In a little more than 72 hours, the Jaguars will kick off the 2010 season vs the Denver Broncos. When the two teams line up to kick off, it will appear as just any other season opener. A ball will go up in the air and those long weekends of no football we've endured since January will be over.
But it's far from any other season opener. Not after last year's season opener that saw less than 50,000 people attend. Not after an offseason that saw the national media openly say the Jaguars time in Jacksonville was done. Not after a rabid set of "fans" tried to hold the team hostage and take some false messiah to save the franchise. After one of the biggest civic/private partnerships in this city's history to make sure the team doesn't pick up and leave for Southern California.
Rejoice Jaguar fans, the 2010 season is upon us.
The last 18 months have been nothing but a nightmare for Jaguar fans. Going back to January 2009, the team was fresh off a disastrous 5-11 campaign that left a bitter taste in everyone's mouth. The city let the team know of it's performance with it's wallet. The team lost over 10,000 season ticket holders and already began to chant for Tim Tebow.
Following a solid draft by new GM Gene Smith, there seemed to be optimism around the franchise, until games actually had to be played. The play on the field wasn't terrible, just the result of a team in transition. What was terrible was the swaths of empty teal chairs. The national media quickly took notice and dug their fangs in. With Ed Roski getting a stadium fast tracked in LA, it seemed as if it was just a matter of time. The NFL would just admit it's mistake with Jacksonville and finally get back to LA.
After a 2009 season that saw it's ups and downs, the lead up to the 2010 draft was one of the most hotly contested in franchise history. But instead of taking the local wonder boy, Gene Smith took a player virtually no one had heard of. Immediately Gene Smith went from being a bright young GM to a quack and Jaguar fans were forced to deal with yet another round of barbs.
But now, after a year and a half it seems as if the storm clouds are beginning to dissipate, if ever so slightly. The Jaguars have seemingly found their franchise savior, but it was a QB from Gainesville. It was their first ever draft pick. The opener, and hopefully every game, will be on TV. The city is beginning to embrace the team once again. Much is still needed to be done, but it can finally be put on the back burner.
At least for 3.5 hours, forget about ticket sales, forget fuel gauges, hell just forget about everything else. It's football season, and that is what matters now.