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Nothing wrong with a little romance

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

Chris from Conway, AR:
With all this talk about the spirit of the game, I have to give props to the NFL commercial with Polamalu and Tomlinson. I know it's romanticized, but it still hits home. That's the game I love and while it's definitely a business, I love to think there are players that feel that way about the way they make a living. Thanks for a great site.

Vic: The league would love for all fans to share your appreciation for the game and desperately wants the spirit of that commercial to be the image of the league. The trash-talking and the taunting are over the top now and, as you can see from recent fines and what I consider to be an increased sensitivity to taunting by officials, the league wants to get rid of that stuff and have its players project a more respectful attitude toward each other. Romanticized? Sure it is, but what's wrong with a little romance? I think it would help fans appreciate the game and deal with their frustrations if the spirit of that commercial was perceived to be the spirit of the game. Please believe me when I tell you that it is. These players really do respect each other and they have a love for each other that is so easy to see when their careers are over and they meet at NFL alumni or Hall of Fame events. It's a feel-good commercial. I like it, too.

Aqeel from Toronto, Canada:
What is worse, a hit that is dirty or one that is unnecessary? The hit on Peterson may not have been that hard, but it was unnecessary and in Mike's case unexpected.

Vic: That's a great question and we spent some time debating it last night on the "Jaguars This Week" radio show. Unnecessary is taking on a new meaning in today's game. Unnecessary is now starting to include physical contact away from the play. Old-school football made no distinction. If you were on the field you were live to the whistle. I knew a high school coach who had a team rule: Everybody must hit somebody on every play. That's old-school stuff and I see the game turning away from that kind of mindset, for the obvious reason that injuries are becoming too many and too costly. I think what we're describing is going to be one of the hot topics of the offseason. I think unnecessary, as defined by away from the play, has the potential to be one of those major points of emphasis next season.

Jim from Winterville, NC:
I have a salary question. Are the players paid for the week of practice or for the game? I think last week Terrance Copper of the Saints was released and missed the week of practice. He was resigned on Friday or Saturday. So does he get a full week's pay? What if he had been released on Saturday after practicing all week?

Vic: If a player is on a team's roster at any time after four p.m. on Tuesday, he draws full pay for that week.

John from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
If the Titans are able to pound out a victory this week, would you consider it the end of the Peyton Manning era?

Vic: No, I wouldn't. Curtains don't go down on careers that dramatically. I will say, however, that if the Titans beat the Colts on Monday night, the Colts' run of AFC South titles will have ended. This is it for the Colts. This is a must-win game. To win a sixth consecutive division title, in my opinion, the Colts must beat the Titans. I think there's more, too. With games ahead at Pittsburgh, at San Diego, at Cleveland and at Jacksonville, a loss in Nashville on Monday would cast serious doubt on whether the Colts would make the playoffs at all.

Jonathan from Olympia, WA:
If the league wants to reduce the vicious hits, take away the helmets and shoulder pads.

Vic: Leave the helmets and shoulder pads on. All you have to do is take off the facemasks. That would change everything.

Greg from Merritt Island, FL:
How do you figure that Kellen Winslow's absence will "galvanize" the Browns. Sure, he's a problem off the field, but he's still their biggest playmaker (other than Braylon Edwards) on the field.

Vic: I think I explained myself. I see him as a distraction. I see Winslow and his body language as an irritant. Team chemistry is very, very important. I think he damages it and the Browns might want to make a statement along those lines.

Tim from Jacksonville:
The Jaguars recently announced AFC three packs. I know they are trying to sell the remaining tickets but I think it goes back to the root of why so many Steelers fans were at the game a couple of weeks ago. When is management going to stop providing incentive for people to buy only a few tickets a year?

Vic: Tim, they have to sell the tickets. In a perfect world, all of the tickets would've been sold on a season-ticket basis, but they weren't so that left the marketing department with the chore of having to sell those tickets in other manners. The real question here is: When is Jacksonville going to sell out this stadium on a season-ticket basis? I thought this would be the year. I thought the tickets would be gone by Memorial Day. There was such a buzz about this team after last season that I thought the Jaguars would finally have a truly hot ticket. I'm stunned that it didn't happen. Please, don't send me e-mails now telling me that the dog ate your ticket money or any of that other "Queen for a Day" stuff. Yeah, I know, times are tough and I don't expect anyone to deny their family dinner so they all have Jaguars tickets, but I'm still stunned that we're nearly halfway through this season and tickets are still available. The marketing department has done a fantastic job. Without the level of aggressiveness the Jaguars have shown in attempting to sell tickets, I shudder to think what attendance would be like. How many teams in the league have a "Champions Club?" Did you see the rating "The Jack" and the Jaguars got in the "Sports Illustrated" stadium rankings? It was fifth in the league, right? It's the best stadium in the league for access. The Jaguars have one of the league's most affordable tickets. They've got cheerleaders and a mascot and a drum line and every home game this season has gone right down to the wire. They have a coach who goes for it on fourth down all over the field. Has one drop of rain fallen yet this season? I apologize if this offends people. I'm just disappointed.

Cedric from Jacksonville:
Which game, if any, do you think Fred Taylor will break the rushing record?

Vic: If you're referring to reaching 11,000 career rushing yards, I think this will be the week. Fred needs 43 yards to reach 11,000 and I not only think he'll do it, I think he'll do it in a big way. Against the league's 26th rush-defense, I expect Fred to have a big day on Sunday. He told me recently that it would mean a lot to him to reach the 11,000-yard mark at home. He wants to be able to celebrate with the hometown fans. I think he will this Sunday and I think it'll be in the first half.

Scott from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
Please give us some insight on the Jerry Porter situation. You know more than you're telling us.

Vic: I really don't, Scott. Apparently, Porter needs more time to get back to where he was prior to the hamstring injury and subsequent surgery.

Marcus from Jacksonville:
While in a game, are the players required to tuck in their jerseys or is it optional?

Vic: There's an NFL observer (uniform police) in the press box at every game. If he sees a player's socks drooping, he notifies the bench that so and so needs to pull his socks up. The same goes for jerseys; they must be tucked in. Players are warned of uniform violations. If they persist, they are fined.

J.R. from Yulee, FL:
Being that you were a Pennsylvanian and fairly close to State College (Penn State), tell us your best JoePa story.

Vic: It was a Friday night and a story came over the wire that Joey Cappelletti had died. He was the brother of Heisman Trophy winner John Cappelletti, who broke down in tears during his acceptance speech, when Cappelletti spoke of his brother's battle with leukemia and dedicated the Heisman he was receiving to his brother. It was a slow night in the newsroom, so I thought I'd do a column on Joey's passing and I remember having heard about how Joe Paterno's home phone number was listed in the phone book. I wasn't a Penn State fan and I always poked fun at that Penn State goody-two-shoes stuff, so I decided to give the phone number a try. I called directory assistance and asked for the phone number for Joe Paterno. I spelled the name for the operator and she gave me the number. I called it, fully expecting to get an answering machine, but the voice that answered the phone was real and I recognized it right away. It was Paterno. I introduced myself and the newspaper I represented, informed him of the young Cappelletti's passing and asked Paterno if I could interview him about the Heisman Trophy presentation. He was fantastic. We talked for half an hour and he told me how he was completely blindsided by Cappelletti's acceptance speech. Paterno told of how the room went limp as they listened to Cappelletti and of everyone's battle to fight back tears. I thanked Paterno for the interview, hung up the phone and turned to one of the reporters in the news room. "You know that crap about Paterno having a listed number? It's true," I said.

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