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A trip to the woodshed

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

Joseph from Jacksonville:
When does the offseason workout begin? Is it a requirement for all players to be there?

Vic: The Jaguars' voluntary offseason conditioning program begins on Monday, April 4. It is completely voluntary, which means you don't have to attend if, for instance, you're a disgruntled "franchise" player who has signed the tender and his salary is guaranteed. Otherwise, you might say it's mandatory that you volunteer. Yes, it's voluntary. It's for players who want to win.

Chris from Pass Christian, MS:
Can you explain more about the next-level skills? Peyton Manning was judged by the scouts to not have a good enough arm for the NFL, if I recall, and Ryan Leaf was considered a close number two; so close they couldn't tell. The scouts said Eli Manning didn't have his brother's heart. Tom Brady and Terrell Davis were sixth-round picks. Every year at the combine we get a guy who can lift weights or run fast and they think he's the next Joe Montana or Jerry Rice. Please explain this.

Vic: What you're saying is that scouts make mistakes. You bet they do. Scouting is a crystal-ball business; its success relies completely on what the player does in his career. It doesn't do any good for a scout to explain why he graded a guy this or that. The only thing that counts is the player's performance. Take a look at some of their hits. The Jaguars picked John Henderson over Albert Haynesworth. Does that represent a hit? The Eagles picked Donovan McNabb over Ricky Williams. That was the right pick. Buffalo accepted major criticism for drafting Willis McGahee in the first round. Does that appear to have been a wise decision? The interesting thing about scouting and drafting is that one team's miss is another team's hit. Do the Steelers get credit for picking Ben Roethlisberger, or do the teams ahead of them get the blame for not picking Roethlisberger? It's an imperfect system. Enjoy its imperfections.

Aaron from Clearwater, FL:
I don't understand the hate so many people have for Donovin Darius. I think what he is doing is nothing more than any other person in his shoes would do. You have constantly said that football is a business and Donovin is trying to make money in this business the same way the Jags are trying to save money. I support Donovin. If it was me, I'd do the same thing. And, Vic, don't lie, you would too.

Vic: Absolutely I would. Green is my favorite color. That's why I like keeping old bread around the house. It turns green. Professional football is about money and I have no problem with Donovin Darius' intention to get the richest contract he can. The problem is that what he's doing isn't working. There's something obviously wrong with the plan. Do you remember a few years ago when Wayne Weaver said that insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result? Well this is three years in a row and it's starting to drive people nuts.

Paul from Jacksonville:
I have become irritated by this whole Jason White and Danny Wuerffel opinion. Yes, of course, to reach the professional level one must have several strong characteristics that include physical, mental and love for the game. The one question I have is, does heart not matter? Let's look at Tom Brady. One can say he lacks just about everything a pro quarterback should have, except heart. Better yet, Joe Montana. There is a classic example of a quarterback that really did not have much athletic ability; strong arm or legs, but had heart. Would you have ever thought either quarterback coming out of the draft would turn out as they did? Not me, that's for sure.

Vic: Paul, I love you to death but you're so far out in leftfield on this one I gotta take you to the woodshed. Tom Brady "lacks just about everything a pro quarterback should have?" Whoa! The guy has it all. He's 6-4, 225, and can make all of the throws. He doesn't have a great arm, but he has a very good arm and what he lacks in arm strength he makes up for in accuracy. He is a very accurate passer. He also has great in-the-pocket mobility and sees the field as well as any quarterback in the game. He is athletic enough to have been drafted out of high school by the Montreal Expos and was a major recruiting coup by Michigan. Why did Brady last until the sixth round of the NFL draft? Because he got lost behind Drew Henson – the biggest of the big recruits – and Brady didn't emerge until late in his senior season at Michigan, and the scouts bear the blame for not having discovered his true talent. You say Montana is a "classic example of a quarterback that really did not have much athletic ability?" You gotta be kidding. Montana is one of the finest athletes to have ever come out of Western Pa., which has also produced Johnny Unitas, Joe Namath, Dan Marino, Jim Kelly, George Blanda and several other legendary quarterbacks and athletes. Montana went to a high school that also produced Stan Musial and Ken Griffey, yet, Montana is regarded as that high school's greatest athlete. At the same time Montana accepted a scholarship to play football at Notre Dame, he turned down a basketball scholarship to North Carolina State, which had won the NCAA title that year with David Thompson. You're right when you say Montana didn't have the strongest arm, but he was a great athlete who moved as gracefully and as purposefully as any quarterback who had played the game, up to that point in time. Accuracy and resourcefulness were his calling cards. What put Brady and Montana over the top in their careers is their heart. You're absolutely right about that. Brady and Montana are two of the toughest quarterbacks, mentally and physically, who have ever played the game. Montana came back from a back surgery that would've ended most players' careers. Heart? You bet. But your opinion of their physical skills is way off. Brady and Montana have and had the goods.

Taylor from Ellicott City, MD:
I appreciate the Jags' willingness to sit back and watch as others kill their salary caps with big-name free agents, but I still sort of wish they would've made more of a push for some players, such as Fred Smoot. I honestly thought Jack Del Rio promised to be active in free agency, but right now the Jags seem quite inactive. Am I just a fan who wants to see big names or should the Jaguars spend a bit more?

Vic: You're just a fan who wants to see big names. I'm sorry, but Paul got me into a bad mood.

Howard from Homestead, FL:
According to the Vikings' Brzezinski, the Vikings did offer to swap first-round picks for Darius. Is someone lying? If they did, how could we turn it down?

Vic: I keep reading that Rob Brzezinski told the Vikings' flagship radio station this and that but I can't find a story in which the guy is quoted. I must not know where to look. Can somebody help me with this? Would somebody send me a link in which Brzezinski is quoted as saying the Jaguars rejected a trade that would've sent Donovin Darius and the Jaguars' first-round draft pick to the Vikings for their pick at number seven? I asked Jack Del Rio yesterday if the Vikings made that offer and Del Rio said, "No." He had no problem with being quoted.

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