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Time to shake it up

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

Keith from Jacksonville:
Do you feel Jimmy Smith will make it into the Hall of Fame?

Vic: Jimmy Smith is the Jaguars' only bona fide Hall of Fame candidate. Tony Boselli would've been a Hall of Fame lock, had his career not been cut short. That's the problem Tony's facing; he played a position that is judged to a large degree by a player's longevity. Gale Sayers made it into the Hall of Fame with a short career and so did Lynn Swann, but offensive linemen have to play for a long time to make it into the Hall of Fame. That's just the way it is; they don't have the flash ability running backs and wide receivers do. Smith played long and with distinction. Those are his two greatest attributes. He was a consistent star with five Pro-Bowl selections. That's what will get him in, if he does get in. What he has going against him is the preponderance of wide receivers with big numbers that continue to swell the NFL ranks. What about Marvin Harrison? Randy Moss? Look at the numbers Steve Smith, Chad Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin are posting. What do you do with Hines Ward, a big-play receiver who knocks guys out in the run game and won a Super Bowl MVP? You see, the wide receiver position is probably the toughest position in football at which to make it into the Hall of Fame. If Jimmy had a Super Bowl moment, he'd be in. As it stands, it's going to be close. He's in much the same situation Art Monk is in.

Steve from El Dorado, AR:
You are our inside man. Did you know this was coming?

Vic: I did not. I'll admit that I didn't like the answers I got from Jimmy in my interview with him on the first day of offseason conditioning. I thought his answers were too loose. He sounded like a guy who was a little too relaxed and reflective, but guys about to retire usually don't go to the stadium every morning to lift weights.

Jeff from Staten Island, NY:
Although I am sad to see Jimmy go, it could wind up being a positive thing for the team. A receiver is going to have to step up and become the Jaguars new number one receiver. Jimmy's leaving will force the Jaguars' receivers to grow up.

Vic: It'll also force the Jaguars quarterbacks to look in other directions at crunch time. Now we'll find out if the young guys can be crunch-time receivers.

Cindy from Melbourne, FL:
Do any of the players read "Ask Vic?"

Vic: Marcus Stroud has complained to me a few times about never answering any of his questions.

Adrian from Gainesville, FL:
I've been watching Jimmy for a long time. It hurts when something ends.

Vic: That's a very poignant remark. It really does hurt when something ends. I don't think I realized just how popular Jimmy is among Jaguars fans. His press conference, which is the first such retirement press conference in Jaguars history, was widely attended by media, former teammates and front office people. These are people who care about Jimmy. For all of them, something ended on Thursday. As Wayne Weaver said, it represents the end of an era. Jimmy was signed on Feb. 24, 1995, while the Jaguars' offices were still located in trailers adjacent to the stadium construction area. Jimmy represented the start of it all and now the last link to all of that is gone. All we have are our memories, but, you know, those are good enough for me. Players don't last forever, but your memories do. Mine are as sharp as ever.

J.D. from St. Augustine, FL:
One of my first thoughts about the Jags future was excitement for Cortez Hankton. What do our "jars on the shelf" bring to the WR competition for playing time?

Vic: This is why you have young guys such as Cortez Hankton. You have to have those "jars on the shelf." You don't really care about them until you need them, but at times like this you're really glad you spent the time and energy to develop those young players. This is Hankton's time. This is his opportunity to prove the time wasn't wasted on him. OK, Cortez, let's see what you can do.

Nathan from Tampa, FL:
Is it sad that I cried while watching Jimmy's press conference?

Vic: Football is an emotional game. I would prefer, however, that you not cry.

Cary from Montreal, Quebec:
Now that Jimmy retired, do you believe the Jags need to trade for a receiver? Jeremy Green of said they need a true number one, which I agree with, seeing as no one on the staff is ready for that role, and he threw out two names, Donte Stallworth and Ashley Lelie. Do you think it would be practical to trade for one of these guys or someone else to fill the number one spot, or is it better to wait and hope someone steps up?

Vic: Why aren't those two guys number one receivers where they are? Teams don't give away number one receivers. Top receivers are developed, not acquired. Was Jimmy Smith a number one receiver when the Jaguars signed him off the "street" in the winter of 1995? Jimmy didn't make his first professional football pass reception until midway through the 1995 season. He finished strong in the second half of '95 but Tom Coughlin wasn't ready to crown Jimmy a number one receiver so Coughlin acquired Andre Rison just before the start of the '96 training camp. It wasn't until Rison was cut late in the '96 season and replaced by Jimmy that the Jaguars hit their stride. Don't forget that it wasn't until Jimmy got into the starting lineup in week 13 of the '96 season that winning began. In other words, the Jaguars had their number one receiver all along but didn't know it. That's the way if often happens. It takes time to develop and identify talent and the level at which it can perform. The Jaguars have spent the last three drafts collecting young receiver talent. Now it's time to find out who can get it done.

Stevon from Jacksonville:
Thanks to you and your team for including quotes from around the league as part of the Jimmy Smith retirement story; so great to read the admiration so many players have for this man. He will be missed greatly. Will you be posting an editorial of your personal thoughts and experiences covering Jimmy Smith since day one? I think we'd all love to read your thoughtful insight about the Jaguars' best player ever.

Vic: I'm using today's "Ask Vic" to give you my thoughts about Jimmy Smith. Here are some more thoughts: Jimmy told me years ago that when he signed with the Jaguars back in 1995, all he wanted to do was stick in the league for a few years, get a paycheck and see if he could qualify for a pension. He never considered stardom. That's always been part of the allure of his story, that he came out of nowhere. Because his expectations were so low, he was able to maintain a deep appreciation and sensitivity for the whirlwind success that followed. He never got spoiled. I've covered great players, in Jacksonville and in Pittsburgh, and Jimmy is clearly one of those players. I stumbled onto an amazing statistic this past winter while researching a story I was doing. I found that Jimmy has led the Jaguars in receiving yards in each of the last 10 seasons. That's an incredible feat. It hit me that it was time for the mantle to be passed to a young receiver. Now we'll find out if there's one willing to accept the challenge. Jimmy had always been a go-to guy for me. He was always a credible interview. At some point last season I found myself walking down the hallway with Jimmy and I decided to tell him how I felt about his career. There was clearly a I-know-you're-near-the-end quality to what I was saying and Jimmy didn't fight out. The guy was dropping passes. It was clear to see he was at the end but, still, he led the Jaguars in receiving and he remained their big-play guy. Who did they turn to in overtime against the Jets, huh? The old man, that's who. He got everything he could out of his body and his career. It was time for him to retire.

Ryan from Tampa, FL:
What did you think of the drug-testing question asked at Jimmy's retirement press conference?

Vic: It was a question everyone knew was coming, including Jimmy. In my profession, those kinds of questions are considered interview killers. In other words, the interview is likely to end or the tone of it to deteriorate sharply as soon as the question is asked. It's the kind of question that's usually not asked until everybody has filled up their notebook with what they need. If a guy throws out that question too early, he gets dirty looks from the other reporters. We had reached the point in yesterday's press conference that it was time for the question to be asked. It was asked and no mean-spirited inquisition followed. I think the issue was handled in a professional manner.

Kim from Jacksonville:
I try to read your mail every day and respect your opinion and knowledge on the sport I love. I know the questions are piled high this morning so I only want to know, what does Ernest Wilford have to do to earn some respect?

Vic: I liked to play pool when I was a kid and I can remember putting "pills" in a bottle, shaking it up, turning it over and seeing which "pill" came out first. It was a way of determining shooting order. Well, I'm putting all the Jaguars' young receivers in that bottle and, beginning today, let's shake it up and see which "pill" comes out first. It's a new day. Everybody starts fresh. Who wants to be number one? Maybe it'll be Ernest.

Calvin from Moore, OK:
Does this mean our season is riding on whether or not someone at wide receiver steps up?

Vic: Absolutely.

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