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Paterno found the hot dogs

Join senior editor Vic Ketchman as he tackles the fans' tough questions.

Andrew from Corpus Christi, TX:
Football in the late 19th and early 20th centuries was very limited in the way of pads and helmets, yet, it was a far more brutal sport than it is today. The facemask is a fine feature. Would we take seatbelts and airbags out of cars in attempting to make people drive better? By the way, that's an analogy.

Vic: Wearing seatbelts and having airbags in our cars don't cause us to willingly crash into each other. Facemasks do. That was not the intent, but that is the result. Now we're having to change that mindset that has been encouraged and promoted for half a century.

Basil from Southport, NC:
I remember going to D.C. stadium and watching Chris Hanburger master the art of clotheslining. Did you ever know of anyone as good at it as he was?

Vic: Dick "Night Train" Lane would've clotheslined his grandmother. Chuck Bednarik did it to Frank Gifford and nearly killed him. It remains one of the classic photos in football history.

Adam from Sandown, NH:
Don't you think passer rating is a little overrated? My friend says Joe Namath is the most overrated player of all time because of his passer rating and it makes me want to smack him.

Vic: I'm not a stats guy. I'm an eyes guy. My eyes know what they've seen. I'll use stats to support my eyes' opinion, but I only use them to pad the story. I don't need stats to tell me what I've seen. Joe Namath had the greatest release of any quarterback who has ever played the game. He may have had the greatest arm of any quarterback who has ever played the game. At the peak of his career, his release, arm strength and accuracy were unparalleled in an era of great quarterbacks. The real tragedy of Namath's career is that his knee injuries prevented him from expressing his fantastic athletic ability. Coming out of high school and heading into college, he could run like nobody you had ever seen. He was the total package, and then the knee injuries started happening. The worst part is that back then medical science didn't know how to treat knee injuries. Every tear resulted in another surgery. If Namath had played today, he wouldn't have required nearly as many invasive knee surgeries. Had he played today, I can't imagine how popular he'd be. Tell your friend Namath is not to be measured by passer rating. The game was different and his prime years were too few. Namath is to be measured by degrees of awe.

Mike from Savannah, GA:
What qualities separate a middle linebacker from an outside linebacker?

Vic: Middle linebackers take on and shed blocks, outside linebackers tend to run around them.

Dan from Columbus, NE:
David Garrard is 30, which is no spring chicken, but does the fact that he hasn't been starting all these years give him a few more years in the league? Basically, how many more years can the Jaguars get out of Garrard, in your opinion?

Vic: A player's body is only as old as the abuse it's taken, and if David keeps taking the abuse he took this past Sunday, he's going to catch up to his chronological age real fast.

Greg from Fayetteville, AR:
How do you address a coach during an interview? By first name, last name; do you add coach in there? What about when you spoke to coach Paterno? How did you address him then when you were younger?

Vic: I can't remember how I addressed coach Paterno, but I'm sure I was very respectful because I was taught that by all of my coaches when I was young. I played sports during the "Parris Island years," as I like to call them. Everything began and ended with sir. You know, it probably did me good. To this day, I make sure I use the title "coach" every so often when speaking to coaches I see every day and with whom I am very friendly. They know that, coming from me, it's a term of endearment and respect. At press conferences, however, I prefer to address coach Del Rio as "Jack," because I want to help promote a friendly atmosphere. I am, after all, asking him to assist me in writing my story.

David from Charlotte, NC:
Can we expect to see more Jimmy Kennedy as the year progresses? He seemed to play well vs. the Broncos when he played.

Vic: A little birdie whispered in my ear recently that Jimmy Kennedy is playing very, very well. Yeah, we're gonna see more of Kennedy. I just think he was deactivated on Sunday because he got so excited about Penn State's win on Saturday night that he couldn't sleep.

T. Max from Los Angeles, CA:
I arrived at the station in Cincinnati and he hopped on quite a few hours before arriving at his stop in Pa. I'm sure he rides it often because he just seems like that kind of guy; just an average Joe. I doubt he'll give you a hundred bucks but he might give you a story.

Vic: Did you see him eating that hot dog in the press box on Saturday? That's why he won't go back to coaching on the sideline. He found out about the hot dogs in the press box.

Brian from Douglas, GA:
That is a great photo attached to the headline, "The real football season is here." What are those fans reaching up for?

Vic: It was during a fly-over. The jets sucked their arms up into the air. By the way, did you see the photo that goes with the story, "The ball teased us all." That may be the best picture to ever grace the front page of It may turn out to be the defining photo of this season. Every time I see it, all I can do is stare at it. Look at those hands. Look at the ball.

John from Jacksonville:
In the words of Terrell Suggs, "The receiver must go down and must go down hard."

Vic: Yeah, but I think I'm going to have to change my favorite mantra for sacking the quarterback. After watching the most ridiculous roughing the passer penalty I have ever seen, on Trent Cole's near sack of Matt Ryan, I have decided that in today's game "the quarterback must not go down and the quarterback must not go down hard." In fact, I think the league should forbid defenders from touching the quarterback while he is attempting to pass. They may rush him but not touch him, only stand near him and jump up and down trying to block his pass. If they touch him, a foul should be called and when the defense has committed five such fouls, the quarterback gets to shoot one and one.

Matt from La Puente, CA:
If there was one person you could talk football with, who would it be?

Vic: My dad, as we sit behind the home plate screen at Forbes Field in the seats for which he paid an outrageous $3 each because the scalper out in the street promised him they weren't behind home plate.

Steven from Jacksonville:
If you were commissioner, how strict would your steroids policy be?

Vic: I would consider it my number one priority; to rid the game of performance-enhancing drugs of any kind. It would be my singular obsession and I would be persistent in appealing to the players union to assist me in my efforts. In my opinion, ridding the game of performance-enhancing drugs is the number one measure in providing for improved player safety and the health of the future of the game.

Rex from Elizabethtown, PA:
Related to your answer about the three-pack tickets: I had to move to Pa. three years ago and had to give up my Jags season tickets. They are truly the only thing I really miss about Florida. The 10 games for what you pay are the best deal for professional sports that I can find. I talk to fans here in central Pa and they can't believe what I paid for a season of top-rank football. Those tickets are worth what you pay for them, even if you are a fan of another team. If you love football, then the Jags are the best deal around.

Vic: No question about it; that's why so many visiting teams' fans are making their way to Jacksonville.

Craig from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
Probably one of the main reasons I chose to move to this area 10 years ago was the beautiful weather in the fall and early winter. I guess the same reason would apply why so many people visit north Florida this time of year and that's why we see so many of the opposing teams' fans in the stadium. Since this team does not provide its fans with a product worth buying, why don't the Jaguars target the opposing teams' markets to sell tickets? It could be a windfall for the city. Blackouts would no longer loom and our guests will leave with a positive opinion of Jax and, of course, with a nice parting present called a gift-wrapped victory.

Vic: And you could see it on TV.

John from Neptune Beach, FL:
This goes back to your concerns last week that Goodell find the leak in his substance abuse program. From an ethical standpoint, shouldn't Chris Mortensen, knowing that these things should be confidential and are put in place to protect the privacy of the player, hold himself to a higher standard and not report a possible suspension until it has been released by the league? While I agree the league has a responsibility to keep this information confidential, it seems at some point the media does as well.

Vic: A reporter's only responsibility is to get the story right.

Jeff from Richmondale, PA:
How do you like what Mike Singletary did on Sunday? I wish every coach would send their players to the locker room when they do something stupid.

Vic: I don't like it. I don't like the idea of embarrassing someone in front of another person, let alone in front of millions of other people. I think coach Singletary was trying to be coach Ditka. Maybe it'll work for him, but it's not my style and it wasn't the style of the great coaches I've covered.

Bill from Lancaster, PA:
When Jim Haslett's contract was cancelled, they cited the "Rooney rule." What is it and how did it come about?

Vic: It's a rule that pertains to minority hiring practices for coaches. According to the "Rooney rule," named for the man who initiated it, Dan Rooney, NFL teams are required to interview a minority candidate before naming a head coach. Haslett's contract provided that he would become the Rams' head coach in the event he won six games as the team's interim head coach. That means the Rams had agreed to make Haslett head coach without interviewing a minority candidate and that would constitute a violation of the "Rooney rule."

Aug from Jacksonville:
The Browns had one penalty for 15 yards; the Jags had six for 40. I think the penalties had as much of an effect on the outcome of that game as the fumble did. Several times the Jags killed their own offensive or defensive momentum with a stupid penalty. Is this team playing sloppy?

Vic: Sloppy isn't the word I would choose. I think reckless is a better word. Quentin Groves' second blatant offside penalty on Sunday nullified a Rashean Mathis interception. I don't think Groves committed the penalty because he was sloppy, which would constitute a lackadaisical effort. I think he committed the penalty out of reckless aggression. Football has to be played under control. During special teams practice, you hear coaches yell out to players running down under kicks, "Come to balance." It means, get your body under control. The same goes for the mind.

Paul from Iowa City, IA:
What are your thoughts on the NFL playing a game the last two years in London? Do you like the idea?

Vic: Yeah, I do. I think it broadens the league's and the game's horizons. Growth requires vision and daring.

Amata from Majuro, Marshall Islands:
In your honest opinion, what seems to be the missing piece to the Jags? Also, how did Steptoe become so open on that final big play for the Browns?

Vic: The missing piece is the pass-rush and that's why Syndric Steptoe was able to make that play. He really wasn't that open. Derek Anderson fit a beautifully-thrown pass between defenders; led Steptoe perfectly on a deep crossing route. It's the kind of pass a quarterback can't throw if he's under a heavy rush, has a rusher in his face or isn't able to set his feet and deliver the pass comfortably. Also, Steptoe should've been tackled immediately upon catching the ball. I think it was Gerald Sensabaugh who missed the tackle. That was the second missing piece in that play.

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