A mediocre sports blog called Deadspin recently posted an article tearing apart the Jacksonville Jaguars, that may have caused a bit of upset from the team’s diehard fans. Most of the time Deadspin’s signature snarky jabs at the sports world are humorous and all in good fun, but they occasionally take things a step too far. This article, written by Drew Magary, was a part of a series where they preview the upcoming NFL season while simultaneously trashing each team.
The Jaguars are admittedly, kind of terrible. As much as we all love to root for our underdog team, it’s hard to argue against the facts. As Jags fans, we’ve learned to take the taunting and accept that it isn’t the easiest team to love most of the time. The whole country loves to trash the Jags and you can’t exactly blame them. Some of Magary’s observations were actually pretty funny, like when he pointed out that our fresh draft picks always seem to get injured before the season even begins, “If this team ever drafted me, I would go hide in a fallout shelter for two decades to avoid some kind of horrible garbage disposal accident. They are the Final Destination of football teams.” It’s funny because it’s true!
But the problem with this article isn’t the way Magary shredded our mediocre football team. It was the unnecessary comments about Jacksonville as a city that were over the line.
“I know you think I’m gonna go into the usual spiel about the Jags being irrelevant and Jacksonville being a non-city… a podunk county that decided to call itself a city just so they could wear big boy pants. But no. Not this time. No, I have very specific insults for you trashy pieces of shit today. Here we have a Trump rally of a city… a town that consists mainly of stale beer and hot dirt, overloaded with bridges and highway overpasses to nowhere. The Koch brothers use it as their personal trash can. No one who grew up there is proud of it. Jacksonville is more than just a forgettable location. It is grotesque pockmark on the American landscape that reeks 24/7 of failing paper mills and Maxwell House coffee.”
This description sounds like it was written by someone who briefly visited our city a decade ago, had a terrible time at The Landing, and now spends too much time reading about the adventures of Florida Man. It’s supposed to be funny, but it comes off as mean-spirited and plain ignorant.
Having lived in the 904 area for the last 13 years of my life, I am the first person to agree that Jacksonville really sucks sometimes. Our infrastructure is a mess. The road construction is never-ending and the traffic is an unbelievable nightmare because no one ever knows where they’re going when the street lanes magically shift around overnight. Our weather is terrible and sometimes the river stinks when it’s filled with rotten algae. The bars are often filled with the world’s most annoying people, the beaches get too crowded in the summer, and we really love shooting each other.
But at the same time, this is a city brimming with possibility. The tech industry is expanding rapidly, and local innovators are putting our podunk town on the map. By the way, Jacksonville is the 12th most populous city in the U.S. and has a rich history stretching back hundreds of years. From the early Colonial explorers to the once-booming film industry to our spots on various “Best Of” lists, there’s a reason they call this place the Bold City.
Hot dirt? We call that sand, as in the sand that covers the miles of beautiful beaches we enjoy all year long while the rest of the country is buried under snow. Stale beer? Perhaps this guy only knows about the Anheuser-Busch plant and hasn’t tried a delicious craft brew from one of our many fantastic local breweries. Sure there are issues with pollution and garbage, but that’s not limited to Duval. Blame our state government for allowing corporations to treat our waterways like a dumping ground. And the paper mills? They haven’t been a problem since 1991, which Magary would have known if he had bothered to read the entire article that he linked from Metro Jacksonville. All I smell when I drive downtown is delicious coffee.
Jacksonville, like any city, has its ups and downs. But if you’ve lived here for any amount of time, you should be proud of it. Our football team mostly sucks and our traffic always sucks and our weather sometimes sucks, but ya know what doesn’t suck? The incredible local businesses that have served our community for decades, the amazing food trucks and new restaurants that keep popping up all over town, the people who have worked hard to revitalize Hemming Park and breathe new life into downtown, the fun and unique events like One Spark, Art Walk and Bruval.
This is a city full of talented artists, writers, chefs, inventors and ambitious entrepreneurs. Jacksonville might have a certain reputation, and it might live in the shadow of bigger, more impressive-looking cities, but our citizens are working like crazy to show the world how great this podunk town can be. I am proud of Jacksonville and all of its people, even the ones that can’t drive or kick a field goal — and you should be too.