Far be it from me to tell anyone what they need to be doing on their holiday or how they should spend their hard earned money. This is the home of the free and the brave, people are allowed to do as they please. But, for one minute, allow me stand on my soapbox and give you the reasons why you should strongly consider dropping any plans you may have, and be in attendance for the Jacksonville Jaguars final game of the 2011 season.
First: The Obvious.
It's the final game of the year. Your absolute last chance to see live football in North Florida for about eight more months. Don't question "why even bother", or think, "it's a meaningless game". Show up to savor the atmosphere, enjoy the spectacle and absorb what is left of football. Good or bad, it's still football and it's what we will all crave again once it's gone. So wake up, shake off that New Years Eve hangover (or continue it) and do your future-self a favor, and go watch without regret.
Next: The Not-So-Obvious-But-You-Probably-Already-Know.
Yeah, the Jaguars aren't very good this year. Heck they haven't been very good for a few years. My response? So what. When you look back over the history of the team when was the last time the Jaguars had the number one running back in the entire NFL. The answer: Never. As Jaguars fans we have never had a running back lead the league in rushing, and quite frankly, we don't know the next time it's going to happen. So why cheer for Maurice Jones-Drew from your couch as he approaches history? Be there to give him a standing ovation as he walks off the field and leaves his mark on one of his best seasons in a Jaguars uniform, and joins the ranks of names like Emmitt Smith, Barry Sanders and Walter Payton.
Last: You're a Jaguars Fan, Right?
Sometimes we take the Jaguars for granted. I'm not talking about coming out and supporting the team to keep it from moving (although we should). I'm talking about the fact that this team has been in Jacksonville for 18 years, and well, we're all pretty comfortable with that. There are kids graduating high school that have never known life without the Jaguars. People getting college degrees are too young to remember "Morton's Miss" or know that "Natrone Means Business". Blaine Gabbert was a one-year-old when Jacksonvillians flooded the old Gator Bowl with "Dream Weaver" signs and welcomed a business savvy shoe salesman and his wife to our community. Which is who this article is really about.
You're not a Jaguars fan unless you're a Wayne Weaver fan first. Frankly, there are no Jaguars stockings on your mantle this Christmas, no Jaguars license plate on your truck or Jaguars t-shirt on your back with out the Weavers. There is no "Do you believe in miracles?" in 1996. Bill Cowher never tries to tackle Chris Hudson from the sideline in 1997. No 1999 Jaguars team playing in the AFC Championship at, then, Alltel Stadium. No Boselli, Brunell, McCardell, Brackens or Jimmy Smith, all those guys spent their careers in other cities. There is no debate about Leftwich or Garrard, they never played here. There is no Duuuuuvallll. No "Move those chains", military homecomings, or F-15 Flyovers. That 375 rushing yards on the Colts in 2006? Never happened. The only team to beat the Steelers twice at home in the same season, wasn't the Jaguars. Fred Taylor runs for over 10,000 yards in his career for Baltimore or Philadelphia. Maurice Jones-Drew looks good in San Francisco red and gold. The KhanStache movement is about to take place in some other well deserving, follicle friendly city. And us? What are we doing? Obviously, we're all fans of a team that plays its ballgames in the Rocky Mountains, two time zones and 1,700 miles away from Jacksonville. Sounds great, doesn't it?
We have an NFL franchise in Jacksonville, and there are only 30 other cities that can say that. We have a team, that regardless of wins and losses or players and play callers, we can call our own. There will be a celebration at EverBank Field on Sunday, and it will have nothing to do with what happens between the goal lines. Of all those memories I've listed, and the hundreds more that I haven't, there will be one more created on January 1, 2012, and I would regret not being there to witness it. A legacy will be defined and a great family will honored.
That is why will I be in my seat in section 102, Row FF, the same place I have been for the past 18 years, and I hope you join me. For one reason, and one reason only.
To say thank you to Wayne Weaver.