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Time to spring to life

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

Bill from Jacksonville:
The article about Kevin83 and Wayne Weaver's response gives me hope our city will be able to keep the franchise.

Vic: This team was awarded to Jacksonville and it belongs to Jacksonville. All Jacksonville has to do is make this work. That's all. Put the same energy into and make the same commitment to the team now that was there when the franchise was awarded. This isn't a time to quit. This is a time to spring to life.

Matthew from West Lafayette, IN:
Could you share with us a little bit of the history of the "I" formation?

Vic: I vividly remember a picture on the front of one of those coaching trade magazines from back in the mid-1960's. My high school coach knew I liked that kind of stuff so he'd pass them on to me after he looked at them. Anyhow, on the cover of the magazine was a picture of the Maryland center, quarterback, fullback, halfback and tailback all lined up in a straight line in what the headline proclaimed was the "Maryland I." It was the true "I" formation; five in a row. I can still remember the quarterback in the picture, a guy named Dick Shiner. The "I" formation is officially credited for having been invented at VMI; the "Maryland I" is one of the many variations of the "I" formation and it is known as the "Stack I." It's my favorite variation because it offers so many options; dive right, dive left, fake the dive and pitch to the tailback, etc. It's great for power football, with the ability to provide a lead blocker right and left, thus freezing the middle linebacker and allowing the blocker to get to him before he gets to the blocker. The problem, of course, is that the bulkier any offensive formation is, the easier it is to defeat with speed. The "I" formation, however, is every bit as good as the "T" formation because it offers creativity and adaptation that has allowed it to survive and flourish for more than 50 years. For me, however, it's about that picture on the cover of that magazine. I can see it now, all five of them, with the center over the ball, the quarterback under center, the fullback with his right hand on the ground, the halfback hunched over the fullback and the tailback standing behind the halfback. I really miss that kind of football.

Ryan from Jacksonville:
I have a dilemma and I hope you can help me out. My brother and sister in-law scheduled my niece's baptism on 9/20 at 11 a.m. and I told them I can make it, no problem. Yesterday, I was on and it dawned on me, that's our home opener. I'm not going to be the godfather, so would I be a bad uncle or brother if I didn't go to the baptism so I can go to the game?

Vic: Double up on the gift. They'll miss you less.

John from St. Augustine, FL:
I just bought a 2010 season ticket for $11 per week, via a layaway program linked to this site. I spend twice that per week eating out for lunch. There really is no excuse. Thanks for telling it like it is.

Vic: A three-pack of underwear costs more than that and nobody knows you're wearing them. Sans the underwear, buy a ticket and have a nice day.

Keith from Jacksonville:
As a QB for next year's draft, Ponder or Tebow?

Vic: I wanna see more of Ponder. I know he's only a junior, but maybe he'll wanna come out.

Dave from Grafton, VA:
What's your assessment of the football atmosphere of Jacksonville Municipal Stadium, and what was your favorite atmosphere of any stadium no longer in use?

Vic: I like "The Jack." I like the view toward the river and I think the place has a real football feel to it. The only thing I don't like about "The Jack" is that it yawns too much. I wish it was tighter to the field, otherwise, I think it's fine. As far as old ones that are gone, Soldier Field and Cleveland Stadium immediately come to mind as having had great atmospheres. I liked RFK, Memorial in Baltimore, Three Rivers and old Mile High, too.

Andy from Roswell, GA:
For argument sake, let's say Jacksonville is a college town. So what? The NFL isn't going to cut it any slack. When people make the college town argument, what are they trying to do?

Vic: It's an excuse. In other words, we can't be that because we're this, but that's a lie and it's time to stop telling lies.

Brian from Douglas, GA:
Are there any NFL players, past or present, that play both ways on a regular basis? I assume there isn't any but I wanted find out for sure and I knew you would be the man to ask.

Vic: Chuck Bednarik was the last of the true two-way players. It just wouldn't work in today's highly sophisticated, technical and specialized game. That doesn't mean you shouldn't develop an appreciation for the old two-way players. Look up Bednarik and read about him. I think you'll be fascinated. Look up Don Hutson, who had 488 pass receptions and 30 interceptions.

Rob from Jacksonville:
I really like what Gene Smith has done with the team. My question is do you see enough of a turnaround that it will take us out of the chance to get a quality QB early in next year's draft?

Vic: Even if the team was to have a big season, I don't think they would take themselves out of contention for a good quarterback prospect. Despite the proliferation of the spread offense in college football, I like what I see at the position, and I'm not talking about the Sam Bradfords and the Colt McCoys of the college football world. I see a Tony Pike, a Daryll Clark, a Christian Ponder, etc., and I'm intrigued. I recently looked at a list of college quarterbacks who will be or could be eligible for next spring's draft and I liked the bottom half of that list as much as the top half. I don't want a guy with great college stats. I want a guy with pro-like qualities, which means somebody with a strong arm and a quick, tight release. The poster prospect for that is Jevan Snead, but he's not the only one who has a strong arm and a quick release. I keep hearing that spread offenses are making it difficult to identify pro quarterback prospects, but the bottom line is they throw the ball a lot in college football and that should make it even easier to identify guys who can throw. So where are all the strong-armed guys, playing linebacker? I'm not buying that. The quarterbacks are there, the quarterbacks will always be there because you can't play this game at any level without having someone who can throw the football.

Courtney from Nashville, TN:
I just recently started getting into baseball and was amazed by the love of old stadiums like Wrigley Field and Fenway Park. Why isn't football like that? Why don't football stadiums become as memorable and loved as the teams?

Vic: I think they do. Walk inside Notre Dame Stadium some day and tell me what you think. Everybody has their special place. It's a stadium or ballpark in which you spent your youth or the place you went as a family or, in my case, the place I spent much of my adult life as a reporter. On the day of the final game at Three Rivers Stadium, a couple of my reporter buddies reached over and scraped the number placard off what had been my press box seat for a long time. They sent it to me and I had it framed and have it on the wall in my office at home. It only means something to me. Stadiums and ballparks represent the passage of time. The older the place, the more romantic its allure. It's a very personal thing.

Matt from Jacksonville:
How long must a player be on the active roster before they can be moved back to the practice squad? Could a team sign one of our practice squad players to their active roster for a day, and then move him to their practice squad?

Vic: No, they can't. When a player is signed off another team's practice squad, he must spend a minimum of three weeks on the signing team's active roster before he may be moved to that team's practice squad. He would have to be cut and clear waivers, of course, before he could be signed to the practice squad. On your own team, you can move him back and forth without restriction, but in each case the player must clear waivers after being cut from the active roster and being signed to the practice squad.

William from Denver, CO:
With the history of the NFL in L.A., what makes everyone so sure it is more of a pro football town than Jacksonville? Not only have they lost three franchises, they walked away from the NFL's attempt to award them the 32nd franchise. I understand it is the second-largest market, but has there been any real movement on resolving L.A.'s stadium issues?

Vic: It sounds as though you know what the answer is: Stadium issues were always at the heart of the pro football failures in Los Angeles and until those stadium issues are resolved, there won't be a team in Los Angeles. First of all, Los Angeles is a lot more than a town. It's 5.5 million TV households, which means it is the equivalent of nearly nine Jacksonvilles. Think in terms of those overwhelming numbers and you'll have your answer to every question you have about Los Angeles' viability. The moment it has resolved its stadium issues, it will have a team, for the obvious reason. The last time I covered a game in Los Angeles was in 1994, at the Coliseum, which was in such terrible condition that the press box was condemned and we had to sit in a makeshift press box outdoors at the Peristyle end of the stadium. The Coliseum is in such a high-crime neighborhood that it, without question, would be a deterrent to attendance. You really have to go there to appreciate how bad the place is. I'm not nominating Los Angeles for the title of football capital of the world, but its reputation has been horribly soiled by a facility that would've caused a lot of strong franchises in strong pro football towns to relocate. The NFL knows as much and that's why nothing will happen in Los Angeles until there's a solid plan for a new stadium.

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