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Expectations are meaningless

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

Gabe from Jacksonville:
With the Jets having issues selling PSLs, do you think the money has gotten too big in the NFL. In the past, it seems it was a game for everyone. Now it seems with new stadiums and ballooning player salaries, the NFL is pricing itself out. If a market the size of New York is struggling to find buyers, is there any hope for Jacksonville to survive as an NFL city?

Vic: I would agree that the league has pushed the revenue envelope too far and I think it is of vital importance that the owners and the players union understand that fact as they negotiate a new CBA.

Michelle from Jacksonville:
Was anyone other than me wanting to pick up Michael Vick last season? I sent a question to you about it without a reply. I think he would have been a great asset to the team, especially looking back over the end of the season when Garrard was more on the ground than standing up. We would have pulled all of his fans from Atlanta and would have not been worrying about blackouts like we still are.

Vic: Do you really believe all of that? Seriously, I wanna know if you honestly believe what you've just written or if you were just bored and felt a need to say something ridiculous.

Hardy from Jacksonville:
How do players receive their salaries? Are they paid over the 16-game season? How do they pay the team members that practice the preseason and do not make the team?

Vic: Players do not draw their salaries until the regular season begins. At that point, they are paid over a 17-week period. Prior to the regular season, players receive a weekly per diem through training camp and the preseason. Players also receive per diem during OTAs and offseason conditioning, and some veteran players have conditioning participation incentives in their contracts. Rookies are housed during OTAs.

David from Toms River, NJ:
What do you think of Terrell Owens coming to play with the Jaguars this season?

Vic: He's coming here? Really? I couldn't be more surprised if I woke up with my head stitched to the carpet. Actually, I'm kind of glad to hear the news because now maybe the questions will stop. I can't wait for the press conference because I've always wanted to ask T.O. how he got such big muscles. I'd like to get a few more yards off the tee, so maybe he can give me some tips for building muscle. Maybe he could even do some push-ups and sit-ups, as he did for the reporters in Philadelphia.

George from Jacksonville:
How do your expectations for the Jaguars this season compare to last year's team?

Vic: I'm not going to do the expectations thing this year because they're meaningless. Coach Jack Del Rio says the goal is to win the division and the fans have a playoffs-or-else mindset, and nothing I say is going to change either. I know what common sense would suggest, but nobody wants to hear common sense, they wanna hear something that sets the bar at a particular level so they can come back at the end of the season and angrily say, "You said." Last year, I said it was rebuilding, and then everyone laughed at me when the team was 7-5 and the leading contender for a wild-card spot. When they lost the next four in a row, nobody came back and said, "You were right, Vic." Instead, they called for the coach's head because at 7-5 the expectation for rebuilding had been abandoned. So, this year, I'm not going to have any preconceived notions. I'll leave that to you. What are your expectations?

Ronny from Jacksonville:
Franchise tag equals the average salary of the top five players at that position. What about incentives? Is that figured in anywhere when a team places the franchise tag on someone?

Vic: There are no incentives in a "franchise player" tender. There's no bonus money, either. It's all salary in a one-year contract.

Matthew from Clermont, FL:
One thing that leads me to read your column is your talent in bringing the history of the NFL into focus. Today I saw that Hulu is now carrying NFL Films' "Lost Treasures" series, along with a slew of other NFL-related videos. What is your favorite NFL memory of something you saw on TV (rather than being at a game)?

Vic: It's the "Ice Bowl." Even at the tender age of 16, I knew that what I was seeing was special. It was New Year's Eve and we were visiting my grandparents. I went to the basement, which was my grandfather's special place, to get away from all of the people upstairs so I could watch the game in peace. The first thing that hit me was the weather conditions. I had just come inside from playing football in the backyard, and it was unseasonably warm for New Year's Eve. I sat in the basement with my eyes glued to that little black and white television all afternoon, stealing bottles of pop out of a naturally-cold room called a "root cellar." Those were the days of returnable bottles, so I'd drink them and just put them back in their slots in the box. By the time my grandmother found the empties, we'd be gone. I remember my heart pounding as the Packers lined up for the quarterback sneak play. It was one of those moments that you always remember where you were and who you were with. I was in the basement of my grandparents' home and I was alone with the "Ice Bowl" and a case of pop.

Paul from Jacksonville:
What are your thoughts on Larry Hart's ability to be an every-downs defensive end for us this year? He is an intriguing prospect who seems like he can be very disruptive. On tape he looks good against the run. My concern is that he is being touted as a third-down defensive end to bring pressure in passing situations, and Manning will get the team to the line and snap the ball before we can make the personnel changes.

Vic: That's a legitimate concern, but it's a concern you'd like to have because it means Hart will have become a good enough pass-rusher to warrant scheming. He's not an every-downs guy. The concern would be that should an opponent convert on third down, they would go hurry-up and force the Jaguars to keep Hart on the field for running downs. That's why designing a role for him is critical to his usage and success.

John from St. Augustine, FL:
Oil spills are inevitable, but our world depends on oil and will likely depend on it for the foreseeable future. I hope you mean that companies that are irresponsible with their contingency/disaster planning shouldn't be allowed to drill, not that no one should be allowed to drill. You strike me as a very rational, intelligent person, so I assume you meant the former.

Vic: Inevitable is another way of saying acceptance. Let me know what your level of acceptance is when that oil makes its way to St. Augustine. Drill sideways, baby, drill sideways.

Charles from Midlothian, VA:
All the reports are Garrard is really stepping up and looking sharp, which I love to hear. The question is how sharp is he really looking? 2007 sharp? Manning sharp? Or just better-than-McCown sharp?

Vic: Easy, Charles, easy. It's just the "Underwear League."

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