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O-Zone: Under consideration

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Mark from Archer, FL

Zone, the passing of NFL legend Jim Brown got me thinking. I did not ever see him play. Way before my time. But everything I have read indicates he was one of the greatest running backs. Some argue he was the greatest running back to ever play. Did you ever get the chance to meet him? If so, what was your impression of him?

Former Cleveland Browns running back Jim Brown died Friday at age 87. Because Brown retired from the NFL in 1965, a year before I was born, I have no personal stories about watching Brown. I also did not ever meet Brown. But when reading about and learning the game when I was young, Brown indeed stood out as the greatest running back ever to play – and some believed at the time he was the best player ever. I'm not big on comparing players across eras. As I see it, the best measure of a player is his level of dominance in his own era. My theory is that any player who dominates a particular era would have found a way to dominate – or come very close – in another era because great athletes take advantage of workout techniques, technology, etc., to rise above. In that sense, consider: Brown led the NFL in rushing in eight of the nine seasons in which he played. He played in an era when the running back was in a very real sense the focal point of the game. He was unquestionably the focal point of every defense in every game he played. In those circumstances, playing in four 12-game seasons and five 14-game seasons, he rushed for more than 1,250 yards in a season seven times. He averaged more than 104 yards a game in his career and averaged at least 100 yards per game in seven different seasons. That would be the equivalent of players now rushing for 1,700 yards in a season seven times. It's unthinkable. Until someone proves differently, I'll assume no player ever approaches that again. Also, remember: Brown retired after nine seasons, and he rushed for 1,544 yards and 17 touchdowns in a 14-game season in his final season. Is he the best ever? If he's not, show me who is.

David from Chuluota, FL

KOAF - I have a theory on the popularity of the NFL, and sports in general. I think sports are important to us because it allows people to connect to our fellow man on a larger scale, to celebrate in victory or share in the agony of defeat. In the world today, people are more polarized than ever, but sports allow us to come together and high-five our neighbor instead of demonizing them. I think most people would prefer to love thy neighbor than to hate them. I think on some level sports bring us together in an idealistic way that escapes us in everyday life. Thoughts?

Sports certainly transcend many cultural differences and bring people together who wouldn't otherwise have common ground. I don't know if this explains the popularity of sports, but it is perhaps the attribute that most justifies that popularity. At the very least, it's one hell of a side effect.

Josh from Green Bay, WI

Jason asked a question regarding cities paying some of the costs for a new stadium. Now I know Green Bay is a little bit different than Jacksonville in that it is one of the most storied and historic football teams, but I can absolutely say that without the Packers in town, we would lose out on a lot of things. Sure, we have to pay a .5% tax in the county to help pay for the upgrades over the years, but it's a small price to pay for all the good the Packers bring to town.

Good email.

Ed from Jax by Lionel Playworld

What's the strategy for teams and free agents at this point in the season? Regarding pass rushers, there are several big names that had big contracts. What are they waiting for? They're unemployed. Why would veteran free agents hold out at this point?

Strategies vary from team to team and player to player. Teams often wait until after the draft to assess their roster regarding need-filling free agents. Teams might even wait until after organized team activities and minicamps, which begin next week and run through mid-June. One reason for a team to wait is to further assess the roster and another is to wait for free agents to lower their salary expectations a bit. For players, there could be several reasons for waiting. One might be to wait for teams to meet their salary expectations. Another might be to not feel obligated to attend voluntary OTAs of the mandatory minicamp. Either way, there's not much of a time pressure to sign veteran free-agent pass rushers. There's not much for them to learn in terms of scheme. They can either pressure the passer or they can't.

Nate from St. Petersburg, FL

You briefly recognized that London games are nationally televised, but couldn't they also be considered "primetime" games? The only difference between these games and say, Monday Night Football, is people are waking up to football as opposed to going to bed with it.

People can consider anything to be anything they want, I suppose. When discussing television in the United States, it's generally accepted that 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. is primetime television.

Ray from Newport News, VA

If I am not mistaken, the NFL normally helps with some funding for "new stadiums." Does the NFL assist with major renovations like that Jaguars/City of Jacksonville are facing?

The NFL's joint stadium and finance committee in some cases will loan money to assist in stadium construction. In the case of the Buffalo Bills, for example, the league will loan $200 million toward a new stadium. The Bills will be expected to pay back that loan. The NFL does not pay for individual teams' stadiums, and I wouldn't expect that to happen with the Jaguars' upcoming stadium project. Remember: NFL money is the owners' money. It makes sense for owners to loan money to other owners for stadiums, but it doesn't make much sense for them to give money away.

Marty from Jacksonville

Hey, John. Here's an interesting thought. AFC teams play more games against AFC opponents than they play against NFC opponents. Since AFC teams have a disproportionate number of elite quarterbacks, that means bad AFC teams face more elite quarterbacks than bad NFC teams face. That means bad AFC teams take more losses than bad NFC teams, which gives them a greater chance of drafting the top quarterbacks in the draft. Which means even more top quarterbacks going to the AFC. Make sense?

This is a thought. No one can argue that. Whether you described that thought accurately early in your email is open to discussion.

Randall from Jacksonville

Trent Baalke is entering his third year as the Jaguars' general manager. He has replaced every offensive player but three (left tackle Cam Robinson, center/guard Tyler Shatley and guard Ben Bartch). He turned a handful of starters and his 21 picks into 29 picks (20 in the first five rounds), wide receiver Calvin Ridley and a fourth-round selection next year. Outside of maybe the 1990s Dallas Cowboys or the expansion Jags/Panthers have you ever seen such a complete overhaul flip in such a short time?

This has been a complete overhaul. Where it ranks in terms of all-time "completeness" is difficult to measure. What has been particularly impressive about this build/rebuild has been the effectiveness of most of the free agents, and the extent to which those players – players such as wide receivers Christian Kirk and Zay Jones, tight end Evan Engram, guard Brandon Scherff, linebacker Foye Oluokun, etc. – have become locker-room leaders, on-field producers and tone-setters. That doesn't always happen. It's a big reason for the turnaround.

Ryan from Detroit, MI

Just for reference on stadium funding, the last three stadium deals agreed to were Las Vegas, Buffalo, and Nashville. I think all three received significant public money. Do you know how much?

These are the commonly reported numbers: Buffalo ($850 million in public funding for a $1.4 billion project); Las Vegas ($750 million in public funding for a $1.85 billion project); Tennessee $1.26 billion in public funding for a $2.1 billion project).

Kevin from Jacksonville Beach, FL

Hi, John. Do you think the city and the Jaguars have given consideration to just building a new stadium next to TIAA Bank Field? This could be done without the need to find another site to play and could take as long as necessary to build.

Many, many options are being considered and will be considered.

Don from Marshall, NC

Why not make the improvements to Hodges stadium. Growing University who has the land and cash and a need.

Many, many options are being considered and will be considered.