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If you buy it, you gotta watch it

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

Evan from Regina, Canada:
What kind of questions do you ask to figure out if a guy is faking it or not?

Vic: If he has nothing but good things to say about everybody, then I ask him about a stiff. If he's great, too, then the guy's fakin' it.

Brian from Jacksonville:
The uniform change must be very secure, as I can't get any media outlet to respond to inquiries. What type of punishment or control does the NFL have over giving this information out?

Vic: I'll go to jail to protect a source on a lot of things, but football uniforms isn't one of them.

Steve from Lancaster, PA:
I just began spending time with a wonderful girl who is 22 years old and it's Valentine's Day on Saturday. We haven't known each other very long; only a couple of weeks. Do I buy her flowers and chocolate or do I play it cool?

Vic: I nixed the pans idea because it appears she already has more than she needs, and I gotta give the flowers a little break. Flowers are like penicillin: If you use too much and an immunity develops, you're dead. I got a little hint the other night about a movie about a guy named Rodan. So I went to buy it and the guy in the video store said he thought I meant Rodanthe. He told me what it was about and it sounded right so I bought it. That's only half the battle, of course. The second half will be watching it. Hey, give it a shot. The way I figure, it's a cheap night out except you don't have to go out, and she gets to keep the movie as a romantic reminder of Valentine's Day, 2009.

Mike from St. Marys, GA:
Were teams just not interested in trading for Porter or Florence?

Vic: This is a joke, right?

Doug from Lynchburg, VA:
Out of curiosity, why do you consider it a no-no for reporters to go off the record? Also, does this represent a personal preference or an ethical violation?

Vic: If I can't use the information, why have it? Agreeing to go off the record means I agree to not publish the information. What if I were to acquire that information in the course of my own investigation? I've agreed to not use it. If I now use it, am I violating my promise to go off the record? Even if acquiring that information on my own and publishing it does not constitute a violation of my promise to not use the information I agreed to take off the record, how do I convince my off-the-record source that I didn't just use the information he gave me? You see, going off the record is a mine field. It's just bad business. I could end up losing a valuable source of information and permanently damage a relationship I respect and value. All of this is an example of why journalism is a career, not a hobby.

Marcel from Jacksonville:
By what I have read, it does not seem like the Jags are going to spend a lot of money on a big-name receiver: Ocho, Housh, Burris, Bolden, T.O., or whatever free agent is available. If the Jags were to pick up one of those guys, who would be the best fit here in Jax?

Vic: Your question is redundant, but I find it interesting because of the list of big-name receivers you've mentioned. They all have one thing in common: They've achieved a degree of infamy. I find that interesting.

Drew from Jacksonville:
When did cornerbacks become necessities? Pittsburgh doesn't have amazing cornerbacks. New England didn't, either. Their corners only looked good because of the guys up front. They draft from the line and up. Do you really think any defensive back is worth a first round pick?

Vic: Are you kidding? Six defensive backs were drafted in the first round last year; five of them cornerbacks. Seven defensive backs were drafted in the first round in 2007; four of them cornerbacks. How about seven more defensive backs in 2006, six in '05, five in '04, six in '03, and on and on. Defensive backs are consistently drafted in the first round and the majority of those defensive backs are cornerbacks. It is a premium position and you're not going to win without good corners. Pittsburgh plays a lot of zone because it blitzes so much, but Ike Taylor played very well in the postseason and did an outstanding job against Larry Fitzgerald until the fourth quarter. Don't underestimate the impact a cornerback can have on your team. I know I've said this before but I still believe that had Darrelle Revis fallen one more spot and the Jaguars would've been able to make the trade that would've allowed them to draft him, who knows what would've happened in 2007. He could've made the difference in the playoff game in New England.

Greg from Jacksonville:
I think the recent personnel moves speak volumes about the path the Jaguars intend to take in the future. Dumping two under-performing (players) and signing Joe Zelenka says it all. I'm glad I'm a season ticket holder. What are your thoughts?

Vic: I think it was a great move, as long as they didn't give Joe a $10 million signing bonus.

John from Jacksonville:
Do you see the Jaguars drafting a wide receiver in the draft?

Vic: What you're describing is known as position-specific drafting. In other words, a team goes into the draft with a menu of positions they want to address, regardless of where the players at those positions fall on their board. The Falcons are position-specific drafters, so it'll be interesting to observe their performance over the years. I prefer the best available player philosophy, in which Jaguars GM Gene Smith also professes a strong belief. Yeah, I think the Jaguars would like to draft a wide receiver. The question is: Will a wide receiver be at the top of their board when it's their turn to pick? You'd have to be clairvoyant to answer that question. Here's a humorous story about position-specific drafting. A long time ago, a beat reporter happened to see a piece of paper on the team publicist's desk at draft time. On the piece of paper was a series of letters and numbers, such as 2BLTP2GCSS. The beat guy decided he had stumbled upon the team's draft wish list: two backs, a left tackle, a punter, two guards, a center and a strong safety. As it turned out, the publicist said it was a lunch list: two bacon, lettuce and tomato; a pastrami on rye, two grilled cheese and a steak sub.

Tyler from Toronto, Ontario:
In your past few columns you've appeared to be very high on Fitzgerald, as well as Big Ben, and rightfully so. Would you say they are a pair of your current favorite players? Does your profession afford you to have personal favorites to watch or is it strictly a talent analysis when you watch players play?

Vic: I think we're allowed to have favorites and Larry Fitzgerald and Ben Roethlisberger are clearly two players who fit my ideal of star-quality professional football players. I am in love with Fitzgerald's skill and poise. I love the fact that he plays the game at the highest level and without all the cheap, look-at-me celebratory crap. Roethlisberger, like Tom Brady, is my ideal of a crunch-time quarterback. What Roethlisberger did last season in Jacksonville is something you don't forget. I still haven't forgotten what he did in Jacksonville as a rookie, leading the Steelers down the field to the game-winning field goal with seconds left on the clock. He is the quintessential crunch-time quarterback. In my opinion, Fitzgerald and Roethlisberger are two players the NFL should be putting out front to promote the game and the league during this offseason. I see them as the current symbols of professional football excellence.

Sean from Anaheim, CA:
I have a hard time seeing the offenders sitting in court and treated like thieves and murderers. I know for fact that many smaller players at age 18 are encouraged to buff up to get to the next level and they are encouraged with illegal substances. Have you or anyone you know used illegal enhancements for sports in or coming out of high school?

Vic: I ate a lot of wheat germ. I put it on my breakfast cereal, on my dinner, milk shakes, bananas, everything. At one point, I was going through a case of wheat germ a week. There were, of course, intense manifestations. So, was I doing a bad thing, because if I had known it was a bad thing, I wouldn't have done it, and that's the truth?

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