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Time to calm down


Two years ago, when the Steelers beat the Jaguars at Alltel Stadium in a classic contest, "Ask Vic" was bombarded by e-mails. Fan interest in and reaction to the game was explosive. It was a game, I said, that was the second birth of the Jaguars franchise.

This week, when the Jaguars beat the Steelers at Alltel, the fan response "Ask Vic" attracted blew away anything the column had ever previously received. The column attracted more than 1,000 e-mails in two days.

I'm going to make a confession right now and I'm asking you to please be understanding of what I'm going to tell you. Ladies and gentlemen, for the first time in "Ask Vic" history, I did not read every e-mail I was sent. I've always been honest with you and I want you to believe me when I tell you that I didn't delete many, but I had reached a point that it became physically – maybe I should say mentally – impossible to read all of them and advance to the next day.

That's how much Jaguars fans loved what they saw on Monday night. That's how passionate this fan base is right now. I congratulate you on your effort and I promise to read every e-mail time allows. Your participation is appreciated. I will not abuse it or waste it.

I will, however, guide it, and here's one bit of advice I'd like to provide at this time: Everybody, relax.

You know what I mean? I think we might be sitting a little too high in the saddle right now. This is a long season. The key to endurance is remaining even.

I got a lot of "big talk" e-mails this week; a lot of e-mails from fans who were allowing their emotions to control their thoughts and their expressions. Well, we're a few days removed from Monday's intense action and I think this might be the time to come back down to earth.

To that end, I set aside a few e-mails that might help us achieve proper perspective.

*Davy from Jacksonville: I had the Steelers fans all wrong. I initially wrote to you waiting to hear all the cries about their QB playing with an illness. When I checked various message boards, talked to Steelers fans at work and read articles all over the net I saw the exact opposite. Nearly 95 percent of the people (mainly from Pittsburgh) were giving their congrats and commending the Jags on a great game. Now my hope is that we, as a city, can develop the same thought process when we get manhandled, as we did in 1999 vs. the Titans. I know I'm guilty of whining over those three losses; still to this day. Pittsburgh has some classy fans, if you ask me.

Mike from Whitehall, PA: Not a question. Kudo's to them both.

Carl from Jacksonville: I've been a loyal reader of your column for a long time and have enjoyed it thoroughly. You must know that one person can't speak for the whole city, right? I was at the game and witnessed respect up close and personal from Steelers fans who, like me, were aware that we just witnessed one of the best heavyweight matches we'll probably see in the NFL this season. The comments like, "I hope we see you guys again in the playoffs," were enough to let me know that we had arrived tonight.*

I offer these e-mails to you because I think some of you might enjoy a more peaceful and calm approach to the days remaining in this week, before you know what breaks loose, again, on Sunday. I offer these to you mostly because they were offered to me by people of proper perspective and reason.

Driving to the stadium on Monday, I worried that something bad might happen at or after the game. I saw the hordes of Steelers fans at the beaches area over the weekend; had to make a trip to the airport and saw them streaming out of nearly every arriving flight.

I worried that somebody might not maintain proper perspective or reason. Certainly, there was potential for a clash between two fan bases.

The game passed and the yellow towels left, however, and I read about or heard of no incident in which any fan sustained injury due to a misguided act, and I received no e-mail about fan misbehavior. All of that is even more gratifying to me than the quality of football offered by the two teams.

That's my perspective.

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