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Facts and fantasies

Join senior editor Vic Ketchman as he tackles the fans' tough questions.

Sam from Largo, FL:
I was browsing through a football magazine and the author picked the Jaguars to be 17th in the league and to end with an 8-8 record. Do you think the Jaguars have what it takes to have a winning season and maybe be in the top half of the league?

Vic: Yes.

Casey from Beavercreek, OH:
How well do you think the Bengals improved their defense through the draft and free agency?

Vic: Six of their first seven draft choices are defensive players, so the Bengals obviously concentrated on that side of the ball. You would think that would have to make them better, but, frankly, some of those picks are rather puzzling. They passed on Chris Gamble in the first round and that really surprised me. Let's not forget, however, that Marvin Lewis is an outstanding defensive mind and astute evaluator of talent on that side of the ball. For those reasons, I'm going to assume the picks are better than I think. As far as free agency is concerned, I thought the additions of Nate Webster and Kim Herring were reasonable and the trade for Deltha O'Neal addressed a distinct need, but are those players difference-makers? The addition of Daryl Gardner is major risk-reward. He could really help the Bengals, but Gardner's got some baggage and could be a threat to team chemistry.

David from Jacksonville: shows all the players.

Vic: has a "retired players" section that includes a "Where are they now?" feature and a "site search." It'll assist in tracking down some players.

Juanus from Los Angeles, CA:
How do you feel about the Jaguars being the subject of this year's "Hard Knocks" edition? Do you see any benefits or drawbacks?

Vic: I don't see any drawbacks. The benefit is obvious: It's entertaining for the fans. Frankly, I don't think training camp is nearly as dramatic as it once was. Years ago, before mini-camps, spring practices and the salary cap, training camp was a place where decisions were made. A lot of veterans lost their jobs in training camp to desperate rookies. These days, decisions are made in March. Once players are assigned to the salary cap, they've made the team. Plus, with the addition of three practice-squad spots, the roster has gone from 58 to 61 and that means very few players are going to be cut. In today's game, if you make it to training camp, you have a pretty good chance of making it onto a final roster. Years ago, before roster limitations, teams routinely took 125-150 players to camp and they competed for 40-45 roster spots. Every cutdown day was a major event. Training camp was truly a dramatic place, with players leaving in the middle of the night because they saw the handwriting on the wall and couldn't take any more punishment. It's too bad we didn't have "Hard Knocks" back then. The real-life stories were endless. I remember a young man who didn't leave after he was cut. He managed to continue living in the dorm and eat in the cafeteria for a couple of weeks before he was detected. "Why didn't you leave?" he was asked. "Because I don't have anywhere to go," he answered. How's that for some "Hard Knocks?"

Evan from Regina, Canada:
What are your thoughts on Ogunleye from Miami? He appears to be a rising star at defensive end and the only thing keeping him away is his desire for a long-term contract. Do you think the Jags have interest in working out a deal?

Vic: Let's start with the facts, which are: Adewale Ogunleye is a restricted free agent who did not sign the Dolphins' original tender offer. The restricted free agent signing period ended on April 16 without Ogunleye having received a contract offer from another team. On June 15 the Dolphins had to withdraw their original tender offer or lose exclusive rights to Ogunleye (the intent of that rule is to encourage restricted free agents to sign the tender or sign with a new team). The Dolphins withdrew their original tender offer and retained exclusive rights to Ogunleye by tendering him at a lower level; 110 percent of his previous year's salary. The Dolphins can't trade Ogunleye until he either signs the new tender offer or signs a new contract with the Dolphins. Those are the hard facts of the matter, as provided by Jaguars assistant cap manager Tim Walsh, one of the NFL's rising young executives. Of course, there are ways to bridge that contract-trade gap. If the Dolphins reach a potential trade arrangement with another team, the Dolphins may grant that team the right to negotiate with Ogunleye. If Ogunleye reaches a contract agreement with that team, the contract can be written as a Dolphins contract, then signed by Ogunleye, then traded with Ogunleye to the new team. It's what the Jaguars did with Mark Brunell and the Redskins. I have to believe the Jaguars have interest in Ogunleye, but you must understand that he and his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, are seeking a big-time deal. That brings us to the real question: What's he worth, in terms of money and draft picks?

Candice from Long Beach, CA:
First of all, you are dressed fine, and my opinion is very highly regarded in the world of fashion and modeling world-wide. Incidentally and unfortunately, I look like Rosanne Barr before she lost weight, so keep the Candice fantasies to a minimum. Secondly, your opinion on who is the second-greatest receiver of all time (behind Jerry Rice of course) would be appreciated.

Vic: Candice, dear, my idea of a fantasy is living on a golf course and owning my own cart. As far as the second-greatest receiver of all-time, I'm intrigued by Don Hutson. Obviously, I never saw him play but the record books would suggest no receiver has ever dominated the game in his era the way Hutson did his. It's unfortunate there's very little video of Hutson.

Todd from Jacksonville:
A web site for Fran from Middleburg, FL, for player research is

Vic: It's an interesting site for pro football history, but I don't know how much of a help it would be at finding out where players are now. You know, this is America and we're not required to report our whereabouts, and people who hunt people down often go to jail. Maybe we should just assume that players who've retired have gone on with their lives, and they might even live on a golf course and own their own cart.

Rob from Richmond, VA:
Vic, great story on Ernest Wilford. He is truly a dedicated player with a strong work ethic and will be a huge asset to the team. My question is which receiver position will he likely compete for? Maybe the "Z?" What about returning kicks?

Vic: Yeah, the "Z" (slot receiver). I see him covering kicks, not returning them.

Bobby from Jacksonville:
What NFL coach has the most Super Bowl rings?

Vic: Chuck Noll, four.

Reggie from Montgomery, AL:
Vic, it's good to see you are doing fine. As an ex-Jag, I still keep up with them. I'm glad to see them heading in the right direction. The fans there really deserve a winner. I often read your "Ask Vic" section and I enjoy it! See ya, Reggie Barlow.

Vic: Reggie, do you live on a golf course and own your own cart?

Lynn from Jacksonville:
Do you think there will be enough interest this year to generate attendance to the extent we can avoid the TV blackouts? I am a season ticket holder from year one and thus don't personally miss it on TV one way or another. Still, I can't help but feel having games on TV contributes to team interest.

Vic: At this point, the numbers aren't encouraging.

Sean from Ft. Gordon, GA:
In reference to the much-awaited golf tourney, if you don't have a foursome will you be paired up?

Vic: We'll honor pairing requests, but I would expect most golfers to be singles in need of pairing and we'll pair players into foursomes according to handicaps: We'll try to put a low handicap with a high handicap and two mid-range handicaps. We're going to play "captain's choice." I have the official registration form on my desk and we'll go over it one more time today and then, hopefully, post it. Watch for it.

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