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Close the blinds

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

Ken from Lake Charles, LA:
I recently read an article on the airplane crash that resulted in the deaths of the Marshall College football team and its coaching staff. Do you remember what you were doing and your initial thoughts when this tragedy was announced?

Vic: We always remember where we were when great or tragic events occur. I was a sophomore in college on Nov. 14, 1970, and I saw the news on TV that evening after having spent the day watching college football. Frankly, the event didn't mean nearly as much to me then as it did when Marshall rose to football prominence a few years ago and I began reading and seeing reports on Marshall's rise from the ashes. The Marshall trail of history is fascinating and heart-warming. The story of Marshall's recovery touches all football fans.

Neil from Jacksonville:
Do you plan to watch the World Cup at all? Soccer may be non-contact but you have to love a sport that allows the little guys to succeed.

Vic: Soccer is a great sport. I love the way it allows for so many to participate at the same time. I love the way it allows those of lesser size and athletic ability to participate. Soccer has my respect and I yield the stage to it, but if they were playing the World Cup on my back porch I'd close the blinds. Nothing bores me more – tennis bores me as much – than soccer. I attended a soccer game at the 1976 Olympics; either Brazil or Argentina was in it, or maybe both. It was 0-0 forever. Late in the game I said, "I can't take any more of this," and I left. Somebody won – 1-0, I think – and it got headlines all over the world the next day. I later found out that the soccer game I left is one of the great soccer games ever played. That's nice, but I would've rather watched an NFL preseason game.

Wade from Jacksonville:
What are the salary cap consequences to the Titans and Ravens as a result of the McNair trade?

Vic: Steve McNair will be a $13.5 million "dead" money hit on the Titans' salary cap this year. The team will tell you that he's a $10 million cap savings because he was scheduled to be a $23.5 million cap hit, but that figure was unrealistic since he was never going to be kept at that cap number. His "dead" money is extreme. McNair's new deal with the Ravens paid him $11 million in signing bonus on a five-year contract that provides for a $1 million salary this year and a $4 million salary in 2007. He will be a $3.2 million hit on the Ravens' cap this year. Simply put, McNair's old contract has damaged one team's salary cap and his new contract is likely to damage another's.

Michael from Bradenton, FL:
Since the kicking game never gets any love, could you tell me who, in your mind, is the best punter to have played the game and why?

Vic: Ray Guy is the greatest punter in history. I don't think there's any debate about that. I saw Guy almost single-handedly win a game in 1977 and he had several such dominant performances in his career. That's how you judge greatness at any position; the ability to dominate. Guy dominated with the height, distance and placement of his punts. He truly was worthy of a first-round pick.

Dan from Jacksonville:
Apologize for being insensitive? Consider the fans feelings? What in the heck is going on around here? This site is tell it as it is and that's why people like it. You tell the truth. Keep doing it. Arizona had the worst fans, but Jacksonville was close. Where is all the "I don't care if I get banned in China" spirit? Were you having a soft moment or is this going to be a long-term change?

Vic: I was having a sensitive moment. Just when I was becoming a nice guy, you pull me back.

Evan from Jacksonville:
Two-minute drill; who do you want with the ball, Leftwich or Garrard?

Vic: I'd want Byron Leftwich in the game. That's not a criticism of David Garrard, it's just that I think the two-minute offense is one of the strengths of Leftwich's game. The thing he does best is see the field and grasp the situation, and the two-minute drill begins with those skills.

Mark from Jacksonville:
One thing I really like about the World Cup is that none of the games are played at the same time so you can theoretically watch them all. I would watch more NFL games if they were scheduled this way.

Vic: I wish the World Cup would play all of its games at the same time so I could miss them all at once.

Vinnie from Staten Island, NY:
I don't disagree that the worst fan bases are the ones that don't sell out, but what I think some people are getting upset about is the reference that all the fans are bad. Many of the people that have been attending these Jags games religiously for the past 10 years (myself included) could be just as good a fan as any in the nation. If you don't agree with that, I'd love to hear the reasoning why.

Vic: I'm trying to be sensitive about this subject, but I'm starting to wear out. First of all, Jaguars fans didn't even enter my mind when I considered my answer. Given the state of ticket sales right now, if you asked what my opinion of Jaguars fans is I'd say it's a fan base on the rise. I'd say Jaguars fans are on the verge of becoming very impressive. Second of all, I never used the word "all" or inferred anything of the sort. Now that the tickets are nearly all sold, let's start working on something else. Let's start working on having a little thicker skin, huh?

Thomas from Jacksonville:
On the subject of the best fans/worst fans, I believe it's not the amount of fans you have that determines the fans' value. It's the fans that come rain or shine. Wait, our stadium is always empty when it rains. Oops.

Vic: That's a very insensitive remark. I don't think I like you and my mommy doesn't like you either.

Connor from Jacksonville:
The article on say Matt Jones will be the number one receiver, but you say Reggie Williams has been the most impressive receiver so far. In your expert opinion, who's it gonna be come opening day?

Vic: It's going to be the guy who plays best in the preseason. I gave my opinion only because I was asked specifically about Reggie Williams. I would've never volunteered an opinion on who's the most impressive receiver in "underwear" practice because I think "underwear" practice is worthless. Football is a hitting game. "Underwear" practice is "touch" football, which isn't real football. I can wait. I'm a patient man. I don't need any proclamations right now. The guy who's got the strength and toughness to get off the jam and the guts to go over the middle will be the guy who wins the number one job. You can't play the whole game in motion and along the sideline. Those guys don't get the respect of opposing defenses. At crunch time, you usually have to make a play between the numbers.

Doug from Jacksonville:
Could Gerald Sensabaugh make a push for a starting job this season? I like him over Deon Grant.

Vic: Any player can push for a starting job. James Harris is the perfect example of the competitiveness of the NFL. In 1969, Harris was a rookie, eighth-round draft pick competing against veterans Jack Kemp and Tom Flores in Buffalo's training camp. Harris, however, was more than just a rookie quarterback. He was a black rookie quarterback in a league that had never truly had a black starting quarterback. Harris completed nearly every pass he threw in that training camp and preseason and won the starting job for the season-opener. The game was all about competition back then and it's still that way today. Just push, baby, push.

Tom from Denver, IA:
Who do you think, now that McNair is gone, the Titans will start, Volek or Young?

Vic: : It depends on whether the Titans are going to try to develop Vince Young as a pro-style quarterback or let him be who he is. If they're going to let him be who he is, they might as well make him the starter now. If they're going to change his game, however, then Billy Volek will probably be the starter because Young is going to require a lot of changing.

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