance to win the Super Bowl this year.

Brian from Quinnesec, MI

I understand the knock against Peyton Manning, but if you think about it, he has had some tough odds to overcome. He was a first overall draft pick to a team that hadn’t won a championship in 30 years. He has since played in three Super Bowls, each time with a different coach. By the way, he is 10th on the all-time postseason passer rating list, just above players like Tom Brady, Troy Aikman, Brett Favre, Ben Roethlisberger and Terry Bradshaw. Other than the few games in which his team got demolished, the rest of his losses were really close. He’s not my favorite QB, and I wouldn’t say he’s the best, but it blows my mind when people say he’s overrated just because of his (playoff) record.

 You can use stats to tell a lie, or to tell the truth. Here’s a stat for you: 97 of 153 (63.4 percent) for 1,034 yards, three touchdowns, seven interceptions, 70.5 passer rating. It’s Manning’s stat line for the 2006 postseason, when he won the Super Bowl. I think he was the lowest-rated passer of that postseason. The Colts were No. 1 in total defense for that postseason. Only two quarterbacks (Dan Marino, Warren Moon) with at least 10 postseason starts have a worse playoff record than Manning.

Joe from Sherman, IL

Vic, I’d suggest everybody go back and read your column from February 18, 2011. Good hearty debate is fine, but I don’t want to end up being from 998 Oaks, CA.

I remember that guy; he was from Thousand Oaks. From then on, he identified himself as being from 998 Oaks.

Tim from Wasa, WI

Vic, do you think you’re cool? Because it definitely seems like it.

Thanks, Tim.

Darren from Toronto, Ontario

Vic, what are some of the differences between the Packers’ website today and the Steelers’ website back in the ’70s?

The big difference between the two websites, Darren, is that back then I used a Royal portable, today I use a laptop.

 

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