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Best dogs in Cleveland

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

Bob from Neptune Beach, FL:
If you owned the Jags, would you have signed the new CBA agreement?

Vic: You mean, would I have voted to approve the agreement? Yeah, maybe, after I had thrown every chair in the room at the big-market guys who wouldn't vote to share their revenue with me. The final vote count is meaningless because it's not an accurate representation of the feelings in the room. After it became obvious the small-market guys couldn't win, they did their best show of unity by voting yes to the proposed agreement. Their yes vote, however, doesn't silence their opinion. Everyone in that room knows where everybody else stands and Wayne Weaver is clearly not a "yes" vote guy. He did the show of unity thing. On second thought, I think I would've done it Ralph Wilson's and Mike Brown's way. I think I would've let it be known to the people outside the room that I'm against the proposal. By doing it that way, nobody in the media can come back at you later and say, "Hey, you voted for it." The current CBA stinks and it has to be dramatically changed the next time around for small-market teams to have any chance of success.

Bill from Ware, MA:
I completely agree with you in regards to toughness being just as important as ability. Who do you think are the five toughest quarterbacks in the league today?

Vic: 1.) Brett Favre; he's proven it with his consecutive-games streak. 2.) Tom Brady; he's a closet tough guy. 3.) Ben Roethlisberger; he came back from two significant knee injuries and then led the Steelers on an eight-game winning streak to the Super Bowl title wearing a splinted glove on his right hand to protect a thumb that was thought to require surgery. 4.) Byron Leftwich; nobody is tougher, he just needs dramatic events and wins to prove it. 5.) tie, Steve McNair and Donovan McNabb; they've played hurt and led their teams to great runs.

James from Jacksonville:
How good are those free hot dogs you get in the press box? I bet they are sinful on a nice football day.

Vic: I especially like the ones in dirty water. If you eat those long enough they'll give you colon cancer.

Gil from Atlantic Beach, FL:
All those free hot dogs you keep mentioning; mustard or ketchup?

Vic: The first time I ever saw someone put ketchup on a hot dog I got sick to my stomach. It looked awful. I guess it was just where I grew up but if you bought a hot dog at the ballpark the vendor asked if you wanted mustard on your dog and if you said yes he smeared a big dab on for you. If you had asked for ketchup the guy would've looked at you as though you were a cannibal. I like mustard and onions, if I have some breath mints with me.

Steve from El Dorado, AR:
Do you ever get tired of your job?

Vic: When I'm sitting in an airplane seat in the wee hours of the morning writing stories on the way back from a game, I will occasionally regret not having become an investment banker.

Ricky from Middleburg, FL:
Have the Jags ever had a waiting list for season tickets?

Vic: I asked the same question and I was told the last time the team had a waiting list for tickets was 1997, but I'm not buying that. I've been here since the beginning and I don't remember a waiting list. Let me put it to you this way: The game against Pittsburgh in 2004 was the first time in Jaguars history that every seat was sold. That was 76,877. The Colts game last year marked only the second time in Jaguars history that every seat was sold, 67,164. Clearly, ticket sales are in ascent. As of that Steelers game two years ago, a ticket to a Jaguars game has never been hotter. Back in the early years, there were understandable inconsistencies in attendance and ticket-sales information. The Jaguars listed Alltel's capacity as a flat 73,000, which was not accurate. Attendance figures were also a guess; it wasn't until later that the equipment was available to do a turnstile count. As a result, I put little stock in any attendance figures, records, reports, etc. from the early period of Jaguars history. In my opinion, the ticket situation has never been better than it is right now.

Matt from Jacksonville:
What do you think is the team's biggest liability or area of concern?

Vic: The Jaguars need a thousand-yard rusher, not because of the yards but because of what the yards represent. They need a workhorse running back. They need a bell cow. They need a guy on whom they can depend on carrying the mail and pounding out first downs and touchdowns week in and week out. Who will be that guy? Fred Taylor? Greg Jones? Somebody else? Since the end of the season, I have considered the need for that kind of running back to be of greatest concern.

Matthew from Jacksonville:
Great response to the bigger, faster question but you omitted an important speedster from back in the day, Jacksonville's own Bob Hayes, the "World's Fastest Man." What are your feelings about Bob Hayes' omission from the Pro Football Hall of Fame?

Vic: I omitted Bob Hayes because Hayes was a product of the 1960's and the receivers to which I was referring are '70's guys, with the exception of Paul Warfield, whose greatness spanned two decades. Hayes changed the game. Relatively speaking, no player has ever brought more speed to football than Hayes did. He'd be in the Hall of Fame today if he hadn't tucked his hands in his pants in the "Ice Bowl."

Kenan from Jacksonville:
Was Joe Montana the best quarterback ever?

Vic: At one point, I considered putting Joe Montana above Johnny Unitas, but I just couldn't do it. It seemed sacrilegious to do so. Unitas and Montana are my one-two.

Tom from Fort Myers, FL:
Does Byron throw different in practice than in games? I have been trying to figure out why the receivers drop his passes.

Vic: Have you considered the possibility the receivers might be at fault?

Gimli from Colchester, UK:
If Peyton Manning and Tom Brady were each to retire tomorrow, who would history look back on as the better QB?

Vic: You've got to be kidding. The one guy is 10-1 in the postseason with three Super Bowl titles and the other guy is 3-6 in the postseason and has never been to a Super Bowl. When you talk about how history would record Brady, you don't talk in terms of Manning, you talk in terms of Unitas and Montana.

Bertha from Santa Cruz, CA:
Was your "I like mobile OL" really a subliminal stock tip telling your readers you like Mobile Oil?

Vic: Consider this: The next time you pull up to the pump and spend, say, $2.75 for a gallon of gasoline, think what your portfolio would be worth if every time the pump went "ding" you had really bought a share of stock worth $2.75. Now cut back your driving a little bit and invest what you saved in gasoline in shares of stock. Wadda you think?

Gary from Nancy, KY:
Quarterback 40 times mean nothing. Touchdown passes and yards passing mean very little. It's all about the ring. Just win, baby.

Vic: Whatever it takes, just win, baby, win. That's what the great ones do. Style and stats are meaningless.

Jeff from Durham, NC:
Which stadiums have the best press box hot dogs?

Vic: None of the current ones stand out in my mind right now, but, without a doubt, the best hot dogs in press box history were in old Cleveland Stadium. They served a variety of dogs, from kosher all the way to something we called "greyhounds," which were bratwurst of a slightly grayish hue. They cooked them on one of those old-fashioned roller grills in the back of the press box, which was an old, crowded facility stuck up in the back of the upper deck. I think it was built by the "Monroe Brothers" from Green Acres. As bad a place as it was – it had a portatoilet we called the world's highest outhouse – on a cold, gray day with the windows steamed up and the smell of those cookin' dogs wafting down press row, there wasn't a place in the world I'd rather have been. I can taste one now; lookin' out over Lake Erie and puffy snow clouds on the horizon. Now that's a dog, baby.

Chris from Jacksonville:
With a healthy offensive line and the signing of Mike Williams, what can we expect from the line this year in terms of protecting Byron and opening holes for Taylor?

Vic: Expectations should be high. Khalif Barnes will be in his second year, Mo Williams should be healthy and motivated to atone for his performance in the playoff game, Brad Meester is back, there's more depth than last year and Mike Tice should be a major addition.

Andrew from Jacksonville:
Will you please give us an update on the recovery of Donovin Darius and Nick Sorensen.

Vic: Darius, Sorensen, Brad Meester and Mike Peterson won't participate in mini-camp practices because they are still recovering from their injuries. That's the update.

Mike from Jacksonville:
I have noticed that the teams that use a zone-blocking scheme such as the Broncos, Falcons and now the Texans have had great success running the ball. Why don't more teams use this type of blocking?

Vic: The Broncos have been one of the best rushing teams in recent history. They have a formula for success. That's the best answer I can give. As far as the Falcons, their success at running the ball is mostly the result of Michael Vick's scrambling. Vick has consistently led the league in quarterback rushing. The Texans were 15th in the league in rushing last year, so, I don't know what that says about their system other than it was mediocre. Different teams accomplish the same result with different schemes. Pittsburgh pulls and traps. Some teams seal and drive. The Packers of the '60's used a "Run to Daylight" approach that allowed offensive linemen to block their man in any direction favorable and required the back to run to daylight. There is, however, one thing all great running teams have in common: a commitment to it. The great rushing teams live and die by the run. They're gonna beat you up and wear you down with it, and it's emotionally taxing to prepare for a team that plays that way. Some teams quit before the game starts because they don't have the belly to play that kind of game.

John from Washington, DC:
How satisfying for you was it to hear Leftwich say, "Some people like stats, I like wins?"

Vic: My question to Byron Leftwich was, how would you like to be measured, by style and stats or by wins and postseason performance? Any quarterback who would answer the question differently than Leftwich did is a loser.

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