It's been about 7 years since the day I first considered myself a true fan of the Jaguars. I was a freshman in high school and I was only a casual fan by association at that age. I guess the best reason for that is because my family wasn't big on sports. My uncle played baseball and I liked watching him pitch, but I was more interested in music and writing at that time. Besides, we never had the game on in the house unless my mom's boyfriend was over.
My best friend was an avid Steelers fan, and flashed his team pride often with his Willie Parker jersey. He came from a family of rabid football fans. I experienced this firsthand whenever I went to his house on gameday. They actually would have family conflicts whenever the Steelers played poorly. The game was part of them and had a significant impact on their mental state. Initially, I couldn't comprehend this phenomenon.
My friend was talking quite a bit of smack to me and anyone else that would listen to his Steeler fanspeak. Even though I was just a casual fan, he challenged me to argue back. I remember that the Jaguars beat the Steelers at home in the 2007 regular season. He was shocked. I felt a slight spark of satisfaction inside; in a way, my friend had been beaten and was giving me, a simple fan, credit for the win.
Let's get back to that paradigm-shifting day. It was the Jaguars' win over the Steelers in the 2007 playoffs in early 2008. That game brought me a wide array of emotions that I had never experienced while watching a football game. I felt excitment when Mathis picked Roethlisberger off, aloofness when it happened again, doubt when the Steelers came back, absolute terror when it all came down to 4th down on the QB draw, and extreme happiness when Garrard proceeded to scamper all the way to a victory.
At that moment, I felt like I was part of something greater. I knew that every fan must have felt like I did during that game. When the Jaguars lost to the Patriots, it actually was painful. I think that if you feel pain after a team loses, that's when you're really a fan.
I sure didn't know that joining the Jaguars' fanbase would turn into such a tumultous experience. I've been subjected to everythig from mockery to ignorance to haughtiness from big market sports fans. Still, I've held strong. I've seen supposed fans denounce their fandom. Still, I've held strong. I've witnessed inept leadership in the organization fool thousands of people into believing our future was bright. Still, I've found strength in camraderie and kept steady through the storm.
Now, the future of our Jaguars is in the hands of an invested owner who has helped bring in a competent set of leaders with the passion to reignite a proud fanbase. It is the best of times to be a Jaguars fan. One day, football fans will be bandwagon fans of our team and the media will be all about the Jaguars. When that day comes, we will know, as a dedicated and resilient fortress that we have been there all along, and it is our time to reap the positive energy.
Go Jags! Also, first post.