6 Ways You Know You Are a Jacksonville Jaguars Fan
Jacksonville Jaguars fans are a rare breed.
The franchise ranks at the bottom of the league in popularity, according to ESPN's Mike Sando. But what the fanbase lacks in numbers, it more than makes up for with its passion.
The Jaguars have a dedicated core of fans that will support the team through anything. As the fanbase continues to grow, so will the number of diehard fans. Although you don't have to wear face paint or a foam head to be considered a diehard fan, there are certain traits everyone who bleeds teal and black share.
Here are six ways to know you're a Jaguars fan.
You Believe in Miracles
"Jacksonville, do you believe in miracles?"
That was the question asked to the 40,000 faithful fans who filled the stadium after the Jaguars stunned the Denver Broncos 30-27 in Mile High Stadium in what is considered one of the biggest upsets in league history, according to NFL.com.
Just being able to get to that moment was nothing short of miraculous for the second-year franchise.
The team was on a four-game winning streak entering the final game of the season, but Jacksonville had to win to earn its first playoff berth. It came down to a 31-yard field goal attempt by Falcons kicker Morten Andersen to tie the score.
Jags fans held their breath when the ball left Andersen's foot, then exploded when the kick was no good and launched the second-year franchise into the playoffs.
The team had to prove that making the postseason wasn't a fluke by traveling to Buffalo to battle the Bills. The Jaguars became the first road team to win a playoff game in Ralph Wilson Stadium when they won 30-27 in what proved to be legendary quarterback Jim Kelly's final game.
The franchise overcame the lack of respect from Denver's media by overcoming a 12-point deficit to shock the Broncos.
After all this, it was impossible not to believe in miracles.
And although the team fell short in the AFC Championship Game in New England, the magical 1996 run made fans believe anything was possible.
You Hate Jeff Fisher
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1999 was supposed to be Jacksonville's year.
The Jaguars seemed to be a lock to represent the AFC in Super Bowl XXXIV after cruising through the regular season with a 14-2 record to claim the top seed in the playoffs. Everything went according to plan in the Divisional Round as the Jaguars embarrassed the Miami Dolphins 62-7 in Dan Marino's final NFL game.
The young franchise was the hottest team in the league, and fans could feel the excitement of the looming Super Bowl appearance. Even the players were feeling confident and recorded a song that rivals the '85 Bears "Super Bowl Shuffle."
But standing in their way were the Tennessee Titans, who handed the Jaguars their only two blemishes on the season.
The Titans couldn't possibly beat Jacksonville three times in one season, could they?
Unfortunately for Jags fans, the answer was yes.
Tennessee scored 23 unanswered points in the second half to win 33-14 and force the Jaguars to watch the Super Bowl from home.
That heartbreak alone was enough to make the Titans Jacksonville's mortal enemy, but then-Titans coach Jeff Fisher made himself Public Enemy No. 1 by calling Alltel Stadium (as EverBank Field was then known) a home away from home.
The comments understandably didn't sit well with Jaguars fans and he became the focus of the pain of 1999. It was impossible to see Fisher without feeling the stinging pain of losing to the Titans thrice in one season. It was impossible to look at Fisher without feeling sick to your stomach.
The hatred never died down, as a poll in 2009 found Fisher as the Jaguars' most hated opponent. It wasn't even close, according to ESPN's Paul Kuharsky.
Even though Fisher has moved on to St. Louis, and 1999 has grown to be a distant memory, there is still no denying he won't be welcomed in Jacksonville any time soon.
You Survived the Cardiac Cats
Jaguars fans have to be prone to high blood pressure and graying early due to the regularity of last-second heroics that keep them from resting easy.
The team has earned the moniker of the Cardiac Cats because of just how often seemingly once-in-a-lifetime plays occur.
Who can forget the River City Relay? The play saw the New Orleans Saints lateral the ball like the Cal-Stanford game to score a touchdown as time expired, only for kicker John Carney to miss the game-tying extra point.
Or the Hail Mary that beat the Houston Texans that turned wide receiver Mike Thomas into a fan favorite?
Jacksonville's fans have come to expect late-game craziness when their favorite team steps on the field.
Of course, these plays haven't always gone the Jaguars' way. But it's happened enough for fans to know to never leave games early; they may miss the next great play in the franchise's history.
375 Is Your Favorite Number
To most, 375 is just a number, but to Jaguars fans it's something that can be held over Colts fans' heads forever.
While Indianapolis has had the most success in the all-time series (16-8) and has hoisted a Lombardi Trophy, 375 represents one of the lone bright spots during Peyton Manning's reign of terror over the AFC South.
But what exactly is 375?
It's the amount of rushing yards the Jaguars accrued in their 44-17 rout of the Colts in December 2006. Fred Taylor totaled 139 yards on just nine carries, while then-rookie Maurice Jones-Drew had his coming out party with 166 yards and two touchdowns.
The rushing attack allowed fans to revel in Manning's humiliation as he stood on the sideline watching helplessly. It may sound cruel, but few things make Jaguars fans happier than an unhappy Manning, and that day may have been one of the worst of his career.
The number 375 is more than just a number for Jaguars fans, it's a monument to domination and a constant reminder to Colts fans who the tougher team was that day.
"Tarps" Is a Dirty Word
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Jaguars fans have to develop a thick skin to defend their team against all the detractors.
Whether it's the threat of the team leaving for Los Angeles or London, or misguided criticism of attendance, fans have to constantly defend the franchise against naysayers.
And most of the time, the arguments come down to the tarps that cover almost 10,000 seats. The tarps, which were added prior to the 2005 season, have been pointed to as physical proof that Jacksonville can't support an NFL franchise.
That's just not true, and fans are sick of hearing about it.
There's no denying the franchise used to struggle filling the stadium, but that is distant in the rear-view mirror. The Jaguars, who haven't had a game blacked out since 2009, were 17th in the league last season with 96.8 percent of the stadium filled, which was higher than teams like the Green Bay Packers and the Pittsburgh Steelers.
In fact, the tarps were removed for three games last season, which marked the first time seats were uncovered.
All the critics who say Jacksonville isn't able to support an NFL team are misinformed. Even with the tarps, the fan support is ensuring the Jaguars will remain in Jacksonville.
You've Stuck with Them Through Thick and Thin
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Being a fan doesn't mean only being there for the good times, but also enduring the bad times. The Jaguars have been through a lot of the latter in recent years.
The franchise has been mediocre for most of the past 13 years; they have just three winning seasons and one playoff win since the turn of the millennium. A parade of first-round busts and poor free-agent signings have ensured the Jaguars remained perennial losers over that span.
To quote Harvey Dent: "The night is darkest just before the dawn."
It appears that daybreak is almost upon us in Jacksonville.
It's all thanks to second-year owner Shahid Khan and the new energy he is bringing to the team. An excitement is building around the Jaguars for the first time in years and the fanbase is buzzing with anticipation for the season.
It will involve a new general manager in David Caldwell, a new head coach in Gus Bradley, and even a new logo and uniforms.
All the changes are distancing the franchise from its disappointing past and are building a new image for a new era.
As a diehard Jaguars fan, you've suffered through enough, and although it may take a few seasons, great things are on the horizon. Now all you have to do it sit back and enjoy the ride.