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Arrington is winner

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

James from Jacksonville:
The poll on the front page asks: "Which game can you not miss?" Pittsburgh wins, over four times as many votes as second-place Indy, but Pittsburgh doesn't consider the Jaguars a rival. Which teams do?

Vic: The Jaguars' number one rival, in my opinion, is Tennessee. I think that's the result of three major factors in establishing a rivalry: History, alignment and geography. The Jaguars and Titans have a big-game history, they're in the same division and in the same region of the country. I think Titans fans consider the Jaguars to be a rival. I think the same exists between the Jaguars and the Colts, though Colts fans have an obsession for the Patriots because of what the Patriots have cost them. In my opinion, the Titans and Colts are the Jaguars' two main rivals and the intensity is shared.

Chris from Gainesville, FL:
Can the "Draft Day Fan Fest" be attended by anyone or do you have to have season tickets?

Vic: It's open to the public and the Jaguars hope you attend.

Stephen from Lancaster, PA:
I am a very loyal reader and I love your column, Vic. My question stems from your comment regarding DeAngelo Williams. You mentioned that he plays and produces when hurt, which translates into toughness, but I read someone recently say that scouts were worried that he was soft. He didn't play against Tennessee this season and nursed an injury. Can you explain why scouts are worried? I am just confused with the mixed opinions.

Vic: He played through the pain of injuries in each of his last two seasons. From what I was told, he tried to go in the Tennessee game but the coach shut him down in a pregame decision. That's what I was told by a scout who loves the kid's toughness. I've never seen DeAngelo Williams play, except on limited occasions on television, and I know very little about Memphis football. My information on Williams comes from a scout whose scouting territory includes Memphis, and he loves Williams; called him a terrific football player.

Frank from Oviedo, FL:
It seems San Diego can't afford a new stadium for the Chargers. Are they now the prime candidate to move to Los Angeles and will the talk about the Jaguars moving finally stop or is another city, such as Las Vegas, next in line?

Vic: First of all, I think there will be two teams in Los Angeles when all is said and done; one in Anaheim and one in the Coliseum. The NFL is clearly becoming a big-market league and LA is the second-largest market in America. Who are the candidates? Well, the Chargers' situation would lead us to believe they're a candidate, and the publicity the Bills have created for their situation recently would seemingly make them a candidate, too. I keep thinking the Saints have to be the number one candidate because of the devastation New Orleans has sustained, but a front office guy whose opinion I deeply respect told me the Saints have to stay in New Orleans if the NFL I wants to retain New Orleans as a Super Bowl destination, and the league clearly wants to do that. The candidates for Los Angeles are many and the road is going to twist for the next several years because LA is nowhere near ready to receive a team. Don't think in terms of saved by the process of elimination. This isn't a game of musical chairs. Success is the only thing that can give a franchise security. When every seat – especially the club seats and luxury box suites – are sold on a season ticket basis, the Jaguars will no longer be considered a candidate for LA. That's what it's going to take to secure the future of pro football in Jacksonville. There will always be cities that'll try to rob another city of its team. That'll be especially true now because there won't be expansion for a long, long time. This is it. Jacksonville has one of America's 32 pieces of pro sports gold. All we have to do is hold onto it and that's as simple as filling the building.

Brad from Tyler, TX:
Now that the Giants have signed Arrington and Short, do you think the Jaguars have a better chance of snagging Chad Greenway?

Vic: I think Greenway will be gone before the Giants pick so I don't think the Giants' possible lack of interest in a linebacker will affect Greenway's draft selection. It could affect Bobby Carpenter's selection, however, because the Giants were thought to be the team most interested in drafting Carpenter. Carpenter is a quality player but he doesn't score high on the disruptor scale and that would lead me to believe he's not a prime candidate for the Jaguars.

Sean from San Jose, CA:
I'm not too familiar with NFL Europe but I read your column and I've learned a little more. I have sort of a broad question. What does it mean when a team allocates a player to NFL Europe? Are these players not as good as those in the NFL? How does it all work?

Vic: NFL teams offer players on their rosters to play in NFL Europe, per the player's wish to play in NFL Europe. In every case, these are bottom-of-the-roster players who are attempting to use NFL Europe to further expose their talents and it's happened that way. Jake Delhomme is an NFL Europe graduate. Allocated players return roster exemptions to NFL teams, which allow those teams to bring additional players to training camp. It's a very simple process.

Fred from Portland, OR:
When you talk about Pope getting cut by defenders, that sounds an awful lot like Vermeil talking about how Henderson would get cut by guards because he's too tall. Look at him now. Pope is a Jeremy Stevens clone. Have you ever seen Stevens cut down like that?

Vic: I don't understand that analogy. Stevens doesn't have Leonard Pope's body type. If I'm going to compare Pope to someone it would be to Eric Green and Green was clearly troubled by safeties cutting him down the seam. It got to the point that Eric began trying to hurdle defenders and that's exactly what you don't want. You want big guys dropping their pads and running smaller people over, but there's a point at which a player becomes too tall because that makes him unable to get low enough.

Tom from Fort Myers, FL:
I can't think of any trades the Jags have completed. Could you please list the trades and which ones were successful?

Vic: In the summer of 1995, during the Jaguars' first-ever preseason, the Jaguars traded a speedy wide receiver named Mike Williams to the Dolphins for rookie tight end Pete Mitchell, who had played for Tom Coughlin at Boston College. It turned out to be a great trade for the Jaguars. Three years later, prior to the 1998 draft, the Jaguars traded Rob Johnson to Buffalo for the Bills' first and fourth-round picks, which the Jaguars used to select Fred Taylor and Tavian Banks. That was a good deal, huh? The Jaguars have made a lot of trades, usually involving a player and a draft pick. You're not going to win them all, but you don't bat 1.000 on any personnel matters. A couple of years ago the Jaguars made a deal with Baltimore that brought Anthony Mitchell to the Jaguars for a pick that was contingent on Mitchell achieving a level of participation that he did not equal, which meant the Jaguars got Mitchell and didn't lose a pick. Last year they traded an unconditional seventh-round pick to the 49ers for Jamie Winborn, then Winborn got hurt and wasn't able to play and became a free agent this offseason. As Roberto Clemente said, "Sometimes I hit like this, sometimes I hit like this and sometimes I no hit."

Roland from Jacksonville:
College position traditions mean nothing. Case in point, the Gators, known for their passing, have produced NFL running backs Emmitt Smith, Eric Rhett and Fred Taylor. No one mentions the Gators running back tradition.

Vic: You're forgetting Neal Anderson and John L. Williams, but your point is well-taken because during all of those years under Steve Spurrier when Florida was producing fantastic passing statistics, a lot of Florida wide receivers were drafted high and, frankly, most of them were busts. Emmitt Smith and company, of course, played at Florida before Spurrier arrived. Florida and the SEC was about power-running prior to Spurrier's arrival. Taylor is a Spurrier product and I've always felt bad for Fred that he was misused at Florida and didn't get the acclaim his talent deserved in college football, then had the misfortune of losing playing time to injuries in the NFL, which kept him from being selected to the Pro Bowl.

Brendan from Durham, SC:
Curtis Martin was someone who may have been considered damaged goods coming out of Pitt. I think the Patriots drafted him in the third round; he only played a handful of games his senior year due to knee/ankle problems.

Vic: Martin wasn't damaged goods. He was healed and had satisfied concerns about his health status in postseason workouts. Martin would've been better described as a player with a reputation for being injury prone. There were a lot of people who projected Martin to be one of the sleepers of the 1995 draft, because injuries had dropped his draft stock below the round his talent level would've otherwise demanded. I know the Jaguars director of college scouting at that time was a guy who loved Martin and wanted to pick him in the third round, but Tom Coughlin was a needs picker and he had already selected James Stewart in the first round. It's a crystal ball business but it's awfully difficult to predict what's going to happen. Martin turned into one of the most productive and durable running backs in NFL history. At Pitt, he couldn't stay on the field.

Tom from Custer, WA:
It seems we lost another premium free agent in Arrington. Although the deal is ridiculously large, we have plenty of cap room and it seems cap management is a thing of the past; you just have to wait for a new CBA to bail you out. So why are the Jags being so cheap?

Vic: I think we have a new winner. I think LaVar Arrington has replaced J.J. Stokes as the most asked-about player in "Ask Vic" history. A day didn't go by over the last two months that I didn't receive at least 20 questions about Arrington. I said right from the beginning that he's an outstanding player, but his contract demands were outrageous from the start and there were always major concerns about his knee and how long he can play on it. On top of all of that, this is an extremely good year in the draft for outside linebackers, so I always thought you'd have to be a little reckless to spend all of that money on a guy whose future is in doubt, when you can get a guy cheap in the draft whose best football is ahead of him. I could be wrong about all of this and I'll admit it if I am wrong, but this whole thing just seemed to evolve into a media event that was baseless other than the fact Arrington made a visit to the Jaguars. Fans have been wetting themselves ever since and, frankly, I think they like the way it feels. He wanted too much money. He's got a bad knee. This is a small-market franchise that doesn't dare throw money around on guys that represent major risk. You see it as being cheap. I see it as being smart.

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