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In praise of Jimmy Chitwood

Happy Fourth of July. Twenty-two days until players report for training camp. It's coming soon.

Let's get to it . . .

Greg from Neptune Beach, FL:
Trying to look at the MJD contract issue from another angle, I believe he has three-to-five years of top-level play left in him. IF that's the case, then doesn't it make sense to sign him to a four-to-five- year contract now? In two years, when his current contract expires, there's no way he'll stay in Jacksonville because I don't see Gene signing him to a four-or-five-year contract then. So he'll go off and have two more great years somewhere else. Why not get all the great years he has left in him? That's assuming the front office thinks he has four years in the tank too, but I think that's a reasonable expectation. And I don't buy the argument that every player will try that then. MoJo is a special "franchise" level player. Sometimes you bend the rules for those guys.
John: It's fine to try to see all the angles you can, but the reality is it doesn't appear the Jaguars are planning to renegotiate – and from all reports, those aren't just words. That's what's happening. Your premise is based on three-to-five years, and that's the major problem with the argument. NFL teams have to look at things like this through what might seem like a harsh, cold lens. That lens is a historical one based on precedent, and the precedent is that in Years 9 through 11 Jones-Drew is unlikely to be playing at the level of a top back.
Aaron from Jacksonville:
Why would you not put "Any Given Sunday" in the ranks of best sports movies? Definitely one of my favorites.
John: I thought it was a bit overdone and not a very accurate reflection of the NFL, honestly. It was entertaining, but I just don't put it up there with the best I've seen.
Scott from Chelsea, NY:
This week's big news story is MJD will report on time for training camp. Reading the original article you notice the lack of actual facts. It's just one person's assessment of what they think will happen. Because that one person works for the major sports network others are not reporting the story as fact. We are indeed in the dead zone. What story would you care to make up to fill the dead zone?
John: There really wasn't anything made up, at least not in the original article. John Clayton of ESPN was talking about how he thinks the Jones-Drew holdout will play out. He stated that he believes Jones-Drew will report to camp because it's fairly obvious the team doesn't plan to renegotiate his deal. The reason other outlets aren't reporting it is Clayton didn't report it as news. He simply offered his analysis, so for other outlets there really wasn't much to report.
Ryan from Boynton Beach, FL:
How come in the NFL we don't see these huge trades that we get in the other major sports?
John: A lot of it has to do with the nature of the salary cap. If you trade or release a player, the bonus that you originally spread out over the course of the contract all gets pushed to the current season. That can be something of a cap killer. There also is the matter of expected life span of NFL players. If you're trying to trade a player in his fifth or sixth season there's often a perception that his time as a core player is coming to an end, and that makes trades risky.
Clyde from Sanford, FL and Section 144:
Wishing you and your family a happy 4th of July. Can you enlighten the O-Zone readers as to why it has taken so long to sign Anger with a rookie wage scale in place?
John: That one was a mystery to me, too. My understanding is it's because third-rounders are sometimes tricky signings. The agents are often looking for "first-day" or second-round type money while the teams are sometimes more in the area of third- and fourth-round money. Also, once a contract isn't done by the end of the offseason program it often gets pushed back a few weeks until close to training camp. Either way, I don't sense any concern that Anger won't be in camp.
Charlie from Jacksonville:
What is the supplemental draft?
John: The supplemental draft is a mechanism in place to allow for players who either didn't file for the NFL Draft or who had eligibility issues in college. This year, it will be held July 12. It's usually a fairly low-profile event.
Julian from Fernandina Beach, FL:
How did you handle the Riggins holdout back in your day?
John: You're referring to John Riggins' holdout, when he missed the entire 1980 season. As a Redskins fan, I obviously didn't like it one bit. As I recall, though, I didn't really have an anger toward either side as much as an overall irritation that it was happening. Remember, though, that it was a different era in that it was before the Internet and before ESPN. You maybe saw a few Associated Press stories in the local paper about it, but not much else. What I remember most is Riggins' quote upon his return in 1981: "I'm bored, I'm broke and I'm back."
Alex from Austin, TX:
This question goes off the assumption MJD won't get a new deal. Do you think the fact that the Jaguars have a bunch of cap room and won't work a deal with MJD is going to affect morale in the locker room, or cause MJD to possibly want out? My concern would be that the other players would think "if they won't pay him, am I ever gonna get mine?"
John: I don't think that's a concern. The Jaguars did pay Jones-Drew. They did that three years ago and he has two years remaining on that deal. If he was at the end of his deal and the Jaguars were refusing to try to re-sign him, that might be different, but under these circumstances, that shouldn't be a problem.
Andre from Jacksonville:
With the Prater deal getting done, would that mean the market would be set for the Jaguars and Scobee to get a contract done? Whatever the Broncos paid Prater would seem like the starting point for contract talks.
John: That could be a starting point, though it's hard to know what Scobee is seeking. If it's done based on Prater's deal, that indeed could make some sense.
Dustin from Jacksonville:
I know you don't pay much attention to what other media members say, but I thought this was a well- deserved piece.
John: That was nice of Dunlevy. He's right in the sense that there is a lot of information available from several pretty reliable sources around Jacksonville on a pretty consistent basis. It's a fun, interesting time to cover this team, and having a lot of good people covering the team makes it even more so.
Tim from Section 438:
I'm all for players making above-average salaries due to the nature and danger of their work, but why do players, especially rookies, get bonuses up front? Shouldn't a bonus be for either completing a contract or doing better than expected?
John: They get signing bonuses because generally speaking they won't sign without them. "Should" it be different? Perhaps, but for a player such as Andrew Luck, for example, look at it this way: He and his agent want a signing bonus to guarantee income for the player. If the Colts refuse to pay it, he can enter the draft next season and some team would gladly take him and pay the bonus. It would never get to that point, but that's why the bonuses are there.
Scott from Gilbert, AZ:
O-Man, You had stated in a previous column you believe our nickel will be either Ross or Mathis (more than likely Ross if Mathis is healthy). However, I am interested to see Mike Harris play. I not only feel like corner and nickel require different skill sets--namely closing speed versus short area quickness-- but feel if Harris' experience in that role makes him comparable in ability to Ross; I would rather keep a guy I know can play corner healthy and on the sideline for when we need him. It's unlikely we'll go through five corners again next year, but I wouldn't mind having Ross ready to go if Cox or Mathis went down, as opposed to Ross either getting hurt playing nickel, or having to move two pieces of your defensive backfield around to accommodate one injury.
John: It wasn't really me stating that. That's what those around the team have said, and it's the players' understanding of the situation as well. I get your point, but I imagine the direction the team will go is getting the best players on the field as often as possible. That, for now, would seem to logically mean having Ross and Mathis on the field in nickel situations.
Anthony from Fontana, CA:
The best sports film is "Hoosiers." Can't be beat.
John: It's awfully, awfully good. I wish I was Jimmy Chitwood.

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