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Means made it happen

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

Evan from Hull, Quebec:
Sunday, Nov. 30, 2003, Jaguars vs. Bucs: That's when I became a Jaguars fan (and consequently an "Ask Vic" reader). To be perfectly honest, before that night, I hadn't ever seen a Jaguars game. Seeing the young Byron Leftwich throw for 200-plus yards and two TDs, Fred Taylor running for 100-plus yards and a great defense is what kept me here. Maybe the Steelers game had more of an impact, but you must have seen some change from that victory against the Bucs.

Vic: I'm sorry, but I really didn't.

Alan from Buford, GA:
I've heard about a potential road trip to the Jags-Dolphins game in December as the "Ask Vic" function for this year. Does this mean no "Ask Vic" golf outing for 2006?

Vic: We're partnering with the Jaguars Booster Club in offering the trip to Miami. The Booster Club is already promoting it. The date of the "Ask Vic" golf tournament will be announced soon.

Greg from Hollywood, CA:
Nice choice on favorite coaching decision. You might add that it was third down, less than a yard, 16 seconds left and the Packers had no times out remaining. If they hadn't scored, they'd have been on the one and watched the clock run out. That was a gutsy call by a coach who had confidence in his team.

Vic: Here's another little tidbit for you that I learned about that play: The TV camera in the end zone was frozen on its tripod and was focused on the spot where Bart Starr scored.

Ryan from Colorado Springs, CO:
Could you please tell us a little about the late Craig "Ironhead" Heyward and some of his accomplishments. Do you think he will make the Hall of Fame?

Vic: "Ironhead" won't make the Hall of Fame but he's certainly a famous player. He was one of the most athletic guys for his size the game has ever seen. The guy could do back flips, dunk a basketball and all sorts of things you wouldn't expect from someone as stocky as he was. Nobody, including Jerome Bettis, packed more of a punch; a true power runner with light, quick feet. My favorite "Ironhead" story is from his freshman year at Pitt. The sports information department gave incoming freshmen a questionnaire to fill out. One of the questions was: What's your hometown newspaper? "Ironhead" responded with "USA Today." He was a great football player and a wonderful personality. Had Morten Andersen not missed that field goal attempt against the Jaguars in 1995 and had the Falcons beaten the Jaguars and kept them out of the playoffs, "Ironhead" would've been one of the reasons for it. He rushed for 69 yards, scored a touchdown and caught a couple of passes for 22 yards that day. He played 11 years in the NFL and has an impressive 4.2 yards-per-carry average. He left a son who's a top recruit. I look forward to seeing him play.

Carter from Fernandina Beach, FL:
Every time you bring up one of the old-timers it reminds me of one of my earliest memories of football. As a nine-year-old kid growing up in Indiana, I idolized the boys of summer until I saw an image in our local paper of a football player on his knees in the end zone, his helmet lying behind him, with blood streaming down his face. That image gave this kid a brand new hero and a new interest that lasts to this day. That picture was, of course, the famous image of Y.A. Tittle from his last year with the New York Giants. I wonder how many "Ask Vic" readers remember that 49ers and Giant great?

Vic: I was a 13-year-old kid sitting in the end zone where that picture was taken. It's a very famous football picture and, I believe, it even inspired a football movie that starred Charlton Heston as an aging quarterback. Morrie Berman is the photographer who took the picture and, oddly enough, Berman's newspaper didn't run the picture the next day. Tittle's bald head made the picture famous. Had Tittle had a head of hair, it would've hidden the "cracked egg" look that made the picture famous.

Cliff from Patuxent River, MD:
The Dec. 5, 2004, Sunday night game on ESPN with the Steelers at the Jags was a tremendous football game. I remember putting in for leave for the Monday after that as soon as the schedule came out earlier in the year in anticipation of either recovering from celebrating a victory or not wanting to see anybody because of a defeat. Although the Jaguars lost that game, it was certainly not something to hang their heads about. What do you remember best about that game and what prompted the 400-plus e-mails waiting in your inbox the next morning?

Vic: What I remember most about the game itself is the surprise everyone experienced when it became obvious the Steelers were going to let the clock run down. It produced a kind of that's-it feeling; you know, that's all there is. I don't think we were ready for the game to end. It caught us all by surprise. The 400-plus e-mails were waiting in my inbox because people were captivated by the game they had just witnessed. It was special. The "new era" truly was born that night.

Jody from Fernandina Beach, FL:
Adding to the Spurrier "Fun and Gun": question, wouldn't the fact that this offense doesn't work in the pros prove that it is really only successful at the college level because Spurrier could recruit based on talent alone with no worry of a salary cap?

Vic: Yeah, good players are better than bad players, but I don't think that's why Spurrier's offense (I can't say "Fun and Gun" without chuckling) didn't work in the NFL and did work in college football. It didn't work in the NFL because there was nothing to it. Saints coach Jim Haslett was the first to say it. After Spurrier took a shot at Haslett – I still can't understand why Spurrier did that – Haslett studied Spurrier's offense and commented to a reporter that he didn't see anything special about it. Tim Lewis was the next one who said it. Lewis said "There's nothing to it." On top of that, Spurrier didn't out-work opposing coaching staffs and the combination of ordinary talent, ordinary design and laziness made losing an obvious result. It worked in college, in my opinion, for a variety of reasons. First of all, Spurrier always had talented players. You're right about that. There are three other major reasons the "Fun and Gun" (please, stop) worked at Florida: 1.) When Spurrier arrived at Florida, the SEC was the best block and tackle conference in college football and was not prepared to play basketball on grass. 2.) College football has always put its best players on offense, which created a major mismatch Spurrier didn't enjoy in the NFL. 3.) College football teams are limited to 20 hours of practice a week; they just don't have enough practice time to dedicate to something as "heady" as the "Fun and Gun" (I'm going to wet myself), plus, meaningful games often occur early in the season (Tennessee, for example), before teams have enough experience to deal with something that includes a lot of coordination of thought.

Abe from Ypsilanti, MI:
If all of the head coaches retired today, who do you think would make it to the Hall of Fame?

Vic: Bill Belichick, Bill Parcells, Mike Shanahan, Mike Holmgren and Bill Cowher. Joe Gibbs, of course, is already in the Hall of Fame.

Casey from Richmond, VA:
Who do you think was a better athlete, Bo Jackson or Michael Jordan?

Vic: Bo Jackson, by far.

Dan from Albany, NY:
Your response to Brad from Tallahassee on everything having changed for "Ask Vic" on Dec. 6, 2004, got me reminiscing about that game from the night before. Are your old articles archived anywhere on the internet? That game was so intense and so well-represented in the article you wrote that I saved a copy of it to my hard drive. Your article's conclusion ("Long after the playoff berths are claimed and the wild-card teams have lost and seen their seasons end, this game will endure. It's now part of Jaguars history; maybe the greatest game this franchise has ever played. The hurt will pass but this game never will.") was right on the money.

Vic: I checked you out. You quoted me perfectly. I'm flattered.

Ken from Jacksonville:
Who, in your opinion was most responsible for the Jaguars emergence in 1996? Jimmy Smith, Mark Brunell, or would you give them equal credit?

Vic: Jimmy Smith was the catalyst. When he moved into the starting lineup, the Jaguars caught fire. Mark Brunell needed him. He needed a big-play guy. The combination was perfect. You are, however, missing someone. The Jaguars would not have won either playoff game had it not been for Natrone Means. Don't forget, the Jaguars had fallen behind at Buffalo and at Denver. Means was the guy who kick-started the offense, rushing for 175 yards against the Bills and 140 yards against the Broncos. Brunell will forever be considered the darling of those wins, but I know and he knows, too, that Means made it happen.

Mark from Jacksonville:
When the Redskins were the last all-white team, who was the Washington sportswriter who wrote: "Jim Brown integrated the Redskins end zone four times on Sunday?" I love that one.

Vic: It was Shirley Povich. He's one of the pioneers of sports journalism. Look him up. You'll enjoy the read.

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