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No time for outbursts

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

Leo from New Orleans, LA:
I wanted to know if I could have the honors of asking if you have any stories about Hank Stram?

Vic: I covered more than a few games Hank Stram coached while he was with Kansas City and New Orleans, but I really don't have any good stories. I know from interviews I did with him that he was very personable and seemed to enjoy talking with reporters. He had great energy and passion for the game and was never lost for words or an opinion. Stram was replaced in Kansas City by Paul Wiggin, who was a real good guy but a more in-the-trenches type. Stram, as you might remember, was very fastidious about his appearance. When Wiggin was hired, I remember reading a column by a Kansas City writer who used a mirror in the Chiefs' head coach's office to compare Stram and Wiggin. The columnist wrote that the same mirror Stram used to adjust his toupee, Wiggin will use to tuck in his shirt. I always liked that analogy; good writing. Stram is one of the men who changed the game. He was one of the AFL's dominant coaches and some would say he struck the first legitimate blow against the NFL when his Chiefs physically out-classed the Vikings in Super Bowl IV. Even though the Jets had scored the AFL's first Super Bowl win the previous year, a lot of people still believe the Colts were the better team and the Jets' win was a fluke. There was no doubting the Chiefs' superiority.

Joni from Jacksonville:
Hey, Vic, welcome back! ESPN recently reported that Fred Taylor will miss the first weeks of training camp. Is that report accurate? Also, they say the Jags are interested in Travis Henry and that the Bills won't let him go for less than a third-round pick. Is that the right price for the Jags?

Vic: I don't know when Fred Taylor will be ready to go. We're just going to have to wait and see. As far as Travis Henry is concerned, my information is that the Bills want the compensation in a trade for him to be conditional. My information is they want the compensation to be upgraded to a second-round pick if Henry achieves a designated level of production. I think that's the stumbling block in a trade. A second-round pick starts to get a little pricey. I have no problem with a third-round pick. As far as I'm concerned, if the price is a third-round pick, pull the trigger.

Keith from Jacksonville:
What is your take on coach Del Rio's decision to close off most of training camp to fans and media? It's bad enough to keep the fans away, especially when the team is trying to build goodwill with the fans, but to close off the media who we rely on for the latest Jag news is inexcusable, especially after Del Rio wanted the media to be Jag fans. I'm sure this won't help.

Vic: It's not for most of training camp; it's for the final week. As a member of the media, I am always in favor of a total-access policy. What kind of reporter would I be if I said, yeah, close it down? The schedule, however, is out of my control, so, if the coach says I can't go out and stand in the 100-degree heat, then I'll just have to stay in the air-conditioning and complain about it. In all seriousness, I wish it was open. I just don't like the word closed.

Seth from Jacksonville:
Is there a reason you mentioned Larry Johnson and Kevin Barlow? Are those guys you like or have their names actually been mentioned in talks?

Vic: Those are two names I just pulled out of the air, for the obvious reasons: Larry Johnson is behind Priest Holmes and Kevan Barlow made remarks last season that may have damaged his future in San Francisco, where the 49ers drafted Frank Gore in the third round. I also mentioned Johnson and Barlow because I think they're outstanding talents. Johnson is a big guy with a lot of burst and wiggle and he's an especially talented pass receiver. He was outstanding late last season and, as a result, he'd be costly in a trade. Barlow would be a lot less expensive. He doesn't have the overall skills Johnson has, but Barlow is a big, punishing runner who might really blossom in the right system. Those are two names, however, that are purely a creation of my mind. I have heard nothing linking the Jaguars to either guy. I just threw them out there to show that Travis Henry isn't the only running back in the league in a position of expendability.

Dave from Orange Park, FL:
I have my new white golf shirt with a khaki Jags logo, my khaki shorts, my new khaki "Road Warriors" hat and I'm ready for the "Ask Vic" Golf Tournament! So, how goes the registrations?

Vic: We have a few holes open. We can increase the total number of golfers, though I prefer not to jam up the course. At this time, I'm going to set July 15 as a deadline for registration for golf, cabana party, game tickets, etc. We need to begin making hard preparations so, if you haven't registered and you want to participate, it's time to sign up.

Mike from Jacksonville:
Please explain the shell game NFL teams continue to play with each other, the media, the fans and the league office relative to player-injury reports.

Vic: Coaches are only responsible for providing medical information about their players on the weekly injury reports during the regular season. If they play loose with that information, the league will punish them, as the league punished the Broncos and Cowboys a few years ago for manipulating their injury reports. As far as the rest of the year is concerned, teams are under no obligation to provide medical updates on their players. Coaches are paranoid about providing information to the competition. It's not about the media or the fans or the league office; it's about the competition. So, coaches do what is required of them, but nothing more. To expect anything else is naïve. Fred Taylor had knee surgery. He hasn't practiced since. Do you really need someone to spell it out for you?

Derrick from Palm Coast, FL:
ESPN did a bit on Ty Law, showing him in a workout. Afterwards, they reported he worked out for the Jaguars and said that many other teams have shown interest. Aside from your typical J.J. Stokes remark, could Law be a reliable player to fill our right cornerback position?

Vic: This is starting to become an endurance test. How many times can I be asked the same question before I finally give in and say, yes, by all means, sign him? Well, you'd be surprised how stubborn I am. My beliefs are firm. I believe football is a young man's game. I believe football is a game for healthy young men. It is not a good activity for men who have been weakened by age or infirmity. Ty Law is one of the great players in NFL history. He is a first-ballot Hall of Famer. The thing I like best about him is that he played his best in the big games. He is, however, coming off major foot surgery. Would I sign him? No. Might the Jaguars sign him? Yeah, if he's willing to accept a one-year, minimum-wage deal with a small signing bonus. I could be wrong about this, but I don't think the Jaguars would be interested in throwing a lot of money at him.

Nick from Jacksonville:
Surely all members of the media cannot completely suppress their emotions throughout the game. Be honest, you know you were cheering when Ernest Wilford made his touchdown catch against the Bills last year. Even the most professional journalists couldn't have controlled themselves then.

Vic: You don't understand. When Ernest Wilford made that catch, we were working. Let me tell you exactly how it was. I was doing something called "writing running." That means I was in a state of constantly updating the story so that the moment the game ended I could hit the send button and you could see it on within a few minutes. I can remember sitting in the press box and pounding out a new top for the story and worrying about fighting my way to the locker room through fans who were going to be going the opposite direction. And I was right; it was a nightmare. You have this perception of a bunch of reporters sitting in the press box with nothing more to do than to watch the action. I wish it was that way. The fact of the matter is that the more action-packed the game is, the less of it I see. Review and understanding occurs on Mondays. I don't have time for emotional outbursts during the game and I don't want to be distracted by somebody else's emotional outburst. It takes all of my concentration to do my job. You might be surprised at how intense it is.

Fred from Jacksonville:
I'd like to be able to access the other guest columnists' pieces. I only got a chance to read two and thought they were both superb but I didn't see where the other ones were archived.

Vic: Click on "News," then click on "Editorials."

Joe from Green Cove Springs, FL:
Why don't you Brian and Jeff do a live show at the Bud Zone to promote ticket sales, and even have a few players signing autograghs and answering questions, and make tickets available to be purchased?

Vic: I'm all for it, but it's not my call. Maybe someone will read this and get an idea.

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