Greed will destroy

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

Steven from Jacksonville:
I would like it more if Antwaan Randle El came to Jacksonville instead of T.O. Any chance of that happening?

Vic: My instincts tell me the Jaguars probably won't be interested in bringing in a high-priced wide receiver in free agency. They've drafted high for that position and it's time for those two guys to be the star players at that position. Some team, however, is going to get a dandy football player. Randle El may be the most underrated and under-appreciated player in the league. He's a premier punt-returner, a hard-nosed and productive pass-catcher, and he throws the most beautiful deep ball I think I've ever seen. At the right price, he'd be a steal, but you gotta have room for him. The Jaguars may have invested too much at the position to make room for Randle El. I could be wrong.

Greg from St. Augustine, FL:
I want the old Vic back, not this hip-hop version of Vic.

Vic: The old Vic never left. You know that. That dog and pony show I put on late last week was all intended to clear the air on this T.O. thing because as of your question and my answer I am done with T.O. Be advised, that as soon as I see his name in a question I will strike the delete key. So why did I put you through all of this insanity? Probably to some degree because I thought the column needed a little Joey Porter, but there's a bigger reason. Folks, this past weekend, the weekend of the Super Bowl, "Ask Vic" received over 600 e-mails, its all-time greatest haul. Sure, you say, it was Super Bowl weekend. The preponderance of those e-mails, however, was about T.O. and most of them were not questions, they were comments. I received e-mails from people who were genuinely angry at me. They called me ugly, insulting names. I received e-mails from people who begged me to stop with the sarcasm because it was becoming annoying. I also received e-mails from people who didn't get it and were glad I had changed my mind on T.O., and e-mails from other people who confessed to delighting in the controversy. As a result of the late-week controversy I stimulated, "Ask Vic" became a forum of total chaos. Get it? That's what the guy does. He turns anything with which he is associated into total chaos. He turned a wonderful Eagles team into garbage. He took down a quarterback who was regarded as one of the genuine good guys in the league, a quarterback of such stability and control that not even Rush Limbaugh could get him to crack. This is what happens to your team when you invite this onto your roster. I invited it into "Ask Vic" last week and this column took on a personality it had never previously known. It became a contentious, angry place. Those days are over.

Paul from Jacksonville:
All this assistant head coach talk brings to mind a previous question of mine that you never answered. On the defense, does Dave Campo report directly to Jack Del Rio or to the defensive coordinator? To whom will Mike Tice report?

Vic: It's not about reporting, it's about communicating. I'm sure that answer won't satisfy you, but it's the truth. These guys know their roles. These are men who know the dynamics of coaching staffs. Everyone ultimately reports to Jack Del Rio. Dave Campo and Mike Tice know that coordinators Mike Smith and Carl Smith are the masters of the Jaguars' defensive and offensive game plans. All of those men know that for this arrangement to work, nobody can pull rank, except Del Rio, of course. If you got assistant coaches pulling rank, you got a team in trouble. It's about working as one, which means sharing ideas.

Christopher from Boone, NC:
I recently read an article that said on occasion John Henderson will three-gap. Playing two gaps seems difficult enough. Could there be any truth to this?

Vic: You may have read it here. Jeff Lageman told me late in the season that John Henderson was literally controlling three gaps, which means from the tackle through the off guard. If Henderson can do that, then he is the most powerful defensive lineman I have ever covered.

Joe from Orange Park, FL:
In your learned opinion, how badly did Chad Owens hurt his chance to make the Jags roster next year by passing on the NFL Europe assignment?

Vic: I hope I'm wrong but I think he's hurting himself by not playing in Europe. He needs to show his skills in game competition and Europe would certainly offer that opportunity. The preseason will do that, too, but it's only four games long, opportunities are limited and what happens if he were to miss a game or two due to injury?

Randall from Orlando, FL:
You alluded to Gene Upshaw making comments that threaten the collapse of pro football as we have known it. Care to elaborate?

Vic: It was in the news. He threatened to decertify the union and challenge the draft in the courts. Make no mistake about it, folks, the NFL needs a player's union as much as the players need a union because without a players union you can't have a Collective Bargaining Agreement and it's the CBA that provides for and protects the draft.

Eddie from Cumming, GA:
Love the column. What do you think the odds are Gene Upshaw's threat to decertify the union will actually happen?

Vic: I was covering the NFL in 1982 and '87 and I will never again dismiss the possibility of a strike, a lock-out or replacement players. I have a reporter friend who for years has said, "It doesn't have to be like this," referring to the whirlwind success and popularity the NFL has enjoyed. He's right. It doesn't have to be like this. Greed can destroy all of this. It's important to understand that all of this was built on the concept of share the wealth.

Chris from Notre Dame, IN:
People, get your act together. Gene Upshaw warned the owners that the union would cease to exist if a deal isn't reached, so that the owners can't lock-out the players. We've been through difficult times together, Vic (i.e. the dispute between Jacksonville and the Jaguars). In your next "Ask Vic," will you please not take any other stupid questions and explain the devastating effect that a decertification of the players union would have on the NFL?

Vic: It would be the football equivalent of a nuclear winter.

Keith from Millington, TN:
If Edgerrin James becomes a free agent, do you think the Jaguars would be interested?

Vic: I don't know about the Jaguars but I would be, at the right price, of course. Do you remember a few months ago when I said that without a CBA extension the Colts would begin feeling the effects of salary cap problems in 2006?

Tad from Jacksonville:
Rob Meier would be a free agent but he looked great when he played. Is he an every-downs player?

Vic: He probably could be, but I don't think that's best for him. I think his value is greatest in the role the Jaguars have cast him; as a swing man. It's very important, in my opinion, that the Jaguars convince Meier to stay in Jacksonville.

Josh from Jacksonville:
Who would you want to sign in the offseason, Steve Hutchinson or LeCharles Bentley or both?

Vic: Those are two quality guys, but what statement were the Seahawks making in the Super Bowl when they refused to run Shaun Alexander inside? They literally admitted that they didn't think they could run inside on the Steelers, and that they would have to attack the perimeter. I don't get it. If you have a road-grader such as Hutchinson, why would you think you can't run between the tackles?

Brian from Jacksonville:
I think you're wrong. I think the Steelers are going to be the ones that ride their running game to a victory. I think you're going to see the Seattle running attack taken out of the game, which translates into a Pittsburgh win. I guess by the time you read this we'll have the answer.

Vic: You got it right and I still don't get it. Why did they run Shaun Alexander only 20 times? The guy rushed for 1,880 yards and 28 touchdowns in the regular season and Mike Holmgren turned him into a secondary figure. They literally wrote the running game and the league's MVP out of the game plan.

Bill from Jacksonville:
Am I wrong for thinking this quote is scarier than Gene Upshaw's: "It wouldn't be the worst thing in the world if we didn't have a salary cap," Dallas owner Jerry Jones said last fall.

Vic: Without a salary cap, Jacksonville would be unable to field a competitive team. It's that simple for small-market teams such as the Jaguars.

Steve from Orlando, FL:
With the retirement of Jerome Bettis, do the chances of a Steelers repeat become drastically harder unless they can find a similar type of runner to get the job done?

Vic: He's the fifth-leading rusher of all-time. He is one of the most extraordinary short-yardage and goal-line runners in history and it's not likely the Steelers are going to find a similar type back for a long, long time. Even though Bettis was a shadow of his former self this past season, he performed a task that's value is the equivalent of baseball's "closer." All the yards in the world are meaningless if you don't have a guy who can put it in the end zone. The Steelers are going to miss Bettis big-time.

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