Let's get to it . . . Robert from Westside:
Don't you think Gene Smith got off way too easy at the Blackmon press conference? Ultimately it is Gene who is responsible for the shroud hanging over the team at the moment. He didn't answer the question of due diligence, but I know for a fact they never had Blackmon in for an interview or workout.
John: Everyone who has been paying attention knows that for a fact. I believe Smith said as much when Blackmon was drafted. This is the definition of a non-issue. Not having a player "in" for an interview or workout has zero – zero – to do with due diligence. First, a potential first-round draft choice works out at the combine and/or his Pro Day, but rarely at a team's facility. Second, it is very common for teams to select players in the first round who they did not bring in for a visit. Due diligence is done by team and league security, and by scouts and personnel officials talking to people they trust on college campuses. Some of this is done on the phone; some is done face to face. Besides, what do you think Blackmon was going to say had he visited the Jaguars: "Hey, Mr. Smith, Coach Mularkey: Sometimes I drink a lot and make bad choices?" That's not to make light of the situation, but to say the Jaguars didn't do due diligence on Blackmon because he didn't come to Jacksonville in March or April is completely disconnected from reality.
It's all your fault John. As the senior writer for this team I can't believe you allow all of these players to make mistakes. And why didn't you get Tebow here? While we're at it, you should have seen the trouble between the city and the team brewing and cut it off before it got blown out of proportion. You're slackin' Johnny and we will hold you accountable for every mistake made that concerns this team.
John: Actually I'm blaming Gene Smith for not bringing me in for a visit.
Brian from Section 436 and Jacksonville:
Fred Taylor will be the next inductee into the Pride of the Jaguars, an unselfish player who the fans admire for his hard work and game-changing ability. Whether or not he'll be a direct mentor to Blackmon, Taylor definitely showed how a great player didn't let past mistakes define who he would become, on and off the field.
John: I attended the Jaguars Caravan stops in Daytona and Gainesville the last two days, and though the events were enjoyable, most enjoyable was getting a chance to spend time with Taylor. I had interviewed him several times in the last year, but aside from running into him at the 2008 Pro Bowl hadn't spent any significant time with him since covering him from 1998-2000. As much as fans admire and respect Taylor, what's impressive about him is he is as humble, real and honest in person as he appears on camera and in public. The Jaguars indeed announced Taylor as the latest inductee into the Pride on Thursday. It's as fitting an honor as I can imagine.
Andrew from St. Augustine, FL:
If you show me a man who has never made a mistake, I will show you a liar.
John: I'd show you my inbox.
Fred from Waycross, GA:
Why do people believe they are owed an apology? I wish we lived in a world where people say "It's none of your business." As for people bashing Gene Smith for everything, really? Do fans believe he is supposed to have a crystal ball?
John: People believe they are owed an apology in part because we live in a self-righteous society in which many people forget that they once, too, were young and that they once made mistakes. As for fans believing Smith is supposed to have a crystal ball -- yes, they do.
Bob from Jacksonville:
Any chance we bench Gabbert for two years to learn under Henne?
John: Not unless Henne is better.
James from Mableton, GA and Section 146:
I find it ridiculous that this website doesn't have an editorial or news story about the Blackmon situation and then has a press conference about the situation but does not air it on the web, radio, or TV. Plus, Blackmon can't even address the issue because he pleaded not guilty. This mess is not going away anytime soon if the Jaguars can't own up to it and address it. Please defend your employer and their stance...
John: We didn't run a news story on Blackmon's arrest on Sunday or Monday, but I don't think you'd find that to be uncommon on many teams web sites. We did, however, cover the press conference with a news story Wednesday, and we had the video of the press conference on the website shortly after completion. We also on Tuesday wrote a story about Fred Taylor talking to Blackmon that day. In addition to those, I wrote about Blackmon in the O-Zone Monday and extensively enough on Tuesday and Wednesday that I got emails complaining I was writing about it too much. There are cases on jaguars.com when we are slower than ideal with news, in particular during free agency when it is our policy to not write about player acquisitions until a player is officially signed. But in the case of Blackmon, I believe we addressed the issue as frequently and with as much honesty as you'd find on most team web sites. Trust me – and I know this from experience – there are many, many teams that would have addressed it far less transparently.
Bryce from Algona, IA:
John, I'm disappointed in your casual response to Mike from Atlanta's post. For the sake of your family, I would hope your real response would be: You won't have to worry about me getting a DUI.
John: I'm sorry you're disappointed. I hope you have a better day today.
Dave from Jacksonville and Section 412:
Earlier in the year there were a lot of questions about Gabbert working on his days off and now it's questions about MJD not being at VOLUNTARY workouts. Of those commenting and complaining I wonder how many go to work on their days off just to get better at it.
John: I wonder that, too. A lot of this issue seems to stem from people believing that because the NFL is played from August through January that the players should be in pretty much every week in the offseason. It's hard to explain to people that players' bodies need time to recuperate and that down time is needed. Many people don't want to hear that, and I get a little tired of saying it over and over, but it's still true.
Bobby from Newcastle, UK:
Jeris Pendleton? Do you pronounce the S or does it read like Jerry?
John: He's from Chicago, not France. You pronounce the "S."
Matt from Manassas, VA:
I know you have answered questions in the past about the conspiracy against Jacksonville in the media, but something struck me as odd. After the news conference about Justin's DUI, the headlines were reading, "Justin swears off drinking 'for now''' on ESPN and on NFL.com it was "Blackmon apologizes, denies he has problem." Considering ESPN chose to ignore the whole press meeting and focus on one sentence like a hormonal teenager and NFL.com took the stance that he does have a problem, how is the media not attacking the Jaguars with an agenda?
John: The media picked out the most interest-piquing part of the press conference, and made that the headline. That's not an agenda. That's just what the media does.
Donny from Lake Mary, FL:
As the Jags and Gene Smith get blasted for the Blackmon pick now, why haven't you pointed out one of the obvious reasons the Jags felt good about drafting him? I read several times after the draft that Todd Monken, the Jags' former "RECEIVERS" coach and the Offensive Coordinator for a very good Oklahoma State team last year, highly vouched for him according to multiple sources! Should he be considered a good source of info or was Monken just trying to screw the Jags with bad intel?
John: I haven't discussed Monken much because the reality was Monken was just one source of information. Particularly with their first-round draft choices, teams investigate them from many possible angles, not just a position coach they happen to know.
Phil from Woodmere, NY:
Please reread your column from Wednesday and notice how many questions are either asked out of ignorance, laziness, stupidity, or blind emotion. This dumbs down the column and makes it boring for those of us with brains. It's like being a grad student in geology and having to sit through a seventh grade earth science class... tedious and uninteresting. Vic found a great balance between catering to his smart readers and to the other crowd at the same time through sarcasm. Some of his best material involved answers that were lost on some level to about half his audience. The half that got it were quietly amused, while the other half wrote in trying to argue for/against something silly and trying to get him to recant. Anyway, Wednesday's column stunk.
John: I did reread the column. I also reread the questions I received that day. As far as quality, I didn't see a difference. I'd also like to take this opportunity to congratulate you on your intelligence – and of course, your humility.
Congratulations in order
Let's get to it . . . Robert from Westside: