We've heard the word "character" thrown around the NFL a lot in recent years. In Jacksonville, an emphasis has been put on bringing in "character" players. Let me first say that I think that's great. Too often, sports stories involve a star player being accused of this or that. Sometimes star players even shoot themselves in the leg. I'm all for bringing in guys that do great work for the community and have a positive influence on our nation's youth, but let's not be ignorant. In the NFL, and every other major sports league, it's all about winning.
I just said it's all about winning, but that's only partially true. Some owners want to win, and some owners just want to make money, and it's usually easy to make the distinction. Luckily, it would appear that Wayne Weaver is all about building a winning franchise and keeping the Jaguars in Jacksonville.
Part of the "new" Jaguars identity revolves around players that stay out of trouble and work hard. I have a theory about character guys. It looks good to have guys that work in the community on your roster, but they're there to win gams. My theory is that character is a byproduct of hard work. Hard working guys succeed in the NFL, and I think Gene Smith has targeted these types of players to add to the Jaguars' roster. More often than not, the guys that work hard are also the guys that appreciate the opportunity they have to play in the NFL, and they're more willing to give back to the fans. In my humble opinion, hard work and character go hand in hand.
That's not to say there aren't exceptions. Hard working guys can play hard, and there's no doubt about that. Ben Roethlisberger has been accused of various crimes, and he was suspended at the beginning of the 2010 season for misconduct by Roger Goodell, but on camera, he appears to be an alright guy. The moment I remember of Roethlisberger most occurred after the Jaguars beat the Steelers in the playoffs in 2007. Roethlisberger waited for Garrard to finish his on field interview immediately following the game, and then, he congratulated Garrard and wished him the best. Say what you want about Roethlisberger but, he has some class in him too.
There is no one way to build a franchise. Many people say the Patriots and Jets are arrogant, but they believe in themselves and there's nothing wrong with a strong dose of confidence. Teams like the Colts and the Saints tend to let their on field performance speak for them. I like the Steelers approach best. They have a good dose of swagger, especially defensively, but most of their message comes from their incredibly physical play. That's the identity the Jaguars used to have, and that's the identity that the Jaguars should cultivate in the future.