“Know Your Jaguars” is a series of articles that will focus on Jaguar players from the past. Some were All-pros. Some came and went quickly. Some were everything you would want to remember. Some I wish I could forget. Regardless, they were all part of the Jaguars family and are part of their history. If one of my articles introduces you to a player you were not familiar with, than my effort was productive.
For our fifth in the series, we will focus on DE Tony Brackens.
For all you Jag fans of the last ten years, you will find this nearly IMPOSSIBLE to believe. The Jags, once upon a time, had a pass rush. OK…now that you have gotten back on your feet, let’s talk about the greatest defensive end in Jaguar history…Tony Brackens.
Tony Brackens was a 6-4 267 pound All American drafted in the second round in 1996 out of the University of Texas. Tony came in and immediately made a difference on the Jags’ defensive line. His rookie year, the numbers he put up were staggering. He played every game totalling 55 tackles with 7 sacks. What made it even more impressive is when you add on 5 forced fumbles, 3 fumble recoveries, an interception, and NINE passes defended…That’s just sick!! Especially for a defensive end.
Tony played seven seasons with the Jags before multiple leg injuries, the most serious of which required microsurgery, forced him to retire at 29 years old. He will always be remembered for his cowboy hats & boots, his constant running motor, and how he brought the meat from his ranch for the team bar-b-que every season. He often said his one dream when turning pro was to be able to afford his own ranch near the one he was raised. He did, and everything I can find indicates he is amazingly happy.
I can’t stress how Tony Brackens is easily one of the greatest Jaguar defensive players in their history, The stats are devastating:
- 107 games played
- 353 tackles
- 55 sacks
- 28 forced fumbles
- 13 fumbles recovered
- 5 interceptions (ridiculous for a DE)
- 49 passes defended (more ridiculous)
- 1 interception returned for a TD…to clinch a playoff win, no less!!!
All of this in only seven years. I am stating with much clarity that, after Jimmy Smith, Tony deserves to be the next in the Ring of Honor. If you project those numbers over another 3 to 5 years, we would be talking about potential Hall of Fame numbers. He is easily (too damn easily) the greatest defensive end in Jaguars history, and it could be argued that he was one of the three best defensive ends in his era. It’s criminal that he was only invited to play in one Pro Bowl but that gets back to Jacksonville being treated like the “red-headed stepchild” of the league. If the Jag can find a player in the draft with just half of Tony Brackens’ talent…We will be well on our road to recovery!!
Rocking in his chair remembering what it was like to have a pass rush…Michael McDonald.
Hey Tony…If you want to send me a steak, look me up on Twitter @gumbussy.