The offseason, although it has it’s times of excitement around the NFL Draft and free agency, provides fans of every and all NFL teams with boredom. The team is enjoying their “vacation” while fans go to work, school, and live everyday life without football.
So, to have some football fun this offseason, the crew here at Big Cat Country is going to provide Jaguars fans with interactive articles on the history of the team, as well as personal pieces on our fandom. It’s going to be a lot of fun, not just for us writers, but hopefully for our readers as well.
Today’s piece: How did you become a fan of the Jaguars?
For me, it all started when I was seven years old, but before I get to that, I’ll provide a little background information on myself.
I was born in 1998 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to a family that bled, and still bleeds to this day, black and yellow: Steelers fans (gross, right?). Everywhere in my house, just 10 minutes from downtown, there was a “Terrible Towel” hanging, or a signed football from the greats: Lynn Swann, Franco Harris, Dwight White, Mean Joe Greene, Jack Lambert, you name it. The ‘Steel Curtain” held it’s presence in a way that couldn’t be matched.
Every weekend, my family would invite their friends over, or we’d travel down to the suburbs of Squirrel Hill, Bloomington, or Oakland to catch some grub and Steelers football. Being born into a Steelers family, I naturally threw support the Steelers way, but being so young, I didn’t truly understand true fandom; I simply said “Go Steelers!” because everyone around me did.
Then, in 2006, my Dad was given permission to work from home when his Pittsburgh-based company was bought, and he moved the family down here to Ponte Vedra Beach, just outside of Jacksonville, to be close to his aging mother and some of his siblings. Leaving my older brother Jesse, perhaps the biggest Steelers fan of the bunch, behind as he was old enough to live on his own. His fandom never wavered.
I was an older seven during the move, and my younger brother Julian was a young five — he still didn’t really know what football was besides the ball itself. He was still at the age where he couldn’t really form his own opinions. I, however, had begun to do so.
The first friend I made in Ponte Vedra was my next door neighbor Nick Tronti, the Ponte Vedra High School quarterback and recent Indiana University-signee. The only thing that separated our houses was his 50 yard side yard — an ideal place for kids to gather and play football. Me, being the kid who had never played a down in my life and yelled “Go Steelers” simply based on my parents doing so, learned everything I know to this day from Nick ,and his older brother Zach, who played running back at Brown University, the Ivy League school in Rhode Island.
Learning to play football gave me a chance to explore the game. I researched for days, months, years to learn even the smallest of facts. I searched for a team I could call my own — and I came across the Jacksonville Jaguars.
I remembered watching this team in black and teal on a “Pittsburgh Steelers: 2005 Super Bowl Champions” documentary my parents bought. This team was one of the five to actually beat Pittsburgh in their Super Bowl-winning 2005 season, all thanks to a Rashean Mathis overtime walk-off interception-return touchdown.
It was glorious.
I knew that, with the Jacksonville area being my new home, and that I had fallen in love with the game in my first couple of months here, that the Jaguars were going to be my team. Much to my parents dis-satisfaction, I hung up my fist Jaguars poster — a poster celebrating Fred Taylor reaching 10,000 career yards, signed by Fred Taylor himself, in December of 2007.
Ever since, I’ve bled black and, not yellow, teal. I’ve gone to at least one game a year, and then this past season I bought my first season ticket with my boss from work, a lifetime fan, in the Bold City Brigade section. The Bold City Brigade gang has accepted me, one of the youngest members of the club, as one of their own at tailgates and offseason events. The Jaguars have not only given me a team to love, but friends that I love as well.
So there you have it. I disposed six Super Bowl rings to be a Jacksonville Jaguars fan, and I’ve never looked back. How did you become a Jaguars fan?