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Happy Jacksonville Jaguars Day!
The Jaguars are set to play in their first preseason matchup of the Doug Pederson era. Typically, that would be the major storyline heading into the week and weekend, but this one is different.
For the first time in franchise history, the team will see one of their own, former Jaguars left tackle Tony Boselli, enter the Pro Football Hall of Fame, a designation given to only the best of the best across any era of football. It is the epitome of success at the highest level of one of the most popular sports in the United States.
Entering tonight’s matchup against the Las Vegas Raiders, the Jaguars will still be front and center. The team will play the first bit of professional football since the USFL ended its season on July 3. It is the first bit of college or NFL football since the Super Bowl.
All eyes will be on the Jaguars and Raiders, at least for a little while, but the focus – from a Jaguars perspective – should be on the reason why they are playing the game in the first place, to welcome a player from one of the smallest markets in football into the Hall of Fame.
Without quarterback Trevor Lawrence suiting up, the team will see plenty of other young talent facing off against the Raiders. There is still reason and purpose to play and watch the game, even if it is being rightfully overshadowed by the events to come on Saturday, Aug. 6, when Boselli can officially see his bust and give his – what will naturally be – heartfelt speech that will certainly go over the eight minutes of allotted time. That’s not nearly enough.
Pederson understands the significance of the weekend, too. On Tuesday, he indicated that he will be flying back with the team following the matchup, but will go back up to Canton with general manager Trent Baalke for Saturday’s festivities. It’s important for the head coach to show support to one of the franchises’ pioneers.
“I’m excited for him and his family. This is a great moment in his life and to be honored as one of the top offensive linemen in our game,” Pederson said on Tuesday when asked about it by the local media. “To be honored at the Hall of Fame, to be enshrined, to be inducted. It’s just it’s great for our organization, for the City of Jacksonville, and for him and his family, so I’m very excited for him.”
It will be Pederson’s first ceremony that he’s been to, fitting that it would come during his first year in Jacksonville – a day of firsts for plenty within the organization. Not only will he be celebrating Boselli, but he will also be celebrating one of his former teammates in former Green Bay Packers safety LeRoy Butler, who will also be giving his speech, inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Butler has ties to Jacksonville, too, he attended what was known as Robert E. Lee School, what is now known as Riverside High School in Jacksonville, during his prep career.
“He had a tremendous career, what a great player, good leader of that defense and really the whole football team, and I’m excited for him and his family. These are special moments, in the lives of these athletes. Their families.”
The Jaguars are kicking off the NFL season this year, and while it’s still important to watch tonight, in Jacksonville, it will be overshadowed by what’s yet to come, and what will come on Saturday.