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Serious negotiations

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

Robby from Jacksonville:
I have a question that concerns me about all football players. They always ask for so much money, but what can they honestly need all that money for? I just think the money can be used to help other people who actually need it, but that's just me.

Vic: And don't ever change.

Bruce from Jacksonville:
Tell me that now after adding nothing but defense during the free-agent period that the Jags are ready to focus on offense and really add some edge to that side of the ball during the draft, and not "reaches" that won't have an impact for a season or two if ever.

Vic: Unfortunately, that's what you usually end up with, "reaches," when you predetermine that you're going to draft for need. I can't guarantee the Jaguars are going to address offense in the draft because I can't guarantee an offensive player will offer the best value when it's the Jaguars' turn to pick. I can guarantee you this, though: If they "reach," they'll regret it. As far as not addressing offense in free agency, I'm looking at the full list of available players when free agency began and I can honestly say it's a list that didn't offer much potential for the Jaguars on the offensive side of the ball. The Jags wanted a left tackle, but they were either signed or "franchised" off the market before free agency began. They pursued Derrick Mason, but would you have paid what Baltimore did for Mason? You can't manufacture players. Truth be known, free agency is kind of dead. Teams are locking up the best players and, aside from a guy here and a guy there, free agency has become a collection of rejects.

Doug from Jacksonville:
After the Jaguars cover the designated seats, where, in comparison to the rest of the league, will the stadium rank as far as number of seats?

Vic: Middle third of the league.

Jimmy from Vero Beach, FL:
I'm 25 years old and I love to watch old football footage, and I do appreciate the old guys. I also understand there wasn't a salary cap, so teams were stacked. But how could smaller, slower, weaker players compete with today's players?

Vic: Forget that slower stuff. There was lots of speed on the field 30, 40 years ago. Bob Hayes was the fastest man in the world and don't tell me he'd be slow compared to today's players. Evolution doesn't work that quickly. Lynn Swann was the greatest combination of speed, jumping ability and grace I have ever seen. Cliff Branch, Roger Carr, Wesley Walker, John Stallworth, Johnny "Lam" Jones, Stanley Morgan were all burners who would've burned off a lot of today's cornerbacks. Darryl Stingley was a dart. O.J. Simpson was an amazing combination of size and speed and could've played in any era. Jaguars quarterbacks coach Ken Anderson played with Charlie Joiner and Isaac Curtis. They were burners, especially Curtis. Do you think Anderson would like to have their speed on the Jaguars' wide receiver corps? Frankly, I think there was more speed at the wide receiver position then than there is in the game today. Joe Greene may have been the quickest defensive lineman to ever play the game. Gale Sayers was a track star at Kansas and was absolute lightning on the football field. We don't have a running back in today's game with Sayers' game-breaking ability on kickoff and punt returns. So forget that slower stuff. It's a myth. Yes, players of today are bigger and stronger; no question about it. They are a lot bigger and a lot stronger, but don't you think the old guys might be a little bigger and stronger if they played today? It's not as though today's players are taller.

Duncan from London:
I heard on that in 2007 there will be no salary cap?

Vic: The 2007 season is the final year of the current Collective Bargaining Agreement. The current salary cap system would end following the 2006 season, which would make '07 an un-capped year. High-level negotiations occurred this week in Pittsburgh. They included such luminaries as NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue, NFLPA director Gene Upshaw, NFL second-in-command Roger Goodell, Patriots owner Bob Kraft, Broncos owner Pat Bowlen, Panthers owner Jerry Richardson and Steelers owner Dan Rooney. That's an all-star cast that makes it obvious both sides are serious about negotiating a new CBA. They'll get it done. Be patient.

Beau from Burlington, NJ:
Since we've been on the topic of Jim Brown for a few days, I have a question for you. Obviously no one can master the running style of Jim Brown but, since his day, who has resembled his running style the most?

Vic: From a sheer power standpoint, it's Earl Campbell, but Campbell was a pads-down runner, whereas Brown was a high-cut guy. Eric Dickerson was a high-cut runner.

Terrence from Jacksonville:
We know Marcus Stroud will soon become the highest-paid defensive tackle in the league. What will this contract do for John Henderson next year?

Vic: That's why the contract negotiations with Marcus Stroud are so important and require time and patience. The Jaguars are negotiating for two.

Erich from Arundel, MD:
"A single-game ticket sale is held in May of each year, via mail order only. The sale is announced on the website and in local Pittsburgh papers." So there is still a chance to get tickets for the Steelers game?

Vic: It's a big event involving very few tickets. It's kind of an Easter egg hunt except you don't know when Easter is. Here's how it works: The Steelers put aside a very limited number of single-game tickets for their upcoming season. They do this so as not to lock out those fans who are not season-ticket holders. The Steelers announce the details of the single-game ticket sale on a Sunday. Usually it's a Sunday in May but it remains a mystery as to which Sunday in May. Fans in Pittsburgh check their Sunday newspaper each weekend and on the particular Sunday that they see the ad, they swing into action. Those wishing to participate are instructed to rank their game selections (in case their first choice isn't available), and mail a check for the cost of the tickets to the Steelers' ticket office. You'll only get one game, so, if you only want to go to the Jaguars-Steelers game, don't include any other Steelers home games in your rankings. Orders will be filled on a first-come, first-serve basis, which means that if you live in Jacksonville and want a ticket to next season's Jaguars-Steelers game, you better have somebody in Pittsburgh mail your request. Should you get inside information and your envelope is postmarked before the Sunday the event is announced, you'll be disqualified. The Steelers won't accept FedEx or anything like that; it has to come via regular U.S. Mail. The bottom line is you might have a better chance of winning the New York lottery.

Robert from Amsterdam, Holland:
Inspired by the question by Beau from Burlington, NJ, I decided to do some counting. Did you know that over the last 15 "Ask Vic's" you answered 195 questions (13 average) asked by 191 males, three females and one unknown, living in 33 different states and eight different countries?

Vic: Thanks for the information. I didn't realize I'm a male chauvinist.

Andy from Jacksonville:
All this talk about covering seats in the second-smallest NFL TV market is confusing when the U.S. census says we are the 14th-largest city. How is the TV market defined?

Vic: All of Duval County is included in the population of the city of Jacksonville. Most cities' populations are figured that way, so the 14th-largest city figure is misleading. Forget about city lines. What's important is the total population of a city's DMA (Designated Market Area). For Jacksonville, that includes the counties of Duval, St. Johns, Clay, Nassau and Baker. I don't have the most recent statistics, but for the 2003-04 television season, Jacksonville ranked 52nd in the country with 598,070 TV households. Green Bay-Appleton was 68th with 426,820 TV households. Consider New York at 7,376,330 TV households and I think it's clear to see how important revenue-sharing is.

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