O-Zone: Whee

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it …

Brad from Orange Park, FL

So, you’re saying the reason players with comparable statistics don't have as tough a time getting in the Pro Football Hall of Fame as Boselli and Taylor is those players have voters in the process that focus more on voting players from franchises they consider to be “their own.” And logically, it would seem Jacksonville doesn't have as many fans – I mean, “voters” – who focus on players that played for franchises they consider “their own.” And we're just fans who “don't see the bigger picture.” Too bad we don't have votes for the Pro Football Hall of Fame inductions. Then, we could be "professionals," too. I'm not saying "all of the Pro Hall of Fame voters are scumbags," John. But if "voters from many other cities who feel the same about players who played for their franchises" is true - why aren't all franchises represented in the Hall of Fame with as many voters who declare each franchise as being “their own?” Or would that maybe eliminate a structural advantage that the those who run the Hall of Fame have put in place for "their franchises?”

No, I wasn’t saying what you said I was saying when addressing this recently, and it increasingly seems there’s little left to be said on this topic as we exit the Dead Zone. I understand the view of Jaguars fans on this, and believe me: I want former Jaguars running back Fred Taylor and former Jaguars offensive tackle Tony Boselli enshrined in the Hall. I have known both of them for more than two decades, respect them and consider them friends (except Boselli). I speak to Hall voters often about Boselli because he has been so close to enshrinement in recent seasons, and I expect/hope to have similar conversations about Taylor in the future. I believe they should be in, but I just don’t see their exclusion thus far as a moral wrong or national-media bias against the franchise. The reality is though both are Hall worthy, neither is a “lock.” Boselli didn’t play very long; yes, there are Hall of Famers with similar longevity, but those players – i.e., running back Terrell Davis – had extended waits before enshrinement. Taylor wasn’t a perennial Pro Bowl selection and he wasn’t a consensus choice as the best running back in the NFL when he played; yes, his statistics merit enshrinement, but he wasn’t a dead-solid lock in the vein of, say, LaDainian Tomlinson. Your question went into detail about “structural advantages” and the like. The voting committee consists of a media representative from each city/team and multiple “at-large” members, a group that does include former players. The idea is to have relatively equal representation from all markets and as many dedicated, knowledgeable voters as possible. But while the media representative from the player’s city does state the player’s case to open the discussion for Hall voting, and while media members do tend to vote for a player from their city, that’s hardly a “structural advantage.” Many fans don’t like the system. Many players don’t like the system. It’s not a perfect system, but as I’ve said often: I’ve never seen a better system suggested, and I can’t imagine a system in which the people voting spend more time, effort and care in trying to get it right. They never make everyone happy. Then again, no system would.

Nicholas from Mogadishu, Somalia

John Boy: I finally figured out why your birthday is never celebrated in the office. I totally forgot that Jaguars Owner Shahid Khan has his birthday only three days before yours (July 18). Any chance maybe you can have him celebrate your birthday with him in the office? I think the best current NFL owner and the best current NFL senior writer should celebrate birthdays together, perhaps on his yacht "Kismet" while the two of you reflect on the values that make you two the best at what you do in life?

My birthday is today (yippee). It’s great to be 31. Kismet’s not on the agenda. I don’t really have any plans. Maybe I’ll get together with Brad and discuss the Hall voting process. That would be fun.

Chris from Mandarin, FL

I took a tour of the Cowboys’ stadium in Texas once – and while it is big, it is not as remarkable as it is made out to be. Other than the club area being shupa fancy, the rest of it just has an office-building feel – except with Cowboys regalia. I think the Jaguars have done more with less. Cowboys Stadium is big, but really it’s all smoke and mirrors because honestly the team hasn’t been good in 25 years, so who cares? It’s not that fancy, it’s just really white – like a hospital.

How good a team has been in the last two and a half decades really has nothing to do with whether a team’s stadium is nice – though a strong argument can be made that it’s easier to stay competitive financially is your stadium is set up to maximize local revenue. As far as Cowboys Stadium goes, I don’t know … while I’m not one to get overwhelmed by stadium amenities, I would be hard-pressed to not say it’s impressive.

Psychologist from Jacksonville

After analyzing your responses, I've come to the conclusion that you are an angry psycho with suicidal tendencies.

I’m not suicidal. Yet.

Limo Bob from Jacksonville

NFL is a “Socialism:” Three ownership groups – owners, players and television – basically divide the pie three ways. Thus, we have a salary cap on players to keep the pie balanced. I believe as we are seeing in the NBA and other sports that players will demanding more of the pie/ownership. Do you see the elimination of owners (Khans), and players and cities taking control?

This is extremely unlikely – certainly in my lifetime and particularly in the NFL. It historically is harder for players to flex control in the NFL than in, say, the NBA; whereas one or two NBA players can completely reshape a franchise’s fortune, it’s rare for one or two players in football to do the same. I expect players to continue to make advances, but – short of forming a new league or blowing up the current one – I find it hard to imagine an NFL without ownership.

Matt from Bartow, FL

John, since were in the dead zone, this seems like the best time to ask these questions ... who is the best pure football player you have ever seen on the field? Furthermore, who is your favorite football player you’ve ever had the pleasure to watch?

I’ll limit my answer to players from the time since I was old enough to at least pretend to have idea of what I was seeing – i.e., from the late 1970s on. I would go with wide receiver Jerry Rice as the best player I ever saw, followed in no particular order by quarterbacks Peyton Manning and Tom Brady, running back Barry Sanders and linebacker Lawrence Taylor. That would be my pretty clear Top 5 best players. My favorite player comes from my days when I was a fan and not covering the sport professionally. That would have to be John Riggins. I grew up a huge Washington Redskins fan, and Riggins’ legendary performance in the playoffs following the 1982 season led the franchise to its first Super Bowl. That sort of performance leading to that sort of first memory is what makes sports matter.

J Hooks from Fleming Island, FL

I always hear how quarterbacks have such a challenge "identifying the Mike?” Isn't that just the middle linebacker? Last I checked they can't change their jersey number. What does it mean?

I don’t know that quarterbacks have trouble identifying the middle linebacker, but it is imperative on many plays that the middle linebacker is identified before the snap. It allows the offense to know necessary blocking schemes for the play, and which side of the defense will be the strong side for a given play. That’s why you’ll often hear quarterbacks pointing the player out to offensive linemen and running backs before a play.

Zach from Pomona Park

If your job is to run the football to the end zone, why would you seek contact? Just comparing Todd Gurley, Ezekiel Elliott and Alvin Kamara to Leonard Fournette, it seems like we … uh … whiffed.

Fournette in two NFL seasons hasn’t shown the “missability” of the three running backs you cite. On that, there is little debate. Fournette has at times has shown the ability to be a very good power back and he has been very good in the red zone – and at those times, which mostly occurred in his 2018 rookie season, he has been very productive. Did the Jaguars miss on Fournette? If he can stay healthy and consistently reach the heights he did at times as a rookie, the answer is no. Otherwise …

Gary from Palatka, FL

John, Happy Birthday. You happy?

Why start now?

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