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It's not just winning

Join Senior Editor Vic Ketchman as he tackles the fans' tough questions.

Chad from Orlando, FL:
I noticed something from reading your article on Tiquan Underwood that has me confused. As you said in an earlier article, Nader Abdallah was not allowed to participate in OTAs because Ohio State had not conducted their graduation ceremony, however, in your article about Underwood, it was clear he had been participating in OTAs but he didn't graduate until the following day. Why is it that Underwood was allowed to participate in OTAs but Abdallah was not?

Vic: Eligibility for participation in OTAs is based on the final exam day of the player's school. In many cases, the graduation ceremony is conducted the day following the final exam day. Rutgers' final exam day preceded the Jaguars' first week of OTAs.

Jamal from Jacksonville:
In regards to your question about how the NHL keeps filling arenas, do you think it's similar to NASCAR fans going to a race to see cars wreck and NHL fans show up to see fights?

Vic: I don't think that's it at all. The reason a league with such a small fan base fills its arenas is obvious: The NHL has never had a significant television contract, which has caused the sport to be underexposed and require fans to attend the league's games if it wants to see the action. TV is a wonderful thing. I'm all for it. In a perfect world, there are enough fans willing to buy tickets and fill the building so the blackout can be lifted and everybody else can sit at home and watch the game on TV for free. It doesn't work like that everywhere, however, due to market constraints and other factors. The bottom line is that TV can hurt attendance. That's a fact, so please don't write and tell me it doesn't. More tickets are sold following a blackout announcement than would be sold if the team waived the blackout rule. It's as much a fact as the law of gravity. TV can overexpose the sport. It creates a home-viewing habit. TV has been the "golden goose" for the NFL for a long time, but the "golden goose" can kill ticket sales and I think it has hurt sales leaguewide. All home games were blacked out prior to 1973, which means at least one whole generation of fans have grown up expecting to see all home games on TV. That's not the case in the NHL. Hockey fans have grown up knowing they probably will have to buy a ticket to see their team play. That's the difference. It's not the fight, it's the habit.

Mark from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
I think you are right on about the stadium if the Jaguars left. There was talk about moving the Florida-Georgia game prior to the Jaguars arrival because the stadium was not up to standards. Is there another city that hosts a major in-season or bowl game without either a college or pro team as a regular tenant in that stadium?

Vic: I don't think college teams count because colleges aren't likely to establish their headquarters in that kind of facility and they certainly aren't going to accept maintenance responsibility. Miami is the perfect example. They played in the Orange Bowl but didn't fix the Orange Bowl, and they watched it fall at their feet. The Rose Bowl is an example of a facility that has been maintained at a high level without having a main tenant. UCLA plays its games there, but UCLA football is not headquartered at the Rose Bowl. UCLA has a $1.5 million annual contract with the Rose Bowl and that's not going to pay for much in the way of maintenance. The Rose Bowl is a national historic landmark and I think that qualifies it for federal funding. Whatever the case is, the Rose Bowl is a special animal and should not be used as an example of what will happen to a stadium if it doesn't have a live-in tenant. The Orange Bowl is a much better example.

Matt from Winter Haven, FL:
In a recent "SI" article, David Garrard and Maurice Jones-Drew were ranked the worst backfield in the league. The same combo many predicted to take the Jags to the Super Bowl last year is now the worst in football?

Vic: That wouldn't be my thought but what does it matter where they're ranked? I wouldn't let this bother you. It's all meaningless garbage intended to elicit a response from fans who are bored and starting to champ at the bit for the start of football. I swear, the "Dead Zone" starts earlier every year. We still have nine OTA practices remaining. Let's wait until the end of June before we start on this "Dead Zone" rankings crap, OK?

Justin from Jacksonville:
Any good book suggestions, Vic?

Vic: I just finished "The Blind Side," which is the story of Michael Oher. It's very worthy reading but I was expecting to feel a lot better reading it than I did. Frankly, a lot of the stuff in the book bothers me. I'm very happy that he was able to find a better life, but if he was 5-6, 160, would he have gotten the same special treatment?

Fred from Jacksonville:
Winning cures all. In this climate, I feel it's the way you win. Do you agree the lack of high-flying antics may have something to do with the lack of interest from fans who are more interested in flair than genuine substance?

Vic: Winning sells more tickets than losing does, but I don't see any evidence that winning would cure all in Jacksonville. The Jaguars were coming off a very strong season and were Super Bowl favorites and they only sold out one game last season. You may be right. A certain flair may be required. I don't know what it is but it's not just winning.

John from Jacksonville:
You seem to say that because Garrard signed a "star-quality" contract, this means we should expect big things from him. Just want you to know that he has been around a long time now and has had one good year. This is more telling than the size of his pay check. You really are a dummy.

Vic: It's great to be back.

Giianluca from Buffalo, NY:
What's your opinion on players who are distractions, such as T.O. and Mike Vick? Would you rather have an elite player who is a distraction like T.O., or a decent player who is not a distraction? Are distraction players that disruptive to a team that you would rather have a player of less caliber?

Vic: Yes, I would. I can say that definitively as it pertains to Terrell Owens because he's not a good teammate. In the case of Michael Vick, I offered an opinion that I would not be interested in signing him because of the distraction his infamy might create, but we don't know that for sure. Vick wasn't a distraction as a player. It's my understanding he was always a hard-nosed, dedicated teammate. My only concern about signing him would be the media attention it would invite. If I felt that could be overcome, I would be fine with Vick as a player and teammate.

Matt from Jacksonville:
Recently, I have read a lot of excuses about why the Jags can't sell out games. I am here to offer a solution. Wayne Weaver could gather investors that want to keep the Jaguars in the Jacksonville area and form a new company. This company would then buy unsold Jags tickets at regular price a few weeks before the game. Then they would gather bids from prospective ticket-buyers and sell tickets to the highest bidders. This would do two things: fill the stands and establish a bottom for Jags ticket prices. Yes, this company would lose money but Wayne is already losing money when the stands are not full. The team and city could make money on concessions, parking and merchandise that would otherwise go unused. Vic, forward it on to the boys in finance. I would love to work for the team. Let me know if you want a copy of my resume.

Vic: Were the aliens here while I was gone?

Mike from Atlantic Beach, FL:
I've noticed through the years that you have your ear to the ground regarding the Jags and the NFL and generally project your gut feelings in your columns: Leftwich's cut, small-market team philosophy, Fred Taylor's phasing out, etc. Barring a miraculous explosion of season ticket purchases, all indications suggest a probable loss of the franchise in Jacksonville. I don't think we can keep this team much longer. I don't like the idea, but I must be honest with myself and I think you might be convinced, too.

Vic: I'm convinced of this: Jacksonville will have more opportunities to prove it's a pro football town. It has an opportunity to do that this year. I'm convinced that if the stadium is full, the future will be secure. I think we know what the flip side of that is. It's in the hands of the fans.

Jesse from Jacksonville:
So you think after two years of not playing pro football Vick should still be suspended by the league?

Vic: Yes, I do. It's consistent with what other incarcerated players have faced.

Donald from Anaheim, CA:
If it's back to "players, not plays," then why is it the Jags are expected to evolve into a 3-4 defense?

Vic: First of all, that's not my expectation. Secondly, why is the 3-4 plays, not players? Did you see James Harrison run through the whole Arizona team? That was the play?

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