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Take him to the game, dad

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

Morgan from Atlanta, GA:
This was my first year going to a preseason game. I was bothered when two Jags fans, at different times, made rude comments about the intensity of the fans. Am I missing something? I went to the game to watch the young talent play. I didn't realize I had to lose my voice at a preseason game.

Vic: You're not missing anything. The burden of performance is on the players, not on the fans. The performance of the players should make fans want to cheer; it's no one's responsibility to do it. Spontaneity is what works. Manufactured enthusiasm is unsustainable. The combination that works is a strong performance by the players and a genuine love of the game by the fans that causes them to rise and fall with the tide of the action. That's real football.

Josh from Baltimore, MD:
So Strasburg is now out for at least a year with Tommy John surgery. You really nailed it back in June, as you have quite a few times.

Vic: What a shame. They ruined that kid. You don't rush that kind of arm to the mound. You don't let a great, young arm stand out on the mound and burn itself out. When you can throw a ball as hard as that kid could throw it, the fastball is a pitch that must be used sparingly. It must be used as the out-pitch. You only throw it when you need to throw it. He should have been brought along slowly; taught to throw sliders and sinkers as set-up pitches. They did the same thing to David Clyde.

Darrell from Waldorf, MD:
Michael Jordan is the best player ever to have played in the NBA, in the opinion of many people. Who is his equal in the NFL?

Vic: Jim Brown had Jordan's dominant talent but doesn't have the rings. Peyton Manning has the dominant stats but hasn't gotten it done at crunch time in the postseason, as Jordan seemingly always did. Bart Starr and Terry Bradshaw have the rings but don't have the stats. Joe Montana has the stats and the rings but not the persona. Johnny Unitas has the stats, the rings and the persona, so I'm gonna go with Unitas. Otto Graham and Lawrence Taylor are other players I considered.

Dave from St. Augustine Beach, FL:
How did D'Anthony Smith look before he was injured? His loss is significant, in my opinion, and I hope he can return to 100 percent health. What access to the team and facilities does a player on IR have throughout the season, and is their contract honored or modified?

Vic: Don't worry about the contract or his rehab. Smith will be paid in full and he will be cared for and led through rehab on a daily basis. I see him in the facility every day. His injury, in my opinion, is the major negative of training camp. If there's one thing about camp I could change, that would be it. It was plainly obvious that he was going to be a major contributor this year and a long-term fixture at defensive tackle. Now we wait and hope his recovery is complete.

Mario from San Francisco, CA:
With the NFL catering to the casual fan who wants to see "basketball on grass," doesn't the NFL risk losing the true blue football fan? Last year, to me, was a boring NFL season. I did love watching the Tennessee Titans. It's like you said, Vic, to appreciate offense, you must have resistance. All this throwing the ball stuff is beginning to be monotonous.

Vic: You make a valid point. The Packers-Cardinals playoff game was too much cake; it made me sick. The NFL has previously swung too much to the offensive side of the ball. In the early '80's, right after the rules changes of 1978, the game became too "easy" to play on offense and the league had to allow defense to catch up, which they did. I think we've reached that point again. I think defense has to be allowed to catch up and moving the umpire into the offensive backfield is one of the means for doing that. Yes, it's going to slow the action a bit and I think that'll be good for the game. I mean, how many down-and-outs do we need, huh?

Mark from Regina, Saskatchewan:
How can the Bengals cut Antonio Bryant when he's injured?

Vic: You got it wrong. Bryant's not the injured one; the Bengals are. They're sick to their stomachs after having given Bryant $8 million. He was waived healthy. I'm not sure how to characterize the Bengals' condition. At least they have T.O. to make them feel better.

John from Jacksonville:
At the risk of dwelling on the ticket sales topic, do you know where we are this year compared to this time last year in regards to ticket sales? It appears we are headed for game-to-game blackout decisions but we will likely trend toward it being lifted each week, as compared to last year's result. Do you agree?

Vic: Yeah, that sounds good. Hey, I said I'm done with this stuff. We had that gas gauge up all offseason. We had eight months to settle this matter and we didn't. It's time to play football now. Check back on Thursdays during the season. We'll post on the website whether the game will be shown on TV or not.

Brian from Jacksonville:
In reference to Chris' question about the power sweep, could you not accomplish the idea of a power sweep with lining two tight ends on the side of the run?

Vic: The more you overload the formation to one side, the more the defense is going to overload its formation to that side. When you balance the formation, however, you can pull the guards out ahead of the play and beat the defenders to the spot. To do that, of course, you have to have guards and centers that can run and get out in front of the play. You don't see nearly as much trapping and pulling as you did years ago because, as I said, the guards are much bigger and not nearly as mobile as those of the '60's and '70's, when the power sweep was a staple of every team's offense. Jerry Kramer, Fuzzy Thurston, Gene Hickerson, John Hannah and Mike Webster could run like backs. They flowed like water.

Ric from Jacksonville:
I keep hearing that back in the day players would have to hold real jobs as well as play football because the football money wasn't enough to support them and their family. Obviously things have changed. What I would like to know is how has the players' attitudes on the field changed with the change in salaries?

Vic: I don't think their attitudes on the field have changed. I think the players of today are every bit as intense and competitive on the field as players were years ago. The difference is that today's players aren't as willing to play with an injury and the teams aren't as willing to risk having their players play hurt, and the obvious reason is the investment each has in the player's body. It's the money. The player and the team stand to lose too much money to be careless or reckless with the player's health.

Mike from Jacksonville:
Before I begin, I will tell you that I am a season-ticket holder. Watching "Mike and Mike" on ESPN this morning, they had a great conversation about the NFL's marketing, specifically, the product of the games on TV vs. going to the games. They believe that a significant problem across the entire NFL when it comes to ticket sales is that the NFL has provided such outstanding TV coverage that the average fan will choose to just watch the game on TV from the comforts of home at a much less overall expense each week. Your thoughts?

Vic: I'm not buyin' it. The TV coverage has been darn good for a long time and the stadiums have remained full. Plus, that's where the blackout rule comes into play. If the game's not sold out, you're not gonna see it. The blackout rule protects ticket sales. The real threat to ticket sales is price. If the haves continue to increase ticket prices, the have-nots will be forced to do the same to keep pace, and that's gonna make it more difficult for the have-nots to sell tickets.

Stephen from Jacksonville:
Are either of the two players placed on the IR in danger of being snatched away like Don Carey was from Cleveland?

Vic: You can't claim a player off injured reserve. His rights are protected. Carey wasn't put on injured reserve by the Browns. If they had done that, the Jaguars couldn't have claimed him. The Browns waived Carey injured because they believed no team would claim him since they'd be accepting liability for his injury. When a player waived injured clears waivers, he comes back to the team that cut him and that team must either do an injury settlement with the player or put him on injured reserve. Why not just put him on IR in the first place? Because the Browns would've lost a roster spot for a week or so, which they didn't want to do. Had Carey cleared waivers, the Browns could've put him on IR without losing a roster spot. Oh, wow! A whole roster spot for a guy who probably won't be on your team for more than a few days? If the Browns hadn't made such a fuss about the Jaguars claiming Carey, they could just say it's no big deal, which I don't think it is. All they had to do was say they were prepared to suffer the consequences.

Joey from St. Augustine, FL:
I'm not sure I'm really understanding the flap over the umpire moving to the offensive side of the ball. He still has to set the ball and move approximately seven yards away from the line of scrimmage. Same distance and the same delay. Am I missing something?

Vic: It's not the same distance and it's not the same delay. Previously, the umpire would spot the ball and take two steps back to a position behind the linebackers. As soon as he spotted the ball and stepped back he was out of the offense's way and the play could begin. Now, the offense has to wait until the umpire clears the backfield before the ball can be snapped, but not in the final two minutes of each half. At the hurry-up times, he goes back to his old position. I don't see anything wrong with this change. What's the rush? Line up and play like men. I'm tired of the tricks.

Ryan from Cincinnati, OH:
Who do you think is the best tackler in the sport today? That can be either best form tackler or one who doesn't really miss a tackle.

Vic: Troy Polamalu.

Chris from Middleburg, FL:
Watching Jim Rome on ESPN yesterday, they talked about Bobby Bowden and how they thought he should have been given the one more year he asked for and sent off as he should have been sent off: speech before the final game, players carrying him off the field, etc. What are your thoughts on whether FSU should have given him one more year?

Vic: I gave my opinion on this last year. I think coaches of Bowden's and Joe Paterno's esteem should be allowed to leave on their terms. I think it says something about your university, and loyalty and appreciation carry with them long-term positive results.

Joshua from Jacksonville:
My dad said if Tim Tebow had made the team we would have gotten to see the Jaguars games on TV, and now we probably won't. That's not fair.

Vic: That's too bad, kid. Tell your dad to take you to the game.

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