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Lamar Hunt was a man of peace

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

Steve from Jacksonville:
With the G-3 funding approval, the passing of Lamar Hunt and the annual acceleration of the salary cap, who will champion the small-market teams? Do we know where Roger Goodell stands?

Vic: The small-market teams definitely need someone to champion their cause. I don't know which owner might be able to build a consensus among the other small-market owners but, should such an owner emerge, he would possibly become the most powerful voice in the league. I don't have a read on Goodell, yet. When he was selected to replace Paul Tagliabue, it was thought Goodell favored the large-market opinion.

Sol from Atlantic Beach, FL:
Great comments this week. Groucho Marx was President Rufus T. Firefly of Freedonia in "Duck Soup." Your inclusion of "Hail Freedonia" is especially fitting for Jacksonville. A few years ago, a reporter facetiously asked (a local politician) what she thought of our involvement in Freedonia and (she) gave a long-winded answer, as though Freedonia was a real country.

Vic: Stinking media.

Brandon from Jacksonville:
You don't see anything special about this draft because it's still very early in their careers. Do you think the 2006 class has the potential to be a great one?

Vic: I don't think it's a great one, but it has some depth. There aren't a lot of busts. Brodrick Bunkley is the only guy in the first round you could call a bust. I just don't see enough star players, especially when it comes to the big guys. The 2003 and '04 drafts produced star players. The '03 draft gave us Carson Palmer, Andre Johnson, Terrell Suggs, Troy Polamalu and Larry Johnson. The '04 draft produced Larry Fitzgerald, Phillip Rivers, Ben Roethlisberger, Lee Evans, Tommie Harris and all of those other players I mentioned on Thursday. I don't see as many of those kinds of players in this year's draft. That's just my opinion.

Jeff from Jacksonville:
What do you feel is the best way to contain a QB ready to run?

Vic: Fill the pass-rush lanes and stay in them. The problem containing a running quarterback arises when pass-rushers start running all over the place. It creates running lanes, which is exactly what you must avoid. I think you're going to see the Jaguars be very disciplined in their pass-rush. It may not be as frenzied as you might like, but its design will be to keep Vince Young right where the Jaguars want him, in the pocket. In other words, the strategy against Young will be to make him be a passer, not a runner.

Charles from Nashville, TN:
Where does the prevalent idea on this website that Vince Young has been primarily running the ball in the last few Titans victories come from? Although he has picked up crucial third downs with his legs, he's still thrown the ball 35, 25 and 29 times in the past three games, respectively.

Vic: The perception is that Vince Young beats you with his feet, not his arm. That's the perception because the Titans passing game is 28th in the league in total yards and the Titans running game has moved up from 13th in the league when the Jaguars and Titans played against each other on Nov. 5, to fourth in the league now. That dramatic rise is the direct result of Young's running. He's the league's second-most productive rushing quarterback with 458 yards rushing and five touchdowns. Young, however, is the league's second-worst passer with a 65.7 rating.

Parks from Port Orange, FL:
Vic, do you have any memories or stories about Lamar Hunt that you would like to share with us?

Vic: One summer – I think it was in 1999 – the Jaguars were getting ready to play the Chiefs in a preseason game. I was doing the team newspaper, "Jaguars Inside Report," and I had written a story on linebacker Lonnie Marts, who had previously played for the Chiefs. Lamar Hunt read the story and sent me a lovely letter telling me how much he enjoyed the story and what a great person Marts is and how he was such a favorite of Hunt's when Marts played in Kansas City. I was really taken by the letter, for a few reasons: 1.) It proved that Hunt liked to read about football, and I have this old-school notion that favors people who like to read football stories. 2.) Hunt actually took time to write a letter about his reading experience, which means he valued the written word. 3.) He cared enough about a former player to extol his virtues, which means Hunt clearly had a deep sensitivity for the game and the people in it. I told this story on the radio this past Wednesday. I didn't have a close relationship with Hunt which, I think, makes the story even better. He was comfortable with people. How wonderful!

Leo from New Orleans, LA:
Estonia is in Eastern Europe, right above Latvia and Lithuania. I think Lithuania is underrated.

Vic: So do I. Johnny Unitas was of Lithuanian descent.

Brody from Washington, IL:
I think the Jaguars have had the toughest schedule in the NFL. What do you think?

Vic: The Jaguars' strength of schedule is currently .503, which ranks as the 15th-toughest schedule in the league. The toughest schedule belongs to Tennessee, which has a .568 strength of schedule.

Matt Johnson from Philadelphia, PA:
Could you give your thoughts on what Lamar Hunt meant to the game?

Vic: He meant a lot of things to professional football, but the most important is that he's the AFL guy who negotiated the merger. Amazingly, I didn't hear the story told yesterday, after it was announced that Hunt had passed. Hunt, representing the AFL, met with the Cowboys' Tex Schramm at Love Field (airport) in Dallas, in secret meetings to negotiate a merger between the two leagues. The AFL had just gotten a new TV deal from NBC, so it had become clear the AFL wasn't going away and that a settlement was going to be a lot less costly than a continued bidding war. The NFL would've likely won the battle if it had gone the full 15 rounds, but the NFL would've taken a vicious beating. I heard Tony Kornheiser give Hunt and Al Davis credit for forcing the merger, but Davis didn't even know about the secret meetings between Hunt and Schramm. Davis was the AFL commissioner and he wasn't even told of the Hunt-Schramm meetings. Pete Rozelle knew about them but Davis didn't and he resented not having been informed. As the meetings were going on, Davis was laying plans for a costly fight with the NFL for the purpose of defeating the senior league. Davis wanted to bring the NFL to its knees and replace Rozelle as the czar of professional football. I understand Davis' role in the AFL's success went a long way toward forcing the merger, but how can you credit him in the same breath with Hunt for the merger when Davis was devising a strategy for fighting at the same time Hunt was negotiating a peace?

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