As of about an hour ago, at this time of writing, our fan base will not recognized as Jag Nation or Jaguar Country. We are simply Duval. Because that's what we are. You don't have to live in Duval to be Duval. Some nephews are Duval in Jacksonville. Some nieces are Duval in DC. Some aunts and uncles are even Duval in Thailand. I'm hardly an authority on what Duval is, but I felt compelled to put down my thoughts and try to answer the outsiders' question: what does that even mean? The way I see it, a lot of folks will be scratching their heads.
But first, I can't help but think of Paul Tagliabue. I can just see him, 20 years ago, meeting a distraught Wayne Weaver in a room somewhere. Touchdown Jacksonville has just fallen apart and pulled out of the race for an NFL franchise. As it looks like the end is in sight, the commissioner implores him to reconsider. Get back in. And get back in they did. To the surprise of many, Jacksonville was awarded an NFL franchise. Maybe some would even say it was a miracle.
What was Tagliabue thinking? For years people around the country have wondered what he could've seen in Jacksonville. And as I'm sitting here thinking of Paul Tagliabue, I can't help but believe that twenty years ago he was thinking about me. And you. And all of us. He was thinking about the Bold City Brigade. He was thinking about the Teal Street Hooligans. He was thinking about Stand United Fridays. Perhaps it was just a flash. An instant where he saw the potential in the city.
This fan base has come alive in a remarkable way. Alfie said as much in his article on the rise of Generation Jaguar, which I'm sure will go down in Duval lore as the tipping point. The point of demarcation. The point where these preconceived notions and false narratives changed.
And that brings me back to Duval. The rest of the league can have their "countries" and their "nations." A league of countries and nations that has beaten us up for years. Branded us as a mistake. We've grown up with talking heads and other fans telling us who we are.
"Nobody goes to your games."
"Nobody supports your team."
"Jaguars fans don't exist."
"Maybe if you got a certain quarterback, you'd actually sell some jerseys and put butts in seats."
We're tired of people telling us who we are. Or where we are, for that matter. And now, we're fighting back. United by our passion for our team (and with a little help from the internet), Duval has put its foot down and said, "No. No more." We're not going to let you spread false narratives anymore. We're not going to let you tell us who we are. And we're certainly not going let you define the culture here. We don't want to be a part of any Nation or Country. We've been on the receiving end of too many attacks from this League of Nations, if you will. They've made us an outlier in the NFL, and we're embracing that role now. It's part of what drives our passion. Duval is a rejection of the culture that for so long has said we don't deserve to be here and that we don't even exist. Duval is an attitude. It's a way of life. It's passion. It's defiance.
And perhaps most importantly, Duval is a family.
See y'all at The Bank on Sunday.