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Words of advice

Greetings from EverBank Field on Day 2 of the three-day 2012 rookie minicamp. I'm fired up this morning, not sure why. I'll lie down and see if I can make this go away.

Let's get to it . . . Joe from Aurora, IL:
What can you tell us about Jeris Pendleton? All I could find on him being 28 is he was set to go to Michigan State, but grades became a factor and he became a father. One source said he got a job to take care of his family, then got back into school and football. Did he graduate from Ashland? If so, this seems to be a guy with his head on his shoulders, and a man that takes care of his business. I spoke to Pendleton Thursday and I can
John: report that his head is on his neck, not his shoulders. He has not yet graduated, but my impression is he indeed is a man who wants to take care of his business. He talked a long time with the media Thursday about his background and his journey to the NFL, and when asked about growing up and trying to support his family on the south side of Chicago, he didn't shy away from saying it was difficult – probably more difficult than those of us in the room casually asking questions could truly comprehend. Pendleton is an inspiring story, and the kind of guy you like to see succeed. He has two children to support, and knows that at 28, there probably are no more NFL chances waiting. That doesn't mean anything on the field, but as Jaguars General Manager Gene Smith said on Draft Weekend it's certainly reasonable to think Pendleton will be motivated for a lot of the right reasons.
Kevin from Jacksonville:
I like the selection of Andre Branch. But why not Jeffries of South Carolina in the second round?
John: They liked Branch more.
Andrew from St. Augustine, FL:
The "discussion" over Blackmon wearing No. 14 got me thinking....what number would you wear?
John: Growing up in Jacksonville, I have fond memories of playing left out at Arlington Little League in the early 1970s. I don't remember my number then, but I wore 24 for the powerful Episcopal High School basketball teams of the early 1980s that stayed close to teams for a quarter on more than one occasion. I fondly recall picking my number, how I considered the ramifications and meaning of this important selection, and how good 'ol Coach John Howard said to me, "Well, we've got 24 or 45 left – take whichever." I also recall saying something like, "Think I'll get a chance to play this season?" After that there was some awkwardness and the memory fades a bit.
Harvey from Austin, TX:
Was the reason the '90s were a "golden age" for left tackles because of the different style of the NFL then? Considering how much more teams pass in the recent decade and the freakish athletes that are playing defensive end, it could be argued that playing left tackle in today's NFL is much more difficult than it was in the 90's.
John: It could maybe be argued, but I wouldn't believe the argument. Tony Boselli, Jonathan Ogden, Orlando Pace and Walter Jones happened to be special players at the position, and their skills would easily translate to today's game. I have no doubt if there were playing today, they would be the best four left tackles playing. I'm also not sure I buy the argument that today's pass rushers are better than those that played in that era. Reggie White was playing when Boselli played and Bruce Smith was, too. Boselli routinely handled Smith. Blocking today's pass rushers isn't a significantly more difficult task than that.
Josh from Statesboro, GA:
You, sir, have quite a sense of humor I am quite fond of.
John: So, you're the one.
Joel from Atlanta, GA:
John, we used to talk music, and football, and beer and now you never answer me anymore. All you talk about is Tebow and anger and Blackmon's number. What happened to you?
John: Misery and desperation change people.
Ryan from Charlotte, NC:
It has been said the Jags are happy with Estes as the eventual center, and I know Brewster hasn't even made the roster yet, but is there any chance – assuming Brewster does get a spot – that one of them moves to guard? Brewster just seems like too good a value, considering where we got him, to pass up just because we like a guy at that position already.
John: Brewster's value will be determined in the next few months. On paper, he certainly seems a good find and on paper, he has a good chance to make the roster. If both Estes and Brewster are really, really good the Jaguars will find a way to keep both players. Keeping really, really good players is rarely a problem for NFL teams.
Nicholas from FOB Salerno, Afghanistan:
We are having a debate here and need your input. What is more impressive - a perfect QB rating for a game, or a pitcher throwing a perfect game?
John: This may smack of me being closer to a crotchety old man than I'd like, but I have to say a pitcher throwing a perfect game. The main reason is the formula for passer rating is by its nature a bit convoluted. You can have incomplete passes, for example, and many people don't really understand what passer rating means. The perfect game in baseball is very easy to understand and very clean. Twenty-seven batters. Twenty-seven outs. I don't know which is technically harder, but I personally find the perfect game more impressive.
CD from Orange Park, FL:
Don't lie, John. The consecutive O-Zone streak has a firm grip on you too. You're fast becoming the Favre/DiMaggio of sports-related-Q-and-A-internet columns and it's becoming a passion you can't deny any longer. Face it, you're as addicted as the rest of us.
John: Just doing the job. As I've said, it won't go on forever, but for now, it is interesting enough – for me and some others, at least – to do on the weekends, so there it is.
Cody from Orlando, FL:
I graduated from college Friday. What advice can you give me to help guide me for the rest of my life?
John: Find a job you love, love your kids more and, of course, take advantage of weakness in others before they do the same to you.
Dustin from Jacksonville:
For arguments sake, let's pretend Ding comes in and is consistently splitting the uprights from 60 . Can the Jags revoke the franchise tag on Scobee and send him packing? Would the cap take a hit? Does it matter if the player has already signed the tender? And nothing against Scobee, I personally hope a deal gets worked out and he has many more years here in Jacksonville.
John: I'll answer the question because if I don't, people may wonder why. Yes, the franchise tag can be revoked. There would be no cap hit. That said, a deal will get worked out. In terms of the Jaguars signing any kicker to replace Scobee . . . well, let's just slow down. Slow wa-a-a-a-a-y down. Scobee is in a contract dispute. That's common in the off-season. No one's trying to replace him.
Josh from Kingsland, GA:
Your answer about undrafted rookie players got me thinking. My cousin played in the NFL for five seasons. You might even have met him. His name is Sam Wilder, and he was with the Colts during one preseason, maybe 2006? Having seen Sam's experience after graduating from Colorado and going undrafted, it's a work in progress. Sometimes it ends in accomplishment, and sometimes it ends in heartbreak, but more often than not it ends in a sort of wearing down and reshaping of young men and their dreams. Let's all raise a glass to the ones who didn't make it. This league needs them, too.
John: I don't remember Wilder, and I don't say that snidely. What it does speak to is how many players are in each camp each year – each with his own story, his own dream. It absolutely is a work in progress, and while that's true of any NFL player, it's especially true for the undrafted or late-drafted player who truly has to earn a roster spot – often by having to significantly outplay younger players who the team will give the benefit of the doubt because of age of draft position. Your description of how it ends is apt in a lot of cases, too. There's not a ceremony and there aren't a lot of headlines. Often, it's just a realization on a drive home that for whatever reason a career is ending. They haven't worked less, they just either have less ability or never found the right circumstance. And considering there are 27 players at EverBank this weekend on a workout basis and 17 more undrafted players, this is indeed a good time to think of them. Were I a drinking man, I'd certainly toast them. Oh right, I am. So, here's to them.

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