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I am thinking of you

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

Dear "Ask Vic" readers, We are all horrified by the pictures coming back to us from New Orleans and the north Gulf Coast. At this time, I want you to keep in your thoughts those members of the "Ask Vic" family who I've come to identify by the hometowns on their e-mails as having been in the path of "Hurricane Katrina" this week. It dawned on me yesterday that, all of a sudden, I'm not seeing those hometowns in my daily e-mails. I'm talking about places such as Pass Christian and Biloxi, Miss., New Orleans, Kenner and Slidell, La., Mobile and Gulf Shores, Ala., and several other locations in those states from which I usually receive e-mails but have not this week. I guess I have a better memory for places than people's names, but I know there are members of our "family" who are missing in action and I hope they can read this and know they are missed. I am thinking of you. Sincerely, Vic Ketchman

Dave from St Augustine, FL:
How do the NFL Europe exemptions work? From reading the news article on the eight players released I understand the Jaguars have six exemptions.

Vic: The Jaguars have six NFL Europe roster exemptions as a result of their allocations to the 2005 NFL Europe season. There's a formula for bonus exemptions, of which the Jaguars have three in their current total of six. That formula includes criteria such as being on the Jaguars' regular-season roster in 2004 for a specific number of games. It would be too difficult to explain all of the criteria for bonus exemptions; just accept the fact that the formula has provided for six current exemptions. All such exemptions expire with the final cuts, which means all NFL teams must reduce their active rosters to 53 players as of this Saturday at 6 p.m.

Larry from Jacksonville:
When did preseason games start? I seem to remember back in the 1970's that teams went from training camp to regular-season games.

Vic: Actually, the NFL played six preseason games from 1972-77. In '78, the regular season was expanded from 14 games to 16 games and the preseason was reduced to four games. The Bears were playing one-game preseasons all the way back to 1921. The NFL got serious about preseason football in the mid-'30's with five-game preseasons, and the Bears even played a seven-game preseason in 1940.

Alex from Los Angeles, CA:
The Atlanta Falcons cut Peerless Price and will take a $5.7 million hit in "dead money" on their cap. What is the biggest "dead money" hit a team has ever taken from cutting a player?

Vic: Actually, Peerless Price will be a $1.65 million "dead money" this year and $5.7 million next year. I don't know what the biggest is in league history but I can tell you that Tony Brackens was a $7.35 million "dead money" hit for the Jaguars last year and Laveranues Coles is a $9.3 million "dead money" hit for the Redskins this year. Troy Aikman may be the biggest "dead money" hit in salary cap history. He counted $10.1 million in "dead money" in 2001.

Kevin from Jacksonville:
Since owners must share non-premium seat revenue with the league, but do not have to share other revenue such as parking, what would prohibit an owner from lowering ticket prices and raise parking fees. Instead of, say, $80 for the ticket and $20 for parking, it would be $20 for the ticket and $80 for parking. Is there some guideline or code of ethics that owners must adhere to when it comes to these dicey revenue topics?

Vic: The code of ethics to which owners have always ascribed is called "leaguethink." It's a Pete Rozelle term for everyone thinking as one. It places the interest of the league above the interests of individual teams, with the idea that to serve the league's best interests is in the best interests of the individual teams. Rozelle sold that to his owners in the 1960's. They bought into the "leaguethink" concept and the league has grown and prospered. Now, there are threats to "leaguethink." The pricing manipulation you're suggesting is something that Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has actually threatened. In Paul Tagliabue's final years as the league's commissioner, I think it's his greatest task to reel in the rogue owners such as Jones and get everyone to buy back into the "leaguethink" concept.

Jody from Port St. Lucie, FL:
What are your thoughts on Derrick Wimbush?

Vic: I think a solid performance in Dallas tomorrow night will earn him a spot on the final roster. He especially has to do well on special teams. That's his ticket to the NFL.

Chris from Albuquerque, NM:
How do you think the coaches actually feel about letting players go?

Vic: When it involves a player who has genuinely dedicated himself to the team and to the coach's program, there's no doubt in my mind that it hurts the coach very much to break the news. All of these coaches have been "that player" at some point in their playing careers. Jack Del Rio was cut by the Cowboys. He knows the hurt. Even those coaches who didn't play professionally know the sting of rejection. At some point, all of us have been cut. It hurts.

Carson from Tampa, FL:
I've noticed that no one has made the "Ask Vic" Hall of Fame lately.

Vic: I've suspended inductions while I consider opening an Arkansas wing to the "Ask Vic" Hall of Fame.

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