Football isn’t something I usually get too excited about. I can’t really pinpoint any exact moment in my life where I decided to not care about the sport. I come from a family of NFL diehards.
Maybe it was the shouting at the television and the family dinners that often erupted into heated debates about players and statistics.
Or it could have been my Dad throwing all kinds of various objects out the window in an act of frustration and desperation (he’s a Buffalo Bills fan, so you can only imagine how a decade and a half of disappointment must feel). I really could never wrap my head around the idea of getting so emotionally invested into a sport about grown men in spandex pants running around with an egg in their hands.
But there’s something about living in an NFL city that gets you. It’s contagious. And it has only dawned on me in recent years. Jacksonville isn’t your typical NFL town. We have a young team and a small market. And the only way we can keep that team is by translating Jacksonville’s unique culture into asses in the stadium. Go to one game. Afterward, I ask you to come up with something equally as fun to do on a Sunday.
Fact is–the Jaguars are an important part of this city for reasons you may not even realize. So whether you’re a fanatic, or a fellow apathetic, your support is vital and here’s why:
Let’s start with the serious stuff. You like money right? And I’m sure you like jobs in order to make that money, right? According to a letter released by former Jacksonville Mayor John Peyton, annual impact of the team is in excess of $130 million.
And this isn’t just on Sundays. I’m talking about everything from charities set up by players and coaches, to the local screen printers making some of the coolest unofficial NFL merch out there. Then there are billboards, advertisements in magazines and newspapers, nationally broadcast games, commercial production, the list goes on and on. So if you want to see the city continue to grow and prosper, buy a ticket and go to a game.
I love high-fives. I’ve never met a person who doesn’t like high-fives. And at a Jaguar game you can definitely expect some of the most epic high-fives you’ve ever received. It’s like the common greeting among football fans.
All I have to do is run up to someone, put my hand in the position of a high-five, meet their level of stoke by yelling something (“Go Jags!” or “I love football!”) and BAM. High-five. Set a quota next game you go to. I bet you can reasonably expect to get at least 500 high-fives.
3) Food & Beer
You see what I did there? I combined two reasons into one. But it’s only because food and beer are two essential facets of an enjoyable football experience. You may not like football but I am sure you enjoy a frosty brew and fresh hamburger off the grill.
They are practically giving away food and beer at football games. If you doubt me, show up empty handed at a game this season and I bet someone will feed you and place a beer in your hand within 10 minutes.
4) Civic Pride
I was born and raised in this town. And there is nothing as electrifying than being surrounded by thousands of fellow homegrown Jacksonvillians united in one voice. The Jaguars help us transcend the unfortunate geographic size of this city.
Arlington, Southside, Riverside, Westside, the Beaches, Northside, Eastside, Springfield, Mandarin and Orange Park, they’re all there on Sunday. There’s something almost poetic about that. It’s one of the rare moments this city ever comes together in unison. And you’ve got to see it to believe it.
It’s a fact. We have the coolest owner in the NFL. Not only is this guy made of money, he earned it. He is a living example of the American Dream come true. And then there’s his mustache.
When I found out Khan was buying our team and read up about the guy, I couldn’t tell you the last time I was this excited about the Jaguars. Khan has the smarts and money to really get this team into shape. And when he falls in love with this city, the impact he could have on Jacksonville could be significant outside of the team.
This article was originally seen in Void’s 2012 Jaguars issue and was written by Guy Barnhart