How long will it stick?

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ESPN has an amazing ability to puts its finger on the pulse of the television viewer's interest. The all-sports network has created a mania with its recent NFL predictions and evaluations. Really, I think they could rank stadium bathrooms and people would get angry that their favorite stadium's toilets were disrespected.

I tip my hat to ESPN. The purpose of their business is to attract viewers and they sure know how to do it, even in the "Dead Zone."

How do they do it? The answer is simple: They prey on the fans' mania for being number one. Rank 32 teams and the fans of 31 will be angry.

It's July and every team's fans think they've addressed all of last season's problems and winning is a foregone conclusion. How could ESPN not see it?

Jaguars fans are angry at ESPN for assigning the Jacksonville team the 19th spot in the network's league power rankings. My inbox, folks, has exploded with anger. Jaguars fans are furious at this blatant show of disrespect.

I could tell you it doesn't matter, and even though I'd be telling you the absolute truth, that fact isn't likely to calm you. Jacksonville never gets any national respect, right?

Yeah, this has become a somewhat personal thing. The national media hasn't treated Jacksonville with a whole lot of sensitivity, and Jacksonville remains a very sensitive town. That's a bad combination.

So, I come to you with this simple request: Please, let it go. As much as it bothers you that the Jaguars don't seem to be getting a whole lot of preseason accolades, try to ignore it because the scoreboard is the only thing that truly matters.

San Diego was getting a lot of praise at this time last year. I even agreed with the hype for the Chargers. What did their scoreboard say at the end of the year? "Not in the playoffs."

Baltimore was getting its share of attention at this time last year, too, and the Ravens didn't make the playoffs, either, did they?

Remember the difference having Randy Moss was going to make in Oakland? Or how about the difference not having Moss was going to make in Minnesota?

Denver, on the other hand, was getting dumped on as the Jaguars are getting dumped on now. "They" said the Broncos were playing with the Browns' defensive line. "They" said the Broncos were a bunch of rejects. So what did the Broncos' scoreboard say at the end of the year? "Hosted the AFC title game."

The Colts were, as always, the ultimate praise-getters. Last season was going to be their year. They wouldn't even have to play a postseason game outdoors. Everyone agreed the Colts couldn't miss. So what did their scoreboard say? "They didn't have to play a postseason game outdoors, but they also didn't win one indoors."

Tell me what predictions were correct. Who predicted the Steelers and Seahawks in the Super Bowl? Who predicted the Steelers would win three in a row on the road to get to the Super Bowl? Who predicted the Eagles would finish 6-10?

When I listen to all of these preseason predictions, I can't help but be reminded of this little bathroom game we played when I was a kid. I think I can tell the story now because I'm guessin' the nuns who taught us back then are either dead or too old to hurt me now. I'm breaking omerta, but here goes.

We would wet pieces of toilet paper, wad them up into balls and throw them at the bathroom ceiling to see whose toilet paper stuck the longest. Isn't that what ESPN is doing?

It's still a fun game to play.

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