The following open letter was sent to Big Cat Country and the author wished to remain anonymous. The views expressed are that of the author and do not reflect Big Cat Country or SB Nation.
I have been a fan of this team for almost two decades. My grandfather took me to my first game at Alltel Stadium when I was just six or seven years old. We sat in a comfortable box above most of the stands, shaded from the Florida heat in an air-conditioned room with comfy seats and all the food and beverages I could possibly think of.
That day, I saw my first fighter jet (not just one, but three) directly overhead roaring past me, perfectly timed to the end of ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’. I watched in awe as a bright yellow, teal-spotted Jaguar leapt off the top of the stadium. The entire spectacle was mesmerizing.
As a young boy from the Caribbean who didn’t get to come to the States often, I knew nothing about American football at the time — the only football I knew involved kicking as the primary method of moving the ball, as opposed to only doing it a handful of times in a game — but I thought the team had cool colors; and there, the relationship was formed.
On that day, in that corporate-sponsored box, I was hooked. Not just to the Jaguars, but to football.
Soon after, I could name just about every Jaguars starter. My favorite player was Maurice Jones-Drew. I called him MoJo. I knew Garrard and Scobee, Marcedes Lewis and Rashean Mathis, Paul Spicer and Jeremy Mincey. I even got a signed Scobee jersey.
My interest in this team would only continue to grow.
I have since been Duval Till I Die through the ups and downs.
I, along with the majority of the 904, have stuck with this team through Garrard, Gabbert, Bortles, Minshew and Lawrence (and all the other names in between).
I, along with the majority of the 904, have been with this team through Alltel and Everbank and now TIAA Bank.
I have been with this team through Del Rio, Mularkey, Bradley, Marrone, and most recently, Meyer.
I was damn sure with this team when we were minutes away from a Super Bowl.
This city has stuck with this team through bad draft after bad draft and miscue after miscue. Through all the dysfunction and disarray, we’ve had this team’s back.
This city has remained loyal to this team through a 1-15 season, when there weren’t many reasons to. This city stuck with this team while it has spent the majority of its existence as the laughing stock of professional sports.
During my fandom, I have seen 2 (TWO!!!!!) winning seasons… in almost 20 years.
Not even a year removed from our most recent playoff appearance, the front office tore apart Sacksonville faster than Calais and Yannick would tear apart offensive lines.
All Jacksonville has known when it comes to its football team is heartbreak.
Now, we have the opportunity to hire a man at head coach who is not only beloved by the city, but loves the city back (he showed up to his interview in a TEAL FUCKING SUIT). Instead, this team chooses to play games to appease a man whose actions have painted him as an egomaniacal snake.
Mr. Khan, if you care about this team as much as you claimed when you bought it in 2012, you know the two things you need to do.
Fire Trent Baalke and bring Byron home.
I’m not saying hiring Leftwich will get us to the Super Bowl next year or even the year after that. Hell, I’m not even saying he’s a surefire hit as a head coach. But Byron Leftwich provides a culture change that will show the city and the rest of the NFL that you are serious about the promise you made 10 years ago.
You can’t afford to make the wrong decision here. And now that the other candidates you were eyeing are taken, this should be a no-brainer.
The Jaguars haven’t sold out a home game since Week 1 of 2018 coming off the heels of a trip to the AFC Championship. If you choose Trent Baalke over Byron Leftwich, you won’t sell out another one until you either sell the team or move them to another city.
Most teams don’t get lucky enough to land a Trevor Lawrence. This is your chance. If you make the wrong choice, this will be the end of a lifelong love from at least one fan (and likely many more).
Don’t fuck it up.
A concerned Jaguars fan.