To say that NFL players are stoic and detached and play in a vacuum on Sundays is to ignore the fact that, well, these are human beings playing a violent game surrounded by 65,000 other human beings shouting, yelling, and screaming them on.
That’s why it’s refreshing when one of them has the self awareness to not only observe when the relationship between fan and player is tangible, but to participate in it.
When asked how he felt about the energy of the fans and players, defensive end Yannick Ngakoue made one thing very clear — the Jacksonville Jaguars players fed off the fans at TIAA Bank Field yesterday.
“You could tell, when I was looking in the huddle to my left, personally, I could just see everybody was locked in, everybody was ready to go. Myles [Jack] told me, he said, ‘man, get the crowd hyped,’ and I went over there and got the crowd hyped and just feeding off their energy ... It was great to just get them a win so they could celebrate as well. We’ve got to do it for the city.”
Yannick also articulated what was clear to anyone who watched the game yesterday — the players had a different energy headed into yesterday’s game. It was an unbridled, bordering on angry, passion that forced a few unsportsmanlike penalties but also shut out a good offense in the Indianapolis Colts.
“When I walked into this locker room this morning, I just felt the different type of energy from everybody. I could tell, regardless of what we were going through during the season, I could tell guys wanted to come out here and win, so that was really important to me and I was really happy and pleased to see that today.”
Yesterday was a special kind of performance from the Jaguars. It was an homage to their 2017 style of play — confident, physical, and bordering on reckless.