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Risk-free tryout

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

Joe from Jefferson City, MO:
I know character is a big part of evaluating players in today's game. As a GM, where do you draw the line, though? Ben Roethlisberger has performed well, won two Super Bowls, but has had some pretty big character issues come up. With someone of his caliber, you're not going to release him or do something drastic like that, but what do you do? You've made a huge investment and these negative things keep coming up. Is it really that bad for your team if the guy still goes out and wins?

Vic: Aren't you overreacting? He not only hasn't been convicted of a crime, he hasn't even been charged with a crime. If you're asking me if he needs to grow up, the answer is yes. If you're asking me how long his team should endure his immaturity, I'll tell you that he may be nearing the end of their patience. I won't, however, assassinate a man's character without just cause. I think we throw that word (character) around way too often and too broadly. Where do you draw the line? Not here. That I can say with certainty.

Scott from Jacksonville:
One of the main reasons Dan Marino never had a good running game was because he had the worst play-action fake that I have ever seen and all his running plays could be seen coming from a mile away. Marino would have needed a truly exceptional running back in order to have a good running game. Who could Miami have gotten that would have been successful running the ball behind Marino?

Vic: I'll betcha Eric Dickerson, Barry Sanders and Emmitt Smith would've done well taking hand-offs from Marino. What you're suggesting is one of the most nonsensical things this column has ever published. You're suggesting that Marino's running backs didn't do well because when he faked it to them, everybody knew they didn't have it. Would they have rushed for more yards if he had faked the hand-off so well that the defenders would've tackled the guy that didn't have the ball? Shouldn't bad play-action fakes have had a more negative effect on Marino and the passing game than it did on the running backs? It didn't seem to hurt Marino, Duper and Clayton that his play-action fakes were so bad.

Nick from Ottawa, Canada:
In their recent history, I haven't followed all the personnel decisions the Steelers have made regarding their players. As a result, I don't really have a feel for how they would have dealt with Holmes if there weren't the off-the-field issues. Do you think there's any chance they would have made this trade or let him walk as a free agent if it weren't for these issues?

Vic: No chance. The Steelers' history is that they spend for their star players and let the supporting cast walk. Coming off a Super Bowl MVP, Holmes was a star player, but he was nearing the end of his contract and the Steelers had made no move to re-sign him. Everybody knew they were going to let him walk. In fact, I wrote in this column last fall that Mike Wallace wasn't Hines Ward's replacement, he was Holmes'. The nagging off-the-field stuff became too much to endure, plus, Holmes dropped some big balls last year. He dropped at least two potential game-winners. That's when you start to worry about the effect of his lifestyle on his performance. I can't help but think that might've weighed in the Steelers' decision. I'll tell you this: He is an extreme talent, the kind of big-play wide receiver that can take over a game, as he did in the 2008 postseason. If the Jets get lucky and he straightens himself out, they've got a receiver that'll make Mark Sanchez a prolific deep passer.

Mike from Jacksonville:
There's really something wrong with you Vic you dont like the New Dallas Stadium, you dont like the new Sradium in New York, you dont like big free agents to be sign by the Jagurs to attrack poeple to buy tickets deng ?????? Am i missing something in your point of view or your just like every sports writter a big moron ????

Vic: Yeah, I'm the moron.

Matt from Jacksonville :
How can you say Tim Tebow is one of the best players in college football history and then say he's not the best available player in the draft? Since you are comparing him to every era in college history, not just this year's NFL prospects, how could he even be considered anything but number one? Shouldn't best ever and best available be synonymous? Ever heard the phrase does not compute?

Vic: When Tebow comes marching home again

Hurrah! Hurrah!

We'll give him a hearty welcome then

Hurrah! Hurrah!

The men will cheer and the boys will shout

The ladies they will all turn out

And we'll all feel gay

When Tebow comes marching home.

James from London, Ontario:
What happens to restricted free agents who haven't signed their tenders after Thursday? Do their rights still stay with the team that signed them or do they become unrestricted free agents?

Vic: Their rights belong exclusively to the team that tendered them. After Thursday, a restricted free agent has two options: 1.) Play for the team that tendered him. 2.) Don't play.

John from Houston, TX:
What was your opinion on Emmitt Smith coming out of college? Did you think he would do well in the NFL?

Vic: He caught my eye while watching a couple of Florida games. Florida wasn't the high-profile team back then that it is today, but I saw him in a couple of games and liked him, but that's not my enduring memory of Smith. My enduring memory of Smith is the lament the personnel director of the team I was covering then, the Steelers, expressed to me when they traded down with the Cowboys, who used that pick to take Smith. The Steelers had drafted Tim Worley the previous year and went away from their best available player model because Joe Walton had become their offensive coordinator and Chuck Noll wanted to give Walton a centerpiece player for his offense, which featured the tight end. Walton was in love with Eric Green, who became an immediate hit in Joe's offense. Smith, however, led the Cowboys to championships. Anyhow, after the Steelers picked Green, I commented to the personnel director that he must've been happy with the pick. He nodded, but then told me how he was absolutely crazy about Smith and it killed him to trade away from a player who was, by far, the top-ranked player on the Steelers' board. I never forgot it and that's one of the reasons I'm so big on BAP. Who can predict which player will succeed and which player will fail? How do you know who will get hurt and who won't? If you pick the BAP, the worst that can happen to you is that you'll have too many good players at one position. Is that such a problem? It never bothered me that the Jaguars had Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew.

Don from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
I wonder how many teams were involved in the Santonio Holmes deal? Or was the deal just between the two teams, because I have got to think the Steelers could have done a lot better than a fifth-rounder.

Vic: Better than a fifth-rounder, huh? Don, they were about to cut him when the Jets jumped in and gave them a freebie. Holmes would've become an unrestricted free agent and his contract with the Steelers would've been terminated. The Jets made a smart play. They threw the Steelers a bone and, as a result, got a player with a bargain one-year salary that is, in effect, a tryout for a long-term deal. The one thing everybody knows about the Steelers is that they will cut people. They cut Johnny Unitas and they cut Franco Harris. I think the league was expecting it.

Mike from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL :
Your answer to the Santonio Holmes question really shocked me. The first thing I thought of is that we now have the perfect opportunity to prove the wisdom of Vicbow. The Jets have done almost everything that goes against conventional Vicbow dogma.

Vic: It's risk-free, Mike. That's why I think it's a good deal for them. They don't even have to pay his full salary, which is relatively small for a player of his skill level, because he'll be suspended for four games without pay. They're on the hook for nothing except a fifth-round pick. They can cut him in camp and not owe him a buck on his contract. Where are you going to get a Super Bowl MVP coming into the prime years of his career at these bargain conditions? Do you think Holmes will be motivated? He'll be in his contract year and he'll be playing in New York. He could end up becoming the difference-maker for the Jets at playoff time. He's already proven he can turn it on in January.

Brad from Bradenton, FL:
What did you think of The Masters this year?

Vic: I enjoyed it as much as I can enjoy any golf tournament that doesn't have Johnny Miller doing the color. The visuals were stunning and the golfers provided some very dramatic moments. It's not my favorite tournament, however, because I feel like it's more of a club championship than an international event. The field has a lot of past champions and amateurs who, frankly, don't belong in a major and do little more than take up space. It's kind of the same thing every year: Tiger, Phil and a few who would contend. I also think they have to do something to put some teeth into the course. Sixteen under par is too low for a major and there's something wrong when 23 golfers break par. You're not going to beat those guys with length. The only thing that beats them is high rough and fast greens and Augusta doesn't have rough and the greens didn't seem to be up to speed this year. The woods don't even have trees, they have poles and the players just shape the ball right around them. I'll accept the on-your-knees reverence and the whimpering song, but the field needs to be bigger and better and the course needs to be more penal. Even still, give me punishing rough, bikini-waxed greens and Miller's cutting commentary on Father's Day at the U.S. Open. Just imagine what Miller would've said about Tiger's on-course behavior on Sunday.

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