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That darn nacho cheese

Join senior editor Vic Ketchman as he tackles the fans' tough questions.

John from Jacksonville:
What is the reason for the NFL edict to announce only the ticket sales and not the actual gate attendance?

Vic: The NFL wants to promote the number of tickets distributed for their games, and I can understand the need to do that. I wanna know how many tickets have been distributed, but I'd also like to know how many people were present at the event. I was asked on Monday how many people were at Sunday's game and all I could do was guess. A long time ago, three figures were announced for each game: Tickets distributed, tickets used and tickets not used. That's what I want.

William from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
I think your greatest attributes as a journalist are your sense of history and humor. Now humor me with some history. Has humor always been the modus operandi of sports journalists or has ESPN changed the writing style (and audience) forever? I like humor every now and then, but I think it also debases the seriousness of the subject matter. Has glibness replaced gravitas? I'd like to know your opinion.

Vic: Let's not give ESPN credit for having invented humor, too. Sportswriters such as Jim Murray were entertaining us with their unique styles of humor before any of the current pop-culture guys at ESPN were even born. I have been impacted by a lot of sportswriters, and I've always liked a good laugh, but one event in particular made me vow never to take sports too seriously. I'll explain: Back in the '80s, when I was covering the Steelers, we always did a day-after-the-game press luncheon with Chuck Noll inside the baseball press lounge at Three Rivers Stadium. We had done that with Chuck since the early '70s and the time and place of the weekly event was widely known. Well, one Monday after a loss, some crazed fan decided he wanted to draw attention to himself and his opinion of the Steelers' performance. As the press conference was being conducted inside the press lounge, this guy drove his car up the stadium ramps for the purpose of ramming it into the press lounge. It seems he had a statement he wanted to read to Noll and the media. But he didn't make it to the press lounge. Apparently he made a wrong turn on a ramp and crashed his car into a concession stand and a container of nacho cheese. When the police asked the guy why he did what he did, he said he couldn't stand to see Mark Malone throw another interception. It was on that day that I decided to lean toward the lighter side of sports.

Todd from Jacksonville:
John Madden referenced a rule on Monday night that I had never heard of. It goes like this: If a player fair-catches a punt, his team can opt to take a free kick from the spot of the catch. This would result in a field goal attempt without a snap or any pressure. Has this ever occurred in a game?

Vic: It's called a "fair catch kick" and here's how it works: The captain of the team that made the fair catch informs the referee of the team's wish to attempt a "fair catch kick." The kicking team assumes a position on or behind the spot of the catch. There is no snap to put the ball into play. The ball may be kicked from placement (without a tee) or drop-kicked, and the kick must occur on or behind the spot of the fair catch. The defense or receiving team assumes a position 10 yards in advance of the kicking team's fair-catch kick line (spot from which ball will be kicked). The clock starts when the ball is kicked and all general rules apply as for a field-goal attempt from scrimmage. If you're trying to picture what this would look like, just imagine a routine kickoff formation. I have never seen a "fair catch kick" attempted.

Seth from Jacksonville:
After San Diego, our next three opponents are coming off a bye week. Do you think it's a major disadvantage playing teams that are rested.

Vic: When this first came to my attention, I couldn't believe it. My first reaction was, "Who's the brain donor who did this?" I'd love to know if the league was aware of what it was doing, or if it just rolled out this way. The schedule-maker has always had a sinister side to him, but this is extraordinary.

David from Tallahassee, FL:
Are double drinks $11 in the press box, too? Just kidding. Hey, Vic, where do the Chargers rank on offense and defense?

Vic: We have a soda machine and drinks are free. I don't like to put too much ice in my drinks because sometimes the air-conditioning gets too cold and I get chilled. Oh, yeah, the Chargers are tied for 18th in total offense (eighth in rushing and 21st in passing) and are 23rd on defense (fifth against the run and 29th against the pass).

Justin from Jacksonville:
Is it still too early to start counting teams like the Titans out of the playoffs?

Vic: Absolutely, it's too early. An injury here or there could turn this whole division upside down.

Roger from Jacksonville:
What do you think we will see our team do differently against the Chargers?

Vic: I'm not clairvoyant, but I can tell you what the Jaguars must do to beat the Chargers: Stop LaDainian Tomlinson. That's what the Jaguars did last year and it worked, and it's what they have to do this year, too. Tomlinson has rushed for 415 yards, a 4.9 yards-per-carry average and three touchdowns. He is the fourth-leading rusher in the league.

Julien from Montreal, Canada:
With four unproven defensive ends, should the Jaguars look into free agency to sign at least one DE who can "affect the QB?" What's the best solution, Vic? Free agency or stick with those young players?

Vic: You have to know there's somebody available who's better than what you have. That's the real question: Is there a defensive end available who is better than what the Jaguars already have? The Jaguars will answer that question according to whether or not they sign a defensive end.

Ben from Phoenix, AZ:
While I see what you're getting at with Ray Lewis, I still think he's the best inside linebacker in the NFL. I just don't see Lewis as being anywhere near as overrated as a certain QB in Atlanta who everyone seems to be enthralled with. Would I be far off in that assessment?

Vic: Yes.

Tremain from Severn, MD:
How do you play against a lot of play-action?

Vic: Play-action fakes are successful against a defense that is having trouble stopping the run and, as a result, has become overly concerned about stopping the run and overly eager to support against it. So, the first strategy for not being vulnerable to play-action is being able to stop the run. There's no need for your safeties to bite on a play-action fake if your front seven is stopping the run without needing help from the safeties. All defensive players have keys to read. One of the oldest of those keys in distinguishing between run and pass involves the tight end. If he blocks down, it's probably going to be a run.

Andy from Palm Coast, FL:
I sit down by the south end zone so I did not get a good view of the last fourth-and-one play. How close was it? Was it a fair spot? It sure looked like they made it to me, but like I said, I had a bad angle. Your opinion?

Vic: I didn't think he made it.

Chris from Pass Christian, MS:
Vic, you have shown a remarkable ability to predict the future (Chiefs, Titans fall from grace so far, Jags competing.) What does your crystal ball say about the Eagles?

Vic: They're the real thing. What I'm looking for now is a team in the AFC worthy of that distinction.

Chris from Jacksonville:
I've been following the Jamal Lewis situation with the law. I saw something about a plea bargain and he has to do time, but only after the season is finished. Did I hear that incorrectly or is it a fact? If it is, shouldn't the NFL do something?

Vic: You're on it. Speculation is the NFL will suspend him once he offers a guilty plea.

Aaron from Warner Robins, GA:
How many players are you allowed to have active for a game if you are allowed 53 men on your roster?

Vic: Forty-five.

Jake from Toronto, Canada:
Vic, yesterday I boldly stated that the Jags have the second-best linebacking corpse in the NFL. I was then accused of being a huge homer. I, however, honestly believe the above. Was I hitting the nail on the head or missing it entirely?

Vic: You have just been inducted into the "Ask Vic" Hall of Fame, Jake.

Mo from Jacksonville:
I bought one of those little earpiece radio things Sunday at the game. Me and a couple buddies are going to San Diego for the game this weekend. Will it pick up our broadcast there?

Vic: You're in, too, Mo.

Jon from Ocala, FL:
Do you know what the television ratings were for the Jags-Colts game?

Vic: In the Jacksonville market, the game received a 27.3 rating and a 48.0 share. That's strong.

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