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Evaluating Jags attendance

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

Roger from Jacksonville:
Can you explain the term "bend" as applied to defensive ends? Gene Smith said about Harvey: "He has better bend coming off the corner." Is it the ability to run around the tackle while leaning in toward the quarterback?

Vic: You've described it perfectly. The pass-rush lanes for defensive ends have bends in them. You don't want those bends to be too wide. At some point, the bend has to turn sharply toward the quarterback or you'll find yourself rushing the goal posts. Smith is saying that Harvey isn't as wide as he has been in the past. I would imagine that's something defensive line coach Joe Cullen has been addressing.

Jodi from Jacksonville:
When did ticket sales for the Jaguars start their big decline? Does it coincide with the economy or were ticket sales declining before that and Weaver just bailed us out too much in the past?

Vic: There was a bothersome decline as early as year two, from an average of 69,352 per home game in 1995 to 66,692 in '96, but home attendance spiked to all-time highs in '97 (69,693) and '98 (70,184). What followed in '99, shockingly in what remains the best season in franchise history, was the first significant and sustained move downward. Attendance fell by nearly 3,000 a game in the 14-2 '99 season, and that triggered four lean years at the gate that would follow. From an average of 60,314 per home game in 2000, attendance fell to a low of 56,213 in 2003. The fortunes were radically reversed in 2004. Buoyed by the largest single-game attendance in Jaguars history, 76,877 for a Sunday night game against the Steelers, the Jaguars averaged 69,433 per home game in '04. Attendance figures looked great but stadium size resulted in six TV blackouts that year. Only the games against the Colts (73,114) and the Steelers were shown on local TV, and the Jaguars knew it was time to cover some seats. Ten thousand seats were covered for the 2005 season and the reduction in stadium size produced a small waiting list of prospective season-ticket buyers. All home games were shown on local TV in '05 and '06 but, shockingly, blackouts returned in '07, which produced the Jaguars' first postseason victory since the '99 season. Three games, including the opener, were blacked out in '07. The Jaguars avoided blackouts in '08, but that was largely the result of Wayne Weaver's largesse. The big crash came last season, as all but one game were blacked out and the average attendance per home game fell to 49,652. Was the economy to blame? Absolutely. What, however, are we to make of some of those other declines? Frankly, it's difficult to use Jaguars attendance figures to make a connection between winning and sellouts. In my opinion, the Jacksonville football fan is moody. There's no other way to explain the fans' ticket-buying history. Attendance declined in two very good years, '99 and '07, yet, it shot up in '04 following one of the worst seasons in franchise history. Was it Byron Leftwich that caused attendance to spike in '04? I doubt it, since he was the guy everyone blamed when attendance fell. Make your own conclusions. My conclusion is that the Jaguars fan base hasn't been strong enough to sustain a ticket-buying habit. It's been hot and cold and that won't work.

Benjamin from Jacksonville:
A five-tool baseball player is a guy who can do everything. What are the five tools?

Vic: Hit, hit with power, throw, field and run. When I think of a five-tool player, Willie Mays is the guy who comes to mind. I never saw anyone do all of those things better. He's the best baseball player I ever saw.

Andy from Saint Johns, FL:
Do you know of a town named after a sports writer? I would like to see Intercourse, Pa., be renamed Vic Ketchman, Pa., once you are at the pearly gates of wherever you end up.

Vic: That's lovely; thank you. By the way, did you ever hear the old joke? Coach: Where you from, son? Player: I'm from Intercourse, coach. Coach: Son, we're all from intercourse.

Todd from Philadelphia, PA:
When should we expect to see the rookies start signing?

Vic: What's the rush? We go through this every summer and I just don't understand what the rush is. Why is it so important to put a lot of money into these kids' hands as quickly as possible? I can walk down the hallway to the cafeteria at any time of day and there'll be a gaggle of rookies in there grabbing at whatever they can find to eat. The team houses them, the team feeds them, the team transports them and the team gives them a modest per diem to have a late-night pizza delivered to the hotel. In other words, these kids don't have a lot of money in their pockets to get them in trouble. So, again, what's the rush? Why not keep them poor right up to the start of training camp? It's a way of keeping them safe and focused.

Michael from Jacksonville:
I heard the Bills are going to line up Marcus Stroud at defensive end. Do you have any thoughts on that?

Vic: Didn't the Jaguars do that unsuccessfully for a game in San Diego a few years ago?

Jeff from Mayport, FL:
Which is in worse shape, the Coliseum in LA or the one in Rome?

Vic: The one in Rome has safer bathrooms.

Reese from Frederick, MD:
What do you think about Aaron Rodgers blasting the ESPN football analysts? Is this sour grapes or would you tend to agree with his point?

Vic: Go for it. If you've got something to say, say it. I like this guy more and more. He's my kind of quarterback.

David from Key West, FL:
The constant faking of injuries is my least favorite thing about soccer. If you get stretchered off the field, you should not be allowed back on the field. What's your least favorite thing?

Vic: I don't like the singing, especially that ole song.

Steve from Jacksonville:
In the mid 1990's, the Southwest Conference collapsed. Now it looks like the Big 12 is on its way to a collapse. Talk about forgoing tradition for the sake of money. And people think the NFL has a problem.

Vic: What's happening in college football right now is sad and destructive. This is what happens when you don't have a strong ruling body. The rich will get richer and the poor will get poorer, except for those fortunate few poor souls that will be extended the opportunity to have their heads handed to them by the big boys on a weekly basis, solely because they play in a market that would increase the conference's footprint. Let's watch this one. There's great potential for regret.

Chris from Jacksonville:
What's your take on the situation with the Ravens and their violation of the OTA rules? I find it almost impossible to believe they didn't know they were in violation of the rules.

Vic: My thoughts are that when the league goes to 18 games, OTAs are gonna go away. I will offer no objection.

Eric from Dublin, Ireland:
Apparently the city of Santa Clara voted in favor of a new stadium and is eyeing the 49ers. Your thoughts on this storied franchise leaving for a new home?

Vic: Business is business. The 49ers need a place to play and San Francisco doesn't seem to be willing to provide one. Nonetheless, this is another one of those sad situations in which the history and tradition of a proud franchise is being trampled by the excesses of progress. We're talking about a romantic franchise. We're talking about "The King" and Kezar. We're talking about "The Catch" and Candlestick. Santa Clara? Silicon and microchips? They will never, again, be your father's 49ers.

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