It is with bittersweet emotions that I acknowledge the end of our time together. I wish things had ended on better terms, but ultimately I hope we can look back on the past 28 months with happy nostalgia than hardened contempt.
When my NFL team drafted you in April 2019, I honestly didn't spend too much time thinking about it. Sure, you had an exciting year at Wazzu and I had seen your 'stache and antics highlighted on college football highlight shows. However, Dave Caldwell was notorious for choosing QBs late in the draft, and the immediately previous choice was Tanner Lee, probably the worst player I've ever seen take snaps under center in teal.
When it became evident there would be no one else brought in to back up the seemingly frail Nick Foles, I began to pay more attention to you. I cringed when I saw a Ravens defender nearly decapitate you in the preseason. Admittedly, I thought the coaching staff's trust that you could fill the QB2 role as a rookie was misguided. However, that all changed when a fateful Chris Jones hit forced you into action in your first official NFL regular season game.
You overachieved, and earned the Jags several wins we otherwise had no business having. The sublime escape from pressure in Denver. The cathartic Thursday night victory over our biggest rivals after the longest short week in franchise history. Suddenly looking like John Elway for a quarter and a half to close out the Oakland Coliseum. The 2019 season became the second best that franchise has seen the past decade. That such a statement was true after a 6-10 campaign was an indictment against the Franchise, but every one of those Ws came with you starting, and you put up better numbers than any rookie QB in your class save arguably Kyler Murray. Perhaps the indicted franchise had found a diamond in the rough.
I bought into the Mania. I bought a Minshew shirt. I shared the NFL Countdown video with Uncle Rico with all of my friends. During the doldrums of the COVID lockdown, I watched YouTube videos of your interviews to keep up my spirits. While some argued to Tank for Trevor, I vouched to Make it with Minshew.
Alas, our relationship was meant to be more of a fling than a marriage. You were the girl who provided a much-needed pick-me-up after a terrible break-up. As the 2017 team, the only true hope this fanbase had in a decade, receded from memory and members of the generational Sacksonville defense left town, sometimes in less-than-desirable ways, you provided a spark of happiness. In the end, it became apparent you were not the final answer, and our long-suffering fan base hopefully has stumbled upon a relationship with a Franchise QB who would be better for us long-term. Some will deride you as a mirage, more flash than substance, a quirky footnote to Jags history. But I recognize that while you were not the long-term tonic, you did play an important role. You paired perfectly with an underdog, often overlooked NFL city with a chip on its shoulder. And you provided fond memories that I always will have.
Good luck to you, Gardner. I think our recent parting is timely for both parties. And while I'm sad it didn't work out, I sincerely appreciate the effort and memories your provided.