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Expectations can be dangerous

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

Andy from Palm Coast, FL:
Do unsigned players not participate in training camp because of an NFL rule, a team rule, or as a bargaining tool to get signed?

Vic: It's an NFL rule that a player must be under contract before he can participate in a training camp practice.

Michael from Saint Augustine, FL:
All this talk of blackouts got me thinking about the origin of the blackout. If the premise was that owners should not be forced to give away their product, then wouldn't the $100 million-plus each team receives from the TV deal render that point useless? I'm a believer in the stadium being sold out every weekend, but it seems hypocritical to me that each team receives more money from TV than from ticket sales but all games won't be shown on TV. I've got to be missing something.

Vic: Yeah, you're missing something, all right. You're missing about $50 million in ticket sales, which is about 80 percent of the Jaguars' local revenue. That's what the TV blackout policy protects. Fifty million dollars is useless? You're right, you really don't get it, but by the time this season is over, everybody's gonna get it.

Bryson from Gainesville, FL:
Do you plan on posting an in-game blog for the blacked-out preseason games? Or possibly a postgame evaluation of some of the rookies?

Vic: I'll do my regular in-game blog and game story, and I like your idea about the rookies so I'm thinking about a "rookie watch" type story that will provide play-time and performance information on each rookie.

Kevin from Orlando, FL:
Should the Jaguars take a page from the Buffalo Bills (playing in Toronto) and play a game or two in Orlando? It would decrease the number of games in Jacksonville. I don't think the blackout problem is going away any time soon.

Vic: A couple of years ago, when the NFL first started playing regular-season games in London, I proposed the idea that the Jaguars play a game or two internationally each season, which would help expose the NFL product in other countries and decrease the ticket-buying burden on Jaguars fans. I think what you're suggesting is valid, I just don't think it's viable in Orlando for a couple of reasons: 1.) Orlando doesn't have an NFL-caliber stadium. 2.) The Jaguars fan base in Orlando isn't big enough to provide relief; the majority of people attending the game would probably be from Jacksonville. I still think the international idea is good. I think it would help ease the burden in Jacksonville and allow time for the fan base to grow.

Kevin from New York, NY:
I was curious to know whether or not there are a lot of commercials around the area to promote the sales of tickets? I know the website is promoting big time and was wondering if the same was true with television?

Vic: The Jaguars have done TV advertising in the past and have plans to begin another TV marketing campaign this week. It's difficult, however, to quantify advertising results. I don't know what more the marketing department can do. They've backed off the season-ticket stance and are offering a very attractive half-season ticket package. Marketing is what you do when people don't know what your product is and where to buy it. So who doesn't know what the NFL is and where to see it? The problem in Jacksonville is that people have become accustomed to watching their football on television. That has to change.

Jaime from Jacksonville:
Does the visiting team normally have to set up a telecast for their fans, or does the other team's fans just watch only if the Jaguars decide to produce the telecast?

Vic: Unless a preseason game has been designated for network telecast, it is up to each team to provide the telecasts of its preseason games to its fans, home and away. The Jaguars will provide for the telecasts of the Jaguars' preseason games in Tampa and in Philadelphia.

John from Jacksonville:
"NFL Network" is advertising that it will broadcast all preseason games. If the Jaguars' home preseason games will not be network telecasts, I assume these games will not air on "NFL Network," correct?

Vic: No, that's not correct. "NFL Network" will show the Jaguars' home preseason games on tape delay. I assume they'll use the Dolphins' and Redskins' TV feeds.

Jon from Tallahassee, FL:
I'm surprised no one asked for your thoughts on Tom Watson at the British Open. Wadda ya got?

Vic: Old-man nerves got him. He knows it. Crunch time is always the test and Watson got what Jack Nicklaus beautifully described earlier in the telecast as "fat hands." Nicklaus spoke of how he lost his feel for the delicate shots late in his career. He said that all of a sudden his hands would feel fat. Watson hit his first putt at 18 like a blacksmith, then hit his second one like Peter Pan. I was terribly disappointed, but I would've bet that he wouldn't get down in two. I'm not blaming him because you can't fault someone for getting old, but he appeared to rush both putts without really thinking out what needed to be done, and I think that's because he knew he was in hit and hope mode. In his prime, Watson was the best crunch-time player in the game. In his prime, the second putt on Sunday would've been a tap-in. I have a favorite story of Watson from the 1983 U.S. Open if somebody wants to hear it. Even an old-man's game, such as golf, is a young man's game at crunch time. That's my first thought. My second thought is that Lee Westwood is the guy who really blew it. He put all of his hope into one long putt and he made the mistake of blowing it too far past the hole, which caused him a spot in the playoff. My third thought is that this was a British Open that won't be remembered for Stewart Cink winning it as much as for Watson losing it. That's unfortunate for Cink.

Armand from Jacksonville:
When do you expect to see a majority of first-round picks get signed?

Vic: Right before the start of training camp. It's always that way.

Dan from Jacksonville:
I understand the logic of not televising the home preseason games. The message being sent is that Wayne and the boys are making promises, not threats, if we don't buy tickets.

Vic: No, that's not it at all. This is not an act of vengeance. This is not about sending a message. It's nothing personal, it's just business. NFL blackout rules do not permit televising games locally that are not sold out. The Jaguars' two home preseason games are certain not to be sold out; the aliens would have to bring back all of the fans they've abducted at halftime through the years and deposit them back in their seats for those two games to be sold out. The decision to not plan to televise those games was a no-brainer. It's not something that can wait until the week of the game. To televise those games, the Jaguars would have to contract broadcasters and production people and equipment. It would be money wasted because the telecasts would almost certainly have to be canceled. We really need to understand the blackout policy. Watching NFL games on TV is not a birthright.

Jon from Jacksonville:
As an aspiring professional golfer, I've learned that sometimes expectations are just burdensome and keep an athlete in a spiraling collapse of frustration and anger. Can't fans just accept this team for what it is?

Vic: You are a man of great intellect. Expectations can be dangerous. Beyond that, they're worthless. Don't expect it, just do it. I've seen mild-mannered guys flip out on the golf course because they had built it up in their mind that they were going to play well, then didn't, which caused a disappointment and frustration that ruined their day. Three or four holes into the round, they had already quit. If they had kept their expectations in check, they would've probably been able to recover from the bad start and finish the round with the good feeling that they didn't melt in the face of frustration. I think the same thing applies in all sports and in all facets of life.

Steve from Jacksonville:
There's an additional bonus. Turn the tickets over and receive an additional $5 at Winn Dixie. That's $50 bucks back by the end of the season.

Vic: The Winn-Dixie I go to has free coffee, too.

Alex from Jacksonville:
What do you think about an "Ask Vic" morning radio show? I know I would tune in.

Vic: I think it's a great idea. We should do something like that right on

Miguel from Mexico City, Mexico:
All this talk about the schedule makes me remember the schedule of the Steelers last year. Shouldn't we all wish for a really tough schedule so that if our team succeeds we can expect to have a strong team in the playoffs?

Vic: No, we shouldn't. Nobody should have to play the schedule the Steelers played last season. The Dolphins are playing that kind of schedule this year. Watch what happens to them. What the Steelers did last season was extraordinary. I've never seen a team breeze through the kind of schedule they faced. I've seen killer schedules like that ruin good teams, as it did the Chargers a few years ago. The Jaguars had a tough schedule in 2006 and I think it caught up to them at the end and caused them to miss the playoffs. I like the Jaguars schedule this year. It's doable.

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