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Was it really that cold?

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

Chris from Crestview, FL:
Have you watched the Jerome Bettis story about Mondays after the game and how hard it is for him physically? Howie Long talked afterward about how bad it is for him. My question is are guys like Brackens and Brunell, who have had horrible knee injuries, hobbled for life after football?

Vic: This game exacts a terrible toll on the body. I wrote a story in the spring of 2004 about the Jaguars coaches doing wind sprints after practice. It was one of those deals in which Jack Del Rio wagered with the players on some practice-ending field goal attempts. The kicks were made and the coaches had to run and I watched in horror as they hobbled, wobbled and labored to make it from one side of the field to the other. I didn't see one guy who didn't show signs of physical distress, and this is a staff that includes several distinguished former NFL players: Del Rio, Ken Anderson, Ray Hamilton, Andy Heck, Todd Howard, Alfredo Roberts. I can remember covering a Hall of Fame induction ceremony years ago and they were announcing former inductees who were in attendance, and when they called Dante Lavelli's name he had to be assisted to his feet by two other former players. They pay a heavy price to play this game and they accept the physical risks that go with the game because it will reward them financially in ways they otherwise could never earn. That's another reason why I always say professional football is about the money. It has to be. These players are sacrificing their bodies and accepting painful consequences in the second halves of their lives so they might provide major opportunities and lifestyle advantages to their families. I find nothing shameful about playing football for money. I consider it to be a noble act.

Chris from Fort Walton Beach, FL:
Everyone seems to think the Jaguars will make the playoffs, and with good reason, but what fans need to keep in mind is that the last two teams on the Jaguars schedule always play us very tough. In order for the Jaguars to make the playoffs, they better be ready to play their best football of the year. Your thoughts?

Vic: If you're not playing your best football, there's no reason to even go into the playoffs. There is nothing to be gained by getting hammered in the first round. Look at what happened to Denver the past two seasons. Do you think they want anyone to remember that they even made the playoffs?

Cory from Jacksonville:
Who do we want to win? Kansas City or San Diego?

Vic: I'm going to say Kansas City. Here's why: If Kansas City beats San Diego, and if the Jaguars beat the Texans, then the Jaguars' final game against Tennessee will have no bearing on anything. The Jaguars will be in the playoffs and locked at the number five position. I like that because it would allow total freedom to rest players in the final game and not have to worry about doing to somebody else what Indy did to the Jaguars last year.

Ron from Jacksonville:
Can you repeat your wild-card scenario for Pittsburgh losing the wild card that you spoke of on Monday night's "Jaguars Reporters" show?

Vic: If Pittsburgh and San Diego were to finish in a two-way tie for the final wild-card spot, Pittsburgh would claim the berth due to its win at San Diego on Monday night football in October. If Pittsburgh, San Diego and Jacksonville each finished the season 11-5, Jacksonville and San Diego would be in and Pittsburgh would be out. So, look at it this way: If Pittsburgh, San Diego and Jacksonville all win this weekend, then Pittsburgh would need Jacksonville to beat Tennessee, provided San Diego beats Denver, who will probably have the division title clinched and will be in rest mode. Remember, last year the Jaguars needed Pittsburgh to win at Buffalo in the final game of the year and Pittsburgh did win. That's why I say it would be good for the Jags if nothing was on the line for the Tennessee game. They could do anything they want with a clear conscience.

Ed from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
Please tell Mike Peterson my wife is a 12 out of 10 and she sat through the entire game with me. Not all pretty ladies stayed inside because of their hair.

Vic: You gotta 12, huh? Whoa! Please congratulate her for me on her power ranking and her fan loyalty, but, hey, somebody stayed inside on Sunday. The turnstile count was 41,774, which means there were 23,000 no-shows. I'm guessing that probably another 10,000 left after halftime. I'm not trying to make any kind of statement. Fans have a right to do as they please. I don't understand why people would want to buy something and not use it, but that's their prerogative. My question is, was it really that cold? It was 49 degrees. The rain had, for the most part, stopped. I watched games that were played in New England, Giants Stadium, Buffalo and Chicago this past weekend, where the temperatures were dangerously cold, and the fans were packed in shoulder to shoulder. The Bills were 4-9 and playing for nothing. The Jaguars fans have been great this season. This team is clearly rooted here and appears to have turned a corner this season, but what is it with these late-season games and a little chill in the air? Was it really that cold?

Roger from Jacksonville:
If you're Jack Del Rio and you've just beaten the Texans, securing a playoff spot, do you play all of your starters against the Titans?

Vic: No, but I'd make sure it was understood that we're going for the win. Number one, I'd want that 12-4 record, which would be the second-best record in franchise history. Number two, I'd want to be on a roll and playing my best football headed to New England. Let me put it this way: I wouldn't rest too many starters.

Bill from Fort Smith, AR:
Can you please tell me why the coaches put up with all the showboating that some of the players do? I think it's ridiculous and embarrassing.

Vic: I used to rail about that stuff. I hated it; still do. But I'd get e-mails from "tough" guys telling me what an old fuddy-duddy I was; still do, but not as many, and that's why I haven't come down hard on Reggie Williams for all of his celebration stuff. Reggie has taken it over the top and, in so doing, he has accomplished something very positive. He has turned people against these irritating displays; I get tons of e-mails opposed to Williams' antics. Now who's the old fuddy-duddy?

Seth from Jacksonville:
The playoffs are not certain. Based on the 49ers game, Houston is a tough game and the Titans are always trouble. If Pittsburgh and San Diego win out, we could be cooked.

Vic: You're talking about a total collapse. Have more faith than that. It's not good for your health to live in a state of anxiety.

C.W. from Orange Park, FL:
You couldn't be more right about Natrone Means and our playoff wins in 1996. Do you see Greg Jones as a possible Means for this year's team? When Jacksonville goes to New England, run the ball will be a priority. By the way, thanks for all your hard work.

Vic: It would be great if Jones became that guy. Let's not forget, however, that Means was an established pro when he did that for the Jags in the '96 playoffs. He had led the Chargers to the AFC title in '94.

Dan from Albany, NY:
I'm wondering what effect you think the hiring of Dan Reeves as a special consultant to the owner of the Texans will have, or has already had, on Houston.

Vic: I think we've already seen the effect. The Texans blew out the Cardinals, a few days after John McClain of the "Houston Chronicle" reported that Reeves will replace Dom Capers as head coach. All of a sudden, the Texans had a new coach; they weren't playing for a lame duck any longer. Hey, coach, how am I doing, right? It's audition time.

Cory from Jacksonville:
This is a fantastic, informative column. I am a long-time reader and this is my first question. Why haven't any of Reggie Williams' post-reception antics ever drawn an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty? I know I have seen much more subdued celebrations draw flags.

Vic: To Williams' credit, he hasn't aimed them at anyone, which means they aren't subject to taunting. It seems like you can wiggle and giggle all you want, but you better not look at anybody on the other team when you're doing it.

Brandon from Jacksonville:
Don't mislead your readers. You act like the fans have done a good job of filling the seats, but answer me this: How many (regular-season) home games has Mr. Weaver single-handedly kept from being blacked out by buying thousands of tickets?

Vic: None.

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