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"The Duke" stayed behind

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

Vince from Jacksonville:
Does Boselli still count on the Texans salary cap?

Vic: The Texans re-did Tony Boselli's contract before he announced his retirement last summer. The new contract allowed the Texans to declare all of Boselli's remaining amortization in 2003. He is no longer on their salary cap.

Malosi from Valencia, CA:
Which course do you have in mind for the "Ask Vic" golf tournament? If it's as nice as you assure us it will be, I am sure it will have a website to let us check it out from California. Thanks again for the column.

Vic: We plan on using South Hampton Golf Club ( It's a Mark McCumber layout that's spacious, yet, intriguing. South Hampton offers a great combination of long and short, with four go-for-it par-fives and two risk/reward short-fours I love. South Hampton was recently the site of the Jaguars players' and coaches' golf outing, from which all of the divots and damage has since been repaired. The course has a great clubhouse, is just south of Jacksonville on I-95, and is perfect for our needs. The winning team will no doubt go low.

Chris from St. Augustine, FL:
From 1920 until 1940, the Spalding J5-V was the official football of the NFL, and it was also used by the American Football League from 1960 to 1969. Known as "The Duke" in the 1930s from a boyhood nickname of Wellington Mara, owner of the New York Giants, this name was sold to Wilson Sporting Goods when it became the manufacturer of official NFL footballs in 1941. "The Duke" stopped being used by the pros after 1969, when Wilson's official football became, simply, "NFL." Gotta (sorry, Doc) love the internet.

Vic: Good job, but the name "The Duke" belonged solely to balls used by the NFL. It did not appear on balls used in the AFL.

Davy from Jacksonville:
The NCAA rules don't allow a rookie to practice with the team that he intends to sign with until his class officially graduates. Would this rule prohibit the player from taking home his team's playbook to study or does this rule simply mean he is not allowed to be physically present during practice sessions?

Vic: He may take the playbook home, but in addition to not being allowed to physically participate in any practice sessions, coaches are also not permitted to offer teaching sessions. Don't get too technical with this; it's the spirit of the rule that's most important. The NFL expects its teams to honor the importance of allowing their incoming players to finish their college educations without interference.

Adel from Jacksonville:
In the past, I was always worried about the Jags and their depth issues whenever I saw a player go down in a game, except in 1999 when I almost thought we were invincible. What positions do you worry about with depth this year, even though we are building it?

Vic: Defensive end is the obvious answer. It's not just about rushing the passer. You need ends that can hold up against the run, too, and the Jaguars would appear to be paper thin at that position.

Justin from Jacksonville:
I just bought season tickets the other day for the north end zone. How do you think I will like my seat and the fans around me?

Vic: In my opinion, the north end zone section of Alltel Stadium offers the greatest potential for developing an identity for fan enthusiasm. The demographics are just right. The north end zone is Jacksonville.

Fran from Middleburg, FL:
I enjoy "Ask Vic" very much. Can you tell me how I can find out where a former Jag player is. People like Barker and Pete Mitchell; are they still playing? Is there an NFL site that lists all players?

Vic: I know of no such site. I can tell you that I saw Bryan Barker on Monday. He's not with a team right now but expects to catch on with somebody because there are so many teams in the league right now that have young, unproven punters. Pete Mitchell did not play last season and is out of football.

Tammy from Waycross, GA:
It was the players who nicknamed (Wellington Mara) "Duke" because they knew he had been named after the Duke of Wellington, a man Tim Mara called "the fightingest of all Irishmen." I am glad you asked this question, Vic. I love reading stories like Mr. Mara's.

Vic: Wellington Mara began as a ballboy for his father's team. That was common in the early days of the NFL, and it allowed the game's future leaders to develop relationships with the players and establish roots in the league the players respected.

Brian from Jacksonville:
"The Duke" was dropped from the ball in 1969 when the two leagues (NFL and AFL) merged. I really enjoyed researching this as it offered a great deal of historical information on this great game.

Vic: That's correct. Merging meant having to homogenize the two leagues, and "The Duke" was a symbol of the NFL that stayed behind.

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