Join jaguars.com Senior Editor Vic Ketchman as he tackles the fans' tough questions.
Chris from Knoxville, TN:
I disagree with your comment about James. He should not be required to talk to anyone after such a collapse. We are not expected to talk to anyone after a disappointing day of work. I would have rather seen him talk to Magic players than to the media. I think that was more childish.
Vic: The player performance clause in an NBA contract provides that a player make himself available to the media. When Lebron James declined to attend a postgame press conference following the Cavaliers' loss to the Magic, he was in violation of his contract and I expect him to be fined by Commissioner David Stern. His contract does not require him to shake hands with members of the opposing team following a game, and that's why I said I won't dump on him for not doing that. It's about a player fulfilling his contractual obligations. That's what professionals do. James didn't fulfill his. This is the face of the league? If it is, it's not the face Stern wants the league's fans to see.
Jeff from Richmondale, PA:
I was watching the Indians/Yankees game the other day and the field was swarmed with small, biting insects and large, pooping birds. If the people of Cleveland can put up with this, then Jacksonvillians should be able to sit through some heat.
Vic: Poop doesn't bother them. They're used to it.
Kenny from Jacksonville:
Do you think coach Del Rio's stance on everyone being here for offseason conditioning had something to do with Freddy T's departure?
Vic: No, I don't. That decision was all about making Maurice Jones-Drew the Jaguars' feature running back. The team was making a youth movement and Jones-Drew was the centerpiece of that youth movement. I think that had Fred remained with the Jaguars this year, he would've agreed to join the team in OTAs. Fred has always been a team guy and he would've known how critical it was for the team to repair its chemistry and that, as the team's most esteemed veteran leader, his presence at OTAs would've been central to repairing team chemistry. In my opinion, by cutting Fred the Jaguars were sending a strong signal that they are entering a rebuilding phase.
Lee from Elkridge, MD:
I honestly believe the team is going to be a lot better this year, because everyone on the roster, including the coaching staff, has something to prove individually. This is probably the first time Jack can truly say this is his team. Your thoughts?
Vic: I think it would be more accurate to say that last year's team was his first team that wasn't his team. It just wasn't anything that would represent what he expects a team to be. I think all of the previous five teams he coached had his stamp on it, but last year's didn't. Why not? I don't know but that team just didn't buy into the Del Rio way and I'm sure coach Del Rio has regrets. I think we're witnessing an admission of those regrets right now.
Logan from Austin, TX:
Why is the NFL the only professional league with the blackout rule?
Vic: It's not the only league with a blackout policy, it's the only league that abides by an act of Congress that outlines a blackout policy. I guess Congress didn't feel strong enough about any of the other leagues. The other leagues were free to create their own blackout policies, which they would include as part of their TV contracts. It's been a long time since I've lived in a town that had Major League Baseball, but the last time I did I know that in cities where games that were being nationally televised were played, back up games were shown. It's important to know that the 1973 Act of Congress that details the NFL blackout policy has long since expired and the league continues to abide by it voluntarily, therefore, the NFL is no different than any other sports league that enforces a blackout policy.
Damon from Torrance, CA:
You keep mentioning the rebuilding process, but we still have the core of guys who beat the Steelers at home in the first round and gave that undefeated team a good scare until those two dropped touchdown passes. Are you that convinced that our talent level dropped from a playoff team to a rebuilding team in one year? Last year was an anomaly, Vic, and it was eerily similar to three years ago when we went 8-8 after going 12-4 the previous year. This team doesn't need top to bottom rebuilding. It needs its offensive line to stay healthy to protect Garrard and open holes for Maurice. I think you are just tempering your expectations a little because you are too prideful to be wrong again. What I mean by that is that you take great pride in your work and the insight you show and I don't think your ego can handle being wrong again.
Vic: In other words, it's all just spin, right? It's all just some form of verbal posturing? If you believe that, then why do you even read this column? Maybe you just want me to tell you what you want to hear. OK, here it is: This is it, Damon. This is the year. The Jags are goin' all the way in 2009. Feel better? I think you might want to consider the possibility that we overreacted to 2007. Is it possible the Jaguars just got hot late in the season and the biggest part of getting hot was beating a Steelers team twice that had lost a lot of players to injuries and lost four of its final five games? Expectations don't include restrictions. I would be delighted to see the Jaguars over-achieve in 2009, but I think it would be insensitive of me to heighten expectations and open fans to the possibility of disappointment. I think we should be a little more conservative with our expectations this year.
Rick from Jacksonville:
The Jags have sent a pretty clear message as to the caliber of person they want on this team. If Henderson crosses the line that Del Rio has drawn in the sand publicly, do you feel the organization would cut/trade Henderson?
Vic: Or what, suffer through another season of bad chemistry? Wadda you think?
Ryan from Las Vegas, NV:
Let me get this straight, a player tried to block a field goal like it was a basketball shot? I know it is nonsensical to attempt, but would that even be legal today? Also, I would definitely purchase an "Ask Vic" coffee mug right now if I could.
Vic: It is not legal now. I think it was legal back then but I'm not absolutely sure it was. I can tell you for sure, though, that's what the guy tried to do. Remember, the goal posts were on the goal line back then.
Jacob from Cocoa, FL:
When were ticket sales best for Jacksonville?
Vic: Most people would probably say it was in the beginning of the franchise's existence, when attendance soared into the 70's, but I wouldn't share that opinion for a couple of reasons. Number one, that was before the Jaguars had the means for providing a turnstile count, which meant all of the attendance figures were guesstimates. Secondly, ticket sales in the beginning were largely novelty buying that was fueled by a surge of newness and the feeling that if you didn't buy a ticket you were going to miss something. The novelty quickly burned out and by year five the Jaguars were seeing storm clouds starting to form. In my opinion, ticket sales were at their best in 2006, when the Jaguars actually had a waiting list. Yeah, that buying surge was fueled by a home schedule that included games against the Cowboys, Steelers, Giants and Patriots, but it really appeared as though the franchise had turned a corner. Why didn't that surge continue into the next year? That's a question a lot of people are trying to answer. They'll point to three consecutive losses at the end of the '06 season and they'll blame Byron Leftwich's unpopularity, but Leftwich played his last game for the Jaguars on Oct. 22, 2006, and the team followed that three-game tailspin in '06 with one of the best seasons in team history the following year and sales declined. I don't know what happened, but I do know that this team has to get back to where it was in '06. The stadium had been sized down to fit the size of the market, the novelty had worn off and the fans who were buying tickets were doing so for the right reasons, and the team had a waiting list. That's the way you want it to be.