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The true value of a ticket

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

Jodi from Orange Park, FL:
When the Jaguars get rid of veterans, you say youth movement. When the Jaguars add aging free agents, you say we needed veteran leadership. How can it work both ways?

Vic: I'm stunned that so many people are having trouble understanding the need to mix young and old. It's real simple: You have to have older players on your roster because there aren't enough young guys to fill out a roster. Allow me, please, to correct something you said: I never said the Jaguars should sign an older player for veteran leadership. Yeah, veteran leadership is a good thing to have on your team, but I think it's way overrated. I'm into talent. If a guy can't play, I don't care how good of a leader he is. When the Jaguars cut to their final roster, count up the rookies and compare that to the number of rookies on last year's roster at the start of the season, and to the rosters of other teams around the league this year. I think what you'll see is the Jaguars will have a lot more rookies on their roster this year than last year's team did, and I think the possibility exists the Jaguars will have more rookies on this year's roster than any other team in the league. That's not a youth movement? What would you call it?

Jeff from Jacksonville:
I heard an interview that Northcutt did on NFL radio and he echoed your exact statement regarding his days being numbered with the Jags. He said he was not surprised that he was traded because the team brought in young wide receivers and is in the process of rebuilding.

Vic: It should be obvious to everyone. If it has to be explained any more than what you just did, then those to whom it must be explained lack the savvy to understand.

Adrian from Inglewood, CA:
Good thing you have thick skin, Vic, because I wouldn't have been so nice to Casey.

Vic: You don't know what I'm saying as I'm writing.

Perry from Orange Park, FL:
I began reading your column and articles a few years ago and have been a big follower of yours ever since. Your coverage of the Jaguars led me to become an ardent supporter and season ticket holder. The last two years I spent going to games with my father will always be among the happiest of my life. I'm leaving for Vanderbilt University in August to pursue a double major in English and Communications and hope to one day become a journalist. You have been an inspiration to me and I hope one day to emulate your objectivity and knowledge of the game. I just wanted to say thank you for inspiring me to do what I've always wanted to do, write, and for introducing me to a team that helped me find lasting memories with my father.

Vic: There's something about sports that creates lasting memories. We leave a game disappointed in the outcome and mutter to ourselves that we wish we had stayed at home, but five, 10, 20, 30 years later we still have a vivid recollection of the game and we speak romantically about the experience among our friends and family. That's the true value of a ticket. It's not just the entertainment you experienced for three hours; that's minor. The major value in the ticket you purchased is in the long-term memory it created. In your case, the experience motivated you to make career choices. The ticket your father bought for you was worth a lot more than the price of admission. Good luck in your pursuits.

John from Jacksonville:
I'm tired of you agreeing with what the Jags do. Will you please tell us something you do not or did not agree with?

Vic: I think we've covered this ad nauseum, but the need to challenge my integrity is obviously great and people like confrontation so I'll do it again. I didn't agree with the Jaguars reckless handling of their salary cap and I said it. I didn't agree with drafting Reggie Williams with the ninth pick of the 2004 draft. I thought the Jaguars should've either picked Ben Roethlisberger or traded the pick and recouped its value and I said that on the radio when the Jaguars were on the clock and then said it again after the pick was made. I didn't agree with the selection of Matt Jones in 2005 and I said it. My opinion was that I don't think you should draft in the first round players who are making radical position switches. I also thought the Jaguars should've picked Brady Quinn when he was available in the 2007 draft and I said it on the air as the Jaguars were on the clock and I said it again after the pick was made. I also didn't agree with spending a lot of money in free agency to sign Jerry Porter, Drayton Florence and Cleo Lemon last year, and I didn't agree with trading away all those draft picks to move up in the first two rounds of the 2008 draft, but I didn't say it and that's where I've admitted guilt and have apologized for a poor performance. Anyone who has read this column for any period of time knows I strongly oppose spending big money in free agency and I'm very protective of draft picks. I'm not totally against trading up to get a targeted player, but I thought the Jaguars went over the top with it in '08. So why didn't I say it? Because I wimped out. I got soft. Everybody was picking the Jaguars for the Super Bowl and the fans were in a frenzy with excitement and I decided it would be a lot easier to let the cheering continue than to be a "Debbie Downer," as David Garrard referred to me, and rain on everyone's parade. Simply put, I betrayed my beliefs, but that won't happen again.

J.P. from Fernandina Beach, FL:
Looking forward to the golf outing, Vic. With the improvements to the offensive line, do you think the offense will focus primarily on MoJo and the running game, or will we see a real effort made to develop the young receivers in the passing game? Also, do you think Mike Thomas will have an impact this season, or is he a project?

Vic: You can't win in today's game without a passing game. An evaluation of the Jaguars' young receiving corps was made during OTAs and I think it's obvious the team liked what it saw. You'll see impact this season, but the best will have yet to come. The Jaguars' young receivers are going to be better in 2010 than they'll be in '09, and they'll get better every year for the next 4-5 years. That's the charm in young talent; it just keeps getting better.

Roger from Jacksonville:
Steve McNair was an extraordinary athlete. I remember seeing him play so many times against the Jaguars, and although he broke our hearts in 1999, I've always had great respect for his talent. Do you have any special memories of McNair?

Vic: I could tell you about the game-clinching touchdown run in the AFC title game, but you already know about that so I'll tell you about something I love about Steve McNair that you probably don't know: He was a great conference-call interview. Once a week, reporters do conference-call interviews with the head coach and a prominent player from that week's opposition. It only takes a few seconds to figure out what kind of interview it's going to be. For example, if the guy comes on the phone and flashes the ever-popular I'm-in-a-hurry-so-I'll-have-to-keep-it-brief attitude, then you know you're wasting your time. Bernie Kosar was the all-time in-a-hurry guy. He said nothing and did it quickly. I remember that for one such interview most of the reporters didn't even show up, so when Kosar came on the phone I told him we were in a hurry so we'd just talk to him on Sunday. Steve McNair wasn't like that. He was a guy who gave you the impression he enjoyed the conversation. You felt as though you were talking to someone who called you. Tony Dungy was always like that. Bum Phillips, John Madden and Sam Rutigliano were great conference-call guys. I remember Don Coryell once telling us that he was very bad at conference calls and that this was the best one he ever had and that he was really enjoying it. McNair also gave the impression he was enjoying it. I liked that a lot. I was saddened to hear of his death.

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