October 24, 2011; Jacksonville FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars fans cheer for defensive tackle Tyson Alualu (not pictured) in the fourth quarter of their game against the Baltimore Ravens at EverBank Field. The Jaguars won 12-7. Mandatory Credit: Phil Sears-US PRESSWIRE

A Wayward Fan's Testimony

I was born in Dallas, Texas and grew up on stories of Tony Dorsett and the only game my father could afford to attend as he did everything he could to make ends meet and raise two twin boys. When I was about six years old, we moved back to my mother’s home, a small town located in northeast Alabama. In Alabama, football is king; college football that is. Seeing as how I never attended the university of Alabama or Auburn and how Alabama has no NFL team, I found it difficult to watch football. I had absolutely no connection or affiliation to any kind of team other than the Weaver High School Bearcats and I only watched them because I played the trumpet every Friday night at football games with the band. Nevertheless, I always enjoyed Sundays. Since we weren’t anywhere near any kind of NFL city other than Atlanta, we only got the most “popular” NFL games.

I loved watching football as a child. My dad was an avid Dallas Cowboys fan, and I always watched the Cowboys with him and my brother. I noticed something about the Cowboys after awhile; they never lost. All of a sudden they won 3 Superbowls in 4 years and had cemented a dynasty. I grew bored with the team because I always knew they were going to win. Besides, I wanted to find my own team. The Cowboys belonged to my dad.

In 2007 I attended my first NFL football game, Atlanta Falcons vs. Houston Texans, and later in the year after I graduated from college, the Philadelphia Eagles vs. the Dallas Cowboys. It was the game Brian Westbrook took a knee outside of the end zone and ran down the clock. It was a fantastic graduation present, but I left with a feeling of despair. Would I ever be able to find MY team?

While in college, I visited a few different cities with NFL franchises. Indianapolis, Atlanta, New York…Jacksonville. I visited Jacksonville in the fall of 2002 while helping a childhood friend move here. He was still living here in 2008, and offered my brother and I a place to stay if we wanted to move away from Alabama. We took him up on the offer.

Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE

We moved in January of 2008. It was only a few weeks after the Jags upset the Steelers. Our first night in town, my childhood friend took us to this bar called Harmonious Monks. Everyone speaking of another upset over the New England Patriots. That upset didn’t happen, but I was under the impression that the fans were this rabid win, lose or draw.

When the fall of 2008 rolled around, I got my first teaching gig at a high school in St. Johns County. I scored free tickets to the Sunday Night Football game, Steelers @ Jaguars from a co-worker. I was astounded…the lights, the action, the excitement. I had found MY team.

Coming from a state that did not have a NFL franchise, I did not know what a “blackout” was. It turns out that local games could be blacked out if the team did not sell enough tickets. I didn’t worry though. There’s no way this team could be “blacked out.” I saw the fans. I knew they appreciated having a team. They appreciated football. When the blackouts of 2009 hit, I was heart broken. I attended as many games as I could that year, doing my best to support the team. Gradually, the team hit a slump. They got worse and worse, but my fanhood never faltered. I knew that I was not alone…

Now it seems there’s more people bad-mouthing the Jags more than ever, including “fans.” Now I’m not saying that everyone is a bandwagon fan. It just seems like the people who only support when the team is winning outnumbers the fans who stand strong win, lose, or draw.

There are only 32 cities with NFL teams. Don’t take this team for granted. Stand by them no matter what. A true fan is someone who doesn’t budge no matter how bleak the circumstances seem, even in the face of defeat. This is a great time to be a fan. Gentlemen, a grand opportunity lies ahead…what kind of fan are YOU?

-David R. Johns

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  • Chipshot

    Let me preface my below comments by stating that I am an avid sports fan.  I follow MLB & the NFL on a daily basis 365 days a year.  I moved to Jacksonville in the spring of the Jags inaugural season with much excitement & anticipation of having a new NFL team to follow & support.  My excitement was only natural considering that before moving to Jacksonville I had attended over 200 NFL games & over 300 MLB games at various sporting venues.  Yes, even as a “Wayward Fan” I could not wait for the first Jags game in the history of the franchise.  Wow, was I in for a surprise with the Jags game day experience.  The first thing I noticed was the lack of parking in close proximity to the stadium, & most of those lots were dedicated to season ticket holders.  The next thing I noticed was the lack of anything near the stadium such as hotels, restaurants, bars, & shopping areas.  The other thing that really came as a surprise was the lack of restroom facilities, only portable restrooms outside the stadium?  Upon entering the stadium I was amazed at how distant the seats were from the playing field. If you are not seated in the lower end zones or the club seats you are further from the action than in most any other venue.  I was just thankful that I was not sitting on the east side of the stadium facing the sun in 95 degree heat.  Now it was time to make a trip to the concession stands before kickoff.  Once again I was expecting what I had become accustomed to in other stadiums.  What I found were very long lines due to a lack of concession stands & very basic stadium foods.  The concession offerings were nothing in comparison to what is available in cities such as Pittsburg, Baltimore, New Orleans, or San Francisco.  Now it’s game time & I get to witness the small antiquated video screens being utilized.  At this stage of my game day experience I was beginning to wonder how many “Wayward Fans” would attend the games & for how long they would support the Jags?

  • Bobbyp84

    You guys are lucky to live there. I still live in a state where there is no nfl team, or baseball, hockey. I live in utah where we have the jazz and real salt lake. Unfortunantly its not a huge college state either and the university of utah can only do something once every 5 years (utah vs alabama in the allstate sugar bowl in 2008). I have been a jaguars fan since my freshman year of high school in 2000. I was transitioning back into football and also realized I didn’t have a favorite team so I decided to pick a new team that didn’t have alot of history so I can say that I been a true fan since the beginning, even though I was a few years late. I honestly didn’t know what to think cuz it took me a lil while to learn everyone but ever since than I been a die hard fan. I stuck behind them when we were horrible, to our playoff run, to our offense being able to make plays and our defense not being able to stop anyone to our defense stopping everyone and our offense not being able to move the ball. I’m a jaguar fan now, and will be til I die. I even have that song by “YK” called “we are jaguars” as my ringtone. And its ok that utah dont have alot of jaguars fans, I’ll hold this state down solo if I have to

  • Davjay1983

    @Chipshot You’re absolutely correct. As much as I love attending games it’s a full time job getting to and from the stadium. Plus the parking for the non season ticket holders is located in very shady areas. So it’s either park in those areas and possibly get mugged or face a 20 minute walk. The downtown area needs a lot of work, but it’s a small price to pay to see my team.

  • Davjay1983

    @Bobbyp84 Be a one man jaguars army, bobby! Atta way!

  • Chipshot

    Glad you are a Jags fan.  You are correct any NFL team is better than no team.
    We all love the Jags & hope that the new ownership takes the initiative to turn this franchise in to a legitimate franchise & a Super Bowl contender.

  • Chipshot

     @Davjay1983  @Chipshot 
    Yes, we all love the Jags & cheer for them every game.
    I Just hope that they can improve upon the game day experience & bring attending a game up to levels experienced in other markets.

  • Big_Mack001

     @Chipshot You sound like I guy that I would love to have a beer or two with (or better yet, a stronger drink mixed with peach tea) I have had some of those same thoughts about the Jags. Being a displaced Patriots fan, The jags are the only NFL team that I have access to and I would love to make a day out of the game instead of just a 3 hour trip.

  • fasten231

    I live in j-ville I was 6 years-old when the jags played their first game. My blood is a weird tinge of black, teal, orange and blue. Like alot of people I don’t make a ton of money but I sacrifice to go too what games I can. The jaguars have a space in my heart that is usually reserved for my mother and various other women. when this team loses it HURTS me like getting kicked in the nuts. This franchise is the only reason most people in the country even know jacksonville exists, when the Jags look bad my HOME looks bad . Now every fan knows that teams go through ups and downs but in 2009- 10 the feeling around the city was why spend all of the money and all of the time to go get kicked in the nuts every sunday? With all of that being said this fanbase learned alot from the blackout phase. There are enough die-hards in town who are willing too take weekly nut shots in order too keep us from blacking out. When we start too WIN the fringe fans will get off there couches and attendance won’t be an issue. Before calling yourself a true fan ask yourself are you willing too spend a couple hundred bucks and a whole sunday just too let Peyton Manning kick you in the nuts? Me and 45,000 -55,000 people in this city are willing and excited about it every week. I am a true jaguars fan.

  • Bobbyp84

    I’m gonna come visit jacksonville one day and we all have to go have some drinks and watch the game together.

  • Bobbyp84

    @fasten231 I am willing to take the shot in the nuts all the way over here in utah. I go to this sports bar every sunday that shows every nfl game on (even though I got sunday ticket at the crib) and watch my jaguars. Like I said I’m the only jaguar fan I know out here so I’m rocking it solo but thats ok with me for now. With my gabbert, mojo, lewis, mathis, thomas, and coming soon, blackmon jerseys that I sport every sunday is like advertising. People around here only know about the jaguars through me and my jerseys (besides pocket hercules, everyone knows him). Once we start winning than we will have a fan base in utah but until than we have one soldier fighting in utah, willing to take the necessary shots to the nuts knowing that one day they will pay off

  • Bobbyp84

    @Davjay1983 thats right, holdin it down strong and representing

  • Bobbyp84

    @Chipshot its nice to see an improvement before training camp even starts. I’m confident this year, more so than the last couple years. Its time to go big or go home. This is our time

  • Nomad72

    I’m a fan of the team no matter what the record. 16-0, 0r 0-16, I have an emotional attachment to the Jaguars and I cannot imagine following another team.
    However, I have to admit that I don’t have any financial tie to the team, since I live on a completely different continent, so it’s relatively “easy” for me to maintain my interest. My financial obligation is quite cheap: Audio Pass, NFL Network online etc. I’d like to think I’d be equally committed if I did live in Jacksonville and was buying season tickets, but I unlikely to ever be put to that test.
    Watching an NFL game live, in Jacksonvilloe, is on my “bucket list”, though…. and the financial outlay to make that happen is probably equivalent to buying season tickets for 10-15 years.