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Higher state of alert

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

Ben from Rolla, MO:
The mayor of New Orleans spoke to the media about the possibility moving of the Saints. He said that if San Antonio did get the Saints to move the NFL would give New Orleans a team like they did Cleveland when they moved the Browns to Baltimore. Do you think the NFL would give another expansion team in these circumstances?

Vic: First of all, the mayor of San Antonio can't speak for the NFL. To answer your question, I don't see expansion in the foreseeable future. The realignment is working and I think the NFL is really committed to maintaining it. It'll have to tweak it a little when Los Angeles comes into the league, but that can be done without disrupting it. New Orleans' future as a major market is the bigger issue. Its recovery is obviously going to take a long time and I don't think it's fair to expect Tom Benson to operate a vagabond franchise. I expect the Saints to settle somewhere permanently; maybe San Antonio. Los Angeles would be the next city to get an NFL team. Yes, I think the NFL would love to have a franchise in New Orleans and if the day comes that the climate is right to have a team there, the league would approve another team's request to move there, but I just don't see any team wanting to move to New Orleans.

Terrence from Jacksonville:
Win games and buy tickets seems to be the easy part. What happens, though, if the stadium lease issue isn't settled? Will we suffer the loss of our team?

Vic: I can't answer that question. As I said on last Wednesday's "Jaguars This Week" radio show, if this is all part of the negotiations process, then I understand. My concern is that I think we're approaching a dangerous stage. If the city council approves the Gator Bowl Association's lease, which includes the electronic signage conflict, the message to Wayne Weaver will be, "Sue us." That would, in my opinion, elevate the situation to a higher state of alert, and I don't think any of us want that.

Howard from Homestead, FL:
You said there will always be a town looking to steal another town's team. To help us put this issue into perspective, could you tell us how many of the current 32 teams used to reside in a different city?

Vic: Eight: Arizona, Baltimore, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Tennessee, St. Louis, San Diego and Washington. If you wanna go all the way back to the league's pioneer years, you could say the Bears were in Decatur and the Lions were in Portsmouth.

Tony from Jacksonville:
How can the league possibly have Pro-Bowl voting on the NFL website after only six games?

Vic: I'm with you. What's the rush? I guess it's all about marketing.

Michael from Binghamton, NY:
When do you see the Colts losing their first game?

Vic: Two weeks from now, in New England.

Tom from Melbourne, FL:
Can you give us a rundown on why the city is not cooperating? What is their motivation?

Vic: The city wants a new global lease agreement. Wayne Weaver doesn't want a new lease. He wants his current lease but he wants to resolve the electronic signage conflict that is the result of the city giving the Gator Bowl Association the same rights the city had given the Jaguars years earlier.

Terry from Daytona, FL:
Why is Los Angeles not ready for an NFL franchise? What are they missing?

Vic: An NFL caliber stadium.

David from Little Egg Harbor, NJ:
The first thing I thought of when I left the game was to write you in reference to your discussion on the radio network and a response to a question asked about going to Heinz Field and rooting for the Jags. I went there face-painted and all and the Steelers fans where overwhelmingly courteous and "admired my spirit," as one fan put it. I understand the caution you must take in telling someone not to make themselves a target on an opposing team's home turf, but I had to thank the Steelers fans for their good sportsmanship.

Vic: I have no doubt that 99 percent of the fans you encounter will treat you with respect, but what about that one percent that might make you the target of their anger? How could I sleep at night if I told fans to go on the road and instigate trouble and, as a result, someone was targeted and injured? I admire your spirit, too, and I'm glad you had a positive experience, but you took a risk. I have seen the other side. I saw it in the LA Coliseum a long time ago. We saw it in San Diego last season. Americans are passionate about football; sometimes to the excess. Hooliganism should never be the result of our love of the game, but it happens. Don't let it happen to you.

Eric from Jacksonville:
I've heard you say it's the team's responsibility to win and the fans' responsibility to buy tickets. I disagree. The team only needs to try and win, it's our responsibility as true fans of football to buy tickets, not just when the team wins.

Vic: For now, let's go with win and buy tickets. The Jaguars are attempting to establish a loyal fan base and I think that's a fair arrangement.

Tom from Malabar, FL:
How much difference does one play make in a coach's career? Jeff Fisher is considered a great coach and secure in his position. What if the ref had called the "Music City Miracle" a forward pass? There would be no Super Bowl on his record. Would he be on the hot seat this year?

Vic: That's an excellent observation. Thanks for providing food for thought. Had there been no "Music City Miracle," there would've been no win in Indianapolis, no win in Jacksonville and no trip to the Super Bowl. Jeff Fisher would have a 2-4 playoff record and his reputation would be that of a guy who can't get it done in the playoffs. Where would Tom Coughlin be? Would he have won the AFC title game, maybe even the Super Bowl, and still be the coach of the Jaguars? How about the Bills special teams coach, who lost his job as a result of the "Music City Miracle?" The circumstances in professional football are very delicate. What if Drew Bledsoe hadn't gotten injured in 2001? What if the Patriots hadn't had a supplemental pick in the sixth round of the 2000 draft?

Nathan from Palm Desert, CA:
A 14-2 season is never a bad thing to look forward to. Will the Jaguars do it?

Vic: I don't think 14-2 should be the expectation but I don't think it's an unreasonable goal.

Nick from Clearfield, PA:
Last week, all I heard is how badly we'd have lost if Ben Roethlisberger was playing. What's your take on it?

Vic: I think we've wasted way too much time on the subject. I think there's a chance the Jaguars could end up back in Pittsburgh in the postseason. Then we may have our answer.

Brian from Los Angeles, CA:
I love your column, Vic. I read it every day. It's even more exciting to see if my question gets chosen. You said in an earlier answer that the Colts look like the 1999 Jags and the Jags look like the 1999 Titans, and after seven weeks it looks very close to that now. What do you see that's similar?

Vic: In 1999, the Jaguars were the favorite to win the division. They had a top quarterback in his prime and an offense loaded with star players. Who does that sound like? The Titans were a team built on strong defense. They had a young quarterback attempting to establish himself. Who does that sound like? The Jaguars got out to a two-game lead over the Titans before having to play in Tennessee late in the season.

Vincent from Jacksonville:
You always say it's about players, not plays. Well, what do you think of Indy's defense? It seems they've turned the corner and with the exception of Corey Simon, it's basically the same personnel as that horrible defense Indy fielded last year. Is Tony Dungy's scheme the difference or is the jury still out on the Colts defense?

Vic: Tony Dungy is a great defensive coach. In time, he'll improve any defense and he has clearly improved the Colts defense. We're going to find out about the Colts defense in November. They play in New England and in Cincinnati and against Pittsburgh in Indy. They have to play at Jacksonville and against San Diego at Indy in December. There's no need to come to conclusions now. The second half of the season will give us our answer.

Jeff from Fullerton, CA:
Did Chad Johnson ever get around to admitting he was covered by Rashean Mathis on his sheet?

Vic: I think he lied about it and said he beat Rashean Mathis. That kind of stuff doesn't interest me much. I can tell you this, if you ask the 32 personnel directors in the NFL who'd they'd rather have, Mathis or Chad Johnson, I have no doubt the overwhelming response would be "Mathis." I wonder what Johnson has to say about yesterday's game. He was humiliated.

Joni from Jacksonville:
Are NFL officials trying to make the New Orleans Saints lose?

Vic: No way, but I can tell you that I was horrified by the officiating I witnessed yesterday. I don't have the luxury of sitting on the couch and flipping from game to game on Sundays. I watch one game and I spend all of my energy attempting to put it into words on a laptop for my quarter-by-quarter updates. So yesterday was the only time this season I could play fan. I watched the Steelers-Bengals, the final minutes of the Chargers-Eagles (after TV cut out of the Steelers-Bengals game), the Broncos-Giants and Cowboys-Seahawks. I also, of course, got to see all of the highlights the studio productions sent my way. What is going on with the officiating? The most controversial play of the day, the Rams touchdown return after Ernie Conwell had caught a pass, is almost incomprehensible. It's ridiculous that a system that wasted hour upon hour of our time yesterday on laborious replay review couldn't be used on the day's most controversial play? I saw a personal foul for tackling in the Steelers-Bengals game that made me embarrassed for the game. I saw call after call after call that left me scratching my head and the only purpose those calls seemed to serve was that they kept their games close.

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