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Good crowds feel the game

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

Joe from Jacksonville:
I've seen your editorials and like what I see. What is your maximum word count?

Vic: The length of a column is like a woman's skirt. It has to be long enough to cover the subject, but short enough to make it interesting.

Jimmicane from Cardiff, CA:
On "Jaguars This Week" before your vacation, you said you'd swim the St. Johns at its widest point if the Jaguars don't draft a quarterback next year. Let's say they miss out on a quarterback due to GM Gene's strict BAP philosophy; I am willing to take that swim for you, Vic, because I don't want to risk losing you.

Vic: You won't have to swim.

Chris from Jacksonville:
When we get a first down and the crowd chants, "Move those chains," it seems like a fun and unique thing in our stadium. I can't afford to go to a lot of away games and have not seen anything like that. What is your favorite unique fan participation in other stadiums?

Vic: I like J-E-T-S, Jets, Jets, Jets in New York (why not J-A-G-S, Jags, Jags, Jags?), the "Lambeau leap" in Green Bay, "Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow" in New England, the towels in Pittsburgh, "Hail to the Redskins" in Washington, "Bear Down, Chicago Bears" in Chicago and the "Dawg Pound" in Cleveland, though it'll never be the same as it was in the "Dawg Pound" bleachers section at old Cleveland Municipal Stadium. What I like most is a football-savvy crowd that has a feel for the game. I hate, and I mean I truly hate stand-and-scream-all-game crowds. It's as though they're being paid to do it. It's too robotic; it lacks feel for the ebb and flow of a game. Good crowds feel the game swinging this way and that way. They know when the time is right to take control and they rise to the occasion. Good crowds help build suspense and drama.

Dan from St. Augustine, FL:
Most competitive roster ever? Do you think Gene is pertaining to the fact that nearly every position is up for grabs, or competitive as in we are going to be very competitive against the rest of the league? Exciting dead-zone topic, nevertheless.

Vic: As I said on the radio show last night, GM Gene blew me away with this one. At first I thought he was referring solely to competition for starting jobs and roster spots. By my count, there will be as many as eight starting jobs on the line this summer. On the show last night, however, Gene talked about roster depth and how impressed he was in OTAs with the second half of the Jaguars roster. Listen to the show when we post it on the website. I asked him at the top of the show to explain his comment. You be the judge of what he means by "most competitive roster."

Eddie from Orlando, FL:
What is Gene Smith doing by saying this is the best roster ever? What new additions would make him think a 7-9 team from a year ago would be better now?

Vic: He didn't say best roster ever, he said it's the most competitive roster. As far as why the Jaguars might be better than they were a year ago, I can give you several reasons. For starters, the addition of veteran defensive end Aaron Kampman and four rookie defensive linemen, on a team that led the league in not sacking the quarterback, should be expected to radically reverse the team's pass-rush woes. A year of experience for offensive tackles Eugene Monroe and Eben Britton should also be expected to significantly improve the pass-protection for David Garrard, who was hit more often than any quarterback in the league last year. The development of last year's rookie receivers should make a difference, and rookie running back Deji Karim really piqued my interest in OTAs. I can't imagine why you wouldn't think this year's team will be better than last year's.

Dan from Thousand Oaks, CA:
You mentioned how Steinbrenner was the best thing to happen to the players. I just read a book about Curt Flood and his fight for free agency in baseball. Can you tell me any stories about Flood or of any players who made a similar sacrifice in the NFL?

Vic: Flood was a great centerfielder. Unfortunately, that's been lost in his legacy to the game. He's remembered almost exclusively for having challenged the reserve clause. In those days, that was an act of treason and it left Flood a marked man. To have been so bold required great courage and every player in the game today should thank Flood every time they cash their paycheck. He plowed the ground; they're enjoying the harvest.

Andy from Milford, OH:
I love sports Vic, but I think when A-Rod gets paid roughly $19,000 per plate appearance, that's a little ridiculous. What's your opinion on player salaries compared to the lower salaries of necessary jobs like firefighters, teachers and police officers?

Vic: They're underpaid and athletes and movie stars and other such entertainers whose contributions are not essential to life are often overpaid, but that's the way it is in a free-markets society. Too often, those who promote free markets want to regulate the salaries of athletes, and that's not the way free markets work. Free is free. You have to allow the market to bear what the market will bear. So ask yourself if you're a free-markets guy or a regulations guy. If you're the former, don't complain when these guys strike it rich.

Daniel from Des Moines, IA:
This is a personal question and I'm sorry for using your time but I want to fly to Jacksonville for the Monday night game against the Titans on Oct. 18. I'm a photographer and would love to bring my DSLR and lens to the game to get some photographs of my Jaguars. Is it possible to bring a DSLR to the game and, if not, could you put in a good word for me?

Vic: You can bring your DSLR to the game but its lens can't be longer than six inches or you'll be leaving it with security.

Tom from Melbourne, Australia:
"Smith is buoyed by what he believes will be dramatic improvement in two critical areas: pass-blocking and pass-rushing." So the days of run the ball, stop the run are over, huh? What's all-important now is rush the passer, stop the rush.

Vic: It was last year. This isn't new stuff. I think I went on record a couple of years ago as having said the game has evolved so that you must pass the ball, stop the pass.

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