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Tradition, winning must meet

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

Maurice from Mbodiene, Senegal:
The worst call I ever witnessed is Roy Jones Jr.'s silver medal against local kid Park Si-Hun in Seoul Olympics. Man, it was indeed so outrageous that those people on the Board had to change the calling system for Amateur Boxing after the Games, introducing the scoring machine. This one is the worst because it involved outright cheating, combined with utter injustice.

Vic: I vaguely remember your reference. Thanks for educating me. You bring to mind another judging gem: the pairs skating travesty involving the Canadian and Russian couples. In boxing, the worst example of bias I've ever seen occurred in the Gerry Cooney-Larry Holmes fight. Holmes beat him all over the ring but the scoring remained close. Holmes eventually stopped Cooney in the 13th round and that was good because it prevented the fight from being awarded on points. Mills Lane, now of TV judge fame, was the third man in the ring for that 1982 fight, one of the most hyped bouts in boxing history. Holmes never received the respect that should've been afforded him. He was a great champion but he came along at a time when the sport lacked quality contenders. In my opinion, he could've fought with anybody in any era.

Lane from Orlando, FL:
I know you don't pay too much attention to the preseason predictions but most "experts" pick Atlanta to win the NFC South. They were horrible last year and although they lost Vick, they have an awful defense and little to no depth in many areas. Do you think they're overrated this preseason?

Vic: Does it really matter? I could make a point for any of three teams – Atlanta, Carolina and New Orleans – winning the NFC South. Atlanta has Michael Vick, Carolina proved itself last season and New Orleans has a young front four that includes three first-round and one second-round pick.

Kevin from Jacksonville:
I noticed that Chris Naeole was chosen 10th overall in the 1997 draft by the Saints. Do you believe he has panned out to have been worthy of this high of a pick, or is he somewhat of a bust?

Vic: You can't refer to a six-year starter as a bust. The criticism of the pick when Mike Ditka made it was that you shouldn't pick guards that high. The top 10 is reserved for tackles and they're usually left tackles. It's OK to pick John Hannah in the top 10 but there aren't a lot of John Hannahs. Chris Naeole is a quality, long-term starting guard, but he's a guard and that means he'll never achieve the acclaim commensurate with the 10th pick of the draft.

Dave from Saint Marys, GA:
I'm thinking about buying season tickets in the north end zone. I also have a friend who is a huge Titans fan. If I were to treat him to the Titans game, would he live through it? I heard the north end zone crowd is pretty hard-core. If the Titans won I'd never live it down. Do you think it would be worth it given those two considerations?

Vic: In my opinion, years of hosting the Florida-Georgia game have taught Jacksonville fans how to properly conduct themselves at a football game. The Florida-Georgia game has always been billed as a "party," and that's how Jacksonville fans behave. I see no problem for your Titan friend, provided he brings a party mood to the game, too. Jacksonville football fans are fun-loving people.

Marlin from Palatka, FL:
What is the D-Line, the Jaguars Official Drumline? I don't remember it at any of the games. Is this a new thing? What do you think of it?

Vic: Yes, it's a new thing. It's an attempt to create more energy in the stadium. The University of North Florida was trying to put together a drum corps, so the Jaguars partnered with UNF. Auditions were concluded this past Sunday and 27 drummers have been selected. They appear as a group on; click on the D-Line icon on the home page. The D-Line will perform at Jaguars home games. Sounds OK to me.

Tom from Atlanta, GA:
Will you be producing an inaugural "Ask Vic" convention T-shirt for purchase?

Vic: We're not blowing any horns for this first event. We're going to provide a first-class golf course for the golf tournament and a first-class venue with first-class eats for the reception. The same can be said for the tailgate party and those who need tickets for the game are able to purchase what I consider to be the best value in the stadium. That's the key word: value. We want to offer the most value for the most affordable price, and I believe we have. If the event is a success, we'll grow it into something bigger for next year. As for this year, no horns.

Dino from Jacksonville:
You mentioned that the Jaguars have the second cheapest available ticket in the NFL. Who has the cheapest? If I had to guess I would say Arizona.

Vic: It's Atlanta at $125 for a season ticket; $12.50 a game. The Jaguars' cheap seat is priced at $135 for a season ticket; $13.50 a game.

Eddie from Jacksonville:
Reading "Why not just buy a ticket instead of a tank of gas?" got me thinking. People are always complaining about not selling out games, but the truth is they are not willing to expend the effort to go to the stadium. I attribute this in part to the fact that the Jags fan base is still in its first generation. Teams like Pittsburgh and Green Bay have been around forever. Their fans probably went to games with their grandparents. They were raised as fans. I think that once our kids and grandkids start buying tickets we will see more sellouts during the lean years. Of course Green Bay and Pittsburgh also have a history of winning, something the Jags will also have to do.

Vic: You're absolutely right. The Steelers spent the first 40 years of their history losing, though. During that time a tradition was built and when the Steelers won four Super Bowls in the 1970s, the franchise exploded. Green Bay experienced the same phenomenon in the 1960s. Winning was the catalyst, but tradition has allowed both franchises to sustain their sell-out status. It'll happen in Jacksonville, too, when tradition and winning meet as they did in Pittsburgh and Green Bay.

Jeremy from Greenville, SC:
Can you give us a mini power poll? Where do you think the Jags fit?

Vic: New England and Philadelphia would be at the top. My next group would include Minnesota, Carolina, St. Louis, Seattle, Baltimore and Denver. Those are teams I consider likely to make it into the postseason. I'd put the Jaguars in the next group, the largest of all the groups, which includes all other playoff contenders. Assigning them a place in that group is unnecessary. I expect them to be a division title contender. That's as specific as I can be and still represent what I believe to be the truth.

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