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O-Zone: Just lovely

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Rob from San Antonio, TX

KOAF, I have a quick, preemptive Public Service Announcement for all those out there already handwringing over the Lawrence contract: There are decaffeinated brands on the market that are just as tasty as the real thing.

The Jaguars indeed have yet to sign quarterback Trevor Lawrence to his rookie contract, and they also have yet to do so with running back Travis Etienne. The pair were selected No. 1 and No. 25 overall in the 2021 NFL Draft, respectively. A couple of things to remember here before fans work themselves into a panic. One is that signing the No. 1 overall selection in this draft was expected to perhaps be a little trickier because the revenue lost by the NFL last season due to COVID-19 means a lower salary cap for 2021, which in turn meant a lower rookie wage scale for the '21 draft class. While many other first-round selections have signed, elite quarterbacks at the top spot are different beats. That being said, Lawrence is still a quarterback and still the No. 1 overall selection, so it stood to reason he probably wouldn't get paid less than last year's No. 1 selection – quarterback Joe Burrow of the Cincinnati Bengals. The general thought before the draft was that Lawrence likely would sign a contract larger than Burrow's – as is typical each year for No. 1 selections – but perhaps not as much more as typically would have been the case. Here's a bigger thing, though: This essentially is a non-issue until we get much closer to 2021 Training Camp. Lawrence missed no practice or preparation time during the offseason program, and there's no indication he will miss time in training camp. It's not a big deal at this point. It's just not.

Nick from St. Augustine, FL

Any thoughts on Bryson DeChambeau not talking to the media about his split with Tim Tucker, his caddie? Should he be fined? Should it be a sport-by-sport basis based on what was agreed upon by the respective league and players association? Agreed upon by the respective league and individual athletes/managers? If that big stronk being can't handle media questions, maybe we outta lay off some other athletes as well.

I don't follow golf as closely as I do many other sports, and any sports media policies are by definition going to be decided on a "sport-by-sport basis." But I generally see sports as entertainment as opposed to life or death – and therefore speaking to the media shouldn't be as difficult as some athletes seem to make it. There's also the reality that fan interest – and therefore media interest – is the engine that makes pro sports lucrative and important as opposed to playing in front of family and friends with little more than pride at stake. It's drama and people that make sports interesting and compelling, so should DeChambeau and other sports personalities talk to the media regularly? Generally speaking, absolutely.

Shawn from The Mean Streets of Arlington

What's a Culligan girl, and is there a link to that?

I don't know what you're talking about. And yes.

JR from the Squatchlands

I understand why people think college athletes should be paid. What I don't understand is: when/how colleges became the pipeline between amateur and professional sports? Clearly it helps the schools' bottom line, especially when it comes to football and basketball, but why do these "institutes of higher learning" think it is acceptable to give scholarships worth tens of thousands of dollars to somebody just because they are a talented athlete, regardless of academics? It seems ludicrous and a detriment to their prestige. Farm leagues and amateur leagues seem to work for the NHL, MLB and pretty much any other sport worldwide, so why in America do we think it's OK for these historic institutions to sell out and risk these athlete's health for some extra cash? You want an education? Go to college. You want to play professional sports? Well, perhaps we should have a more robust semi-pro system in place for that. At the end of the day, it is all about the Benjamins I suppose.

College sports became the pipeline to the NFL and NBA organically, with that being the path that made the most sense for decades because of age and chronological skill level for many years – many decades, even. And for many – perhaps most – players, those paths still work well. And those institutions of higher learning give scholarships to athletes because they give scholarships to many different sorts of student – though there certainly are cases where athletes of "slightly less" academic credentials receive scholarships based far more on athletic ability than anything else. Realistically, it doesn't hurt the prestige of those schools – though you will hear that argument during discussions such as these. Here's the thing about the ongoing discussion of semipro and minor leagues as alternatives to big-time college sports. While it's easy to say, "We should have a more robust semipro system," that semipro system in fact costs money. And in the case of football, it costs a lot of money. College football programs in many cases generate enough interest and revenue to pay for themselves and then some. Semipro or minor league sports have a much greater challenge in this area. Hence, the current system.

Ty from Fleming Island, FL

O-Zone, with legendary broadcaster Marv Albert retiring after almost 60 years of covering the NBA – as well as many years covering the NFL, MLB, and many other sports – where does he rank among the all-time great announcers in your opinion?

Up there. Way up there.

KC from South Florida

After the Jags and Head Coach Urban Meyer were issued their fines for OTA contact, Paul Finebaum and Bart Scott were both on ESPN saying how they expect Urban Meyer to flame out from the NFL rather quickly because of his poor-decision making (Chris Doyle, Tebow, the fines, etc.) and because he doesn't like following all these rules. What are your thoughts on this and should it be a concern for fans?

I never know how to answer questions about how fans should feel about things. My experience is that fans are going to get worked about subjects such as this, and that the way to calm fans' anxieties in these matters is to win. I don't know how Meyer will fare in the NFL. There are plenty of unknowns on this front – i.e., how he will handle losing more than a game or two a season, how he will handle a league in which games are decided by smaller margins and more specific situations than is the case in the college game, how he will handle adversity when it hits a team of professionals as opposed to collegiate players, how he will handle managing a smaller roster than is the case in college. And so on. There's no reason to think Meyer won't handle these new situations well, but there are nonetheless areas to which he must adapt. But what's not on that list is the Chris Doyle hiring/resignation, signing tight end Tim Tebow to the 90-man offseason roster or violating a contact rule in an offseason practice. Those situations aren't nothing, and the Doyle hiring and the offseason-practice situation were missteps. But they're not major missteps in terms of what will happen on the field in the regular season, and they certainly don't mean Meyer necessarily will "flame out."

Dean from Rochester, NY

Well, the question wasn't which town is the better NFL town. It was "How does it compare to Jacksonville as a Football Town?"


David from Jacksonville

Why can't "Daily's Place" be used as a convention center?

Well, it's not really a convention center. It is a venue for live music. I suppose if people were coming to town for a convention and there was a show at Daily's Place they wanted to see, then it could be used for that.

Dwayne from Jacksonville

"What's the best thing about your job ... it's the people. The wonderful people." KOAF, that's what we love about you - your fierce honesty.

It's what I do.

Joshua from KEY LARGO

All these posts you keep saying are "fair" that imply a college shouldn't pay a player if he gets money from outside are troubling. It shows how many people, yourself included for kinda agreeing, don't understand exploitation. Doesn't matter if player A gets money from outside sources, the capital his labor directly produces is pocketed by the school. You should 100 percent get both tuition and outside sources, more if the profit merits it.


Paul from Jacksonville

Regarding tacos and pizza, I think I have figured out your philosophy: keep your expectations so low that disappointment is, for all practical purposes, impossible.

You're referencing my longstanding and well-known allegiance to Sbarro and my recently reaffirmed fondness of Taco Bell. If loving them is wrong, I don't want to be right.