JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Rob from Jacksonville:
The Pro Bowl uniforms are atrocious. It was better with red and blue. I think it'd be neat to have all the players wear their own teams' home or away jersey. Thoughts on the Pro Bowl itself?
John: My thoughts on the Pro Bowl pretty much center on how many people seem to get worked up about the Pro Bowl one way or the other. It amazed me in recent seasons when there was an outcry over the quality of play and when people would grow angry that players might be giving less than 100 percent. I got some of the same sort of emails in the last day or so. It always made perfect sense to me that players would protect themselves from injury in a game played after their season was over; it made no sense to do otherwise. Football is violent and dangerous enough without putting yourself at unreasonable risk in an All-Star game. As far as my thoughts on the Pro Bowl itself, I'll be honest: I don't hate it, but I don't watch it. And I've always wondered why people who find fault with it don't take the same approach.
David from Syracuse, NY:
You should hear what these Syracuse and Western New Yorkers are saying about the Jags' hiring of Doug Marrone. It ain't pretty. As a Jax native I find it quite amusing.
John: What Syracuse and Western New Yorkers are saying about the Jaguars hiring Doug Marrone is so uninteresting to me and so not related to the Jaguars hiring him as to be un-understandable.
Andrew from Rosamond, CA:
Maybe you've already answered this, but where do you stand on the Marshawn Lynch issue? Is this really about him not talking to the media, or are the fines imposed partly because of his not-so-subtle resistance to the rules?
John: The fines are imposed because Lynch doesn't talk to the media. Players are required to talk to the media, and while some fans think this is a ridiculous rule, I do believe a league in which players weren't required to speak to the media would over time get progressively less accessible and more difficult to cover. In turn, that would make the league progressively less enjoyable for fans. I don't know the details or the origins of Lynch's dislike of speaking to the media, but personally, I've dealt with players over the years who didn't like speaking to the media. Tony Brackens wasn't big on it. Marvin Harrison rarely spoke. It made the job tougher, but only marginally so. I've always figured there are 53 players and a handful of coaches on a team; if one player – no matter how good – doesn't want to talk it doesn't mean I can't do my job. I've also found that if a player who doesn't want to speak to the media explains his feelings and treats the media with a touch of respect, the media usually doesn't bother that player too much. Again, I can't speak to the Marshawn Lynch situation, but that has been my experience.
Tim from Jacksonville:
Teams should be trusted to act within the rules or face consequences. That said, why are teams allowed to prep their own game balls but the NFL controls the K-balls?
John: Teams are allowed to prep game balls because it improves the quality of the game to have quarterbacks comfortable with the ball they are throwing. They started controlling K-balls because the lengths to which kickers were going before the K-Ball rules were installed were ridiculous. There were stories of kickers using balls that were practically worn through and stories of kickers microwaving balls to get them ready for games. The bottom line is there's no reason the current rules can't work … or at least it seemed that way until recently.
Stephen from Glorieta, NM:
Hey, John, I haven't been around the O-Zone since early January. What have I missed?
Chris from Jacksonville:
Okay, so Josh Gordon fails another test and his NFL future is in jeopardy. Why is it that we get updates on this guy and nothing on Justin Blackmon? Is he banned for life? Is he alive? And how can a young man who has these problems expect to recover or improve without ZERO help from his employer or teammates???
John: I understand people's frustration with this, but it's really not a matter of the NFL giving the public updates. As much as possible the NFL keeps information about suspended players quiet. Gordon's failed test was in the news because it was just that – a failed test. Blackmon hasn't been in the news lately in this situation, and that's not a bad thing. Remember: from the Jaguars' perspective, Gordon and Blackmon are unrelated. The Jaguars expect to hear something regarding Blackmon's status before the NFL Draft. He is not banned for life and he is still alive. As far as your last point, I agree with you that it's not ideal for the team and/or teammates to have no access to the player, but ideal or not, that's the rule as it stands now.
Lee from Jacksonville:
Not one question about the Pro Bowl today O-man. Why do they still play it?
John: Because people watch it. And because people watch it, it draws ratings. And because it draws ratings, advertisers spend money. And because … well, you get the idea …
Ken from Jacksonville:
Who would you take given what you know about what the Bills traded for him: Sammy Watkins or Amari Cooper? What are the differences (if any) between them and how do we not take Amari at No. 3? If Peyton comes back, look for the Broncos to trade up and scoop him up when all their talent takes off because of cap space. Cheers.
John: There's a lot to take in when trying to answer this question – alas, probably too much for this aging senior writer. I like what Sammy Watkins brought to the Bills, and it's hard not to like Cooper. Each has elite playmaking ability. Watkins' has translated to the NFL, and we'll see about Cooper. As far as differences, Watkins seemed to play a touch faster in college, but that's just my impression from watching a few of their games and not anything close to a 40-yard-dash time. In answer to your second question, the way you don't select Cooper at No. 3 is if you believe another player – say, Leonard Williams or Randy Gregory – is better. As for the Broncos trading up, that's a long way to move and besides, I don't see the Broncos letting Demaryius Thomas hit unrestricted free agency, so not all of Denver's talent is going to be taking off because of cap space.
Terrece from Laurel, MD:
With the Senior Bowl concluded, who were the standouts from the week that could be good fits for the Jaguars, a la Aaron Colvin, Brandon Linder and Telvin Smith?
John: Overall, this wasn't considered as good a Senior Bowl for talent as last year's, but there were players who eventually could be on this roster. We probably won't get a good idea of those players until the draft – which is, of course, by design. As for some names … Miami tight end Clive Walford stood out, and although Nebraska running back Ameer Abdullah wasn't strong as a blocker, he could be available on the second day of the draft. Former Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall also showed potential as a cornerback. Hobart guard Ali Marpet also impressed a lot of people, and with the Jaguars possibly looking for depth at the position … well, we'll see what happens come late April.
Charles from Bangalore, India:
I ran into Tony Boselli when I was buying a car back when he was a player. The man was a beast, but proportional, not like a lot of lineman that bulk up past their normal size for weight. Always wondered if this was part of his success? Then I ran into him several years after his NFL days in the elevator up to his office. He had lost a lot of weight. Obviously, he wasn't going through all that hardcore playing, training, and workouts. But do ex-NFL players drop weight as a matter of health? Are there concerns carrying that bulk down the road?
John: One of the most remarkable things about Boselli when he played was exactly the point you make: that for a man of his size he indeed was notably proportional. I can recall standing on the Jaguars' practice fields and watching Boselli on the far end of the field; you wouldn't have known by the way he moved that he was a man of his size. Players – particularly linemen – often do drop weight after playing because they're not training and lifting for size as much anymore. As for concerns about the bulk, there certainly are stories of players who struggle with weight issues after their playing days. It's an issue that's bigger than a paragraph answer in a Tuesday O-Zone.
Fred from Waycross, GA:
Good grief! How many different ways can people ask the same question? Bradley hired those guys because he likes them and thinks they are the best available. Wouldn't that be the way anyone gets hired? What is it that people don't understand?
John: At this point, I'm actually not sure.
O-Zone: Simply put
JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Rob from Jacksonville: