This article was written by Nate Monroe. Follow him at @NateMonroeTU.
I can’t know for sure what was in Quinton Jefferson’s head or his heart on Dec. 10, 2017, but I know how I felt, what was in my dark heart, what was coursing through my blood, watching that goofball try to fight a Jaguars fan in the stands that glorious and crisp evening:
Pure, wicked joy.
Quinton and his Seattle Seahawks, it appeared, couldn’t believe — couldn’t comprehend — that they had lost to the Jaguars. The Jacksonville fucking Jaguars. The Blake Bortles-led Jacksonville fucking Jaguars at that. Jesus Christ. That shitty expansion team had just become real on their watch, on his — Quinton’s — watch, and that Bortles-helmed Isle of Misfits damn near made it to the Super Bowl in the long weeks after — should have made it to the Super Bowl, in fact.
Of course Quinton Jefferson’s brain cracked like an egg. Whose mind wouldn’t have touched the void? Shit, mine did, although probably in a different way than yours did.
Because you lost decisively, and you lost heart-breakingly, and that beautiful, big man and his friends in the bleachers would have whooped your ass too, Quinton.
Cue to today, and this entire months-long spectacle — the endless NFL draft prognosticating—was simply an extended Quinton-Jefferson-esque mind shattering, or mind fuck, if you will, because the nation simply can’t understand how the Jacksonville Jaguars landed Trevor Lawrence.
A team you have deemed unworthy, but a team that has nonetheless, today, bested your dumb ass.
You are all Quinton Jefferson today, coming to grips with the fact that you are not the Jacksonville Jaguars. Which is another way of saying you are not winners. But unlike Quinton Jefferson, you’ve all experienced this loss slowly, over months, trying to rationalize it along the way.
Maybe they won’t draft him.
Justin Fields sure looked pretty good!
This has clearly been quite painful for you. Good.
It’s easy, it’s so god damned easy, to say Trevor Lawrence may not work out. No shit. Of course the odds are against success. Some of you are paid to offer this staggering insight.
What comes hard is hope.
I know this, as something of an expert on Jacksonville-hating.* Some people claim it’s what I’m paid to do. Pessimism is easy. My job is easy. A highway robbery. And I get it. I really do. I didn’t always live here, in this sprawling, troubled land.
But all of you — you suck at it, this Jacksonville-hating thing. You can’t even do that right. I’d respect it if you did. You think you know our flaws, but you don’t. Not really. A handful of you probably remember the 2005 Super Bowl here. Yeah, it was shitty. We know. Jacksonville had no business hosting it, but it did. Jacksonville did it anyway. Just like the Jaguars drafted Trevor Lawrence and you didn’t. This small market with an NFL franchise: A place you deem unworthy has, it turns out, been beating you for years.
Listen to me: This city literally burned to the ground and rebuilt itself. It survived four Union occupations and Confederate sackings in the Civil War. It persisted through devastating Yellow Fever epidemics. It produced some of the nation’s renowned Civil Rights heroes. It’s not going anywhere. And neither are the Jaguars. And now, after the worst season in franchise history, Trevor Lawrence is coming here. Jacksonville. To a real swamp; not some shitty, fake New Jersey swamp. And the man will love it here. He’ll love the beaches and the intracoastal and even our crummy downtown, and his fucking rad brother will love Springfield and Five Points. Never was a man more destined to become a Rain Dogs regular.
You, of course, don’t know what that is, and you never will.
In the end, it doesn’t really matter if Trevor Lawrence flourishes in the NFL, although there’s no reason to think he won’t. It’s not really the point. What Jacksonville got last night was a win no one can take away. People root for teams for decades and don’t experience the rush Jaguars fans just did. Think of the Jets, for example.
You lost. Jacksonville won. And if the football gods are just there’s a whole lot more of that coming, you pricks. So get ready.
*I’d normally dispute this characterization, but for today’s purposes it works fine.