For the opening game of the ’10 season- This is it!

 

This Is It! Finally we are hours away from the start of the regulars season. We scouted draft prospects; then we analyzed the (sometimes controversial) choices and moves made by Gene Smith. We tried to find clue about how the ’10 Jaguars will look like based on what Terry saw at the OTAs and minicamp. We speculated about who can make the final 53. We got pictures from the training camp- and we watched the preseason games and waited for the final 53. These things are all behind us. Only one thing left- Start of the new season. We have known for a while that Denver will visit North Florida. When it was announced; it looked like a good battle against a talented; and strong football team. Then; on the 1stday of the draft; something happened. With the 25th pick Denver selected Tim Tebow. And with that everything changed about this opening game…


This is it!
But before I go further about Mr. Tebow; we must go back in time. Not too much; just last year. In 2009; the ticket situation looked tragic for Jacksonville. Maybe not as horrible; as the  current situation in Tampa; but bad enough; to the rumors started again about “the Jaguars moving to Los Angeles or London”. On the last ’09 home game something changed. Jacksonville looked once again like a city that is proud and supportive about its team. That day gave the idea to many local organizations to start a campaign which had (and still has) basically one aim: Save the Jaguars in Jacksonville. They made an excellent choice with selecting Tony Boselli to the job as the spokesperson of this effort. And Tony once again made a huge; I mean gigantic effort for his team. He and many locals realized finally what it could mean for Jacksonville to lose its NFL team. I’m telling you: a lot: jobs; money and most of all reputation-(Jacksonville is already a punch line for many people from the -sometimes mainstream- media. Imagine what the locals would get from them -and not just them- if the team actually left. Luckily -despite all the lazy media outlets reporting- Team Teal gained traction and created excitement and interest about this team in local people and businesses. Three years after the departure of Alltel; the team found a new partner for the naming rights of the stadium. And even better; this firm is a local business; which chose to invest for long term in the Jaguars (5 years- Thanks Everbank once again!). The Jaguars sold 15000 new season tickets; and they are almost at a great goal- being blackout free in 2010. (In the current economic situation; when around 45% of the local families battling-and sadly these days losing- with the mortgages they have!) This is a big thing. You don’t believe me?  Then take a look at the ticket selling situation in Tampa; Cincinnati; Oakland; St Louis or San Diego. Yeah, the first Jaguars game to be blacked out will be most likely in San Diego. The Divisional Champion of the AFC West in the last 4 years has ticket problems. And an old stadium (which is the Nr. 1 reason in the NFL to city-change for around 50+ years). But sure Jacksonville is the only place who has ticket sales problems right?..

This is IT! But the Jaguars are not saved yet. The whale is moving; but there is still some distance left to reach the ocean. Looks like the Jaguars have the first 5 games almost sold out (Sold out= sold enough tickets to lift up the blackouts). Sadly the last 3 games are not looking sexy (Cleveland; Oakland; Washington- “the real tests”).  So the Jags must buy some trust. We all know how you can buy trust in Jacksonville now days. With wins. But wins will be everything but easy when you have the 5th strongest schedule of the league. When in first 4 games the Jaguars will face 3 teams who made the playoffs last year. When they must play against a very tough NFC East division; the up and coming division of the AFC West and will face the brutal company of the AFC South twice. In fact; see the first 6 games; I think the Jaguars can be done for the year (= playoffs) if they have a bad first 4/6 games. The need a strong start and an opening day victory. Something this team hasn’t achieved since 2006…So that alone makes this opening day game to a “must win”! But there is another reason.

THIS IS IT! And that reason is Tim Tebow. No matter how great match ups are in this opening weekend around the league; heck, even at this game; everybody in Jacksonville is talking about the former Gator QB. I know what he represents (in many levels) for the city (although for example Broncos S Brian Dawkins grew up in Jacksonville; and I haven’t heard a word about him. Yet he is one of the true great players of this league right now…). Yet I don’t exactly understand why we care about Tim Tebow in this particular game. He did NOTHING for the Jaguars; and this is a Jaguars game in the 1stplace. He is not Mark Brunell; or Fred Taylor. I mean; somebody; who did a lot for this franchise, but now playing for a different team. There is no “wish him the best” for this game. You root for the Jaguars; you root for Tim to fail on Sunday (if he plays; and I guess he will). If you’re a true Jaguars fan; you root for him to have an FF when Denver try to use his new ‘Wild Horse” formation. If you’re a true Jaguars fan; you wish see him get tackled very hard(you know what Jack Del Rio talked about all offseason long). If you’re a true Jaguars fan, you wear something which are in teal colour (and not with Nr. 15 on the back…); not in Gator blue; or even worse a Broncos jersey….

THIS IS IT! This is a statement game for the team and the fans. For the team to show they are really ready and can defeat a playoff contender caliber team (The Broncos) at home. They can prove what they talked about until today (= Great team; who can with the division –Jack Del Rio- or even the Superbowl –David Garrard-).  They can prove they are for real and the arrow in fact pointing up. And this is a statement game for the fans; to show that they are really behind this team; no matter what. They can get the attitude what many Jaguars fans starting to develop these days: Us against the world; but mostly against the mockery of the media. The team and the fans can show this on (every) Sunday; that they are for real; they are not a joke; they are 1 equal member of the 32. That they are not going anywhere; except to the local restaurant to celebrate after a victory; or come together after a loss.

I’m not going to lie; I’m very nervous about this game. Nervous about the outcome. About the fans in the stands.  This game is the most important opening game; maybe bigger then the first ever regular season game back in 1995. This is a very; very crucial game. And we are just on Week 1. Enjoy the ride. We will be here for you covering the Jaguars as best we can. I don’t know where this year’s journey will lead us yet. But I’m sure it will be a heck of a ride. The opening day arrived. We waited for this period of time to come since January. Now it is arrived. This is it!  

Zoltan Paksa

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