I’ll just say it out of the gate; I do not think nor am I worried about the Jacksonville Jaguars moving to London. I’ve said this ten times over, I’ll continue to say it as long as I feel that way. With that being said, I want to move to a topic that was debated on 1010XL’s The Drill on Tuesday morning on my drive to the office.
Shockingly, I found myself in agreement with Jeff Prosser. Some of you will get why that it’s a shock, for those who don’t... trust me.
You should be shocked.
The debate was between Prosser and former Jaguars left tackle and current analyst Tony Boselli about remarks that Jaguars owner Shad Khan made about London over the weekend and their passion for football and extending the agreement, which irked a lot of Jaguars fans on social media. Personally, I was unbothered by it, but I’m also regrettably jaded and that stuff typically doesn’t bother me.
I caught the discussion as the debate started, but Boselli mentioned that he understood Khan’s confusion over the passion and why Jacksonville doesn’t sell out every game, despite the fact that Khan spends a ton of money on the team, they went out and got Nick Foles, etc. etc. He lamented fans making excuses about the heat, or whatever else for not going to the games and packing out TIAA Bank Field.
Prosser countered by mentioning that when the Jaguars have been good, it’s been packed. He referenced the 2017 playoffs, where the city was on fire with the Jaguars, the stadium was packed and downtown was a mad house for their first home playoff game in quite a few Jaguars fan’s lifetimes. The team promptly went 5-11 the next year and everything blew up in their face. So, it’s understandable why people are hesitant to buy in again. A fool me twice situation, if you will.
Boselli scoffed and again pointed out how there should have been excitement for spending all this money in free agency, getting Foles, etc. again and pointed out other bad teams back things out. He mentioned the heat not being an issue in the 90’s when the stadium was packed every game, but as Prosser jumps in to mention each time, the team was good then. Fans felt like there was something at stake. There were possible championships to be had. There was things worth being excited about.
As I mentioned earlier, shockingly, I was in lockstep with Jeff Prosser. Jaguars fans passion exists, but they’re guarded with it. Fans were all in in 2017 when it felt like the franchise, who had been awful for a decade, was turning the corner. The belief was that finally after suffering through a decade of losing, it paid off.
Well, it didn’t.
Yes, the team spent a bunch of money to bring in Nick Foles and hype him up to get people excited, but that excitement was quickly lost when the team chose to not play anyone in the 2019 NFL preseason. You went more or less a full month, without seeing the guy everyone was excited about and you got your brains beat in in the preseason to boot. How do you maintain that excitement?
He got hurt 11 plays in and in most fans minds and you got embarrassed at home again, the season was over.
Another lost year, to continue the decade.
The reality is most fans don’t care if you spend a bunch of money. Most fans don’t care about pools, or scoreboards or Lot J development.
They care about winning.
During Khan’s ownership of the Jaguars, their record is 36-85. They’ve had just a single season without double-digit losses, 2019 withstanding, and a lot of fans feel like all 2017 did was trick everyone they were closer than they really were.
It’s hard to get and maintain excitement when more or less the same people who’ve made the decisions to get that record are the ones spending that money and using those draft picks etc. This isn’t going to turn into hand-wringing about the current front office, I think everyone is clear on my view on that, but that factors into it. How can you get excited about the people you’ve been learned not to trust?
We fans watch football for enjoyment, not to brag about owner investment in players or whatever. All of that stuff is great, but ultimately if you’re not winning, it doesn’t matter. I understand there are many die-hard fans who live and die with the team, want to thrust their full support no matter what and that’s great. I wish I felt that way, but it’s been beaten out of me. When you’re coming of a 5-11 season, it’s going to be 100+ in your seats and you’ve looked like trash in the preseason... It’s not that difficult to convince me to watch it on TV instead and then feel validated when they get their doors blown off, again.
There’s only so much crap fans can eat before they start making those business decisions.
Winning is all that matters and that’s what Shad Khan has to do. If he wants to see that passion, or he’s confused by that passion, all he has to do is win.
The passion is there. You have to prove to it that it’s safe to come out again.