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Jags have obvious throwback

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

Miguel from Jacksonville:
Who is the current longest-tenured GM or top personnel man and how would you rate his team's drafts?

Vic: Ozzie Newsome is the guy and I think he's done a top job, from Ray Lewis to Joe Flacco. He's had his share of busts, such as Kyle Boller, but every personnel boss is going to strike out from time to time. The one thing all good drafters have in common is a good track record in the first round, the money round. Those late-round sleepers are great, but you gotta be good in the money round or those sleepers won't mean a thing. Look at Newsome's first-round hits: Jonathan Ogden, Ray Lewis, Peter Boulware, Chris McAlister, Jamal Lewis, Todd Heap, Ed Reed, Terrell Suggs, Haloti Ngata, Ben Grubbs and Flacco. Boller and Travis Taylor are Newsome's only real first-round busts.

Dillon from Ducor, CA:
Your comments about the new uniforms needing to be sustainable are dead on. As a lifelong Californian, I still rue the day the 49ers added that wretched drop-shadow to the uniform numbers. Coincidentally enough, the 49ers are also unveiling new jerseys at the draft, which they say are patterned after those old championship-years uniforms. Tradition matters.

Vic: I fully understand the concept of "it's about the money," but there's also a law of diminishing return and, in my opinion, it was reckless to make main-uniform changes when the franchise was at the height of its success. How do you go back? I don't think you ever can fully go back. The evolution of uniforms should be subtle. It should happen almost without detection. I remember one year, many years ago, when the Penn State sports information director announced in the press box before pregame of a season-opener that there would be a change to the Penn State uniform jersey. Stripes would be added to the sleeves, he said. It was as though a bomb went off in the press box. Then Penn State came onto the field and the stripes to which the SID was referring were white bands at the ends of the sleeves. Guys starting laughing. Hey, for Penn State, that was the equivalent of a bomb going off.

Brendon from Monterey, CA:
Uniforms should be icons, not ephemera.

Vic: You've said it perfectly.

Gabe from Jacksonville:
When is it worth taking a gamble on talent that is injured? The Bills drafted McGahee, even though he was going to be lost for a year. If the draft is all about acquiring talent for the future, about where on the board is it worth taking that gamble?

Vic: I think you start considering it late in the first round. McGahee was picked at 23. That's not too bad but the thing that made it look bad was that Larry Johnson was picked at 27 and Johnson's success made the Bills' board look bad. You have to ask the question: Why would you take a running back with a blown out knee ahead of a healthy running back who's more talented? In my opinion, you have to force yourself to stay away from risks and gambles in the first round. There are certainly 32 good football players in any draft. Find one who is healthy and pick him and you won't regret it.

Chris from Arroyo Grande, CA:
Can you put the franchise tag on a restricted free agent?

Vic: Yes, you may franchise a restricted free agent, or you could tender him at the highest level for a restricted free agent, which would return first and third-round draft picks should he be signed by another team.

Tony from Pittsburgh, PA:
I watched the movie "The Express," about the life of Ernie Davis. I was wondering, if he would have actually played in the NFL, do you think he would have been the best running back ever? Do you think he would have actually been better than Jim Brown and how many championships do you think the Browns would have won with the two of them in the backfield? Also, how many Super Bowls do you think the Steelers would have right now if they had not passed on Dan Marino?

Vic: Better than Jim Brown? I loved Davis but I won't go that far. Davis and Brown would've only played together for a few years, but had Davis not been stricken by leukemia, the Browns would've had their replacement for Brown and they would've continued to do well, but they did do well without Brown because they found a replacement other than Davis. Don't underrate Leroy Kelly. He was a great running back; he was very underrated. The Steelers and Marino? Let's not forget that the NFC dominated the Marino era. I covered those Steelers teams and I don't think they would've been able to overcome the dominance of the Redskins, Giants, Cowboys and 49ers during that period, even had Marino been their quarterback.

Raymond from Jacksonville:
Changing uniforms isn't about identity, it isn't about Wayne Weaver's genius and it isn't about pushing the reset button. It's about NFL marketing and the sale of paraphernalia. The uniforms will change again soon and you know it. Call it like you always do, straight and to the point.

Vic: Third (or throwback) jerseys are about marketing and merchandise sales. Third jerseys were created to access revenue without changing teams' main uniform styles and sacrificing their identity and tradition. No team sells jerseys as the Steelers do and their jerseys have undergone very little change in my lifetime. The Steelers have worn a throwback jersey in recent years and it's sold well. The Jaguars, of course, had a black, third jersey in recent years and it sold a little, too. What we're talking about happening on April 22 isn't a presentation of a third or throwback jersey, we're talking about the presentation of new home and away main uniforms. That's straight and to the point. You just got a little too dramatic with your "it's about the money" application.

Abe from Detroit, MI:
If you asked NFL players whether they'd like to have a career as a backup but get a Super Bowl ring, or a career as a good starter with no ring, which do you think they'd choose?

Vic: Good starters with no rings make more money than backups that have rings. Players will always take the money.

Jeff from Durham, NC:
A sad day for the NFL. I cannot remember a time when Harry Kalas was not the voice behind so many highlights. He is synonymous with the NFL, at least for me, and it will be odd hearing someone else's voice behind "NFL Films." Did you ever meet him?

Vic: I talked to Harry Kalas several times, back when I was covering baseball. Yes, Kalas was a major voice-over for "NFL Films," but that was mainly because "Films" was located in Philadelphia. Kalas did football, but he was without question a baseball man and would be proud to be remembered that way. The Phillies were his team and when they had Kalas, By Saam and Richie Ashburn together in the broadcast booth, they had the best trio in the business. I was surprised to learn Kalas was only 73. He had been so good for so long that I just figured he was older. That's too young to die. His passing is a major loss for Phillies fans.

Benjamin from Jacksonville:
Kudos to Mr. Weaver on the uniforms. When the subject came up a few weeks ago, I realized the Jaguars don't have a throwback jersey. We have mixed and matched and changed and coordinated so often that we have nothing tangible with which to reminisce.

Vic: Well, you'll have it now. That's one of the good things about this uniform change and standardization. It's going to create a throwback uniform and I know which one it is. It's the all-white uniform with the teal numbers that this team wore in its first handful of seasons, before the arrival of the black pants and black numbers. It is in the all-white uniform with teal numbers that I'll remember Mark Brunell, Tony Boselli, Jimmy Smith, Keenan McCardell and the runs to the 1996 and '99 AFC title games. There's your history. There's your tradition.

Sam from Jacksonville:
Who's the third-best wide receiver in Jacksonville's history?

Vic: The answer isn't important. It's the difficulty with which we attempt to answer the question that's meaningful. This team has struggled mightily to find a receiver to replace either Jimmy Smith or Keenan McCardell. In my opinion, the third-best guy is Willie Jackson. The numbers don't support it but Jackson had to compete for the ball against Smith, McCardell and even Andre Rison for awhile. Jackson didn't have the ball fed to him, as Reggie Williams and Matt Jones did. My fourth-best receiver would be Ernest Wilford, largely for the same reason I think Jackson is third-best. Vic from Jacksonville:
If you had to guess, which Jaguars home game would be in prime-time this season?

Vic: The game against the Colts last year was very entertaining, and the league and TV like doing the same thing over and over because there's an identity and tradition that goes with it. It's called viewing habit. The Colts game would be my guess.

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