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TV prospects for Sunday looking bleak


The following is the transcript of a question and answer session between Vic Ketchman and Jaguars owner Wayne Weaver. Due to technical problems, the video portion of this interview will not appear until tomorrow.

Vic:Hi, I'm Vic Ketchman and welcome to this week's Q&A with Jaguars owner Wayne Weaver. Wayne, this team is on a real high right now.
Wayne:Sunday's win was really big for us. Obviously, the Titans are always one of our great rivalries and Sunday was a real football game. I was really proud of our guys. Our defense was just superb.

Vic: As you sat back and surveyed the landscape of this past Sunday's event, from the pregame ceremonies to the Jaguars defensive stands in the fourth quarter, what did you feel?
Wayne: It was a special day for America. I was really proud of our people, of how they executed our pregame ceremonies. It was really tasteful and well-executed. I've gotten so many e-mails it's incredible. The fans really felt Sunday was a very special day. It was a day of healing and a day to say, 'Let's get back to our normal lives,' whatever normal is. I think it was a new beginning.

Vic: Your coach has this team back on top again. They went through an offseason of contract restructuring, cap problems, the preseason wasn't impressive, but here he is again. What's special about Tom Coughlin?
Wayne: Tom Coughlin, and I've said all along, he's not just a great X's and O's coach, but he's a tremendous human being. I think this past week, with Tom's son being involved in the World Trade Center tragedy, it showed a human side that he doesn't let out too often. I think the players saw a little more than that, too. They really went out to play on Sunday. Tom had them ready. Tom is just a special individual.

Vic:Now to the hard-core stuff. You have a blackout issue for this Sunday's game and it's approaching. As of Thursday, 4:15 p.m., a decision has to be made on whether this game is going to be shown in the Jacksonville home market. What are the prospects?
Wayne: I would say they're very black right now. It appears, as of this morning, we are 7, 000 seats away. I personally, Vic, don't see anyway, unless we can energize the community. We got some things going on obviously to try to energize our fans. That's not to say that our fans have not been tremendous. I'll tell you, Sunday's game was probably the best fan experience I've seen in the seven years that we've been playing. They were in the ballgame. If you talk to a player, they will tell you that the crowd was inspirational and was one reason for our high level of play on Sunday. Somehow, we've got to get that passion out there. We need that 12th man in the stadium, but right now it looks doubtful.

Vic: It would be the first regular season blackout of the Jaguars in this team's history. It's not something you want.
Wayne: Absolutely not. I'm a big proponent of televising our games. We've gone to extraordinary lengths in the past, as we will for this game, to try to reach until the last minute, but we are so far behind right now that unless we have a huge outpouring of fans coming in to purchase single-game tickets, it looks like the game might blackout.

Vic: Other fans in other towns will say the Jaguars are 2-0 and can't fill their stadium, and Jacksonville's image as a football town will suffer. Is that fair?
Wayne: I hope not because I don't think that's the case, Vic. I said all along there are two things: 1.) We've got to do a better marketing job, and 2.) we have a big building in a small market. That puts more pressure on our marketing team to be more creative and find more ways to fill our stands. We have passionate fans in this community. I just received the 2001 profile that all teams get and it shows in terms of Jaguars fans and NFL fans in our market that we're number one, in terms of per 1,000 per-capita. We have more Jaguars passionate, avid fans than any other city. It's not about that we don't have passionate fans, it's about a big building in a small market. We have to continue to be creative and work hard to fill this building, and I think we will. We'll have some bumps in the road and black some games out. Over time, as we grow in our city, we will fill this building.

Vic: How do you fill this building?
Wayne: We have to go out with a number of programs that we initiated last year; going to companies and offering them not only large group sales opportunities, but have their employees come in. And we've done that. We've had a number of large companies buy up to 1,000 tickets. We are doing that by hosting a number of luncheons with CEO's in the community and selling them on an incentive-rewards program to buy season tickets. Typically, major companies have tickets, club seats, suites, but we are talking about an incentive program that gets down to the mailroom people, the clerks, the secretaries. That program is working and it's going to take time. We are confident that over the next two to three years that we can get our season ticket base back up and we will be able to handle these short falls on a single-game basis.

Vic: Your team is 2-0; both wins over chief division competitors, Pittsburgh and Tennessee. What kind of season do you think this team is realistically capable of having?
Wayne: I've said all along that I had great confidence and I liked the makeup of our team. We've kept our core players together. We have some young players who have shown they are football players and they've stepped up against two tough opponents and came out with a win. I think this football team is a playoff team. I've said that since the beginning. If we can stay healthy, we're a playoff team, and if we get into the playoffs, I like our chances.

Vic: And that brings me to the question of the playoff format. What do you think the league is ultimately going to do as far as the playoffs and Super Bowl are concerned?
Wayne: I was a little pessimistic that we could move the Super Bowl back a week. As time as moved on, it appears that might be a real option. There's an automobile convention in New Orleans the week after the Super Bowl. It seems, with the tragic events of September 11th, that might get canceled and we could come in and help them with some of their costs that they have incurred. It might be a real opportunity to move the Super Bowl back, so we could get in the full postseason.

Vic: And keep it in New Orleans?

Vic Ketchman is the Senior Editor of Jaguars Inside Report, the official team newspaper of the Jacksonville Jaguars. One-year subscriptions may be purchased by calling 1-888-846-5247.

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