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Where are They Now: Natrone Means


There is a saying that I think perfectly defines Natrone Means' time with the Jacksonville Jaguars. "A light that shines twice as bright, shines half as long." While most of the memories Jaguars fans have of the 1996 playoff run are of Mark Brunell's amazing run vs Denver, or Jimmy Smith making an impossible touchdown grab, it was Natrone Means who was the real star of that playoff run.

Means was signed as a free agent from the San Diego Chargers before the 1996 season. Although the Jaguars had drafted James Stewart in the 1st round in 1995, Stewart was not a factor in the offense. Means sat on the bench for the first twelve games of the 96 season, biding his time. However, Coughlin replaced Stewart with Means in Week 14 vs Cincinnati. Mean's first two games were just as ineffective, averaging just 2.7 yards per carry.

However, Means picked up steam during the final two weeks, rushing for a combined 202 yards on 50 carries. Then, during the playoffs, Means would gain himself a place as one of the Jaguars' earliest stars.

Heading into the 96 playoff game vs Buffalo, the Jaguars were a 21 point underdog. The Bills had never lost in Ralph Wilson Stadium in the postseason, and still had the key pieces of the teams that won 4 straight AFC Championships. Although the Jaguars had the league's #2 ranked passing offense, the cold winds of Upstate New York was expected to hold that in check.

Instead, the Jaguars rode Natrone Means to one of the biggest upsets in playoff history (to that time.) Means ran for  175 yards on 31 carries, and helped the team to a 30-27 win.

The next week vs Denver, the Jaguars counted on Means just as much. Means ran for 140 yards and kept the Jaguars in the game before Mark Brunell and Jimmy Smith had their national coming out party.

Means would be with the Jaguars again in 1997, however, he clashed with Head Coach Tom Coughlin during the season. After the 97 season, Means would go back to San Diego to join up with former Jaguars OC and then Chargers head coach Kevin Gilbride. However, he wouldn't find the same success there as he did when he helped the Chargers to their 1994 Super Bowl run. Following a quick pit stop in Carolina, Means promptly retired.

After Means left the NFL, he went into coaching. In 2005, Means joined the coaching staff at Livingston College. First as the running backs coach, before being promoted to offensive coordinator in 2006. Means has since spent several summers in the NFL Minority Coaching Fellowship Program, working with the Falcons and Panthers.

The last bit of info I could find on him was this piece by the Atlanta Journal Constitution. Means served as a counselour at a camp for student athletes.

The legacy Natrone Means left to the Jaguars is an ironic one. No player was more important to the 96 playoff run, yet he's barely mentioned in the franchise's history. As they say, "A light that shines twice as bright, shines half as long"