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Money changes everything

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

Tom from Jacksonville:
How can we have sold 1,675 group/single game tickets already?

Vic: The Jaguars have moved 8,000 general-bowl tickets a game into the group sales category, which means the team is relieving its fans of the burden of buying those tickets and accepting the burden of selling those to groups of 10 or more. Why did the team do that? Because it saw it was unlikely that it would be able to sell another 8,000 season tickets, which means we were looking at another season of TV blackouts. This is, yet, another grand gesture by this team to accommodate its fans. It's trying so hard to get these games on TV and to avoid the stigma of empty seats that has caused the national media to target this franchise as a candidate for Los Angeles.

Zain from Orlando, FL:
With all the "plugs" we had on the line last year, shouldn't we have been better against the run? Our pass-rush was abysmal but our line also gave up 4.1 yards per carry, tied for the most we've given up in the last six years. Assumedly, this draft improved our pass-rush, but is this defensive line going to be able to stop the run, Vic?

Vic: I don't know; time will tell. I can tell you, however, that not rushing the passer and not stopping the run is a bad combination. That's why the defensive line was absolutely the Jaguars' most pressing concern coming out of last season. Just look at what was done: new coach, new players and a re-commitment to playing the 4-3.

John from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
Do you see anything in Larry Hart that is different than previous draft picks Jorge Cordova, Brent Hawkins and Quentin Groves, all of whom failed as an undersized defensive end?

Vic: Hart is said to be stronger and more powerful. He's said to be quick and strong, whereas the other three you mentioned were speed-rushers exclusively. Based on what I saw in mini-camp, I would agree with that assessment of Hart, but nothing will be for sure until the pads go on and the men attempting to block him get serious about doing it.

David from Atlanta, GA:
I've heard a lot about all of the new defensive linemen and how they're expected to improve the pass-rush, and everyone keeps throwing all of their names out there, with the exception of Austen Lane. I haven't heard anything about his expected contribution to the pass-rush and I'm not sure why. If the Jaguars aren't high on him, why draft him?

Vic: Who said they're not high on him? Lane sustained a hamstring injury early in mini-camp and was unable to practice the rest of the weekend, which explains the lack of media attention he received. I also think you're laboring under a misconception of Lane's talents. He wasn't drafted to be a pass-rusher, he was drafted for his overall ability to play run and pass. General Manager Gene Smith immediately said Lane will be a left end. That's not where you put pass-rushers; that's where you put ends that are a little better against the run than they are against the pass. I like the looks and sounds of Lane. I think he's going to give Derrick Harvey some serious competition at the left end spot.

Robert from Amelia Island, FL:
If a June 1 tender is offered to a restricted free agent and he refuses to sign it, must he wait until July 22 to become an unrestricted free agent?

Vic: An RFA who has been tendered an offer on June 1 has two options: Sign the tender and play or don't sign the tender and don't play. That's the way it'll be unless the team decides otherwise.

Andrea from Robecco Sul Naviglio, Italy:
I was watching on this video on the contribution the AFL gave to the NFL in terms of players' media exposure and fan-accessibility, and by the end of it there's something that made me think, other than laugh. I refer to the woman that crossed the field and nobody tried to chase her down. She quietly jogged back to her place and the game was then resumed like nothing happened. That made me ask myself, what would happen today? More importantly, do I prefer the way something like this would be tackled today or the way in which it was handled back then?

Vic: What if she had been tased, huh? That would've been some show. Seriously, those were different times. The threat of terrorism and senseless violence has scared us into heightened measures of response. I'd like for it be handled as it was back then, but that's unrealistic because we aren't as we were back then. The video clip to which you are referring reminds me of something else. Ten years or so ago I made the comment on our "Jaguars This Week" radio show that fans are not part of the game. I said fans are part of the event but not part of the game. That comment resulted in a firestorm of protest. Callers were angry that I said what I did and were insistent that the noise they make has a distinct impact on the outcome of the game. I agreed but I explained that thinking you're part of the game is dangerous because it could cause some to get a little too intense about their impact on the game and that could result in them violating the boundaries of the field. We've seen some of that in baseball recently. I saw the ice showered with debris last week as the fans expressed their displeasure at the officiating in an NHL playoff game. Soccer, of course, is the poster sport for unruly behavior. The NFL hasn't had much of a problem with fans violating the boundaries of the field and I think that says a lot about the league and its fans. The NFL announced a zero tolerance policy on fan-behavior matters a few years ago and I think it was very timely and may have nipped something bad in the bud. That's good, because I really don't wanna see some poor soul who lost perspective tased in front of 67,000 people. The field is sacred. It belongs to 22 players and seven officials, nobody else.

Don from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
Listen, I am all for any help golfers get for their mental game but, let's get real, the golfers of today are weak, they are no better off mentally than they were 100 years ago. When I see what Ben Crane goes through, I just laugh. Everybody wants that magic secret to unlock the mind's potential, the magic fairy dust fix. Just play the stupid game. You are just a speck in the universe. If you win, it means nothing. Just give it your best. That's all that's important and if you do that you win.

Vic: Golfers of a hundred years ago weren't playing for the kind of money today's golfers are. Money changes everything. The satisfaction of having done your best takes a backseat to the money, unfortunately, when the money at stake is life-changing. By the way, I love the grace with which Robert Allenby played in yesterday's final round of the "The Players." It was pleasant watching a guy who looked like he came out of the grill room and not the fitness trailer. He looked like a golfer, not a weightlifter trying to play golf.

Daniel from Jacksonville:
I'm on your side, Vic, but tell me this: If Tebow ends up being a great player for Denver within the next few years, what will the fallout here be? Will the cultural divide grow even deeper?

Vic: As I said prior to the draft, Gene Smith faced great pressure to get this right, and he knew that, which is why no team in the league spent nearly as much time as the Jaguars did scouting Florida and Tim Tebow. They had a scout at every game Florida played last season. Yes, it would hurt the Jaguars if Tebow becomes a star quarterback. Nobody is wishing ill on Tebow but I think it has to be acknowledged that having passed on such a popular player would qualify as a mistake if he becomes a star. Here's another question: What if he's a bust? How will that impact the divide? Will fans finally see that Sunday is not an extension of Saturday? Will the fans that insisted the Jaguars draft Tebow admit they were wrong?

Jeff from Jacksonville:
I love our draft class, especially after hearing about mini-camp, but I can't help but be disappointed we didn't take a safety in one of the later rounds. Wouldn't we have gotten more value from a halfway decent coverage safety in round six rather than a running back?

Vic: Obviously, GM Gene didn't think so. In time, we'll find out. That's one of the great things about the draft: You get to look back at the hits and misses and at what should or shouldn't have been.

Bruce from Jacksonville:
Do you know if Zach Miller has taken any snaps from center or thrown any balls to wide receivers?

Vic: I think I recall him having taken some wildcat-type snaps from center in last spring's OTAs, but I can't recall ever having seen him throw a pass.

Jeff from Welland, Canada:
I'm getting tired of people telling me "he's an old man." What's considered an old man in the NFL?

Vic: It varies according to position. Old for a running back would seem to be 30, but pass-blocking tackles and quarterbacks are in their prime at that age. On the average, years 4-7 are considered to be the prime years of a player's career. Each case has to be evaluated individually. At most positions, after year seven you have to be vigilant about looking for signs of decline.

Nathan from Jacksonville:
So, if I am correct in your jersey analysis in regards to the Tebow question, what all of us should learn from this is that it is more beneficial for the Jags if we buy our gear from the Jags fan shop on this website, as opposed to another retailer?

Vic: That's correct. It's also important to note that every team gets a slice of the profit from the sale of every jersey. In other words, when a Peyton Manning or Tebow jersey is purchased, it puts money in the pocket of the Jaguars. It's a formula of compensation that was the principal ingredient in the leaguethink philosophy of Pete Rozelle, and it's what made the NFL what it is today. We're turning away from it and I think that's a problem, especially for the small-market franchises.

Matthew from Clermont, FL:
"Jamarcus Russell is going to immediately energize that fan base, that football team – on the practice field, in that locker room. Three years from now, you could be looking at a guy that's certainly one of the elite, top-five quarterbacks in this league. You're talking about a 2-3 year period once he's under center. Look out because the skill level that he has is certainly John Elway-like." That's Mel Kiper showing off his legendary quarterback analysis talent. He's not afraid to share his opinion.

Vic: That's embarrassing. I acknowledge that there are going to be misses, but that's really missing the mark. I just don't understand why people got so hot on Russell. In my opinion, it was obvious that the tempo of his play was too slow for a league that is all about speed.

Peter from Toronto, Ontario:
What is the "honey hole?"

Vic: It's a spot along the sideline behind the corner and to the outside of the safety on that side of the field. It's a term generally used to describe where "cover two" is vulnerable. In my opinion, it's the throw that determines whether a quarterback has enough arm strength to be successful in the NFL. I don't think a quarterback has to have a deep arm, but I think he has to be able to hit the "honey hole." Drew Brees can. Brees doesn't have a strong deep arm, but he has enough arm to hit the "honey hole." If you can't hit the "honey hole," then you better have a running back that makes defenses put eight in the box or you're going to see "cover two" all day, every day.

Ty from Jacksonville:
To reference Stephen's question and your answer to the taser issue: I feel as if we are being conditioned to hate and find joy in others' suffering. We are now a society of cynicism and apathy, and I get the feeling it makes you as sad as it makes me.

Vic: You're over-representing my position. The taser thing hasn't sent me into deep thought. I leave law enforcement to the professionals. All I'm trying to say is I don't wanna see someone tased. It's not a pleasant sight. We had lots of bad stuff going on when I was a kid. We haven't all of a sudden become ill-behaved. Do some research on a baseball player named Jimmy Piersall. We're just in different times. That's all it is. The 24-hour, all-news channels have heightened our awareness and sensibilities. A discarded box is found in Times Square and it becomes an immediate news event. The stock market reacts to the news. That's where we are today. Years ago, no one would've known about the box until the next day, after its contents were known. Nothing escapes the attention of today's media and news is presented as it happens. There is no such thing these days as a little thing. That's the difference.

Ryan from Las Vegas, NV:
Hey, Vic, I'm graduating from college. Any advice?

Vic: What a great question. You've sent me deep into reflection. I graduated on a Saturday and began working on a Monday. I don't think I ever stopped to make a plan. Maybe you should do that. Make a plan. Good luck.

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