Why I Can't Miss a Jaguars Game

Al Messerschmidt

Things aren't looking good for the Jaguars at 1 - 7. Some fans are losing hope and aren't going to the games. Not me. I’ll never miss another Jaguars game, no matter the record.

The Jaguars are 1 - 7.

The bold move in the draft got me excited. Our first year coach gave me hope all off-season. I thought there were clear signs of change, but now it seems like more of the same.

Actually it seems worse than last year, somehow.

Now the Jaguars are at the bottom of the division, the bottom of the conference, the bottom of the league and it's getting frustrating. The Colts are on a roll and they're coming into town this week. Everybody loves their quarterback and they're favored to win. A lot of people I know are tired of all the losses and say they're done with the Jaguars this season.

Not me, though. I don't have tickets for this game and it's driving me crazy. There are tickets available but money has been tight and I'm just not sure I should spend any money on tickets.

By the way, this story is not from this week. It's from nine years ago, and it's the reason I'll never miss another Jaguars game, no matter the record.

My wife was in college, our income was smaller and we didn't yet have season tickets. We had only gone to one home game that year. This game was interesting to me, though. The Colts were starting their move to take over the AFC South and Peyton Manning was established as one of the elite quarterbacks in the league. The Colts were 7 - 1 and nothing really gave Jaguars fans much hope of a win.

Sunday morning, November 9, 2003 came and I was at home complaining to my wife about not going to the game. She suggested I go down to the stadium & get tickets off the street, but I balked at the idea. 11:00 o'clock came and the Jack Del Rio Show came on, followed by the Jaguars Pregame Show, live at the stadium. The weather was cool and a light rain was falling. There was speculation of a small crowd.

The phone rang .

My wife jokingly said, "There are your tickets!" I mockingly shouted "Yay!" and ran to the phone. It was a coworker of mine who had been given tickets.

"It's gonna be too wet and cold for me, man. If you want two tickets, come down here and get ‘em. I've got a parking pass, too."

I was running out of time to make kickoff but these were free tickets. I got ready in about 30 seconds and made a dash for the car. When I picked them up, I found out that my luck was in high gear that day: West Club, sec 108, row C seats 3 and 4. We were three rows from the field, behind the Jaguars bench near the 35-yard line.

We actually didn't make it until the end of the first quarter and the score was tied 7 - 7. By the end of the first half the Jaguars were behind 20 - 7, but I wasn't that upset. We were enjoying the extra-wide, padded seats, and the nice lady who came down and took our cocktail order. You know what, though? The club seat experience isn't what I love about this game and it isn't what taught me never to miss a game.

The Jaguars opened the second half with a 6 and a half minute touchdown drive to cut the Colts' lead to 20 - 14. The teams traded punts until the first possession of the fourth quarter when Byron Leftwich hit Jimmy Smith with a 43-yard touchdown strike to give the Jaguars a 21 - 20 lead.

In true Manning fashion, he responded with a Colts drive that ended with a Mike Vanderjagt field goal which reclaimed the lead for the Colts, 23 - 21 with 9:48 remaining in the game.

The Jaguars failed to score on their next possession but then held the Colts to a three-and-out. The ensuing punt was returned to the Colts 31-yard line with 1:28 left in the game.

That's when it happened, my favorite moment of the year. The only real memorable moments of 2003 had been the injury and benching of Mark Brunell, and Chris Hanson gashing his foot with an axe.

Earlier in the year, safety Mike Doss had pushed Fred Taylor's head into the ground after a lost fumble in the Jaguars loss to the Colts. Taylor promised he would punish Doss for the insult. With 1:14 on the clock, Taylor took the ball off right tackle and then through the failed tackle of Doss on his way to a 32-yard touchdown run, looking back at Doss as he cruised into the end zone.

It was a signature run in Taylor's career and I'll never forget it.

We bought season tickets the following year. That game taught me that you never know when a great memory can be made. It happened on that November game in 2003. It happened in 2010 when I thought there was no way the Jaguars could beat the Colts but Scobee's 59-yarder proved me wrong. It happened last season when I thought there was no way we could beat the Ravens, but Scobee kicked the Jaguars to a 12 - 7 victory in a Monday Night Football game that featured a 4th-and 43 play by the Ravens that I'll never forget.

I'm not saying that special moment will be on Thursday night. I'm not even sure it will happen at all this season.

However, I do know whenever it does happen I'll be there to see it.

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