Join jaguars.com senior editor Vic Ketchman as he tackles the fans' tough questions.
Mark from Charleston, SC:
What is the NFL's stance on players who say they are too injured to play in the Pro Bowl but then they're seen playing a round of golf? Isn't this disrespectful to the league?
Vic: Playing golf isn't the same as playing a football game, but I understand what you're saying. Yeah, I think it is somewhat disrespectful to snub a game of such distinction. It especially bothers me that a player might realize a huge incentive for being selected to play in the game, but then elects not to attend, which causes another player to take his place and, in many cases, causes that player to reach an incentive that costs his team precious salary cap room that wasn't honestly achieved. I've never liked the idea of take the money and run, but that's what a lot of guys are doing when they snub the Pro Bowl. The Pro Bowl needs a new format. Maybe it just needs to go away.
David from Tallahassee, FL:
Is it time for an injury update, since we're almost upon free agency?
Vic: You're not going to get injury updates at this time of the year. The players are off. They are, to a large degree, out of sight and out of mind. This is the personnel time of the year. Everyone will be in Indianapolis next week for the scouting combine. That kicks off intense draft board meetings. Then, depending on the CBA situation, comes free agency. Then it's back to the draft. Injury updates won't begin until offseason conditioning begins in early April, at the earliest. That's not to say teams don't have an idea of the progress their injured players are making in their recoveries, it's just that honest updates won't be forthcoming until the players begin doing some on-field work.
Cliff from Patuxent River, MD:
As fans of sports, we have lived through this scenario many, many times. We are accustomed to deadlines that pass only to have the parties reach an agreement a week or two later. I'm not gonna let myself get all worked up about an absolute, drop-dead, the-world-is-gonna-be-destroyed deadline for a CBA extension, only to have the parties agree by the end of the month and the world as we now know it will go back to normal. This is the reason the story isn't as big as you think it should be. We've been traumatized unnecessarily too many times in the past. What are your thoughts on this reasoning?
Vic: My thoughts are that you don't want to spend the energy to learn about the business of professional football. That's fine. I don't blame you. Football is supposed to be a leisure activity and there's nothing leisurely about understanding the CBA, revenue-sharing, the salary cap, etc. Just, please, don't send me e-mails criticizing this personnel move and that personnel move if you're not going to take the time to understand and appreciate the dynamics of those decisions. If you're not going to take the time to understand this stuff, all you can do between now and next September is sit and wait. The offseason isn't about cover two or play-calling or complaints about the officiating. The offseason is for people who understand the business of professional football. The offseason is for people who are true students of the game.
Harley from Jacksonville:
I try to read your column every day and I find it very informative. My question is this: With the success Pittsburgh and New England have had, have we seen the end of the Indianapolis spend-until-you-win cap philosophy?
Vic: That was not the Colts' base philosophy or strategy. The Colts had always been conservative spenders. What happened to the Colts is that they got held hostage by Peyton Manning's amazing statistical achievements. Manning reached all of his contract escalators and that was the start of the Colts' salary cap demise. Wins are always better than touchdown passes, for the obvious reason and also because statistical success is very costly. Everybody loves stats. Well, you wouldn't like 'em so much if you were an owner, unless, of course, you have the Super Bowl titles to go with them. That's the problem the Colts are facing. They have all the costs but they don't have the titles. They're paying for stats.
Sharon from Gloucester, England:
If you can step out of your Jax bubble for a moment, I would like to ask you a question about the NFL on a global scale. Do you think we will ever see a true world American football championship game? For example, the winners of NFL Europe against the U.S. Super Bowl winners. If not, why?
Vic: Because we'd beat your brains in.
Christopher from Tallahassee, FL:
What do you have against Ty Law? I understand he's old but he also led the league with 10 picks; the Jaguars career leader is Aaron Beasley with only 15 in five seasons. Say what you want but we should have signed him. Now we need to pursue Chris McAlister.
Vic: What? How are you going to do that? Change his dental records and put him in the witness protection program? The Ravens have this piece of paper they call a contract and it has McAlister's name on it. Here's a suggestion for you: Find new talent. Find a player you can call your own. Find a guy who won't be a one-year bandage.
Cory from Jacksonville:
Why do you post questions like Casey from Richmond, VA, when there are real questions to be answered?
Vic: I guess sometimes I just feel, you know, silly.
Dennis from Orlando, FL:
In regards to the CBA, can you summarize for us the issues between the owners and players that need to be figured out?
Vic: Local revenue is the big issue. It's a TFR (Total Football Revenue) model vs. a DGR (Designated Gross Revenue) model. That's the main issue. The players want a cut of the local revenue. The players want a TFR model; they want to divide up all of the revenue instead of excluding non-designated stuff. Since the CBA of 1993, which introduced the salary cap, the players have always received a percentage of DGR. That percentage divided by the total number of teams in the league is each team's salary cap in that year. When that DGR model was established, local revenue was not included in the players' cut. Local revenue wasn't nearly as great then as it is now. What's an example of local revenue? Preseason TV rights, radio rights, etc. Local revenue has reached a point of significance that players want it to also be included in the formula, which I can understand. I think the owners also understand that request. Percentage is the issue. That's what has to be negotiated. The owners allowed the players to recover quickly and more than fully from the folly that was the 1987 strike. The owners truly have shared the wealth. Now I think we've reached a point that the owners will hold the line if the players ask for too much. Labor peace is of paramount importance, but the owners know it would be a mistake to give away the game. I think the start of the league year and free agency will be moved back, which was a possibility I raised over a month ago. I think there will be a new deal and the 2006 season will be played under a new CBA. I see the players getting a slice of TFR, but not at the percentage they'd like to have. It's called compromise and it's a good thing.
Jeritt from Jacksonville:
What position do you think the Jaguars should draft on offense.
Vic: I don't believe in drafting by position. I believe in drafting players according to their rank on the value board. There are always going to be exceptions, but any personnel man will tell you that sticking to your value board gives you the best chance of having success in the draft.
Will from Jacksonville:
The NFL uses prime-time games to showcase certain teams and matchups to the nation. If you were the NFL, what games would you make prime-time for the Jags this year and why? I think the game where Coughlin returns to Jacksonville would be a great prime-time game. What do you think?
Vic: For a game to have prime-time appeal, it has to have national interest. The Coughlin-returns-to-Jacksonville story has possibilities, but I think it's more of a local story than national. The games on the Jaguars' schedule that have some national appeal are the two against Indianapolis and the one at home against Pittsburgh. The Jaguars have a nice tradition of exciting games against the Steelers and the Jaguars-Colts games have a challenger-champion storyline.