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Beware of the 'living dead'

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

David from Northridge, CA:
Before the football movie about Marshall comes out, I was wondering if you could tell us something about that time.

Vic: On Nov. 14, 1970, 75 people lost their lives when a plane carrying the Marshall football team crashed into the hillside below the Tri-State Airport in Huntington, W.VA. The team was returning from a game at East Carolina. All on board were killed. Rainy, foggy weather and instrument error were cited as causes of the crash. The Marshall football program struggled to rebound for several years, then leapt into prominence in the 1990's as the team became a Mid-American Conference power with players such as Randy Moss, Chad Pennington and Byron Leftwich. The reconstruction of the Marshall football program is the subject of the movie, "We Are Marshall."

Randy from Oxford, PA:
I have had enough of the Arkansas faithful ripping you, Byron and the team for the sake of praising Matt Jones. How would the Arkansas fans know what a good QB in the NFL is? When is the last time Arkansas produced a QB that started in the NFL?

Vic: Joe Ferguson was a very good quarterback. He is one of the most underrated quarterbacks in NFL history. He's the last Arkansas quarterback I can remember.

Paul from Herndon, VA:
Why do you even read the e-mails of people from Arkansas anymore?

Vic: "The Night of the Living Dead" is one of my favorite movies. "I must have Matt Jones, I must have Matt Jones, I must have Matt Jones."

Antwan from Tampa, FL:
Just to respond to your comment about Tony Boselli: "I don't remember ever seeing one of them involved in a frivolous display." I can remember the Monday night game against the Dolphins and Boselli taunting Jason Taylor after a big play. Sometimes players let their emotions get the best of them.

Vic: It wasn't much of a taunt or a display. Taylor had been very "chippy," even though Boselli was eating him alive. When the quarter ended and the teams changed ends of the field, Boselli motioned Taylor to "come on down." That's the kind of subtle expression I would expect of a professional, aimed at a guy who was acting as a child.

Patrick from Jacksonville:
I can't understand why so many people hate it when players have fun. This is not a chess game, this is football, and for the players to bottle up that emotion is crazy. I like an exciting team and it sounds like you don't. If that's the case, then maybe you should report on the opera. It's pretty quiet at those events.

Vic: Why do I have a feeling you've never been to an opera?

Jon from American Fork, UT:
Could you explain in a little more depth what it means … this concept of jockocracy?

Vic: Howard Cosell coined and popularized the term. He used it to refer to a mass migration of players from the playing field to the broadcast booth. Nowadays, you could use the word to describe all of professional football. Coaches are players, broadcasters are players, front office executives are players, agents are players, league executives are players, internet reporters are players. It's players coaching players, players reporting on players, players negotiating the contracts of players, players enforcing the league's uniform policy, and on and on. It's all jocks. That's what Cosell meant.

Bruce from Jacksonville:
It amazes me what has transpired in our culture in many ways and our actions surrounding sports is just a microcosm. I think we have elevated sports to such a status because we have chosen not to address the really important issues in our society and world today. I appreciated your words earlier this summer when you reminded us it's just a game, our personal worth isn't affected by whether the team wins or loses. I still like to holler for a good play, but I don't yell and holler about bad plays much anymore. Maybe maturity is setting in?

Vic: I love football. It's much too important in my life, but there's nothing I can do about that. You can't make yourself not love something. You can, however, control your behavior. Accept the fact you're going to win some and you're going to lose some. Accept the fact there are going to be disappointments. Here's a philosophy that helps me: "Happiness is not a constant. When you have it, enjoy it. When you don't have it, be patient and wait for it to return."

Jon from Conway, AR:
Vic, your opinion does not threaten me. You are just a harmless old man after all. Roger Goodell's opinion does threaten me, though, since he has the power to act on his opinions regarding the NFL. Is there any way the fans can contact the commissioner to give him their opinion?

Vic: Oh, sure, he has a fan hotline. He sits at his desk all day taking calls from fans.

Scott from Woodbridge, VA:
I, too, was at Fedex Field and it went so far that fans followed my friends and I down the ramps to leave the stadium, shoving us and trying to pick fights. It seemed as though it was all the younger fans making trouble. In some cases, some older fans shook our hand after the game and said "good game, drive safe." Is this becoming a thing with younger fans?

Vic: I'm not going to lay this all on young fans. I think teams are making a mistake when they urge fans to be loud. What they're doing is promoting aggressive behavior and I think it's a mistake because it winds some people too tight. We're fortunate in Jacksonville that we don't have a crowd-control problem. First of all, Jacksonville's football fans are fun-loving people. Secondly, I think it really helps that college football laid a sound foundation of crowd behavior long before the Jaguars began playing. I think Jacksonville football fans learned proper fan conduct from so many years of the Florida-Georgia game being played in Jacksonville. When you have two large and intense fan bases coming together once a year, you learn how to interact. Florida-Georgia crowds are impressive and I see the same kind of behavior at Jaguars games. It's not like that, however, in other places, and I think this constant promotion to be the loudest stadium in the NFL is a mistake, for the reason I stated above.

Daniel from Wichita, KS:
I just got a dog from the pound a week ago and we waited to name him until something good came to mind. Over the past few days he would always come on the couch while I was reading your column on my laptop, so my fiancé and I decided to name him Vic in your honor.

Vic: I'd like to be his godfather.

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