If you are reading this, I want you to understand how important you are. The Jaguars have many, many enemies out there – those who unabashedly hope to see us fail. It’s become a hot topic in Jacksonville and fortunately, some are starting to fight back. I don’t know how many of you are familiar with Malcolm Gladwell’s book, The Tipping Point, but if you are visiting Black & Teal tonight or sometime this week, I think it would be safe to say that you are an avid fan of the Jaguars, and as an avid fan, you play a very special role in the Jaguars’ future. According to Gladwell’s theory, you all are what he calls the mavens. You are the experts, the Jaguars authorities in your various social circles. You are the ones who your friends come to for advice and understanding about the Jaguars, whether they are fans of the team, fans of the NFL, or just someone who’s curious. It is important you understand your role, because whether you realize it or not, your opinion and what you share with others is of great consequence to the future of professional football in Jacksonville.
I will not lie you, Jacksonville is an easy target right now. Our team has not achieved back-to-back playoff seasons since 1999, failing to maintain a roster competitive enough to do so. Combined with the economic struggles that have impacted the Jacksonville market especially hard, ticket sales have not been easy to sustain. This is a problem that many franchises have been faced with in the past and overcome. This is a problem that other franchises are dealing with currently including Oakland, Tampa, St. Louis, and Miami. In most cases, the populous and the media have preferred to focus on the storylines that pertain more to the action on the field. This has not been the case with Jacksonville. We have learned in the last few years that no one, even professional journalists, who, by the creed of their vocation, are sworn to report the truth, is immune to the kind of malicious groupthink that leads people to pick on the little guy, just because everyone else is doing it. We have learned that it is not only a copycat league, but a copycat culture that follows the league, where a phrase or idea is repeated ad nauseam once it takes hold. We have learned that accredited members of the media such as Chris Mortenson, Don Banks, Adam Schefter, and Peter King will sacrifice a thorough understanding of the facts to publish whatever their readers want to hear. They are no longer journalists, they have become entertainers – no better than a court jester, forsaking their integrity to please the masses. Shame on them.
They will not be silenced by the calamity we cause. Just last week, Sports Illustrated’s Don Banks had the facts thrown back in his face and his response was a snide remark that pretty much said, “Oh well. Put up [and buy tickets] or shut up”. I’ll hand it to him, if nothing else, he’s right about that. Jacksonville is not over the hump when it comes to ticket sales and there are many, many potential season ticket holders who haven’t been convinced that the Jaguars are worth their dollar. As the team’s truest fans, the mavens, it is our duty to remain rational and steadfast, because the Jaguars have not yet reached the tipping point that will ensure the longevity of the franchise in Jacksonville. As the mavens, there are many who look to us to help form their opinion of the Jaguars, especially in times like these, following a tough loss. If you show up tomorrow preaching doom and gloom, you may plant the seeds of doubt that tip someone the other way, convincing them that what everyone else is saying must be true and that they shouldn’t grow attached to the Jaguars or invest their money into supporting the team, because not even the truest fans believe they can succeed in the long term. Selling more season tickets is the only way to keep the team in Jacksonville.
Tonight, I implore you to think about what you know is true. Think about the changes you’ve seen since 2008 and ask yourself if you’re going to let one game cause you to turn your back on what you know has been positive change that will lead to long term success. Wayne Weaver and the people in the front office are doing everything they can to maximize the value of a Jaguars season ticket. Gene Smith is doing everything he can to stock the roster with the most talent he can and preparing to replace and replenish the roster with more talent through free agency and the draft. Jack Del Rio is doing everything he can to make the locker room and the practice field a place that fosters growth and instills the positive, winning attitude that enables a team to overachieve. The players have bought in and are giving their all, day in and day out, for you.
Are you doing your part?