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O-Zone: The real sage

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Hassan from Jacksonville:
As much as I love football, it bothers me how much money these guys make. I understand basic demand and supply and the NFL is incredibly popular and not a whole lot of people can play football at a high level. I also understand these guys have a short career span. But when you think about how little their job contributes to society, their salary (and the money franchises make) is disturbing. Professors, doctors, engineers, and public-service employees provide needed service to society. Football players run really fast and throw and catch footballs. It's nothing more than ENTERTAINMENT, yet many of them make in a year what most of us won't make in a lifetime. When you consider how many are drug abusers, drunk drivers, and wife and children beaters, it adds insult to injury and their salary comes from our hard earned money. It is becoming increasingly difficult for me to enjoy watching games because I can't stop thinking about this. Ticket prices, TV sports packages, and merchandise should cost less and have less money for owners and players and a more affordable experience for fans. I also think there should be a Union for fans to represent their interests. What are your thoughts?
John: My thoughts are that these are legitimate, understandable and reasonable thoughts for fans. They are also thoughts that are shared by many. But little is likely to change on this front; to understand why, simply reread the first few sentences of your email. It's a supply-and-demand situation, and the popularity of the NFL makes it a purely capitalistic entity. Compare it to an entertainer: a singer or a movie or television personality. They get paid unreal sums of money because the industry dictates that if people want to watch them perform they will pay money to do so. In sports, if it's perceived that you can help a team on the field or the court you can do a lot wrong off of it and still have a job. Once you can't help a team on the field, it doesn't particularly matter if you're a good guy off the field or not. As far as prices and salaries, this is very much an issue of what the market will bear and right now, the market bears a whole lot of money to the people to which you're referring. It's just how it is.
Kent from Jacksonville:
Hey, Mr. O. Dante Fowler, Jr., has impressed in workouts, but so what? He didn't really show up on SportsCenter with a lot of sacks. What makes him different from Mike Mamula back in the '90s, who got drafted in the first round largely on being a workout warrior? Thanks for your input.
John: #DidntshowuponSportsCenterWithalotofsacks
Ron from Asheville, NC:
What do you think the Jags might do with their second-round pick? Let's say they have a slot receiver and a running back with equal grades they covet talent and needs wise. What position do you think would be of greater importance to them?
John: Slot wide receiver, because the general thought in the NFL right now is running back is one of the easier spots to find as you go deeper in the draft. And because this is thought to be a pretty deep running back class.
PK from Jacksonville:
Can we get over not signing DeMarco Murray already? The guy has one good year out of five or six and people act like we missed out on the second coming of Walter Payton. Injury-prone, 27-year old running backs are not a cog we needed in the machine we've been fine tuning. Am I crazy for thinking that if we strengthen our defense so we can hold a lead, our rushing numbers will increase as we run the clock in the second half?
John: No, you're not crazy.
Johnny from Tallahassee:
Are you starting to get a "Peter Pan and the Lost Boys" Kind of feel for the Jags? It seems like Jacksonville just snatches up or holds players and coaches that are looking for a second chance or ultimately not wanted in other franchises.
John: No, I'm not getting that feeling.
Michael from Jacksonville:
If I could cancel my Jags four season tickets this year I could … Alas, I signed up for a three-year plan two years ago, and I will honor my commitment. I WILL cancel those four seats next year. Why are we getting ANOTHER DUI GUY? If he gets another DUI while harming someone in the Jacksonville community, I hope he gets what he deserves! Am I overreacting?
John: It's not my job or my place to tell you you're overreacting. Any fan absolutely has the right to feel however they choose about a player signed by the Jaguars. I would say that if you approach life never associating with anyone who ever made a mistake you're going to severely limit the pool of people with which you associate. Personally, I'm less judgmental than perhaps I was when I was younger, realizing more and more each day day that I am not quite so perfect as some of my readers might believe. I'm also not as superior to others as I might once have thought.
Fred from Naples, FL:
"If you love something set it free".......quotes from both of my ex-wives.
John: "If they come back to you, lock the front door and sneak out the back."
Keith from Palatka, FL:
Why all negative reaction to Bernard Pierce? He is 6' 0" tall, 230 lbs., and runs a 4.45 forty. Before injuries and a fumble, he has proven effective in the past. He looks like an upgrade to me with very little risk if he's not. Good pick up, Dave.
John: It very well could be, yes.
Dennis from Sherman Oaks, CA:
I seem to recall a question about fullbacks recently where you felt that it would be addressed in the latter half of free agency. Do you think Pierce might fit that role?
John: No. I think Pierce will compete for the Jaguars' running back position. I expect the Jaguars to acquire a veteran fullback sometime before organized team activities – or to acquire a rookie in collegiate free agency. There's time on that one.
Lee from Jacksonville:
You recently referred to the Jaguars' interest in DeMarco Murray as more "dalliance" than pursuit. This makes two years in a row that Dave Caldwell has had a high-profile "dalliance," with Alex Mack being the other. Why would a general manager make a less than all-out effort to acquire a player that he wants?
John: General managers have to make decisions for the short- and long-term with every player they pursue. There are some players that carry no financial commitment or risk at the moment they are acquired. If such a player doesn't work out, you simply release him and move on. For other players, a general manager has to weigh amount paid against worth of the position and how it will impact salary cap not only in the current year but future years. In the case of Mack, Caldwell made an offer that it seemed Cleveland would have a difficult time matching. The Browns matched it. In the case of Murray, Caldwell was willing to pay a certain number for a position of a certain need and a player of a certain caliber. Philadelphia was willing to pay a higher number.
Paul from Jacksonville:
John, did you play baseball at Arlington Little League back in the day?
John: I indeed spent the spring of 1974 and 1975 touting my Bobby Bonds glove and Louisville Slugger black aluminum bat to practices behind the old Krystal on University and attending games on Fort Caroline Road. I say "attending games," because my participation usually consisted of the league-mandated two innings at the end of game and usually began with the following exchange. Coach: "OEHSER!!" Me: "Huh?" Coach: "Grab a bat." Me: "All right!!! I'm gonna get a hit!!" Coach: "Sure, kid. Hold on to the dream." The Sno-Cones after the game were awesome, though. Sometimes I got to sit with the team when we ate them.
Jefferson from Phoenix, AZ:
So John, we got more sacks last year. That was a good thing. Which of these is more accurate – we had a better pass rush or the games were closer thus providing better opportunities for the pass rush to succeed?
John: Close games help the pass rush, but what really helps the pass rush to the point of sometimes skewing statistics is having leads late in games. While the Jaguars had closer games in 2014 than in 2013 they didn't have a significant number of games in which they led late. The bottom line is the Jaguars' pass-rush improvement was not only statistical, it also passed the eye test. They got more, real pressure and forced more fumbles off of that pressure than the season before. That's improvement.
Ronnie from Quincy, FL:
"The confidence in your statement in this case might overshadow your knowledge of the situation." Straight up cold, Johnny O! Spoken like a true sage! Did you steal this from Gandolf? Dumbeldore? Yoda? Shad Khan?
John: The guy who sold me a sixer and a Chick-O-Stick at the Gas and Sip the other night.

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