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I don't have to respect them

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

Dustin from Jacksonville:
Do you think an admission of using illegal substances should ban a player from his respective Hall of Fame, especially when he admits the use during his peak years? What about other forms of cheating? Belichick would seem to be a shoo-in for the Hall of Fame, but there's always the mighty asterisk.

Vic: Gaylord Perry threw a spitball. I don't think there was ever an admission that he did it, but everybody in the game when he played knew Perry was loading up the ball. The guy won a lot of games and it always bothered me because he won those games by cheating. I know it's a cute kind of cheating, but it's cheating. Compared to this steroids situation, however, what Perry did was little more than mischievousness. Baseball in particular and all sports in general have had their record books and their museums forever stained by the use of performance-enhancing drugs by the players they seek to deify. The really sad fact of the matter is that I don't think anything can be done to fix it. I don't think keeping these guys out of their Halls of Fame, out of their sports' record books or putting asterisks next to their names in the record books will fix anything. Halls of Fame and record books are nothing more than historical accounts and you can't write the story of this era of sports without including the sorry saga of drug abuse. Go ahead, put 'em in the Halls and put 'em in the record books, but excuse me if I walk past their busts and turn the page when I see their names in the record books. Maybe I can't delete them, but I don't have to respect them.

D.J. from Port-au-Prince, Haiti:
I don't understand why the Pro Bowl game is even played. No one takes it serious.

Vic: It's played because it got a 5.8 TV rating nationally, which means it was the highest-rated sporting event on TV last weekend. The NBA gave us Lebron James vs. Kobe Bryant, basketball's two top stars in a head-to-head clash in a real game, and it scored a 5.0 rating, which was up 72 percent over the NBA game in that slot a year ago. This year's Pro Bowl was down 16 percent from the 2008 version. The NFL is king. Anything it offers, we watch. That's why the Pro Bowl is played.

Andy from Fort Collins, CO:
You should let Don from Jacksonville know that franchise players are not forced to endure a reduction in pay relative to the prior year. If you have a player who was the highest paid at his position the previous year and is now a free agent, he will receive 110 percent of his prior cap number if he is franchised. Any other contract stipulations, such as guarantees, are carried over unchanged from the final year of the recently expired contract.

Vic: I didn't know that Don meant the guy's contract had expired. He didn't say that. Everything you're saying is accurate, except that it's not 110 percent of the previous year's cap number, it's 120 percent of it. In most cases, however, 120 percent of the previous year's cap number isn't likely to be higher than the average of the top five salaries at that player's position. One exception I can give you is Julius Peppers, for whom 120 percent of his 2008 cap number is $17 million, whereas the franchise tag for a defensive end in 2009 is about $9 million. That's why you wouldn't use the franchise tag on Peppers. The guarantees to which you refer are immaterial, since all the money under a franchise designation is guaranteed.

James from Tallahassee, FL:
Who did the Jaguars place the franchise tag on this year and why?

Vic: Nobody and for good reason: They didn't have anybody who would make sense to franchise. There is a widespread misunderstanding about the franchise designation. A lot of fans think you automatically give it to your best player. The franchise tag is just a means for retaining the rights to a player you might otherwise lose in free agency, and you judge his skills to be worthy of the average of the top five salaries at his position. Find me one of those types of players among the Jaguars prospective free agents.

Alex from Orange, CA:
Do you give any props to A-Rod coming out and admitting what he did, even with his status in the game today?

Vic: What choice did he have? He didn't tell the truth until he got caught in a lie he couldn't hide any longer, and then he patted himself on the back for having the "courage" to admit that he lied. Why would I respect that?

Doug from Jacksonville:
I agree with a lot of what you say, but I have to differ with you on the A-Roid scenario. I don't buy that the truth is the pure defense when the subject of that truth has only divulged it (by submitting to the testing) under a promise of confidentiality. Isn't this analogous to a reporter being told something off the record, then going ahead and reporting it anyway?

Vic: First of all, there is no off the record in reporting. I don't know where you got that but please believe me when I tell you that there is no such thing as off the record. If I'm interviewing someone and they say to me, "Off the record," I tell them, I don't do off the record. Do off the record once and the next thing you know they'll be telling you their name is off the record. As far as A-Rod is concerned, decide for yourself, but understand that "the truth is the pure defense" isn't my invention or open to debate. It is the law of the land.

Ron from Orlando, FL:
This year has the look of a blockbuster draft crop, huh? That's funny because everyone else says that this draft looks like the weakest crop in years. Where do you get your info from, Vic?

Vic: I think I get it from better sources than yours because I haven't talked to anyone who doesn't think this is a good class. It has certainly been deepened by a bumper crop of underclass running backs, such as Knowshon Moreno, Shonn Greene, LeSean McCoy, Chris Wells and Donald Brown. That's an impressive contingent of running backs. Quarterback didn't look very deep but Matt Stafford, Mark Sanchez, Josh Freeman and Nate Davis are an outstanding quartet of juniors and the top senior, Graham Harrell, has almost been overlooked. I really like this draft class. I think it's a great year to have a lot of picks and I'm hoping the Jaguars can increase their number of picks.

Randy from Medicine Hat, Alberta:
Do you think the NFL's drug policy is strict enough?

Vic: Yes, I do think it's strict enough, it's just that detection is becoming more difficult all the time because the culture that supports and promotes performance-enhancing drugs is hard at work devising ways to mask drug usage. Detection is the challenge all sports face.

James from Mooresville, IN:
I'm tired of hearing a lot of Jags fans saying the Jags have interest in Anquan Boldin and may try to trade for him. I was wondering what your thoughts are? Do you see any possibility or scenario in which the Jags would be interested in trading for him?

Vic: It would greatly surprise me for several reasons: 1.) A trade would likely require losing a high pick or picks. 2.) The Jaguars only have six picks. 3.) Gene Smith has repeatedly said he'll lean on the draft for talent acquisition. 4.) Wayne Weaver said the Jaguars weren't likely to be big spenders in free agency, and trading for Boldin would be akin to an expensive free-agent acquisition since Boldin is looking for a pricey new deal. 5.) Though the Jaguars have need at wide receiver, their needs at more premium positions are greater and you can't find left tackles, for example, as readily as you can wide receivers. Look at it this way: Spend picks and a lot of money on a wide receiver? I sure hope not.

Jason from Winter Haven, FL:
If the Patriots end up trading Cassel to another team, even though he is franchised, is that team still on the hook for two number one picks or would the trade override that rule and then the teams could strike a deal for less if the Patriots were willing to take it?

Vic: Matt Cassel has accepted the tender, which means the Patriots may trade him to any team in the league for whatever exchange the Patriots negotiate.

Bob from Neptune Beach, FL:
Would you go to jail to protect a source?

Vic: Of course I would. This is serious stuff in my profession. No journalist who takes his profession seriously would disgrace himself and his profession by giving up a source to whom anonymity was promised. Look up the name Marie Torre.

Scott from Vienna, VA:
"The Washington Post" reported that Eugene Monroe, offensive tackle from Virginia, is projected to go around the Jags' pick. Do you think he would be a good choice for our line after last year?

Vic: If he's the highest-rated player on the Jaguars' board when it's the Jaguars' turn to pick, I think he would be an excellent choice. Monroe is said to be a high-quality person and an accomplished pass-blocker. If that's what you want from your left tackle, and that is what most teams want, then Monroe would be a logical selection. In my opinion, however, Monroe's stock will rise during the workouts. Guys as big and as agile as he is usually don't make it out of the top five.

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