Two quick things, #1. Please go vote for Big Cat Country as Jacksonville's Best Blog here. #2. Please give us your season projections here if you haven't already.
During the last few weeks, the "Us vs Them" mentality most Jaguar fans have felt against the national media has seemingly come to a head. Whether it's that every publication has picked the Jaguars to finish last in the AFC South, ESPN commentator's Mike and Mike predicting 5-11/4-12 finishes, or Sport's Illustrated's preview article that was seemingly created through a cliche generator. Most fans have come to the conclusion that the NFL Media Illuminati are in cahoots with Roski's and Bildeberg's in order to bring their beloved franchise to Southern California. Is there really a lone gunmen in the grassy knoll or are we running a Jim Garrison operation?
When I went down to the Pro Bowl, I met quite a few members of the media. The one's who didn't turn their noses when I said I was a blogger provided some valuable info and certainly made the trip worth it. However, one thread I kept on noticing was how little they really knew about Jacksonville.
In the end, sadly, it isn't a big part of their job to know about the Jaguars. Some national guys like Pete Prisco or Mike Freeman actually know a thing or two, but that's because they were former members of the Times-Union and covered the team. But really, with the notable exception of Paul Kuharsky, no one else on the national media bothers to know anything about Jacksonville other than that Maurice Jones-Drew is a sure fire fantasy pick.
Why? Sadly it all boils down to market sizes and winning. When you only produce one playoff win in 10 years and have the lowest TV market, the national media isn't going to pay attention. It's why the NFC East, along with teams that are consistent winners like Indy, San Diego, and New England get the lion's share of NFL coverage. They're going to bring the most fans to the table.
This lack of knowledge then helped create the storm of negativity that has been a staple of the franchise for the last 18 months. When a team is only packing 45,000 fans into a stadium, and they don't have the tradition or clout of the Raiders, it makes for an easy headline. Combine that with a local messiah playing for the most popular college team in the country, and most national media just felt like stopping there.
Winning and a packed stadium will bring an end to all of this. Remember the late 90's? Remember how Mark Brunell was on several covers of SI, and the Jaguars were consistently picked to win the AFC Central or go to the Super Bowl? That's what winning and a surge of popularity will do for you.
While making sure the team becomes a playoff fixture is out of our hands, making sure the team remains the Jacksonville Jaguars isn't.