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A community effort

Join senior editor Vic Ketchman as he tackles the fans' tough questions.

Jason from Middleburg, FL:
A few years ago every player was being diagnosed with having a high-ankle sprain. Now, no one is using this term. Is it because they call it something else now or is no one suffering from this type of injury?

Vic: It kind of runs like that; you know, injury du jour. I remember when everyone was plowing under their fields and installing Astro-Turf and all of a sudden we had something called "Turf toe." Then, a few years ago, linemen started wearing Pop Warner shoulder pads and we had a rash of labrum injuries. I wonder what the next injury du jour will be.

Charles from Jacksonville:
Vic, your response today to a reader from Ormond Beach said your e-mail bin was full. Can you or do you plan on forwarding these e-mails to the mayor and the City?

Vic: The amount of e-mails I have received in the last two days has been nearly unmanageable. The quality of the questions and comments have been first-rate and it's bothered me every time I've had to delete one without using it. I knew I had to do something to acknowledge the effort that went into these e-mails, so I've printed out every e-mail I received on the lease issue. They're sitting in a stack on my desk as I write this column today. I will continue to add to the stack and when Wayne Weaver returns to the office next week I will present him with the e-mails. One other thing: I have read every e-mail.

Vincent from Jacksonville:
On Thursday you said the Jaguars ticket sales are 31st in the league. Has selling tickets in Jacksonville always been a problem?

Vic: In this case, the ticket-revenue ranking isn't so much a result of attendance as much as it is a result of the prices. The Jaguars' average ticket price is $40.16, which is 79 cents higher than Buffalo's.

Wes from Dallas, TX:
Television in the 1850's, Vic? That's interesting. I just looked it up and it was invented by John Logie Baird in 1923, so your "I Love Lucy" comment was probably off about 100 years. Do you even look up the comments you make?

Vic: I think you might be confusing TV with the invention of the VCR. Blockbuster began offering the "I Love Lucy" series for VCR in 1925, and in DVD four years later.

Andy from Jacksonville Beach, FL:
I was born a Baltimore Colts fan, having been raised there through my teen years. I will never forget when my dad woke me up that winter morning to show me the Mayflower trucks hauling the Colts' gear out of Baltimore. I now love the Jags and can't imagine going through that again. What, in your opinion, are the odds of them leaving?

Vic: I don't know how to assign odds to a team's future, but I know that, in each case, it was almost inconceivable that the Colts would leave Baltimore and the Browns would leave Cleveland. I watched the Steelers and Browns play in Cleveland once a year from 1972-1994. I walked up those steps through the crowd and into that tree house of a press box with the porta-toilet that we called the world's highest outhouse, and never once did I consider the possibility Cleveland wouldn't have an NFL team. Then, after years of complaints from Art Modell about his team's declining facility, Modell pulled the plug. It wasn't without warning but it was certainly a surprise. I can remember where I was when I heard the news; in my car listening to the radio. I literally had to pull over to digest the news. Ever since then, my mantra has been, "If it can happen in Cleveland, it can happen anywhere." Baltimore was no different. The Colts franchise was the pride of the NFL through the Unitas years. No town has ever loved a team more than Baltimore loved the Colts. In all of these situations, including Houston and St. Louis, there has been a repeating theme. The town has turned a deaf ear to the team owner's pleas and threats, causing the team to leave and the town to mourn. Then, after a sobering period in which the town realizes it made a mistake in letting the team leave, it feverishly pursues another team with promises of giving the new team everything it wouldn't give the old team. For example, Modell got in Baltimore what he couldn't get in Cleveland, even though Cleveland has it now. Robert Irsay got in Indianapolis what he couldn't get in Baltimore, causing Baltimore to give it to Modell. Nashville gave Bud Adams what he couldn't get in Houston, which has since given everything Adams wanted to Bob McNair. St. Louis gave to the Rams what they wouldn't give to the Cardinals. In Jacksonville's case, however, there won't be a second chance. This is it. If Jacksonville wants the NFL, it better keep the Jaguars.

Vaughn from Jacksonville:
I read that the Jags have 24 years left on their current lease. Is there a scenario possible that they would leave before then and, if so, what would the ownership and the NFL have to pay the city for terminating the lease?

Vic: The Jaguars lease allows them to leave at any time but would require them to pay damages. It would probably cost the team about $35 million in damages to leave Jacksonville. In a billion-dollar move to Los Angeles, of course, $35 million would represent little more than a nuisance.

Jon-Michael from Starke, FL:
What about those of us who don't live in Jacksonville? The City isn't responsible to us; we don't have a councilman to call, just you, which is great, but no power. I almost cry when I think about the Jags leaving. I know you tell the "Ask Vic" nation that we take football too serious sometimes, but I will miss them.

Vic: You've advanced from denial to anger to acceptance much too quickly. Hang in there.

Jon from Cabot, AR:
All this talk of teams moving around got me thinking, is there any way us folks in Arkansas are ever gonna see our own pro team? Has any city in Arkansas ever been mentioned as a place a team might move to?

Vic: I saw on TV recently an infomercial for a town in Arkansas. It's Bentonville, I believe. The infomercial showed these really pretty pictures of hills and new business and housing, and it said Bentonville is one of the fastest-growing communities in America and it even provided a phone number you could call to buy a piece of property. Maybe Bentonville will get a team some day.

Chris from Jacksonville Beach, FL:
Hypothetically speaking, would the Jaguars be 31st in ticket revenue if they had been more astute cap managers in the late 1990's?

Vic: The ticket revenue stat has nothing to do with anything but the amount of money each team collects from the sale of its tickets.

Daniel from Orlando, FL:
How many fans do you think the Jaguars have? It must be enough that our input should be enough to get the city to come to their senses and ensure we don't lose our team.

Vic: I think we've all asked the same question for a lot of years. How many fans does this team have? Until the last couple of days, I didn't know what the answer was. Now I do. The answer is a lot of fans. I was watching the local news last night and "First Coast News" released its findings of a poll it conducted. I believe it said that 56 percent of those polled said they would be greatly disappointed if the Jaguars left town. Applying the 56 percent figure to the total population means that considerably more than half the town are diehard fans. I think that's a very telling stat. It says the Jaguars are extremely important to life in this region. You've said that in this column. Your voice has been heard. It has clearly been heard by the mayor. The front-page headline in Friday's Times-Union tells us that.

Jim from Jacksonville:
Let's be blunt. You lost a lot of credibility with me by writing about the sign stuff; just another PR shill, I guess. If Wayne Weaver needs to manufacture a silly reason to move the team, then so be it. I have been a season ticket holder from the beginning, but this is idiocy from the Jaguars' point. You listed four points in your "Ask Vic." If the sign is number one, then Mr. Weaver has his priorities wrong. How about putting a team on the field we can depend on and not one that will take games off like they did against Denver at home.

Vic: Put them in any order you want. Those are the four things Wayne Weaver told me he needed to secure the future of the franchise. I would think, however, the signage issue is more immediate than the other three because there's no sense even going forward on the other three if you don't have a city government that will work with you. I have said that for Jacksonville to be a successful NFL town, the Jaguars have to be a community effort. That means the team, its fans and city government have to be pulling in the same direction. The team should be expected to put a competitive team on the field and provide a fan-friendly environment. Fans should be expected to buy tickets. City government should be expected to honor its lease with the team and provide an atmosphere in which the team can succeed. I believe all of that to be true.

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