JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it...
Trevor from Jacksonville:
I will always be grateful to Wayne Weaver for bringing an NFL team to Jacksonville and being truly committed to establishing a successful franchise. But man, oh, man – am I glad Shad Khan decided to buy our team. This announcement about the stadium renovations has me excited not only for the future of the Jags, but for the future of the entire city. MOUSTACHE FOR LIFE!
John: I'm not sure how much more Khan can do to show commitment to the city. He's up to $30 million in just two seasons to try to help improve the locker room, training facilities and now, the stadium. There are still those skeptical – mostly nationally – about Khan's commitment, but that's not Khan's fault. Gator Bowl President and CEO Rick Catlett said it best Wednesday when he said Khan's not going to move the franchise unless the city doesn't support it and then he would have no choice. Khan absolutely has done all he could do to show his commitment, and you're right to be excited. Khan has an out-of-the-box view on how to make the Jaguars a successful, viable franchise for the long-term, and that view includes the London initiative, but it also includes a dedication to Jacksonville that should no longer be questioned. Wayne Weaver said he waited to sell the team until he found a buyer committed to Jacksonville. It's hard to argue any longer that he did just that. (Not that some won't try.)
Joey from St. Augustine, FL:
Hey, O...with the removal of the 7,000 seats, does this mean that the tarps are to be removed? I haven't seen any mention in any of the stories about this. Thanks for any info on this.
John: The North End Zone tarps will be removed. The Jaguars haven't said anything officially about more than that, but 13 months remain before that. A lot can happen.
Jimmy from Jacksonville:
Right after they cut Garrard, I wrote you, "I've always insisted I wouldn't buy season-tickets until the stadium put in a game-day swimming pool for fans," in reference to people saying they would or wouldn't buy tickets based on their whim of-the-week. Well-played John...well-played, and thanks for the pool, man.
John: No problem. If you get a second, write in in a couple of days saying, "I've always insisted I wouldn't buy season-tickets until the senior writer gets the respect, adulation, 40 percent raise, car allowance and percentage of gate he deserves." Here's hoping you stay hot, and that you're effectively far more quickly this time around.
Greg from Neptune Beach, FL:
I do not want the Jags to sign Russell or Young. But to say we shouldn't because "there must be a reason they haven't been signed by any other team" is absurd. Every single free agent that ever existed during the free agency era was not signed by any team at one point ... until they were signed by a team. I'm NOT saying that these particular free agents are worth signing but the fact that no other team has signed them is irrelevant. If we only try to sign free agents that are already under contract by another team, that strategy becomes pretty difficult.
John: The Jaguars haven't signed Russell or Young because they don't believe Russell or Young would help the team at this point. That's probably a pretty common refrain among teams at this point.
Eric from Treasure Chest, WV:
I wasn't aware my hometown is in Treasure Island, New Mexico. Boy, you really bungled that one, Johnny O. Thanks.
John: No worries.
Frank from St. Augustine, FL:
John, you stated that you couldn't write or discuss specifics about what you saw during OTAs. How come Paul Kuharsky, in an article he wrote about Denard Robinson, went into detail about a play he observed during practice? I thought that was against the rules?
John: The practice about which Kuharsky wrote was the final practice of minicamp. It was open to the public, and therefore Kuharsky and other media could write about what they observed.
Allyn from Orange Park, FL:
"If you had to write a book about the Jaguars . . ." hmmm, been there, done that? Does anyone remember?
John: I do. I started with, "Chapter 1."
John from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
I saw Pete Prisco in the airport and he has a much better tan than you do. Jealous?
John: I am jealous of Pete for many things: his rosy-cheeked, wide-eyed, child-like, optimistic outlook on life; the high value he puts on the opinions of others; his modesty; the measured, reasonable way he approaches the Tebow Debate; his rational way of engaging on Twitter...but the tan...nah, I ain't jealous of the tan.
Adrian from Inglewood, CA:
The '96 Jaguars Cinderella team vs. '99 Jaguars powerhouse team, who ya got?
John: For one game, in the postseason, maybe I'd take the '96 team. That group was special and had a knack for winning the close game. But for the course of a season, it's hard to ignore the talent of the 1999 Jaguars. They were a mature team offensively, with Jimmy Smith, Keenan McCardell, Mark Brunell, Tony Boselli and Leon Searcy in their primes. They also had Gary Walker, Kevin Hardy and Tony Brackens defensively playing at a high level. They were helped during the regular season by a pretty favorable schedule, but that doesn't take away that they were very good – as evidenced by having made the postseason the previous three seasons.
Lance from Jacksonville:
I'm gonna push you in the pool.
John: I will end you.
Is Gratz really going to wear 27? I know the kid is supposed to look pretty good, but the previous 27 was such a Jags icon I thought that number might disappear for a few seasons out of respect. For instance, I haven't seen a 71, 82 or 28 for some time, and while some didn't like Mathis's gambler style of play, he was a great player for this team for many years.
John: Yes, Rashean Mathis was a big-time player for the Jaguars for a long time. At the same time, you can't retire or even disappear every number. Mathis won't be forgotten by the organization, nor should he. That won't change just because someone's wearing No. 27.
Ryan from Atlantic Beach, FL:
How do you measure yourself against other team writers? As my man Ty Webb said, "By Height."
John: I don't measure myself against other team writers. I don't really measure myself at all. When you don't want to hear the answers, it's best not to ask the questions.
Jon from Durham, NC:
Could you explain the practice squad? My understanding is that players who don't make the 53-man roster can be signed to the practice squad. So, guys like Kearse or Scott, guys who are viewed as projects, can be developed. Other players can be signed there for depth. Correct me if I'm wrong, but another team can poach a practice squad player to their own active roster. So is there any way for teams to protect a player that they are developing, other than put him on the active roster? Seems like a good way to have another team spend the time and effort developing a player, then steal him away. Does this happen often?
John: The rules for the practice squad are long and detailed, but as a general rule, players are eligible in their first two seasons if they have do not have an "accrued" season in the NFL, or if they were on an active roster for fewer than nine games during that "accrued" season. A player also can be on for a third season if the team has had at least 53 players on the active roster for the duration of the player's time with the team. There are other details, but that's the gist. A player such as Scott seems like a good candidate for the practice squad as he is currently on the 90-man roster. A player such as Kearse could be a different story because he was not signed with the 90-man roster following his time in camp on a tryout basis last week. Finally, as far as teams protecting players, that's more difficult than it was years ago. The NFL Players Association generally discourages the process because it hurts the player, which is why practice squad players are essentially free agents. A team must retain a practice squad player from another team on its active roster for three games if it claims the player, but beyond that, a team can't protect a player much if he's not signed to the roster.
Gary from Jacksonville:
Chapter 1. It was a dark and storming night, the kind you read about in mystery books...
John: Suddenly, a shot rang out...
John from Section 132:
The largest video screens in the world, new sideline video screens, and friggin swimming pools?!!! So, London, right?
John: Yeah, sure, right.
JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it...
Trevor from Jacksonville: