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Grit and determination

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

Jeff from Atlanta, GA:
If fan is for fanatical and that will not be allowed at the games, what would you propose as a new name of the team's followers, sheep?

Vic: How about behaved? Is that a bad thing? Hey, what's going on with the American sports fan? Why does he need so much attention? Isn't he getting enough attention at home? I was watching the golf tournament on Sunday and they showed a spectator wearing shoulder pads and some ridiculous get-up on his head. This was a golf tournament. Of course, television showed it. They always do. Maybe that's the problem.

John from St. Augustine, FL:
In your view, what's the difference between "we must protect this house" and healthy support of our team? I think fans should be emotionally invested (to a point) and I love the feeling of community I get at a game. I agree that fans rarely impact a game directly, but there's no doubt the players feed off the fans' enthusiasm. Got a perspective on this?

Vic: The first thing you do is buy a ticket. That's number one. All the tickets have to be sold. Until that happens, fan support can't be complete. Let's get the first thing done, and then we'll focus on the next thing.

Bill from Connersville, IN:
I can't believe some of the derogatory comments about you that occasionally appear in "Ask Vic." Obviously, you must get more than are shown but I don't understand it. The uniqueness of this format is both educational and entertaining. I am a big Jaguars fan and read it religiously. I hope you can continue to tolerate some of these absurd, attacking comments because the vast majority of us love what you do and rely on your journalistic expertise more than you know. Thanks for what you do.

Vic: I can do it.

Joseph from Jacksonville:
I know you know this, but Jim Brown quit football while he was in his prime because he wanted to go make movies. I don't think I would have used him as an example of someone who really loved the game.

Vic: What you're insinuating is blasphemous and I wish you had given a little more thought to the career of Jim Brown before you dashed off such a distasteful characterization of him. Brown was making the movie "Dirty Dozen" when the production ran long and into training camp. It wasn't supposed to happen that way. Brown was supposed to finish the movie and then resume his playing career. There were no OTAs in those days. Art Modell hit Brown with a "play or else" ultimatum and Brown wasn't the kind of guy who surrendered to ultimatums. You didn't back down Brown. He had too much pride for that. That's why he retired. It's been said over and over that he retired in his prime; I may have even made that mistake. Brown was not, however, in his prime. He was about to begin his 10th year in the league and I have no doubt that he knew he was a lot closer to the end than to the beginning. It was a great opportunity to go out on top. What bothers me most about what you're suggesting is that you are accusing a man who rushed for over 12,000 yards and 106 touchdowns of not loving the game. You're accusing a man who endured savage bigotry and struck a blow for the integration of college football with his performance in the Cotton Bowl of not loving a game to which he dedicated the best years of his life. Why? Because he retired after the nine greatest years of performance that any professional football player had ever known? Check the salaries back then. Now tell me if they loved the game.

Jim from Little Rock, AR:
Imagine if the offensive linemen danced every time they handled the defense. The field would look like a disco.

Vic: That's priceless.

Barry from Richmond, VA:
I get it, Vic. Cheer and boo, but don't be obnoxious. Be a witness to the event, but don't pretend to be part of the event.

Vic: You're part of the event. Fans are absolutely part of the event. They are the biggest part of the event. They are not, however, part of the game. That's the distinction and the problem is that today's fans don't want to accept it. They want to believe they are part of the game. My inbox is going to explode with angry e-mails from people who are going to be furious that I said they are not part of the game. They'll tell me that they make it difficult for the visiting team to hear the quarterback, etc., and they're right, but it's dangerous for fans to think they are part of the game. That's when they become a little too intense. That's when the misbehavior begins. Cheer and boo and absolutely be part of the event, but watch the game.

G.W. from Hurricane, WV:
It's a strange time we live in, where you have to remind people not to bring explosives to the game, huh?

Vic: Yeah, it's sad. My dad and I used to fill our pockets with explosives and go down to the old ballpark. Oh, for the good old days.

Terrance from Jacksonville:
Brian Witherspoon was really impressive in his debut (minus the fumble). Do you see him being closer to Devin Hester or Michael Bennett?

Vic: Bennett is 35 pounds heavier than Witherspoon and Hester is a little bigger and thicker. I see Witherspoon as more of a cross between Gerald "The Ice Cube" McNeil and Jermaine Lewis.

Jeremy from Green Bay, WI:
In the replay of the first preseason game, it showed Quentin Groves racing down the field and making an impressive tackle. It's obvious his speed will be a great asset. Is there anything else you saw from him on Saturday that we should feel good about?

Vic: He's exactly what he was drafted to be. He's a pass-rush specialist. When he made that play in space against the running back, I saw Tony Brackens. Groves is a fantastic athlete who is going to be a play-maker for this team, but he must be used at the right times because, based on what I saw Saturday night, he would be a liability against the run. Rookie tackle Sam Baker had his way with Groves on the run downs. On the first play, Groves was blocked to the ground. On the second play, he ran up the field and took himself out of the play. Use him as a pass-rusher and he'll make plays. His days as an every-downs player is down the road.

Billy from East Northport, NY:
I hear a lot about the Jets and the Giants and I was shocked to see that the Jets had signed so many big-name free agents; players like Alan Faneca, Tony Richardson, Calvin Pace. Without the salary cap, how are small-market teams like the Jaguars going to compete with New York and Dallas?

Vic: They'll let the big-market teams spend their money foolishly on players who are near the ends of their careers, such as Faneca, and they'll spend their money wisely on young players they can develop into long-term fixtures. The low-revenue teams will have to be better at everything they do because they won't have the money to erase their mistakes, as the high-revenue teams will. The low-revenue teams will have to be more efficient, more creative and more committed to the process of draft and develop.

Dave from Snellville, GA:
Did Troy Williamson play in the Falcons game?

Vic: Williamson did not play in the game. He has an injury but it hasn't been revealed what that injury is.

Jeff from Thornton, CO:
How often do teams sign veterans to serve as a mentor for their young players? Is this what the Jets did with Favre for Clemens?

Vic: Coaches coach, players play. You don't pay a guy $12 million to mentor a quarterback you're trying to replace.

Doug from Jacksonville:
I suppose you are getting inundated with Matt Jones questions, but what I saw looked like a focused, talented receiver. You said he hadn't dropped a pass in camp, but I was pleasantly surprised. Your thoughts?

Vic: He ran his routes, he caught the ball. That's what he's been doing in this whole camp. This is the start of his career. This is the way he should've been playing from the beginning. Instead of playing every position but wide receiver, he should've been dedicated only to being a wide receiver right from the beginning. Instead of flash and dash, he needed grit and determination. For the first time, that's what I'm seeing. It's what he always lacked. Now that he's showing it, his career's arrow is finally pointing upward. It's a real simple formula: Don't miss any practices, don't tap out of any reps, don't drop any passes and do it every day. If he continues to perform in this manner, and if he proves that he'll make the tough catch in traffic, he has a chance to be a respected professional football player.

Dada from Majuro, Marshall Islands:
Would you evaluate the mysterious Mkristo Bruce? Was his performance more of a fluke or could he be considered for a roster spot after his 2.5 sacks, five tackles performance?

Vic: That's why they play the games, right? Bruce was a star and I love the story. I saw him for the first time walking down the hallway to Paul Vance's office to sign a contract the day training camp began. He was walking with defensive line coach Ted Monachino and I remember thinking to myself, "What's Ted doing with a wide receiver?" "Bruce is listed as 6-6, 260, but he just doesn't look like a defensive lineman. If someone asked me what his size was, I'd say he looks like he's 6-4, 220. Maybe that's the problem. Maybe he just doesn't pass the eye test. Or maybe it's because he's a 5-flat guy. I've watched him in one-on-one drills in practice and he didn't jump out at me, but he sure did on Saturday and that's why they play the games. At this point, I think he's playing for a spot on the practice squad.

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