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Richesson did a great job

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

Lee from Ormond Beach, FL:
You mentioned there was going to be exciting news and a big ticket-sales push for July. What's the story?

Vic: The July ticket-sales push has already been kicked off by the Tony Boselli video commercial and, yet, another Jaguars ticket promotion. You're going to see more of that kind of stuff as we head toward the preseason because we're in the stretch run. This is it, folks. Urgency is in the air. If you wanna blame me for sounding the alarm, go ahead, but don't tell me you didn't hear it. As for that exciting news, please be patient.

Dennis from Port Saint Lucie, FL:
During the early years of the Jaguars franchise, the jaguar was an integral part of the game experience. During kickoffs, the big board displayed the reeds moving as the kickoff approached. As the kick was made, the jaguar would appear on the screen and growl. The graphics and music really fired up the crowd during kickoffs. There seemed to be much more jaguar growls and graphics during the early days than now. It gave the team more of an identity during home games and the fans loved it. Visiting fans immediately were made aware that they were visitors in jaguar country. I would like to see more of that type of game experience. How about you?

Vic: I just wanna see them sack the quarterback. I'm not into that Ray Lewis smoke and dance crap. I wanna see guys play like Ray, not dance like him. That's all. Give me a bunch of guys that play and win, and I'll leave the growls and the videos for you.

Steve from Jacksonville:
Your reference to drugstore magazines in your editorial made me smile. It brought me back to a time before ESPN and the Internet when I couldn't wait for the new "Street and Smith's" edition in the fall, and my favorite players seemed larger than life.

Vic: It didn't come in the fall. It came out right about now. I know that because every summer at about this time my father took our family to Lake Erie for a vacation that always began with trying to find firewood that would keep us warm. Early in the week, he'd make his way to a drugstore magazine rack, where he'd buy the annual "Street and Smith's" college football preview, which always featured a star player posed wearing a helmet without a facemask. I can see Roger Staubach on the cover like it was yesterday. I would pore through the pages, gobbling up the information and staring at the pictures. The first time I ever saw a picture of Gale Sayers was in that magazine. I must've had an eye for football talent even when I was young because I remember looking at that picture and being impressed by Sayers' pose, and then going to the write-up on Kansas to read more about this guy they called the "Kansas Comet." "Street and Smith's" was a summer vacation ritual in my young life. I remember seeing a picture of Floyd Little in one of those preview magazines. He was wearing a new style of low-cut cleats that looked really cool and as soon as I got back home I went to our coach and told him about them. He knew all about them and said they were on order. It was a different time. We didn't have nearly as much to entertain us. "Street and Smith's" was a treasure, and it wasn't cheap by 1960's standards.

Darrick from Jacksonville:
Let's say you were writing a book about crowd control: "The Anatomy of an Effective NFL Home Team." After chapter one, "Buy a Ticket," what would be some of the key elements in a book designed to instruct a young and growing fan base on the finer points of supporting their team?

Vic: You make it sound so antiseptic. Being a fan isn't something you learn, it's something you feel. You fall in love with a team and you can't get it out of your heart. You love that team so much that you listen to broadcasts of their games on a transistor radio you've taken under the covers and turned down low so your parents don't know you've stayed up until two o'clock in the morning listening to a baseball game from the West Coast. Being a fan requires no expectation of performance other than loving your team. Your heart will do the rest. I get a lot of questions like yours and I struggle to understand the impetus. You have to feel it to know what it is. You can't create it; it just happens. I wish you felt it because, when you do, you won't have to ask what it is. Packers fans don't have to be told how to sit in the cold and shiver. They just do it because they wanna see their team play. Steelers fans don't have to be instructed how to use a towel. They just pick it up and wave it because their heart says they should. Just let it happen. If it doesn't happen, then it wasn't meant to be.

Ancil from Charleston, WV:
In light of the depth and breadth of your knowledge and experience about the game, if you could change three things about the NFL, what would they be?

Vic: The first thing I would change is me. I have fond memories of how the game was played but I need to let the past stay in the past because those days are gone forever and the game must be allowed to evolve into something less violent. The recent report of Chris Henry's autopsy provided information that must not be ignored. We have to follow the commissioner's lead on his initiative to minimize head injuries. So, with apologies to Vince Lombardi, the first thing I would change is my attitude on football as a collision sport. The word collision must be replaced by the word athletic. The second thing I would change is the price of tickets. The ticket-buying fan is paying the freight so the majority of fans can sit home and watch the game on TV for free, and I would attempt to change that by moving the game toward pay per view. I'd like to see the day when the cost of a ticket is the same as it would cost to watch the game at home on TV. Why? Because, in my opinion, the ticket-buying fan is the heart and soul of a team and packed stadiums are at the root of the game's success and they must be safeguarded. The third thing I'd change is the rulebook. It's too big. It must be simplified.

Grant from Fernandina Beach, FL:
Was the Thursday night crowd last December a good or bad crowd? It was one of the best games I've ever been to.

Vic: It was a great crowd; it was one of the best in Jaguars history. The crowd wanted to be there. They were happy, festive and supportive. I sensed no you-guys-better-win chip on the shoulder. They came to see a football game, cheer the home team on and let the chips fall where they may. They left disappointed but hopeful. Most of all, I sensed a bonding of team and town that night, which is the foundation on which any successful pro sports franchise is built. We need more crowds like that one.

Rob from Rochester, NY:
So what do you think about the offseason weight training? Do you really think it's the most intense compared to other teams? If so, this could make a big difference.

Vic: Strength coach is a volatile position. Every spring, he is handed his franchise's most valuable possessions and he is expected to hand them back undamaged in July. Wadda ya think it was like for the strength coach in Pittsburgh when Willie Colon blew out his Achilles and was lost for the season in a conditioning drill? Luke Richesson handed back the goods on Thursday in better condition than when he got them, and they would appear to be undamaged. Imagine his relief. He did a great job with the players and I enjoyed watching them interact in the hallway and in the cafeteria for the past five months. I'm not gonna tell you I enjoyed hearing them bounce those medicine balls off my office wall, but it's become a spring ritual, another one of those traditions I treasure that remind me where I work. Do you remember what I said a few days ago? Just do your job. Well, the scouts did their job and, as a result, I think the Jags have another good draft class. The scouts then passed those players on to Richesson and his staff, and they've done their job. Now the strength and conditioning boys have turned those players back over to Jack Del Rio and his staff. I love watching a football team come together and I try to convey that process in my stories. I hope I've done my job, too.

Logan from New Bremen, OH:
I saw a clip on TV of Alex Smith in practice and it seemed he was zipping the ball around. Can he make all the throws?

Vic: He's honey hole challenged, but I think everyone knew that when he was drafted and, still, he was the first pick of the draft. I didn't get it then and I still don't. I will, however, say this: After having seen him play in person last November, he's not without talent. He throws a pretty ball. He displayed accuracy the day I saw him play and I saw some pocket presence and awareness, too. I wouldn't quit on him, yet, but I think it's obvious he has physical limitations. He's not gonna beat you with his arm.

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