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What I love about Jax

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

Phil from Woodmere, NY:
I think many people come to to read your columns, but don't bother to check out the rest of this fantastic website. Can you please post this comment just to tell folks to take a look at the "2010 Web Brochure" under the "Tickets" section? Until this morning, when I clicked on it by accident, I didn't even know it existed, and I'm on this site every day. It's an amazing experience, complete with 3D visuals and music. I never knew "The Jack" was such an awe-inspiring venue.

Vic: It's a good stadium. Hey, it hosted a Super Bowl. Think about that for a moment: It was the site of Super Bowl XXXIX. That's a big part of the tradition of professional football in Jacksonville. I like this stadium because it has a football feel to it. My office is along the hallway that leads to the locker rooms and the tunnel entrances to the field, and when the doors are open to those tunnels, the smell of the turf wafts into my office and it always reminds me of where I am and what I do for a living. That smell comes into my office and I'm 10 years old again and my face is being pushed down into the wet grass by a bunch of kids laughing as they try to muddy their clothes.

Justin from Fresno, CA:
Can you explain what the supplemental draft is? Is it another draft that follows the same formula as the normal draft with the worst team picking first and so on?

Vic: That's pretty much it, except there's no Mel Kiper. The supplemental draft is for players who weren't eligible for the April draft but have since elected to declare eligibility to play in the NFL for the upcoming season. By and large, it's an entry draft for players who lost their college eligibility at some point after the deadline for declaring for the April draft. This year's case in point is BYU running back Harvey Unga. In the supplemental draft, all teams wishing to make a selection do so by declaring in what round they wish to select that player. The team that submits the highest selection for the player is awarded his rights. That team must have a pick in the same round in next year's April draft, and they forfeit that round's pick for having used it in the supplemental draft.

Jason from Jacksonville:
I have season tickets but I honestly don't have any preference to whether the city has an NFL team or not. Long before the Jaguars were awarded to Jacksonville, I watched football games on my TV in my nice little podunk town. I don't have a podunk town anymore, thanks to the Jags. Do you see where others could harbor the same opinion?

Vic: I appreciate your honesty; it allows us a snapshot of what I think is a significant faction of Jaguars fans. What you're saying is that you weren't born to be a Jaguars fan because the team wasn't here when you were born. So, you found other interests and loyalties and it's difficult to change those interests and loyalties later in life. I completely understand that position and I think it's a bigger problem for expansion franchises than most people would think, especially in the South, where the NFL isn't nearly as deep-rooted as it is in the Northeast and Midwest. The situation is changing, of course, because since 1995 all the babies delivered in Jacksonville were born with teal blood coursing through their bodies. Let's make sure we protect this franchise for them and their children to enjoy. For them, it really does matter.

Lisa from Jacksonville:
With the release of Bobby McCray from the Saints, do you think this would be a good re-sign for the Jags, to add more depth on the line?

Vic: No, I don't. The Jaguars drafted four defensive linemen with their first four picks, signed Aaron Kampman in free agency and signed another promising defensive lineman in undrafted free agency. It's time to move on with the young players they've acquired.

Wally from Lloyd, FL:
Why do some teams have rookies report to training camp prior to the veterans?

Vic: In the old days, when training camp was six weeks long and teams played six preseason games, rookies spent a week in camp before the veterans reported. The idea was to get rookies up to speed with the regimen and for the team to use that opportunity to evaluate the rookie class before the veterans reported and the focus turned more toward preparation than evaluation. I guess there's some of that left in some teams.

Grant from Fernandina Beach, FL:
When is usually the best month for ticket sales?

Vic: July is typically the best month for ticket sales. Whether or not games are shown on local TV in Jacksonville this season will largely be determined by ticket sales in July.

Scott from Jacksonville:
Why not just split the difference and go to a 17-game schedule? Everybody gets one international game per year and nobody loses a home game for it.

Vic: It's a thought, but is reducing the preseason by just one game worth such a major undertaking? I don't think it is. One way or another, we're going to have 20 dates. That's not going to change because to eliminate one date would be to suffer a terrible loss in revenue. In my opinion, two preseason games and 18 regular-season games is a better option than three preseason games and 17 regular-season games.

Ray from Nampa, ID:
I lived in Jacksonville for two years and I miss the city a lot. What's your favorite reason for living in the Greater Jacksonville area?

Vic: My job covering the Jaguars is the reason I'm here and it's introduced me to a world of things I love about Jacksonville. I love the weather in the winter. I love putting on a sweater or a light jacket and walking down one of Jacksonville's beautiful fairways in January, because I love to play golf and I love the golf courses in Jacksonville. I love South Hampton and North Hampton and Long Point and every point in between, and I love the "Ask Vic" golf tournament because my favorite golf hole in the world is number 18 at Osprey Cove. I love the beach and I hate it that I don't go there more often. I love the fact that I've made so many friends, despite my abrasive personality and annoying accent. I love Jacksonville's location; the mountains aren't that far away and neither is Myrtle Beach. When I still had family in Pittsburgh, I would drive back there every summer before training camp began and I loved the drive through the low country and over the mountains. I miss that drive. Most of all, I love game days in Jacksonville. Yeah, I'd love them anywhere, but game day has its own feel in Jacksonville and the feel I like best is that crisp, clean and sunny late-season weather that makes you happy to be alive. I hate the fact that we have ticket-sales issues right now and I'm going to love writing the story that'll pronounce the general bowl seats sold out and all games to be televised locally in 2010. I have no doubt will link to that story and help us celebrate our triumph, and I'm gonna love it.

John from Jacksonville:
I disagree with Greg. Please, continue to periodically emphasize the "save the whale" concept because no mention of it gives people a false sense of security.

Vic: When the seats are sold, I will write a glowing account of the triumph.

Ray from Jacksonville:
Greg asked you a good question. He just wanted to know what other towns did. How much do their local businesses buy? You talk about everyone being mad. Look in the mirror.

Vic: The support of local business is usually felt the most in signage and luxury suite purchases. Because the Jacksonville business community isn't nearly the size of the average NFL city's, the Jaguars don't get the bump in premium-seat sales from the Jacksonville corporate community that other NFL cities do. The fact that the stadium doesn't have a naming-rights sponsor is indicative of that. It's also important to note that in these tough economic times all professional sports teams are struggling to sell inventory in the premium category. From my experience covering the Steelers, I know they have deep roots with major corporations inside their city limits, such as Heinz, PPG, USX (formerly U.S. Steel) and Westinghouse. Oh, what the Jaguars would do to have one of those corporations in Jacksonville. So, to answer your question, luxury suites, club seats and signage are tough sells in Jacksonville because the corporate community is small, but the general bowl seats are the responsibility of the fans, Ray. The corporate community in Pittsburgh doesn't buy the "cheap" seats, Steelers fans do. So, what I'm saying, Ray, is that I will not allow the finger to be pointed at the Jacksonville business community in this column. They have spearheaded this whole ticket-sales push we're in. As it stands right now, they're the best thing we have going for us. The general bowl seats are the issue and after the Jaguars assumed responsibility for the sale of 8,000 of those seats (per game) as part of group sales, what remains of the general bowl represents, by far, the smallest blackout number in the league. Oh, by the way, the preponderance of those 80,000 general bowl tickets the Jaguars moved into the group sales category will be sold to businesses that will distribute them to their employees. The Jaguars will almost certainly lead the league this season in group sales, which means they will lead the league in the sale of general bowl tickets to businesses. There's your answer.

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