A universal issue

Aaron from Chehalis, WA:
Why do you think it's taking so long to sign Justin Blackmon? Do you think the Jaguars are pushing for safeguards in his contract in case he has more off-the-field issues?
John: Absolutely that is what's happening. The Jaguars want less guaranteed money in the deal. At the same time, Blackmon's representatives are pushing against those safeguards. Those representatives must try to sign clients next offseason in a competitive environment. It may seem logical to everyone involved that Blackmon won't receive as much upfront money as he would have had he not been arrested. Probably, that seems logical even to Blackmon and his agent. The problem is that next offseason other agents will point to Blackmon's deal as a bad deal in an effort to convince players not to sign with Blackmon's agent. For that reason, Blackmon's people must push for the best deal possible. It sounds a bit absurd, and Blackmon's agent's future certainly isn't the Jaguars' concern, but that element absolutely makes negotiations trickier.
Desmond from Spring Hill, FL:
Has there been any progress on the plans for the Jaguars to build an indoor practice facility for the team?
John: It's still in the discussion stages. There are a couple of possible places for it, and there are logistical issues involved. There are also questions such as, "Do you have a bubble or do you build an indoor facility?" I know it's being talked about, but plans are not in place.
Aaron from Jacksonville:
I think the way contracts are written are a result of the Players Union and the NFL owners trying to achieve balance. The player wants as much guaranteed as possible, and the team wants to ensure it has an out if the player turns out to be a dud after two years. So, yes, cut them after two years of a five-year deal and yes, hold out for more money if you think you can get it. There's a lot of risk on both sides.
John: This is a thread that has gone for a while in and around the topic of the Jones-Drew contract, and in the wake of Aaron Kampman being released earlier this offseason. The setup is actually pretty simple. The better and more-coveted players are, the more guaranteed money they get up front in signing bonus and first-year salary. That money is their "security." Everyone involved understands this. Players do no operate under the illusion that a five-year contract means they necessarily will be with a team for five seasons. No player is shocked if he is released after three seasons if he has a huge salary and is not playing up to it. In the NFL, you are going to get the first year of your deal and maybe the second. Anything else after that is far from guaranteed. From a player's point of view, there is a calculated risk involving the final years of a contract. You can push for a higher salary in those years, but you better play well enough to justify it; if not, you risk getting released. Whatever the contract, veteran players understand how it works, and for players to be surprised when they get released late in a deal when they received a huge signing bonus for the most part is pretty disingenuous.
Matt from Norfolk, VA:
Perfect answer to Paul's question regarding Anger and defensive scoring. People seem to focus on the obvious aspects of winning a game (points, yards, turnovers, etc.). But, in a league of parity such as this, the "hidden" aspects of winning should not be overlooked. You win how you win.
John: Indeed you do. The Anger selection was in a very real sense about parity. At no level of football is there more parity than in the NFL, and a few yards of field position here and there can indeed make a difference.
Dave from Jacksonville:
Vic used to say you don't give millions of dollars to kids with over a month of free time just before training camp starts and that is one of the biggest reasons that the top picks don't get signed until right before camp opens. Right?
John: That is a factor, but as big a reason is perception. A lot of agents don't want to get a deal done until shortly before camp. If a player signs weeks before camp, other agents can tell players in future years that that agent didn't fight hard for the best deal possible.
Jeremy from Wise, VA:
One big overlooked aspect of Coach Sullivan's influence will be how he will affect Blaine. His reputation speaks for itself, so the wide receivers will learn from him. That in turn will help Blaine.
John: I'm not sure that has been so overlooked. Improved wide receivers will help the quarterback, and Sullivan's presence without question will help the wide receivers. That's how things are with a lot of things around the Jaguars right now – a sense that improvement in one area will help another area and so on and so on . . . What's intriguing right now is the feeling around the franchise that so much has improved in so many areas. It's impossible to truly convey that because the only thing that will validate that feeling is winning, but the energy certainly is there as training camp approaches.
Jon from Durham, NC:
Many professional athletes get the dreaded "injury prone" label, but I was wondering is there anything that actually makes one player more susceptible to injuries than any other? What kind of preparation can they do before a season to try and stay healthy?
John: Certainly some players are more susceptible than others. Sometimes, players are just smaller physically than others, and all body types are different. The biggest truth in this area is probably that past injury is the best indication of future injury, and there is a school of thought that if a player comes into the league with a past injury there's a pretty good chance that injury will be a factor in the player's career moving forward. Players try to get as strong and healthy as possible in the offseason, and being 100 percent before training camp begins is the best way to try to prevent injury, but the reality is it's a violent, physical games and there's a limit to how much can be prevented.
Bobby from Newcastle, UK:
What does All-Pro mean? I know about a Pro Bowl selection but not All-Pro.
John: There are many All-Pro teams and pretty much anyone with a web site can pick one. What most people mean – and what I usually mean – by All-Pro is the Associated Press All-Pro team. It is chosen by NFL writers around the nation. It features essentially a starter at every position, and it is considered a higher, more-exclusive honor than the Pro Bowl.
Damon from Studio City, CA:
If Fred Taylor doesn't eventually make it into the HOF, one thing still remains true and that is all Jags fans that watched him play know that Taylor IS a Hall of Famer. His juke move was the best there ever was! I heard that EA Sports developers tried to model the juke move after Taylor in Madden and couldn't quite capture it correctly. His juke move was so good, it was better than a video game.
John: I hadn't heard that about EA Sports, but the thing about your email that struck me was the first part -- that if Taylor never makes the Hall of Fame, Jags fans know he's a Hall of Famer. I think that's something important that often gets lost in the talk of honors, of what franchises get overlooked and of what's fair or unfair. Fans and players have their moments. They have their memories. Those memories and moments are what the fans and players carry with them long after careers are over. Those are what matters, and that's why players play and why fans love the game. All the other stuff is fine for chatter and conversation, but let's not forget what's important.
Steve from Jacksonville:
I've read your responses and I do "get" why the media gets it so wrong so often when reporting about our team. I was curious though if you ever saw similar errors while at Indy which was obviously much bigger on the national radar. Does scale help with laziness and (in)accuracy or is it universal?
John: Yes, there were similar errors in Indianapolis, and my guess is there are similar errors involving any team. Often, it's not as much laziness as just unfamiliarity with the team. As I've often said, different people can have different perspectives on different stories. That can happen with beat writers covering one team closely. When writing about teams you don't see every week or discuss every day, it's even more difficult. I'd say it's certainly a bigger issue with the Jaguars and Jacksonville, but on some level, it is universal.

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