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Yeah, it sure is something

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

David from Norfolk, VA:
Vic, you provide a great service. Please keep it up. Did the Jags push too much money forward by keeping Mathis at his current low salary for the next two years and then jumping up to $3 million?

Vic: I think you may be a little confused. The next two years are the completion of Rashean Mathis' rookie contract. The salary portion of his new contract extension doesn't begin until 2007. Forget about salary. That's not the issue with Mathis' contract extension. The real issue is the $9.4 million Mathis has been guaranteed in total bonuses. He received half of that amount this year in the form of a signing bonus that will be prorated over the next five years. Remember, you can only push bonus amortization out five years. The other half of the bonus money is set to be paid as a roster bonus in 2006, which means all of it would appear on the Jaguars' '06 cap. The language in the contract, however, gives the team a discretionary guarantee, which means the team could leave it all in '06 or prorate all or a part of it. The discretionary guarantee appears as a clause in the contract. The intent is to provide the Jaguars with flexibility to deal with potential cap circumstances. Next season is the last capped year in the current Collective Bargaining Agreement and there are worries about cap instability. What if it went flat? Then you would need to push money out instead of taking an all-at-once hit.

Nathan from Richmond, VA:
In your years of watching, analyzing and writing football, what was the most successful, regularly-called play that you've witnessed? To me it has to be the Redskins counter-sweep, and I am not a Redskins fan in any way. Also, what is the most effective style/approach of football that you have seen?

Vic: You're talking about the Redskins' counter-trey. It was good. It was their bread-and-butter play. The other ones I would put into that category is the Packer sweep with Hornung, the Steelers' inside trap with Franco, the Cowboys' lead draw with Emmitt and the 49ers sprint-right option pass with Montana. The Colts' trap-pass has become a real red-zone touchdown-maker but, like its quarterback, it needs to win a Super Bowl.

Jason from Houston, TX:
Has there ever been a playoff game blacked out?

Vic: Hey, guys, let's not go through this blackout thing again all year, please. Ever since it was announced that tonight's game was going to be blacked out, I have been flooded with questions about blackouts and, in most cases, they're the same questions I always get. So, one more time: Prior to the 1973 act of Congress that established the blackout rules by which the NFL still operates, ALL games were blacked out in the markets in which they were played. That included ALL postseason games. The 1958 NFL title game, "The Greatest Game Ever Played," was blacked out in New York. The '60 title game was blacked out in Philly, the '63 title game was blacked out in Chicago and Super Bowl I was blacked out in Los Angeles. Those were and still are the four-largest markets in America. All playoff games in 1972 were blacked out and that includes the "Immaculate Reception" game in Pittsburgh. That's why we had an act of Congress. Pro football reached such a height of popularity in the '72 playoffs that Congress stepped in just before the start of the '73 season and forced the league to "give away" its product. That's how the owners saw it and they complained intensely about government interference in the management of their business. Blackouts prior to '73 had nothing to do with attendance. If your team was playing at home, you weren't gonna see the game unless you bought a ticket, period.

Nick from New Berlin, WI:
First off I'm both a huge Jaguars fan but also a huge Packers fan. In regard to Steve's question about Packers tickets and premium seating, all tickets for Packer games are premium seats. Lambeau Field has no bad seat within the stadium. The stadium was beautifully built so that all seats can see the game with very little obstruction.

Vic: Nick, "premium seating" refers to tickets that are accompanied by a club or membership fee. It has nothing to do with the quality of the seat. Yes, Lambeau Field is a great stadium, unless you like a seat that has back to it.

Malosi from Valencia, CA:
I just wanted to congratulate you on your prediction about Rob Petitti being a guy to watch. I see that he's starting at right tackle for the Cowboys, helped by the fact that Jacob Rodgers did get hurt, again. But that was amazing foresight on a late-round pick. Kudos to you. Now for a question: I think Jammal Brown, the rookie from Oklahoma and now the starting right tackle for the Saints, has tremendous potential from the games I've seen thus far. His technique reminds of me Walter Jones and he has quite the mean streak. Did you rate him, Alex Barron or Khalif Barnes highest?

Vic: The last "Vic's Value Board" posted before the draft had Alex Barron ranked seventh, Jammal Brown 11th and Khalif Barnes 26th.

Tom from Alexandria, VA:
Do you think Byron dreams of how different things might have been if Baltimore had gotten him in the 2003 draft? I think he would be very popular with the Ravens fans and corporate sponsors.

Vic: That's a very astute observation. Here's another one: Byron Leftwich has never expressed an ounce of regret that he was selected by the Jaguars.

Chris from Boston, MA:
In reference to Sharon's question, when she said, "Jacksonville doesn't seem to have much time left," I'm pretty sure she was referring to the impending move of the team to L.A., not the time it takes a team/player to mature. Sorry, but the move is gonna happen. Look inward citizens of Jacksonville because you'll only have yourselves to blame when the city is a ghost town as it was before 1995.

Vic: Circumstances can change very quickly and I'll use the Patriots to make my point. The Patriots averaged 38,953, 37,890 and 38,551 for their 1990, '91 and '92 home seasons. We're talkin' about a franchise that was on death's door. It was playing in a dilapidated stadium that sat next to a two-lane road. The whole league wiped its feet on the Patriots, which had become an embarrassment. Thirteen years later, the Patriots have a new stadium, sellout crowds and have won three of the last four Super Bowls. It is the league's premier franchise. Circumstances can change the other way quickly, too.

John from Jacksonville:
I noticed a question from Pete at the Wolfson's Bone Marrow unit. My daughter is a cancer patient there and for those people who are hard on the Jaguars, just take one look at a child's face in that ward when a player visits. You'll buy tickets that day. We're proud to be season ticket holders. My question: You like front-loaded or flat contracts. What do you think of Mathis' contract?

Vic: Depending on what the Jaguars decide to do with the discretionary guarantee, it will be either front-loaded or flat.

Bruce Van Dyke from McMurray, PA:
That feature story on me was what propelled you to the top of the heap. It had to have been the subject. Ain't this internet something? Congrats on your fine career.

Vic: Folks, meet Bruce Van Dyke, who was the subject of the first professional football story I ever wrote in 1972. "Moose" played for 11 seasons in the NFL and at one time was considered to be one of the best pulling guards in the game. He would've been a $3 million a year player today. Yeah, this internet sure is something.

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