Saturday night Blaine Gabbert went 13-16 for over 160 yards. He threw for a touchdown pass and had a quarterback rating of over 130. He looked like a young mobile quarterback in control of an offense with an accurate, velocity rich arm. Tonight there was hope.
During the post-game call in show you heard voices from all around the northeast Florida landscape. You had country sounding voices 12 PBRs deep exuding unreasonable enthusiasm. You had the urban folk sounding of hope with a twinge of frustration and cautious optimism. And of course the sober people working a night shift whose speech had subtle hints of unsatisfied cynicism and doubt. But that night, everyone, in their own way, expressed their version of positivity. The level of enthusiasm varied drastically, but even those that reveled in their pessimism as though it brought good luck were allowing themselves to indulge in the dream that things are headed in the right direction.
I’ll forever remember how one caller eloquently tied all our ribbons of positivity in to a bow of eternal optimism. He spoke with clarity in a subtle southern accent that envisioned frank honesty and strong integrity to his word. He spoke credibly and with great energy about how Gabbert was in command of the offense, had a rocket arm, potentially looked like …. "the guy". The kind of guy that brings hope to an NFL city. The kind of guy that defines a generation of football success and is an eternal icon to an entire region of people.
The response from the radio host, who reveled in his role at tempering optimism back to reason, was as follows …
"Yes he looked great but that was only for a quarter. Let’s see him do that for two quarters and then bring it back in the second half then we’ll know its headed in the right direction".
"Yeah, but at least there’s hope" responded the honest fan.
At least there’s hope! How honest and beautiful a statement. Who knows what next week will bring, but for tonight there’s hope. There’s a breath of life. Sure we’re at the beginning of a long journey filled with uncertainty. Just one week ago even the most optimistic of fans were talking about draft prospects in the next year, yet tonight we find ourselves allowing optimism to bring life in to the present, in to "the now"…. In to the "Who Knows? " "This Year?" "Could it be?" Had we just witnessed the first step in to something special?
Who knows what realities the rest of the season will have us endure? It’s possible that "This Year" could be magical with us euphorically hugging strangers wearing teal at Everbank Field and local drinking establishments. It could also be a sobering year where we feel the pain of our deficiencies as are currently perceived. But "Who Knows"… it could be a year that positively defines our time spent in Jacksonville, when we all had the time of our lives on Sundays. Or it could be another year of football obscurity where you struggled to keep your chin up when talking football with fans of reputable teams. But then again, tonight could be the infancy of one of "The Years" and "The Now".
Depending on your perspective, Saturday night you were either imaginative or reasonable. Liberally dreaming or coldly calculated. But on Saturday, no matter what your perspective, we all had the pleasure of hearing an honest well-meaning voice respond in the direct front of negativity with the comment…
"Yeah, but at least there’s hope". Moodachay, the birth of hope!