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Don't lose this team

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

Nathan from Salt Lake City, UT:
I just wanted to share with you that what made me a Jaguars fan is the video game Madden football. I agree with you that they are completely different but that's what made me a fan. At the time it was my first year playing midget football and that made me really love the game of football. I started watching it on the weekends with my father and asked him if I could get the Madden game. He got it for me and I started to play the game with my favorite team at the time, the Steelers. As I played it a bit more, I started to play it as much with the Jaguars as I did the Steelers. I got to know the roster very well and started to really like the team. I have been an avid Jaguars fan since and love the game for what it is.

Vic: As I was writing my "10-most memorable plays" editorial, I realized that games between the Jaguars and Steelers dominated. Yeah, I was sensitive to games between those two teams because they are the two teams I've covered in my career, but I have a feeling that most long-term Jaguars fans would agree with my list of plays and at least two other games, the 2004 and '06 games, also rank as Steelers-Jaguars classics. What I'm saying is the tradition the Jaguars established with the Steelers is, without a doubt, the richest in Jaguars history. It's astounding how many key and flavorful games the two teams played against each other, especially considering they were separated by realignment in 2002. All of a sudden, it hit me that being separated from the Steelers was a critical blow to the Jaguars. I gave it deep thought and what was lost is significant: the crowds the Steelers would've brought to Jacksonville, the Jaguars fans that would've traveled to Pittsburgh for the games there and fallen in love with the atmosphere of professional football, the intensity of the rivalry, the thrill and pride of the Jaguars' success against the Steelers, the exposure to great players such as Ben Roethlisberger, Troy Polamalu, James Harrison, etc. I couldn't help but ask: How advanced would the Jaguars franchise be today if it hadn't been separated from the Steelers and the two teams had continued to play twice a year? I didn't like it when the two teams were separated but I took the high road on it and I've come to really enjoy the rivalries the Jaguars have established in the AFC South, but the games against the Steelers were special.

Tommy from Jacksonville:
I didn't get it that Cutler and the other quarterback could not return. It sounded like it was against the rules for them to return. Why is that?

Vic: The rule regarding the "third quarterback" designation is such that if the designated "third quarterback" enters the game prior to the start of the fourth quarter, the other two quarterbacks are ineligible to play in what remains of the game.

Mike from Gallitzin, PA:
They did it without having their best offensive lineman for the majority of the game.

Vic: Yeah, and it nearly cost them the game. The Steelers are very fortunate Ben Roethlisberger recovered that wild snap from center that resulted in a safety. Maurkice Pouncey says he'll play in the Super Bowl, but that's a two-week recovery on what appears to be a significant high-ankle sprain and though I salute his dedication and spirit, it's difficult to imagine he'll be able to play against the Packers. Dom Capers will concentrate a lot of effort on taking advantage of Pouncey's absence or diminished state.

Craig from Stanley, Falkland Islands:
I'm going to have to order the mug off the net. I had hoped to buy one when I'm in Florida for the first time in April, but it will be too late; you will be gone. Pop in if you're ever in my neck of the woods.

Vic: I'll check with our distributor in the Falkland Islands. He might have a few left.

Henry from Jacksonville:
It's rare that the networks would prefer a non-New York team, but do you think they're glad the Steelers won?

Vic: It doesn't matter for the Super Bowl. Everybody watches the Super Bowl, regardless of who's playing. I'll tell you who's happy about the matchup between the Steelers and Packers: anybody who was able to buy a ticket at face value. With these two fan bases competing against each other for tickets, this Super Bowl is going to bring in some eye-popping, mind-blowing prices. We're going to hear and read about people spending thousands of dollars for tickets.

John from Houston, TX:
With all due respect, the Steelers will win this game in their normal fashion. I believe it will come down to the wire. Rodgers will not be able to handle the pressure.

Vic: He handled the pressure very well in last year's meeting between the two teams, which turned into a surprise shootout. I think Green Bay is going to carry the day on defense. I think they have a major advantage over the Steelers in pass-defense.

Vignu from Jefferson, WI:
It's funny, Vic, because a few weeks ago we were saying the old school method of building up a lead and sitting on it is outdated, but lo and behold, the two teams in the Super Bowl did just that in their respective championship games.

Vic: Yes and no. Yes, they were able to protect their halftime leads, but not without risk and, in the Steelers' case, they had to turn it back on at the end to seal the deal. I give Mike Tomlin credit; he finally learned his lesson. He lost to the Ravens early in the season when he tried to sit on a lead and turned the game over to the defense, he lost to the Jaguars back in the 2007 playoffs when he went conservative on a third-and-six play, and he would've lost the Super Bowl two years ago by trying to protect a lead had Roethlisberger not driven the Steelers the length of the field in the final two minutes. Against the Jets on Sunday, after getting the ball back with more than three minutes to play, he allowed Roethlisberger to twice throw and complete passes that produced first downs and killed what was left of the clock. Nothing about today's game favors sitting on a lead. The league doesn't want teams doing that and it's adjusted the rules to favor teams that remain on the attack.

James from Ojai/Ventura, CA:
I simply write to express my sincere sadness that you are leaving the Jaguars. I will never forget the day during my senior year of college that I drank far too much alcohol, stayed up reading your articles into the night and, in the middle of my stupor, I came up with the idea of the "Ask Vic Golf Tournament." I sent you an impassioned e-mail in the middle of the night suggesting the tournament, and then collapsed into bed. Imagine my surprise when I woke up the next morning and began my daily reading of your column. There it was, my question that I had absolutely no recollection of sending. I was floored. Your response and support created the "Ask Vic" golf adventure and I am proud to say I attended that inaugural event.

Vic: It's only fitting that something so pure, so perfect should be born in a moment of drunken brilliance. You are the creator. Long live the creator.

Cornel from Santa Maria, CA:
Why the rule keeping the quarterback from returning to the game if the "third quarterback" played in the third quarter?

Vic: It's because the "third quarterback" is an "inactive." The intent of the rule is to provide backup at the quarterback position in case of emergency, without making teams carry a player on their active 45 that is unlikely to play. In other words, if you want the ability to use your quarterbacks without restriction, then don't designate one of them as the "third quarterback."

Mac from Jacksonville:
When I saw the headline the other day, "Farewell to Vic Ketchman," I thought you were dead. Glad to hear it is not true.

Vic: Me, too.

Shane from Callahan, FL:
What words resound in your heart to tell the fans of the Jaguars as you leave?

Vic: Don't lose this team. I know the economy is bad and people are struggling, but please find a way to dig deep and keep this team. The Jaguars, in my opinion, are the most valuable possession Jacksonville has ever owned. In time, the Jaguars will do for Jacksonville what the Steelers do for Pittsburgh and the Packers do for Green Bay. Fight through your disappointment to find hope. See through the failures to envision success. Reject the minor irritations to embrace the big picture. All of that growth and progress that defined Jacksonville in 1995 will return one day, but never as fully or as recognizably without the Jaguars as the town's feature attraction.

Jerry from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
The way Ben and Aaron move around the pocket really gives their teams an advantage to make plays. Is that all natural ability or can that be taught?

Vic: You don't teach eyes-in-the-back-of-your-head pocket presence. It's an instinct. Some guys can just feel the rush. I remember writing in my game-day blog a couple of years ago when the Packers played in Jacksonville that I was stunned by how mobile Aaron Rodgers was. I remember commenting in my blog during the 2007 preseason game in Green Bay that Rodgers had a great-looking arm and that he was a very accurate passer – I also remember commenting then that it was time to pull the plug on Brett Favre and move into the Packers' future – but I didn't know Rodgers was as athletic and mobile as he is until I saw him in Jacksonville the following season. He is a stunning talent. He might be the best quarterback in the game.

Danny from Fernandina Beach, FL:
I have a picture of the firemen on top of the fire truck that day at training camp. It would be an honor if you would take it.

Vic: I have one. It's a really cool picture from the Oklahoma drill a few years ago. The Oklahoma really became a special event. The fans loved it; they packed the place. It's 10 minutes of fun that everybody remembers for a lifetime. I tip my hat to Jack Del Rio for making it happen.

Nedzad from Jacksonville:
Do you remember every season you cover? Do you ever think back to, say, 2000, and wonder what exactly the Jags were doing?

Vic: I have a great memory for that kind of stuff and, yes, I remember every season. Right away, I remember Jimmy Smith's great game in Baltimore and Fred Taylor's great game in Pittsburgh in the 2000 season. Gene Smith has a young man in his personnel department whose father played for the Steelers when I covered them. One day I said to the young man, "I remember your dad gettin' sliced open across his eye in a playoff game in Denver in 1989," and the young man got a big smile on his face. He was awfully young when that happened but it clearly rekindled some kind of recollection of it. I'm lucky to have that kind of recall. You're never alone when you have your memories with you.

Gene from Punta Gorda, FL:
As I watched the Steelers-Jets game on Sunday, I observed the sea of waving yellow towels and it reminded me of August, 1996, when the Jaguars met the 49ers in a preseason game. It was the debut for Jaxson de Ville and a company sprang for 60,000 white towels for us to wave during the game. Why can't some corporate entity step forward and spring for 60,000 Terrible Teal Towels for attendees? I am positive it would be as impressive as the scene at Heinz Field.

Vic: Gene, those fans at Heinz Field are the entity. Those towels aren't free; the fans buy them. There's a mindset in Jacksonville that business is supposed to pick up the tab, but that won't work. It's not up to business, it's up to us. The Jaguars moved 80,000 tickets into the group sales category last season, which means the business community by and large picked up the tab on those tickets. I dare say that might have been the largest corporate ticket-buy in the league.

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