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Churn is a bad thing

Join Senior Editor Vic Ketchman as he tackles the fans' tough questions.

Steve from Jacksonville:
I was flipping through channels on the tube and stopped on "Antiques Road Show." They were in Baltimore and this guy came in with a Colts 1957 championship varsity jacket. It had Johnny Unitas' name stitched into the inside and also on the manufacturer's tag. He said Unitas was a family friend and would come over to the house and that's how he acquired it. He spoke of the confidence he exuded and how he and his friends were in awe of him. The dealer estimated it would go between $40-60K at auction and it was a very cool piece of football memorabilia.

Vic: That's cool. I have a cool memorabilia story, too. I was sports editor at a newspaper when I got a call one day from a guy who was curious about the value of a baseball trading card. He said his wife had just passed away following a long bout with cancer, he had lost his job and he and his son had to sell the house. He explained that in the process of cleaning out the house to move, he found a baseball card his grandfather had given him a long time ago with the instructions to hold onto this card because it's worth a lot of money. I asked him what player's name was on the card. He said, "Honus Wagner." Immediately, bells went off in my head. I asked him to give me a description of the card, which he did. At the time, I was writing freelance stories for "Beckett Football Card Magazine," so I told him they were experts on this stuff and I'd give them a call and ask for their opinion and advice. "Don't spill anything on the card," I said. He laughed. I called Beckett and described the card to one of their experts. There was a long, pregnant pause and I knew immediately I had hit a nerve. He asked me if I had the guy's phone number, which I did and I gave to him. When I got off the phone, I quickly called the cardholder back and told him what my suspicions were. "You may have in your possession the Holy Grail of all baseball cards," I said. I cautioned him not to part with the card until he was sure of its value, and I told him Wayne Gretzky had just paid a fortune for what sounds as though might be the same card and that there are only a few of them in the world. I told him it had something do with a tobacco company and Wagner's refusal to endorse the use of tobacco, which caused printing of the card to be halted abruptly. A little later, the guy called me back and told me the Beckett representative was flying up from Dallas to look at the card, and arrangements were made for the card to be taken to a local bank and have it put in a safe deposit box. He also said the Beckett guy told him not to talk to me anymore because publicity could be dangerous. He thanked me for my help and that was the last I ever heard from the guy and I always wondered if the card was, indeed, the real thing. Well, some years ago I may have gotten my answer. I was watching a made-for-TV movie entitled, "The Winning Season," when I couldn't help but wonder if the movie wasn't inspired by the story I just told. The circumstances were suspiciously similar.

Howard from Homestead, FL:
This is getting sick. How many incentives, motivations, freebies, discounts, extensions, perks, concessions, bonuses, advantages and extras can one team offer to their community in exchange for the opportunity to house a franchise of the world's greatest sport on the highest level for ridiculously low prices? It's now or never, baby.

Vic: As Chuck Noll was fond of saying, "Whatever it takes."

Henry from Oakland, CA:
I am a diehard Oakland Raiders fan living in Jacksonville. I love Al Davis but what he's doing with the team is beyond me. The Raiders have had seven straight losing seasons. I think Jaguars fans should appreciate Wayne Weaver and what he's doing for the team. The Raiders are visiting the Jaguars this year. Will I be seeing the Raider nation packed into Jacksonville Municipal Stadium?

Vic: Why would they come here? They don't even go to games in Oakland.

Gabe from Jacksonville:
It seems Gene and you have similar personnel philosophies. Based on that, I think it is fairly safe to say Gene will not be drafting a non-premium position at 10. That being said, would safety be considered a premium position in today's NFL?

Vic: Safety is not a premium position, not even in today's NFL, but that doesn't mean GM Gene won't pick a safety at 10. He'll pick a safety, I have no doubt, if a safety is the best available player. Even though the premium positions carry extra weight in the ranking process, that doesn't mean a safety can't be talented enough to overcome the bias against his position.

Jason from Norristown, PA:
I know your BAP theory, but if you were the GM of the Rams, would you rather take Bradford over Suh?

Vic: Obviously you don't know my BAP philosophy or you wouldn't ask this question. Look at my value board.

Jamie from Jacksonville Beach, FL:
Do you think the Jags will ever go out and get an elite player that is in his prime, through free agency or trade, like Anquan Boldin or Julius Peppers, etc.? Don't you think that would help sell tickets?

Vic: Neither Boldin nor Peppers is in his prime and, frankly, I'm not sure I would put either one in the class of an elite player. I reserve that category for the very best of the best. Larry Fitzgerald is an elite player. Dwight Freeney is an elite player. I think it's unlikely the Jaguars will ever sign an elite player in free agency or trade for one because it's rare that teams allow elite players to escape in free agency or in a trade. Now, if by elite you mean a player of renown who's best years are behind him and either he's looking to sting someone in free agency or his team is looking to sting someone in a trade, yeah, I think those players are always available, but I also think GM Gene is too smart to fall into that trap. I also don't think such a player would help sell tickets.

Jack from Oviedo, FL:
I know you're tired of the Tebow questions but, as a Jags season ticket holder, it concerns me to think: Would it be a good move for Indy to pick Tebow to study under Peyton?

Vic: I just don't see Tim Tebow in the Peyton Manning mold. I'm having trouble seeing Tebow pumping his feet as he stands in the pocket. I'm having trouble seeing Tebow sacking himself. You know where I can see Tebow? I can see Tebow in Pittsburgh. They like the slash thing. They like athletic guys and they find intriguing ways to use them. Plus, they've got some uncertainty at the position right now and they also want to recommit to the running game. In my opinion, Tebow will do best with a team that will use his athletic ability, instead of trying to turn him into a "route tree/progression" type of quarterback.

Stephen from Jacksonville:
Did you fill out a bracket for the 2010 Men's NCAA basketball tournament? If so, would you please tell us your final four picks? Finally, are there any upset specials that you are looking to happen?

Vic: I've got Georgetown, Syracuse, Villanova and Kentucky in the final four, with Kentucky beating Syracuse in the championship game. As far as upsets, I've got Murray State beating Vanderbilt and Louisville beating Duke.

Christopher from Jacksonville:
Teams used to cherish a top 10 pick. Now it seems like a burden. Why?

Vic: It's very costly to draft that high and it accentuates the bust potential. That's something that needs to be changed with a new CBA. If that happens, teams will cherish top 10 picks again.

Kamen from Hawthorne, NY:
Everyone's a little tense with the issue of season ticket renewals. I was wondering what the normal season ticket renewal rate is for the Jaguars and what it is for most other teams, for the sake of comparison.

Vic: Your question interests me because it's symbolic of what is lacking in the way of understanding what it takes to compete with the elite franchises. The Jaguars have traditionally struggled to renew season ticket holders. This annual loss of season ticket holders has required new sales every year to make up for what the team lost in unrenewed season tickets and that combination of losing ticket holders and recruiting new ones is called churn, and churn is not what you want. Churn is a bad thing and the Jaguars have been churning for far too many years. By comparison, the elite franchises have almost no churn. Teams such as the Packers, Steelers, Eagles, etc. merely send out their invoices and get back a check a few weeks later. Done! No 30/30, three-game packages, variable pricing, "Teal Deals," etc. necessary. Some of the elite teams don't even offer the option of paying by credit card, which means those teams aren't paying the huge credit card service fees teams such as the Jaguars do. Forget about the other teams that are struggling. Those aren't the teams against whom you're competing and those aren't the teams against whom you want to judge yourself. If you wanna be elite, you gotta compete with the elite and the elite teams don't have to deal with churn.

Vincent from Jacksonville:
Will they be pulling the curtain off Tim Tebow's new throwing arm on Wednesday when it gets unveiled at his pro day?

Vic: Today is the day we find out if he can pull it off. If he does, he's in play.

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