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A matter of perception

Join Senior Editor Vic Ketchman as he tackles the fans' tough questions.

Tyler from Jacksonville:
I try not to read too much into the injuries in training camp, but it seems as though some key players are pretty banged up. Is this cause for concern or will they play through such injuries when the season begins?

Vic: I don't know the answer to your question and it doesn't do any good to ask about injuries during the preseason because coaches aren't obligated to offer an injury report or information on their players' injuries, and they don't. I don't sense that the team is overly concerned about any of the injuries, but I learned long ago not to dismiss soft-tissue injuries as minor aches that'll heal in a few days. They can linger, especially hamstring and quad strains. I sense that you have a degree of concern about these injuries and you can probably sense that I do, too.

Ryan from Charlotte, NC:
What did you think of the way the Jim Gray/Corey Pavin ordeal has gone down? I think he may have crossed the line a bit when he said he was going to "take him down." Wouldn't that mean he has an agenda and that compromises journalistic integrity? Have you ever been in a position where you had to control negative feelings toward a guy and just report?

Vic: Sure I have. I don't know the details of the incident about which you speak, so I'll just answer your question as it pertains to my particular experiences with this kind of thing. Sportswriters have emotions and egos, too, and we no more appreciate being mistreated than anybody else does. When the initial anger has subsided, however, I have always sought a truce with the other person because it just doesn't work to stay angry. It's not professional and it's not going to help me in my coverage of the team. I can also tell you that I can't remember the last time I've felt mistreated by a player or coach, but there have been times when awkward circumstances have strained a relationship and time was needed to heal the wounds. I'll give you what I consider to be a perfect example. When Derek Landri was a rookie, I observed a special teams practice at which special teams coach Joe DeCamillis reprimanded Landri for what DeCamillis perceived as a cavalier attitude. I wrote of it because I felt it portrayed a new no-nonsense approach to special teams. I felt that reporting what I heard provided information fans needed to know. Landri was angry at me for reporting it and it strained my relationship with him, and that's the fallout I had to suffer from doing what I did. In other words, I knew the consequences of my actions and I accepted them. In time, I think Landri came to view me as a fair reporter and we were able to function professionally in a player-reporter relationship. I will always respect that about him. These things happen. Anybody who thinks they're going to function as a critical reporter without dissent from their subjects is very naïve. You better have thick skin to do this job.

Matt from Jacksonville:
Gator fans said they would all buy season tickets if we drafted Tebow. Now they are complaining about the unbalanced "Half Pack" that includes the Denver game. I knew all along they were full of hot air. The college-pro divide is still a huge problem.

Vic: I'm a pro football guy. Who will join me?

Ed from Neptune Beach, FL:
So it seems all the threats have worked, this year, anyway. Here's a threat: If the Jags stink it up like they did in the last couple of games, the only tickets sold will be plane tickets. Go Jags.

Vic: It doesn't sound like you'll join me.

Stephen from Jacksonville:
Do you think Garrard will see a significant amount of playing time in the preseason this year as he did last year?

Vic: In game three, yeah, but not tonight.

Mike from Mill Valley, CA:
Who would be your top 10 players of all time?

Vic: I looked at the list in the link you provided. Any list of the all-time greatest players that has a wide receiver at the top of it and doesn't have Jim Thorpe in it is laughable. My top 10 list would include Thorpe, Jim Brown, Lawrence Taylor and probably seven quarterbacks because how do you not dominate the list with the best players at the most important position in all of sports? Unitas, Montana, Graham, Brady, Baugh, Bradshaw and Staubach are quarterbacks I favor.

Vince from Charleston, SC:
What do you expect to see from both the Jags and the Eagles in tonight's game?

Vic: A lot of kids chasing a dream.

Zoltan from Budapest, Hungary:
Other then Troy Williamson, are there any other veteran players who will have to play in the preseason like it's crunch time to escape being cut?

Vic: Brad Meester and Vince Manuwai are battling for starting jobs and when you've played in the league as long as they have and you reach their salary levels, I think it's understood that playing for a starting job is the same as playing for a roster spot. Tony Pashos and Brian Williams are last year's examples.

Vince from Tampa, FL:
I was watching ESPN "First Take" and Skip Bayless said "the Jaguars are on the verge of becoming irrelevant." That really hurts to hear but sometimes the truth hurts. That's why this season and the next few seasons are so important. You agree?

Vic: I think we know what makes THIS season so important. What comments such as Bayless' do is up the intensity. When you hear something like that, it makes you grit your teeth. If it doesn't, we've got problems even worse than I think. We're being called out. In the pop vernacular, we're being disrespected. Jacksonville has always wanted media attention and now it has it. What will Jacksonville's response be?

Andrew from Jacksonville:
Maybe you just aren't printing the angry questions, but the column has seemed rather civil and level-headed as of late.

Vic: Not today. The hate is back, baby.

Joe from Jacksonville:
I just got done reading about how a Philly fan who wore a Redskins McNabb jersey was asked to take it off by members of the security staff. What's your opinion of how they handled that? Should I worry about having to take off my Jaguars gear when I am up at the game?

Vic: I don't get involved in stupid stuff like that. Hey, if you're looking for a fight, you're going to the right place.

George from Jacksonville:
I know you have stated this before but I want to join you in my concern that selling enough tickets is not about avoiding blackouts. Selling tickets is about keeping the team here in Jacksonville. I cringe every time I receive an e-mail from Mayor Peyton encouraging us to buy tickets to avoid blackouts. The message he is sending is: "Be a part of the 60-plus thousand fans who allowed almost one million fans to watch the Jaguars on TV for free."

Vic: You're right, George, when you say that filling the stadium is about securing the future of professional football in Jacksonville, but the mayor's message is the one that resonates because a successful franchise is a matter of perception and nothing is more damaging to a franchise's perception than blackouts. They must be avoided. Mayor Peyton has been a champion of the Jaguars' cause. He's the guy who kicked off the whole ticket-sales movement.

Sherman from Middleburg, FL:
After yesterday's "Ask Vic," I wanted to research the program, so I Googled "Pittsburgh Penguins college students." I was humored to find this: Penguins. Apparently, ESPN and other outlets picked up the story, too. By the way, I did find the "Student Rush" program to which you were alluding. I hope the details can be hammered out soon.

Vic: That's hilarious, but I think it's easy to see the genius in the toilet idea. They're involving college students in an activity that'll create memories of a lifetime. When you have an expensive ticket, as the Penguins do, and you're sold out to people that can afford them, you're running the risk of losing an entire generation of young fans to another team in the market that has cheap tickets available, so you've got to find a way to involve those young people in your franchise. The toilet idea is absolute genius. By the way, the Penguins spokesman in that article is someone I hired out of college. He went on to become a high-ranking executive of a Stanley Cup-champion hockey team; I continued to be a sportswriter.

Shane from Washington, DC:
Who plays Vic in the motion picture?

Vic: Mike Florio.

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