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Rivalries and realignment


The following is a transcript of a question and answer session between Senior Writer Vic Ketchman and Jaguars owner Wayne Weaver.

VK: What does the win over Tennessee do for the franchise?

WW: As I said last week when we talked, that was a big game for us. It was a big game emotionally. It was a big game in terms of these were the guys who kept us from reaching our goal last year. It's unique to go through a 16-game schedule and lose two games to the same team, then have them come in during the playoffs and have them take the prize away from you. Emotionally and for our self-esteem, and for our confidence, it was just a huge, huge game for us to win, and I thought the guys really scrapped and played hard and had a lot of heart to do what they needed to do to win.

VK: Is this going to be a season of regrets?

WW: I think this team is going to develop some character from this year. As you look back at some of the games we lost, Vic, we just didn't deserve to win. We just made too many mistakes, and good football teams can't do that. Hopefully, it'll be a growing experience. We've got a lot of decisions to make following this season because there's no question that we've got to make some changes and do some things to improve this football team for next year.

VK: The rivalry between the Jaguars and Titans brings realignment to mind. Where do you want your team to go?

WW: I've always said that if I have my choice I would certainly like to stay in the AFC. I would like to have Miami as one of our division rivals. If we could keep Tennessee, I'd like to have Tennessee. You can pick all kinds of things you could create, but I can clearly see an AFC South division with Miami, Jacksonville, Tennessee and Carolina. I could see an East Coast league with Miami, Jacksonville, New York and New England. You're never going to get that, but I do think it makes sense that we do have some strong regional rivalries. We have three teams in the state of Florida, two AFC teams, and those teams should be playing each other. I think Miami makes all the sense in the world, and I realize they have this long history of the AFC East, but Tennessee is a perfect example of how quickly rivalries can develop. There's a natural rivalry in-state because of the college football, and any time we've played Miami we've had 75,000 people at the game. There's an intense interest in those two teams playing, so I'd like to see it. Whether we can get that done or not is suspect.

VK: What would it take to get into the AFC East with Miami?

WW: There are just too many balls in there right now. They got into realignment at the meeting in Denver, and there were some interesting things that came out of there that you would not have thought would be thrown out on the table. That encourages me that people are starting to think out of the box and thinking that we don't have to move just one or two teams and be so guarded. Let's do it right. Maybe that's too much to expect, but I was impressed by some of the things that gone thrown onto the table at the Denver meeting, that this thing is wide open.

VK: Rumor has it that you would like to sell Buffalo owner Ralph Wilson on the idea of moving to the NFC Central and joining up with Detroit, Chicago and Green Bay. Do you have any reason to believe Wilson would buy that idea?

WW: I could make a good case for it; that it would be a good place for him to be (laughing). Now, whether Ralph would do it or not; you know, Ralph lives in Detroit. Buffalo might be a great NFC Central candidate. I've heard other people say we're not going to move very many teams, and we're going to pay teams to move, and to me that's the absolute worst scenario you can come down to. Then you're not doing the right thing. You're just trying to make a move for convenience and status quo.

VK: What if you can't join up with Miami? Then where would you like to be?

WW: I wouldn't mind having Jacksonville, Tennessee, Carolina and Baltimore. I guess I could see a scenario where we would move to the NFC, because if I'm asking everyone else to be flexible, then I've got to be flexible. I could see a scenario where we would move to the NFC and take Tampa Bay as a regional rival, and then add Carolina and Atlanta.

VK: Who are your most attractive opponents?

WW: Vic, I think you develop those, and I think they develop very quickly. I keep using Tennessee as an example. The first three years here we had a hard time selling out the Tennessee game. Well, it's the hottest ticket in town right now. Baltimore has not been an easy sellout game in the past. Well, I can tell you right now that I think Baltimore may win the division this year. If you look at the AFC Central right now, if you look at Pittsburgh, Jacksonville, Baltimore and Tennessee, that's a tough division. I can see a lot of possibilities. I'm trying to keep an open mind and not get locked into any one thing, but certainly I have strong preferences, and -- if there's any way of getting it done, and you can be sure I'll lobby very hard for it -- my first choice would be to have Miami in an AFC South division. My second choice may be to go to the NFC and have Tampa Bay as a rival.

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