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Research was required

Join Jaguars Inside Report Senior Editor Vic Ketchman as he tackles the fans' tough questions.

Tom from Malabar, FL:
One of your recent responses reminded me of something that once puzzled me. Back in the ancient days, when a missed field goal resulted in the defense getting the ball at their own 20, what stopped a team from trying an 80-yard field goal and just kicking it out of bounds instead of punting?

Vic: Your question sent me into some deep research. As you recall, I posted your question with an answer earlier this week. In the answer, I said I couldn't recall what the exact circumstances were, then offered what I thought I remembered. I had gone to Ken Anderson and James Harris and asked them if they remembered the rule, but they didn't, either. Shortly after your question appeared, I got an e-mail from Jaguars salary cap boss Paul Vance, who wrote, "You're wrong." And that's what sent me into deep research, and Paul's right, I was wrong. The answer to your question comes from no less authorities than Hall of Fame coach Chuck Noll, whose explanation was corroborated by former NFL official Jerry Bergman. Both were quick to explain that on all field goal attempts, the ball was "live" after it crossed the line of scrimmage. All missed attempts that made it into the end zone were spotted at the other team's 20-yard line, which is significantly different than today. Now here's where it gets real interesting. Field goal attempts were treated the same as punts. If a missed field goal attempt rolled dead at the opponents' one-yard line, that's where they took over. If it rolled out of bounds at the two-yard line, that's where the ball was spotted. Of course, once a team went outside their kicker's range, the defensive team employed a return man, and he was likely to produce much better field position returning a missed field goal attempt than he would a punt. But nothing prevented a team from "just kicking it out of bounds." If they thought they could do that more successfully with their placekicker than with their punter, they could do that. But I never saw it done. Coaches were very conventional in those days. Placekickers were used to score, punters were used for field position.

David from Logansport, IN:
I think Jeff Fisher needs to grow up. He does nothing but fling insults to not only the Jaguars but every other team they play, as well. To me that does nothing to gain respect in this league. Soon he'll be known as the biggest trash-talking coach to never win a Super Bowl. Your thoughts?

Vic: It's his "ax."

Sherry from Jacksonville:
I am excited about the Titans coming to town, and I would love it if we could beat them. What do we need to do to beat them? Obviously, one thing is to not turn the ball over. In your opinion, what are the other things? I really enjoy your column.

Vic: Stop McNair. They can't win without him.

John from Jacksonville:
I've heard you say many times "you pay it, you claim it" when discussing the salary cap. Allowing teams to push money into the future is a major loophole in the salary cap system that doesn't make a lot of sense. Isn't the system designed to promote parity by limiting spending? If teams have the equivalent of "charge cards" it defeats the whole purpose. It seems that a "cash only" system makes more sense and would promote true parity. Or would the player backlash be overwhelming?

Vic: What you're describing is called a "hard cap," which means all money paid in the year must stay in the year. Unfortunately, signing bonuses are just too high for it to be that way. In the years you had to re-sign your quarterback, you'd be at an overwhelming disadvantage. That's why money is allowed to be spread out. It's a very workable system. If teams choose to mortgage their futures, they have no one to blame but themselves. Don't blame the system.

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