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Always controversy

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

Ryan from Hamilton, Ontario:
I just finished reading about how a number of prominent sportswriters were called to act on the set of the football movie "Invincible." Would you consider acting as a reporter in a film if you were ever invited?

Vic: Sure I would. One of my best friends was asked to stand in as a reporter in the movie you've mentioned. He had a good time. He has no illusions about an acting career, but it's a little spice of life that might make it into a time capsule and let people a hundred years from now know he was here.

Rob from Green Cove Springs, FL:
When you say with regard to ticket sales that "Jacksonville proper is carrying this franchise," are you defining "Jacksonville proper" as Duval County or are you including any surrounding counties?

Vic: Jacksonville proper is represented by a five-county area – Duval, St. Johns, Clay, Baker and Nassau – that is considered to be Jacksonville's DMA (defined market area). Ninety percent of the Jaguars season ticket holders live in Jacksonville's DMA.

Chris from Jacksonville:
Since you love tough guys, you should love Dick Butkus calling three times out at the end of a game the Bears were losing badly, just so he could hit the offense three more times.

Vic: That's great stuff. My favorite was something Jack Lambert said after an AFC title game loss in Oakland: "Give me a six-pack and 20 minutes and I'll go play them again."

Ben from West Haven, CT:
I was looking at the Jags roster and comparing it to past seasons. Am I wrong in saying this year's team has the most talent and potential by far?

Vic: You've gone too far. This team has better defensive personnel than the 1999 team had, but that team had a cast of star players this team has yet to identify. In '99, Mark Brunell was a star quarterback in the prime of his career, Tony Boselli was the best tackle in the game, Leon Searcy was arguably the best right tackle in the game, Jimmy Smith was one of the best big-play receivers in the game, Keenan McCardell was one of the best possession receivers in the game, Fred Taylor and James Stewart gave the Jaguars stunning talent and depth at running back, and Tony Brackens was one of the best pass-rushers and big-play defenders in the game. That was a team at its peak. This team is still on the way up.

Clyde from Orange Park, FL:
I've been reading your comments on the Madden video game and have come to the conclusion that you are just jealous. I have probably learned more in the past year from "Madden06" than you have learned in your entire career.

Vic: I bow to your superior intellect.

Matt from Lexington, KY:
Why is Direct TV the only provider of NFL "Sunday Ticket?"

Vic: Because it purchased the rights.

Trevor from Washington, DC:
I thought about replying for more details on Taylor-Hornung, then I decided not to be lazy and look it up myself. Two Hall of Famers in the same backfield and Hornung even kicked field goals. Amazing! I knew about Jim Taylor but didn't know about Hornung.

Vic: How could you not know about Paul Hornung? You didn't know he was called the "Golden Boy;" won the 1956 Heisman Trophy at Notre Dame and was suspended by Pete Rozelle for having a gambling affiliation? I'm stunned. How many other young fans don't know the history of this game? To not know about Paul Hornung is to not know about Vince Lombardi and the 1960's Packers. They are inexorably linked. I suggest that you read, "When Pride Still Mattered: A Life of Vince Lombardi."

Brad from Vancouver, BC:
Speaking of the Hall of Fame, which crop of current kickers would you think are going in? My buddies and I agree on Vinatieri, but some say Vanderjagt may go in also.

Vic: Vanderjagt? For what, his comments on Peyton Manning? Adam Vinatieri will probably make it into the Hall of Fame. The guy has made the biggest kicks in NFL history. Putting Jan Stenerud in the Hall of Fame soured me on putting kickers in the same place you honor real football players. Look at how many great players – Dick LeBeau, Ken Anderson and Jack Butler immediately come to mind – have been left out, and a kicker who missed the biggest kick of his life is in. That's a mistake. Kickers should be kept to an absolute minimum.

James from Jacksonville:
How many of the season tickets were sold to people living outside of our city? I'm worried that the reason we sold that many was because of our basement prices and our attractive schedule.

Vic: We'll find out on Sept. 18. Ticket brokers are a new fact of life in the NFL. Because of the enormous popularity of the NFL and because there are a handful of teams whose fans will go anywhere to see their teams play, selling tickets now has a national scope.

Steven from Stirling, Scotland:
I'm 5-6 and 140 pounds. I play for a Scottish football team. What position do you think I should play?

Vic: Senior editor.

Jason from Jacksonville:
What is your opinion of fans getting upset over not getting autographs? I went to a practice and was very glad to see the guys signing for most of the kids looking for autographs. I was concerned at the reaction of grown men visibly upset they didn't get one.

Vic: As I walked off the field during training camp, I heard some harsh comments directed at players because those fans didn't like the autograph they got or didn't think the player was being attentive enough. A lot of fans think signing autographs is part of a player's job description. It is not. Those guys do that as an expression of their appreciation for the fans' support. Then they see the helmet they signed being sold for profit and it irritates them. It would irritate me. Autographs are supposed to be about sentimental attachment. In that context, there isn't a player in the game who wouldn't be flattered or willing to sign when asked, but the harsh comments and for-profit stigma has created a degree of negativity.

Patrick from Panama City, FL:
The questions about preseason records determining how good a team is are ridiculous. The Bucs used to go undefeated in preseason all the time in the '80's and would only win 3-4 games in the regular season, while Buffalo would lose almost every preseason game and win the division every year.

Vic: For the record, the Bucs only had one undefeated preseason in the '80's, 1983, but your point is well-taken. The preseason is not about the scoreboard, it's about evaluation. You have to know how to evaluate what you've seen and assign a win or loss to it separate from the scoreboard. Teams that win preseason games are generally teams that have a lot of players fighting for roster spots and starting jobs. Those tend to be teams with low expectations for the regular season.

Corey from Baton Rouge, LA:
I have run into Jim Taylor several times during my years at LSU. He still loves football but often complains that the game has gone "soft" and he would like to "hit a couple of the current players in the mouth." He has some great stories about toughness. Sounds like an attitude that you would appreciate.

Vic: I didn't say the players of today aren't tough. I said I love the tough guys and there are a lot of tough guys in today's game. Mike Peterson is a tough guy. He played in last season's playoff game in New England with a wrist injury that would have left most people with their arm propped up in front of the TV. Paul Spicer is a tough guy; they don't get any tougher than Spicer. The game is full of tough guys; always has been and always will be.

Keith from Lakewood, PA:
Can you give us a breakdown of the number of players at each position the team is likely to keep?

Vic: Here are "neighborhood" numbers: three QB, five RB, six WR, three TE, nine OL, three specialists (K, P, LS), eight DL, six LB, 10 DB.

Ken from Charlottesville, VA:
Thanks for curing me of giving a crap about football. Your comments about the "tough guys" who revel in victory and humiliation of the opponent finally got through to me that this is a game for bullies, not athletes. You seem like a nice, smart guy and I wonder why you love a game that is in your words "about the money," "about muscle," "all about winning." The physical behaviors you glorify would be criminal in real life and the focus on victory and domination at all cost is part of what corrodes our social contract and makes our system heartless. I guess I just can't reconcile that anymore with values that are good for me or my family. So I'll be saying goodbye to a piece of my childhood this year and leaving the TV off on Sundays. Peace.

Vic: Would you like a tissue?

Shane from Jacksonville:
I think we need to lower expectations, a lot.

Vic: You can't make them higher or lower. They are what they are. Coming off a 12-4 year and with an undeniably good-looking roster, the Jaguars are one of a dozen or so teams in the NFL for whom the Super Bowl is the goal. What are you afraid of? Disappointment? All but one of those teams will end their season disappointed. The rest of them won't even be good enough to have a chance of being disappointed. Don't be afraid to aspire. The Super Bowl is the goal.

Tim from Jacksonville:
Did you see any "flashes" in the Miami game?

Vic: I saw four 50-yard flashes. I saw a team that is deep at just about every position on the field. I saw a longshot rookie safety make a statement. I saw an offensive line give Byron Leftwich enough time to go to his third read in hitting Matt Jones for a touchdown. Brent Hawkins flashed some pass-rush ability. Anthony Maddox is a quick and forceful defensive tackle. Maurice Jones-Drew is exactly what I expected. George Wrighster is making a charge at tight end. Yeah, I saw a lot of good things.

John from Clearwater, FL:
How can I hear the live radio broadcast of the games over here in Tampa? All the on-line radio stations stop working at game time. All I have to save me is your blog and to watch helmets move around.

Vic: If you are not within the signal range of a Jaguars Radio Network affiliate, the signal range of the Jaguars opponent's radio network, have "NFL Field Pass" or Sirius radio, you're out of luck. I'll blog you, baby, and I promise to do a better job in the regular season than I did this past Saturday night. As blogs go, it was preseason quality. Without high-profile strategy decisions or heightened drama, blogging is more reporting than evaluating.

Bob from Fernandina Beach, FL:
After seeing the second half, I think David Garrard has earned the right to start with the number ones next week, if there's really competition at the QB position. I think Garrard brings some zip and flash to the offense, which is missing with Leftwich. Do you agree?

Vic: There's not competition for the starting quarterback job. When wasn't that made clear to you? Byron Leftwich is the Jaguars' starting quarterback. David Garrard's performance at the end of last season has heightened his status and earned a harder look. That's where it stands and that's where it will continue to stand into the regular season. Leftwich, provided he's healthy, will be the Jaguars' starting quarterback on opening day and he will be expected to perform up to the level of a starting quarterback. As far as zip and flash, I think Garrard does bring those qualities to the Jaguars. I saw zip and flash Saturday night. I didn't see zip and flash against the 49ers last season. I guess it comes and goes, which is also to be expected. I remember Byron Leftwich's first preseason game, against the Dolphins, when he replaced Quinn Gray and drove the Jaguars to the game-winning touchdown and everybody wanted Leftwich to be made the starter. Are we choosing to forget that in the second half of Saturday's game the field was littered with players who won't be on the field in the regular season?

Scott from Jacksonville:
I was disappointed in the running game but the big, electrifying plays of Matt Jones, Chad Owens and Maurice Jones-Drew made up for it. How do you think the wide receivers as a group did?

Vic: Just OK. The big plays by Jones and Owens saved the night. Ernest Wilford should've caught a ball thrown a little high for him in the opening series. Matt Jones was either slow in coming out of his break or slow in seeing a pass thrown in his direction. He only got one hand out and the ball glanced off his hand and was intercepted. On another occasion, I don't think he sold out for the ball on a quick slant. Catching the ball in traffic is not something that comes naturally for him. His ability to do that, in my opinion, is going to define his development.

Steve from Vero Beach, FL:
When Del Rio tells Garrard to play like he's competing for a starting spot, with the knowledge that he's the backup, does that mean he has no chance of starting for this team no matter how good he plays and how bad Leftwich might play?

Vic: It means that as the situation stands right now, Leftwich is the starter and Garrard is the backup. Do you want the coach to say he'll bench the starter if he doesn't play well? That's the kind of statement that breeds confidence in your starter? I think Jack Del Rio's statement has given David Garrard every indication that what he does on the field will be duly noted.

Austin from Sugar Land, TX:
I see that Jack Del Rio switched from the hat he got a bowl of soup in, to a visor. What's your hat of choice?

Vic: It's all about six p.m. That's the deadline for casual and formal attire. Please, no straw hats after six p.m. That would be gauche. A visor after six p.m. is perfect. It's a fashionable accessory to evening coaching attire.

Doug from Salem, VA:
In the write-up for Saturday night's game, you wrote, "'David continues to play well. I don't think you want to get too excited about statistical battles,' said Del Rio, cautioning against a quarterback controversy." But don't you think he now has a quarterback controversy?

Vic: Now? There's always been a quarterback controversy. Byron Leftwich has never played a game without there being a quarterback controversy.

James from Jacksonville:
If you were in charge, how many preseason and regular season games would there be?

Vic: In a perfect world, two preseason games would be enough. This is not a perfect world. The owners are not going to surrender two games worth of revenue and the players aren't going to accept 18 regular season games.

Andrew from Baton Rouge, LA:
How do you think this year's team would do in the old AFC Central?

Vic: That's an interesting question. I would expect the Jaguars to be right up there with the Bengals and Steelers. The Ravens are kind of the unknown. If Steve McNair has something left, they could be tough, too.

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