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Anything can happen

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

Daniel from Orlando, FL:
Those of us who read your column daily know you seem to tell it like it is when it comes to our team. I was wondering if you had any opinion in the past that stands out as something you told us would happen but most of us didn't want to believe it because we were blinded by our love for our team?

Vic: I was very vocal in predicting the salary cap mess the Jaguars got into in the late 1990's. I started predicting doom and gloom as early as in the '98 season, then really sounded the alarm in '99 when the team signed Carnell Lake, Kyle Brady and Gary Walker. In each case, the Jaguars were making room on their salary cap by re-structuring players already on their roster to make room to sign players in free agency. The Jaguars were converting salary to signing bonus and pushing the money out all over the place, and you had to be blind not to see what was going to happen. I harped on it and harped on it and the reaction from most fans was that I was against the team. I even gave what the Jaguars were creating a name: The Perfect Storm, because there was no way out.

Steve from Jacksonville:
Would you consider the 2002 home loss to Cleveland on a last-second "Hail Mary" pass a defining moment in recent Jaguars history? That play certainly sealed Tom Coughlin's fate. I think it's ironic Coughlin was fired in the year that he perhaps did his finest coaching. I know, as a fan, that Cleveland loss was one of the most disheartening losses I have ever experienced.

Vic: I wouldn't call it a defining moment, but there's no telling how it may have changed the course of history. The wrong call was made; it should not have been ruled a catch, but replay couldn't reverse the call. If replay had reversed the call, how would history have been altered? That's what I've always wondered about that game.

Devin from Jesup, GA:
How did David Garrard look in spring drills?

Vic: I thought David was up and down in the spring. I would see passes and say, "Wow! Who threw that?" Then I would see passes and say, "Yuk! Who threw that?" David is as talented as they come. That's always what he falls back on; his great athletic ability. He's in a new offense and there will be a period of learning and adjustment.

James from Memphis, TN:
First let me say I am a life-long Razorback fan, and Whoo Pigg Sooiiee Jags for taking Jones. In your opinion, with all the pressure of being a first-round pick, what do you think it will take from Jones in his first year to be considered a good pick? Or will it take a few years to know?

Vic: Success is like pornography: You'll know it when you see it. I don't need statistics to tell me if a guy is a good player and is of value to his team. Ask me at midseason if Matt Jones was a good pick and I'll give you my opinion.

Bryan from Jacksonville:
Is the Travis Henry deal the first deal to ever fall through in Jaguars history? Seems to me there's an awful lot of complaining about a deal that didn't work out.

Vic: No, it's not the first deal to fall through. In the winter of 1996, the Jaguars signed both Alonzo Spellman and Quentin Coryatt to huge free-agent contracts, but both guys were "transition players" and the Jaguars lost them when their original teams, the Bears and Colts, matched the Jaguars' offers. Spellman later held his PR man hostage and Coryatt got into a scrape and his career went south quickly. I guess you could say it was good those deals fell through.

Peter from Jacksonville:
Just to keep in touch, I will start my radiation and chemo this week and will then go into transplant. I'll be at Wolfson's for a duration of 3-4 weeks or longer, depending if everything goes smoothly. I'll keep the radio near my bedside Wednesday nights at 6 p.m. and, given the chance, will continue to go online for any updates.

Vic: Folks, meet Peter, a young man who's as tough as they come. I love guys who play hurt and Peter is really guttin' out right now. Peter was also one of's guest columnists while I was on vacation and he wrote a wonderful story on his formula for building a winning team. Please join me in lending support to Peter during these tough times.

Cole from Jacksonville:
How can the rumors of the Jags moving to L.A. be good for the ticket sales problem? Seems to me that continuing to spread these rumors would have a negative impact on sales. Why would someone want to pour their heart into a team that could possibly be gone in five years?

Vic: That's why this is such a critical season for this franchise. It needs to win games, fill seats and establish a sense of security about the future.

Jim from San Diego, CA:
Vic, you told Mike from Jacksonville Beach to "let go of 1999," but aren't fans supposed to remember that kind of stuff? Isn't that what makes for long-term fans? Who wants to only remember the good times? Remembering the sour defeats, creating rivalries, that's what the NFL was founded on.

Vic: You're right.

Mike from St. Augustine, FL:
Just read your article on "That's entertainment" and agree with your perspective wholeheartedly. It's just a game and should not be overanalyzed. But isn't this a sign of the passion that you have been screaming about for the past 10 years?

Vic: You're right, too. Baseball has long called it "Hot Stove League" talk because old-time baseball fans would spend winter days sitting around the hot stove talking about trades that would make their teams better in the next season. It's good for creating interest for your team. Maybe that's what this whole Travis Henry thing will have done for the Jaguars.

Steve from Ocala, FL:
How can the Titans sign Travis Henry to a multi-year deal if they are in such dire straits with their salary cap? Isn't a multi-year deal going to push them well over their salary cap? I thought they are in a rebuilding mode.

Vic: You can structure a contract to take little more than a minimum-wage hit this year and push most of the money out into the future. You do it with bonus-money payments such as signing bonus and option bonus and guaranteed payments that are deferred. It provides room on your salary cap now but, of course, it assigns money to future caps and, in most cases, only serves to delay the cap recovery process. Eventually, you run into the back end of the mess you made at the front end. I don't know what the Titans have done in structuring Henry's deal. Give it a week for the terms of the contract to become available, then ask me how they've structured the deal.

Mike from Jacksonville Beach, FL:
Apparently, the Cleveland Plain-Dealer is the latest publication to report the Jags to LA rumor. Is this as simple as a columnist in Cleveland with nothing to write about using our lack of ticket sales as a story, or is this rumor actually gaining credibility?

Vic: I don't know, but it bothers me to see the Jaguars mentioned as a candidate.

Alec from York, PA:
I watched "NFL Total Access" the other evening when Tim Brown retired and he and Rod Woodson were discussing how the league has changed and Rod had this to say: "When we were rookies, you had to be a really good rookie to make the roster. Now you have to be a really good veteran to make the roster."

Vic: What an insightful remark. With those words, Woodson described the difference between the NFL before the salary cap and the NFL now. Woodson's rookie year was 1987; there was no cap. I won't say a player's salary wasn't a factor in his team's decision to keep or cut him, but salary wasn't near the factor then that it is now. Shaun Alexander is the perfect example. Nobody wants to trade for him because of the money it will take to sign him. In '87, the Redskins would've been beating down the door for him.

Charlie from Neptune Beach, FL:
What are your thoughts on the recent discussion about Wayne Weaver's letter to John Peyton which hints at moving the team? Do you think this is cause for elevated concern or just a part of the negotiations process?

Vic: If the Browns can leave Cleveland and the Colts can leave Baltimore, anything can happen. Baltimore played, arguably, the two most important games in NFL history: the 1958 NFL title game and Super Bowl III. Fifteen years later, they were gone.

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