Maurice Jones-Drew is the greatest Jacksonville Jaguar I have ever seen.
For most of you, that might be blasphemous. Most of you probably don't even consider MJD the best RB in Jaguars history.
Jimmy Smith, Fred Taylor, Tony Boselli, and a handful of others all have the credentials to be considered the greatest Jaguar in the teams 20 year history. But I'm not arguing that. I am arguing that MJD is the greatest Jaguar that my generation of Jaguar fans has ever seen.
I was born in the summer of 1996. The team was entering its second season when I was just a few months old. So naturally, I don't have any true memories of the 1990's teams like most fans. I am younger than a good majority Jaguar fans I know, and those fans are members of the 1st generation of Jax fans. Those who sat in the stands in the expansion season and were a part of 2 AFC Championship appearances. I do have a few memories of the Jaguars of Jaguars past, as my early memories as a fan were in Jimmy Smith's last few seasons with the team, and I remember exactly where I was when Fred Taylor joined the 10,000 yard rushing club vs the Titans on November 11th, 2007. (Sitting in my Grandmothers house with my Fred Taylor jersey, counting down the yards till 10,000.)
But I am a part of the 2nd generation of Jaguar fans. The children of the very first group of fans who saw Jimmy and Freddy T in their heyday. A generation of Jaguar fans whose greatest memories include the 2008 Wildcard Playoff win over the Steelers. A generation who remember David Garrard and Rashean Mathis more vividly than they remember Mark Brunell or Keenan McCardell
And in my generation, there was no greater joy to watch, no other player you were prouder to claim as your own, than Maurice Jones Drew. I will never forget seeing him light up "Lights Out" Shawne Merriman. I will never forget the stadium wide cheers of "DREWWWWW" in many of the occurrences that he was the brightest spot of the team.
Jones Drew lead the league in Rushing in 2011. That was, and still is, absolutely incredible. 2011 would be Jack Del Rio's last season as the Jaguars HC and would end in a 5-11 record, something I wasn't emotionally prepared for because of the relative success of Del Rio's teams just a few years prior. The players MJD had around him when he lead the NFL in rushing yards (1606)? Blaine Gabbert. Luke McCown. Mike Thomas. I'd go on and on, but I've tried my best to repress those years as a Jags fan known as the "Dark Ages."
But no matter how dark it looked for Jacksonville, Jones-Drew still made them watchable. Sure I was young and naive, but I truly did believe Jacksonville had a chance to win every week simply because we had MJD. He was the lone Jaguar who got compliments on ESPN and CBS. The lone Jaguar from the best Jaguar teams I'd ever seen, that was still in his prime. The team declined each year, but he never did.
In a preseason game during what I believe was MJD's rookie season, MJD scored a touchdown and revealed a Superman T-Shirt under his jersey. And that's what he was to me. He was superman on the football field. An invincible player, cursed to a very vulnerable football team.
But, Superman couldn't last forever. He played the position that has arguably the shortest shelf life in the game and got rode into the ground in Del Rio's last few years. I didn't blame him though. How could I? He gave me and a whole generation of fans a stretch where we could call one of our players a top 5 player at his position.
Entering 2012, MJD hit decline and he hit it hard. After dealing with issues with new HC Mike Mularkey (surprise, surprise) he then spent a good chunk of 2012 injured. Entering 2013, he was one of the teams few veterans but with every carry you could see more and more clearly that he was done. The young, exciting bell cow was suddenly a washed up 27-28 year old RB. It happened quick, but it wasn't painless. After 2013, it was clear to see MJD had little left to offer to a new regime and team looking for more youth, and he left Jacksonville with little opposition.
I don't care much about MJD's last few years. But I do care about the stretch of 2006-2011. The best stretch of any Jaguar I have ever seen.
Maurice Jones-Drew might not be the best. RB in team history. He might not even be a top 3 Jaguar in team history to most fans following the team since '95.
But to me, Maurice Jones-Drew is the greatest Jaguar I have ever seen. Congrats to a great career, MJD.