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Coverage should be balanced

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

George from Drummonds, TN:
Any bids for naming rights for "The Jack?"

Vic: Jaguars CFO Bill Prescott was recently quoted as saying it's unlikely the Jaguars will find a stadium naming rights sponsor for this season.

Richard from Baton Rouge, LA:
I am not a Jaguars fan, but your column is so interesting and entertaining that I have started looking for it every weekday. As a result, I'm sure I will become more educated about the Jaguars. Also, I enjoy your analysis on the rest of the league. Thanks for providing us with an honest, informative and interesting column.

Vic: This is what I call a good e-mail, written by an obviously intelligent man. I wanna see more like this.

Jeff from Westminster, CO:
Fantastic article on the first training camp, Vic. I imagine there will be links to it on many NFL sites.

Vic: I love links.

Jon from Tallahassee, FL:
Wasn't it great to watch a guy like Watson show so much class on the golf course while winning and while playing terrible in the playoff? Tiger Woods can learn a thing or two from how Watson carries himself.

Vic: We all could.

John from Jacksonville:
I agree about being tired of hearing about blackouts, but that is because after years of reading, I do get it. With that said, are you hopeful that a year of blackouts will bring people back?

Vic: I'm not only hopeful it will, I'm certain it will. The Jaguars should've done this years ago. They got soft with the rules and that confused people. Fans came to rely on it. This year, they'll come to understand the soft days are over and it's buy a ticket or don't see the game. It's short-term pain for long-term gain.

Tom from Jacksonville Beach, FL:
From market support that drew 40,000 crazed fans to the stadium in the wee hours to welcome home our victorious team after their great playoff win in 1996, to market support that seems at worst unenthused and at best complacent. Was it just infatuation early on or are we just that fickle?

Vic: Number one, that wee hours in the morning welcome was free. Number two, there's no way there were 40,000 people in that stadium. That's the biggest lie ever told. I stood on that field that night and looked around, genuinely impressed by what I was seeing, but what I saw wasn't what was reported. I'll go with 25,000, but not 40,000. Jacksonville used to love to lie about itself. Those days are over and that's a good thing, too, because eventually we have to deal with the truth. That's what we're dealing with now.

Mark from Regina, Canada:
Two hundred dollars for half the season is a steal. I can't believe that package doesn't sell out instantly. I'm paying $50/game for CFL games.

Vic: It may be the best bargain in sports. All you have to do is cancel your lawn service for a month and you've got a ticket to five games. Cancel it for the summer and make your oldest son cut the grass and you can take the whole family. I don't get it. I'm one of the few guys in my neighborhood that cuts his own grass. Every day I watch an army of lawn care guys sweep into my neighborhood; it sounds like a war when they all get their machines running. When I was a kid, if the grass wasn't cut by the time my dad got home from work on Friday, I wasn't going to play any Little League ball that weekend. So tell your kid: Wanna see the Jags play? All right, then cut the grass.

Bill from Palm Bay, FL:
With the economy what it is, I'll bet Jacksonville is not alone in the blackout situation. With GM and Chrysler declaring bankruptcy, I'll guess Detroit may be in the same boat, for different reasons, of course. What other teams may have it rough this year?

Vic: Misery loves company, right? Well, the Chiefs, Raiders and Jaguars appear to be the hardest hit. The Vikings and Lions are challenged.

Quinton from Washington, D.C.:
I'm interested in your opinion on a particular issue regarding the Ben Roethlisberger story, specifically ESPN's decision not to report on it, even after major media outlets, including the AP, picked it up. I'm not sure what their current position is but initially they gave a number of reasons including a policy on not reporting civil cases unaccompanied by criminal cases (which it appears is either a new policy or has been waived in the past), as well as a concern for damaging reputations. There is a certain rationale to both of the stated reasons but I'd be interested on your take.

Vic: My basic philosophy is that "the truth is the pure defense," and it's a fact that Ben Roethlisberger is being sued for damages in civil court on the basis of a sexual assault complaint. Yes, it's a treasure hunt; that's almost always what civil cases are, but that doesn't mean they're without news value. Atkinson v. Noll was a civil case, but it received major news coverage in 1977, not only because it provided juicy bits of testimony, but also because it was believed that the game of pro football as we knew it back then was at stake. Frankly, I think the coverage Atkinson v. Noll received was a major factor in stimulating the rules changes of 1978; the game had to get away from thugism. In other words, I don't agree with ESPN's decision to ignore the suit. The "Pittsburgh Post-Gazette" certainly didn't ignore it. They put it on the front page of their website and they quoted the applicable part of the NFL player conduct code that could pertain to Roethlisberger, should reliable negative information surface. What I think is important is that any news outlet reporting on this matter make sure its coverage is balanced; what you do going in, you do coming out. If this turns out to be bogus, then an editorial along those lines needs to be written. Jerome Bettis was the victim of a sexual assault charge scam some years ago. A college teacher attempted to prove to his class a point on extortion. Bettis got a lot of negative publicity when the charge was brought, but not much was written about the hoax that was uncovered by police.

Jason from Jacksonville:
Did you read Mike Freeman's article on golf not being a sport and being equal to bowling? He basically said golf was for people who couldn't play other sports. As a former athlete who played sports collegiately, I love golf and completely think it is a sport. What do you think about what Freeman said?

Vic: I think it's a tired and worn-out debate. Golf is not an endurance sport. It's not a test of physical might. Tom Watson just proved that. Hey, it's an old man's sport. It's what old men do when they can't do anything else. Here's what I find interesting: I'll bet every golfer on tour can throw and catch a football, shoot a basketball and hit a baseball, but half the guys in a football locker room swing a golf club like a girl. I wonder what Mike would say to that.

Ben from Orlando, FL:
Yesterday was one of the better days of my short life and it's in part due to you. At 10 a.m., I was offered a promotion with my company that will move me from Orlando to Jacksonville. By four p.m., I had purchased a Jaguars season ticket. I have no idea where I'm going to be living, but I know exactly where I'm going to be 10 Sundays this year. My expectations are only to see a young, competitive team that plays hard and shows improvement over the course of the year. Thank you for inspiring me to be a better fan and setting me up for an experience I'm going to enjoy. Know that you are making a difference, even if it doesn't always feel like it.

Vic: How big is that company of yours?

David from Jacksonville:
Break it down for me, Vic, what are the blackout rules?

Vic: All games are technically blacked out. If a game is declared a sellout 72 hours prior to kickoff, the blackout is lifted. Premium-seat tickets do not count toward the blackout number because they include a club license. Only the general bowl seats count toward the blackout number and in Jacksonville that number is a fraction above 50,000, which happens to be one of the smallest blackout numbers in the league. It does not include those seats set aside for Honor Rows, the military and American Disability Act patrons.

Mikayl from Providence, RI:
If your quarterback went down and you had to choose between Brett Favre and Michael Vick, who would you take?

Vic: Vick.

James from Jacksonville:
If Michael Vick really is a changed man, wouldn't you like to see him as a Jaguar player at the right price?

Vic: I have nothing against Vick. He's paid the price for his crime and he deserves to play again in the NFL, once the commissioner decides, of course, on whether or not additional suspension is warranted. He's a great athlete. Forget about conventional quarterbacking skills. Vick is an impact player; an offensive star. That's all that matters. I just don't think he's a good fit for the Jaguars because, in my opinion, it's all about turning the clock forward this year. Signing Vick would take the focus off that youth movement and I think that would be a mistake, but I could be wrong. If they sign him, I won't complain. I like watching him play and he'd sure make my job easier. Do I think they'll sign him? I think there's a better chance they would sign me to play quarterback. Does that answer your question?

Andy from Jacksonville:
Why does the paper come out with the details on the Rashad Jennings singing before the website?

Vic: We won't post the story until the contract is signed. As of this morning, it was not signed.

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