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Move might increase challenges

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

Shane from Macy, IN:
I just read an article on that detailed reasons to make rules against quarterbacks tackling defenders after interceptions and fumbles. Please tell me this won't happen. Is this a reasonable rule?

Vic: It is if you wanna put a skirt on the quarterback. I guess Lambert was right.

Eric from Baltimore, MD:
The issue of moving the umpire is safety. How can it make any sense that the rule isn't consistent for the entire game? Why not line up and play like men for 60 minutes? Why not if it was good enough for Unitas it's good enough for now? Sometimes you really surprise me, Vic.

Vic: The game evolves. I don't remember it being a problem back then. I don't remember teams intentionally using the umpire as a pick in pass plays. It became a problem in recent years. I can tell you that Gene Smith started talking to me about it two years ago. It isn't solely about the umpire's safety. It's about a neutral figure being used as an extra offensive player. Hey, how many disadvantages should defenses have to endure? They've done everything but handcuff defensive backs. Do they have to make them run around obstacles, too? Sometimes you really surprise me, Eric.

John from Savannah, GA:
Hey, you're Vic Ketchman. I think you're the greatest, but my dad says you don't work hard enough on defense, except during the playoffs.

Vic: The heck I don't! I'm out there busting my buns every night. Listen, kid, I've been hearing that crap ever since I was at UCLA. Tell your old man to drag Unseld and Lanier up and down the court for 48 minutes. By the way, the name's Murdock, Roger Murdock.

Stephen from New York, NY:
How many questions a day on average do you get from July to January? And how many on average from February to July?

Vic: From February to July, I get many. From July to January, I get tremendously many.

C.J. from Jacksonville Beach, FL:
Fantastic, another column about how great it was in the old days. Give it a rest, old man. Just try to use an example about current players sometime. It would be refreshing. Most of those players in the old days couldn't hold these guys' jocks today. These guys are bigger, stronger, faster and smarter, but old guys like you would rather just talk about the old days. Fantastic! I'm sure you are really relating to the future of the Jaguars' fan base.

Vic: You're just in a bad mood. Do a double-chinstrap pull and act angry. That'll make you feel better.

Scott from Honolulu, HI:
I told you a couple of months ago I was moving to another state. I'm sitting in LAX right now waiting for my flight to Honolulu. Thank God for the Internet because my day is not complete until I read "Ask Vic," but not to hear the opinions of other fans, though I feel several of them are very good. I read it because the older writers like you are our portal to how the NFL used to be and how, at least, I wish it still was.

Vic: It's good to be able to relate to the future of the Jaguars' fan base.

Rob from Jacksonville:
I was under the impression a player had to go on the PUP list before training camp started, yet, I saw the Vikings put Sidney Rice on it last Tuesday. Can you explain the rules of this to me?

Vic: A player can go on PUP at any time before the first week of the regular season, provided he hasn't practiced in training camp or during the preseason.

Jim from White Hall, AR:
Do you think the Colts' hurry-up offense is in part designed to give Manning time at the line of scrimmage while communication from the sidelines is still enabled? Could some of Manning's reads actually be coming from a bird's eye view through a headset?

Vic: They could, but Peyton Manning doesn't need a coach to tell him what to do. There's a difference between a hurry-up offense and a no-huddle offense. The hurry-up is designed to move quickly. The no-huddle is designed to forbid the defense to substitute between plays. What we're going to find out is if defenses can make personnel changes with the extra time they'll have while the umpire is moving into his new position. If they can, then the new rule is going to negatively impact offenses trying to gain and maintain a personnel advantage. I'll tell you where I think the real impact is going to be: On teams trying to hurry up and get the ball snapped before the other team's coaches have a chance to see replay video and challenge an official's call, and I'm all for it because I don't like people who find ways to get around the rules. I don't like it when justice is defeated and I don't like it to be selective. I like justice for all.

Mark from Daytona, FL:
Stadiums will need to be smaller to accommodate the future of entertainment. How many fewer movie theatres do we have than 20 years ago? There is nothing exciting about going to a game anymore.

Vic: I disagree. I don't have theater numbers, but I can tell you the recent trend in stadium construction is for larger capacities. Secondly, you're forgetting about blackouts. They protect ticket sales. As far as excitement, the people that go to the games clearly prefer that experience to sitting at home. They're people who like to get out and do something, instead of sitting at home, watching TV and playing with their video games. You should go to a game. It might get you out of your doldrums.

Chris from Jacksonville Beach, FL:
You mentioned guards and centers of the '60's and '70's that could run. If these same guys were on the field today, would they play on defense?

Vic: Some of them would have to play linebacker or fullback. Some of them would concentrate on getting bigger. Gene Hickerson was 6-3, 248. I assure you, given today's training advances, he could've gotten bigger … a lot bigger. You do what you have to do to adapt. If you put today's players in yesterday's game, they would adapt their bodies to be able to excel in that style of game. If you put yesterday's players in today's game, they'd do the same. The evolution of man doesn't account for the kind of size increases we've seen in football over the last 30 years, but the evolution of the game of football does account for it. It's the result of rules changes, changes in style of play and advances in training technology, coaching, etc., and it's gone the other way in some cases, too. Look at the size of today's corners vs. those of 30-40 years ago. Mel Blount was nearly 6-4. Derek Cox and Rashean Mathis are big corners at 6-1. The style of play is what's made the difference. Corners in Blount's day had to support against the run, which means they had to take on big backs in full flight. Today's corners turn and run with the receivers at the snap of the ball. That's one of the reasons the tackling isn't as good today. It's because corners aren't selected for their tackling ability. It's about style of play. Some things get better, some things get worse.

Seth from Jacksonville:
I'm looking forward to the last preseason game. Call me crazy but I love just being in the stadium and seeing those teal jerseys on the field. It's also a great way to find the best tailgating spot to get your pregame on. Am I crazy?

Vic: No, you're not crazy. You're a normal, fun-loving person. You're colorful and you seek color in your life. One of these days I may find out what it's like to live without going to a football game on Sundays in the fall, and I'm afraid of what I might find out. For me, football has been the equivalent of going to church. It's been a religion. Why is it that way for me? I don't know. What I do know is that the first time my dad took me to a football game, I knew I wanted to go back. I watch a lot of football on TV, but I'd have a problem with watching my favorite team on TV because the games aren't televised in real time. What you're seeing is a tape of what happened. It's delayed by 3-7 seconds. By the time you see the play, the play is over. That would bother me. I'd wanna know that I'm seeing the action as it's happening.

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