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Human confrontation

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

Sam from Cardiff, Wales:
What does KC and PC mean on the depth chart?

Vic: They refer to the long-snappers for kicks and punts.

Sean from Jacksonville:
If a team remains under the salary cap, what happens to the money they don't spend?

Vic: It's lost forever and no team is going to allow that to happen. They make sure they use every cent of each year's salary cap. If they have a surplus toward the end of the year, they'll do a deal with a player that will either "pre-pay" his bonus money or they'll do a deal as the Jaguars have done a couple of times with Quinn Gray, in which the team has established incentives that won't be reached, therefore, creating a credit-back situation on next year's cap.

Michael from Los Angeles, CA:
Do you think Warren Moon's induction opens the door a bit for Doug Flutie or are the distinctions too great for comparison?

Vic: In my opinion, Moon's induction closes the door on Flutie. I can't imagine the Hall of Fame selection committee inducting two Canadian Football League quarterbacks. I spoke in favor of considering Flutie for induction, as a way of acknowledging the CFL's contributions to pro football. It is the "Pro Football Hall of Fame," you know, and the CFL is a very old league. Flutie had a much longer CFL career than Moon and is generally regarded to be the CFL's most celebrated and identifiable player. Simply put, Flutie was the face of the CFL. Moon didn't have as long a career in the CFL as Flutie did, but he won a lot of Grey Cups in Edmonton. The problem I have with Moon being inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame is that it would seem to be based almost solely on what he did in the NFL and, quite frankly, the guy never won a significant game in his entire NFL career. The most significant game of his career was that second-half collapse in Buffalo when he was beaten by a backup quarterback, Frank Reich. I consider the Pro Football Hall of Fame to be a very special place for very special people. I'm not comfortable with players who represent nothing more than stats. All run-and-shoot quarterbacks have big stats.

Clay from Jacksonville:
You've mentioned that the owners gave in too much in order to obtain labor peace with the players. Won't this make it more difficult to negotiate with the players in the next round, when the owners try to take back what they've already agreed to?

Vic: I think the players know they got a four-year freebie.

Dan from Thousand Oaks, CA:
I feel a huge reason John Madden was inducted into the Hall of Fame is because of his video game franchise. It has introduced millions of young Americans to the NFL and is a large reason the NFL is so popular among the youth. He has also become sort of the face of football for all those gamers. Is that in your opinion enough for induction into the Hall?

Vic: I'm going to assume you're kidding. Yeah, I'm a big video guy. That's real football. Let's establish a video game wing in the Hall of Fame.

Bill from Orange Park, FL:
Regarding John Madden and the Hall of Fame, I do not have an opinion of him as a coach and must rely on your opinion and his stats, however, as a broadcaster, few people have done more than Madden for the game of football. Love him or hate him, Madden is known by all NFL fans. He is a living legend in that regard.

Vic: The Hall of Fame has a separate place for broadcasters. If that's your criterion, then put him in there. As far as his record as a coach, in my opinion, it was not good enough because he didn't coach long enough. The real problem is that it's going to set a precedent; create a criterion for coaches to be considered for induction into the Hall of Fame. Madden's induction automatically swells the ranks of coaches who are going to be considered and probably will be inducted. It means that no fewer than seven head coaches from last season will be considered for induction: Bill Parcells, Bill Belichick, Mike Shanahan, Mike Holmgren, Bill Cowher, Marty Schottenheimer and Dick Vermeil. Come on. No period in NFL history has ever produced that kind of haul of Hall of Fame coaches. When it becomes that many, the distinction starts to become ordinary. Given Madden's coaching record, here are some other coaches who should be considered for Hall of Fame induction: Don Coryell, Tony Dungy, Jeff Fisher, Tom Flores, Dennis Green, Chuck Knox, Jim Mora, Buddy Parker, Dan Reeves and George Seifert. All of those coaches, except Dungy and Fisher, have won more games than Madden. Dungy and Fisher are right behind Madden and will pass him this year; maybe, in Fisher's case. Flores has more wins and won twice as many Super Bowls as Madden, with the same team. Parker won two NFL titles as head coach of the Lions in the 1950's. Knox and Reeves have significantly more wins and Seifert won two Super Bowls. The Hall of Fame should not be a place for the many. It should be a place for the few.

Ed from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
I know how you feel about preseason games, but what should we be watching for in the next four weeks?

Vic: All eyes will be on the offense. Are the wide receivers good enough? Is Byron Leftwich ready to go? Is the passing game good enough for the Jaguars to be a championship contender? The preseason is always the premier measuring stick for rookies, but I think the Jaguars' pass-offense will be more closely watched than the rookies in this preseason. This team is ready to be a postseason force, but only if the passing game is ready to pull its share of the load.

Todd from Summerville, SC:
Great article on Chad Owens. Could you give us his story?

Vic: His story is about human confrontation, which is the essence of the game. Football isn't a video game. It's not played by people pushing little buttons in a plastic box. It's played in front of millions of fans by strong men who have to overcome their natural fears and anxieties. The last time Owens played in a football game, it was a disaster. He muffed punt after punt and had to be replaced. A couple of days later, he was cut. It's every young player's nightmare. They all fear a meltdown. In Owens' case, it was in the very singular role as a punt-returner. He was back there all alone for everybody to see. That was on Sept. 18, 2005. Every day since then he has, no doubt, thought about that game. It has, no doubt, haunted him. This Saturday, though it's only a preseason game, Owens will have a chance to defeat the memory of that meltdown in Indianapolis. He'll have a chance to silence the demons and advance his professional football career, and I'll be cheering for him from the press box. He's the reason I love this game. He's the reason I am in my 35th year covering it. I love the stories of human confrontation. We all have them.

Carter from San Jose, CA:
I think your questioning the validity of Madden's election to the HOF is warranted. Many people questioned Joe Namath's election to the HOF as well, since his career completion percentage was 50 percent and he threw more interceptions than TDs. What say you?

Vic: In Namath's case, the criticism isn't that he didn't complete a high enough percentage of passes and that he threw too many interceptions. Those were products of the way the game was played back then. The rap on Namath is that his years of greatness were too few. His best years were 1966-69, then the knee injuries took their toll and the rest of his career was spent in decline. I'm OK with Namath being in the Hall of Fame. In my opinion, he's the kind of player for whom the Hall of Fame is created because he is a famous player; not a famous broadcaster or video game entrepreneur, but a famous player. He belongs in the Hall of Famous. It was Namath who legitimized the AFL. It was Namath who struck the first and most significant blow for the AFL, winning Super Bowl III. He played a part in forcing the merger. He played with greatness and panache and he made pro football our true national pastime. Johnny Unitas invented the game. Namath popularized it. He's a legend and the Hall of Fame is the place for men of that stature.

Mike from Jacksonville:
Is Fred Stamps and Alvis Whitted a fair comparison?

Vic: They're total opposites. Whitted has always been a raw physical talent who excelled on special teams but lacked good hands and receiving skills. Stamps is a naturally gifted wide receiver with great hands and route-running ability, but he lacks the raw physical abilities to play special teams.

Ryan from Hamilton, Ontario:
I know it means nothing, but which linebackers were penciled into the early depth chart as first-team guys?

Vic: Mike Peterson, Daryl Smith and Pat Thomas.

Nathan from Mesa, AZ:
Has any team had two thousand-yard rushers?

Vic: I can think of two teams that had two thousand-yard rushers: the 1972 Dolphins (Larry Csonka, 1,117 yards; Mercury Morris, 1,000 yards) and the 1976 Steelers (Franco Harris, 1,128 yards; Rocky Bleier, 1,036 yards).

Steve from Syracuse, NY:
I usually don't care what other people say about the Jaguars, because I realize they don't know everything about the team as I do, but I read this on and it just bothered me. "Depth could become an issue for the Jaguars this season. Other than offensive tackle, quarterback and running back, the team doesn't boast the type of quality reserves that scouts believe you could win with." Can you make any sense as to why they would not include DT as a deep position and why they criticized so harshly?

Vic: Why do you people read this crap? It's obviously written by some hack who's been given the job of writing something about 32 teams, none of which he has probably seen in training camp or about which he knows anything more than what he's read. He's probably some video game guy.

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