Right from the beginning, the Jacksonville Jaguars were a lost franchise.
Along with their expansion cousins, the Carolina Panthers, each team made their respective conference championship games in surprising fashion, in only their second year of existence.
Included in all the excitement, was the buzz their wins created. I remember NFL fans and commentators joking as to exactly where Jacksonville was. Some people thought it was in South Georgia, others guessed Alabama in its early days of life in the NFL.
A similar debate apparantly continues today as how to best market them.
Rumors that for weeks surrounded the fact that the team could be facing a season long blackout of its home games, officially became reality last weekend as its home opener vs. the defending NFC champion Arizona Cardinals, was not enough to entice enough local fans to come to the game.
According to Bill Prescott, Jaguars Chief Financial Officer, it won't be the last blackout and even if the team had made the playoffs last year, this still would be the case due to an especially hard hit local economy.
To give you can idea of what that could be like, let me remind you of the Montreal Expos situation shortly after they forfeited all their English radio contracts, leaving only French fans able to listen to the games or how the Expos made a similar move, cutting ties with the local television broadcast companies, leaving fans literally in the dark-similar to a blackout.
It wasn't long before this similarly talent deficient team, found themselves playing in front of about 5,000 fans on average.
You don't necessarily need to hear Mike Golic today on Mike and Mike saying "Every time there is talk of a team moving, it seems to begin and end with the Jaguars" to know that the Jaguars could be in big trouble soon.
Many will speculate that the Minnesota Vikings with their 2011 Metrodome expiration lease could soon face similar trouble but I disagree. The NFL loves the Vikings. When you have literally 3/4 of your seasons (36/48) in existence at .500 or better, the NFL takes notice.
Lack of History Hurting them
Mix in the fact that the Vikings have several long standing rivalries with the Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers in the old "Norris Division" if you're ESPN's Chris Berman, and its hard to see the NFL breaking that long-standing history up. They know all too well that Viking fans will never become Packer fans, so essentially they'd be throwing away the 14th largest media market in the United States.
Despite the Jaguars fans' optimism, they have no history other than a few early years of success to bank on. They currently sit 29th in market size behind New Orleans which just signed an extension at the Super Dome through 2025, and Green Bay, a league stalwart.
After Hurricane Katrina devastated the New Orleans area and the Saints inspiring 2005 season, the NFL would have never let the Saints relocate, even without the lease extension their symbolism and relationship with the region is now too great to break.
San Diego might be the last viable option if the Oakland Raiders don't beat them to returning to Los Angeles which has been without professional football since 1996. Oakland, 29th in the league in attendance in 2008, lagged far behind Jacksonville (19) New Orleans (11) and even Minnesota in their defunct excuse for a stadium (25th).
Talent deficit in JAX
Minnesota, rejuvenated with Brett Favre optimism themselves, won't have to worry about stadium concerns if Brett Favre gives the championship-starved region its first title in franchise history of the state's first in eighteen years. He'll be the new inspiration and poster boy for any subsequent financing campaign.
Jacksonville on the other hand, looks to be down-right awful after two weeks and an 0-2 start.
Quick!! Name their starting wide-receivers!
Mark Schlereth demonstrated how hard it was a few weeks ago while filling in on Mike and Mike.
While steady Torry Holt remains a constant threat, he's the only one.
On a team that trots out first round bust Troy Williamson as the starter opposite Holt, the group includes a bunch of nobody's looking to make a name for themselves. Williamson, nicknamed "stone hands" in Minnesota for his many drops, may already be lost for the season.
Nate Hughes, Mike Sims-Walker, or Mike Thomas make up third part of this sad trifecta, while inexplicably sitting Ernest Wilford 4th on the depth chart.
This is why I've been saying for weeks among friends that they missed a perfect opportunity to grab disgruntled Broncos receiver Brandon Marshall who'd probably love a return to the state where he starred at the University of Central Florida before becoming a 4th round draft pick and NFL star. Marvin Harrison, anyone?
Don't forget they traded up to get first round bust (so far) (eighth overall 2008?) Derrick Harvey, instead of letting him land with the Minnesota Vikings at 17 who specifically needed help at the position but who instead did what Jacksonville should have, in trading for All Pro defensive end Jared Allen who plays the same position.
Like Brett Favre to the Vikings where everyone knew they were thin and just a player away, defensive end was the glaring hole the Vikings faced, and filled last off-season. Noticing a theme? Some teams just know how to get it done-how to find and add, that missing piece. The Vikings prove time and time again they can while the Jaguars don't.
I had them going 7-9 with Maurice Jones Drew struggling as the feature back with his small size. While I wish I could drop them lower (4-12 perhaps?) it looks like I predicted correctly in placing them in last place, right where they belong.
Los Angeles Jaguars
It doesn't sound right, but in a city that lacks the creativity and imagination to come up with their own names (see Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Dodgers) named after Minnesota's Land of 10,000 Lakes or Brooklyn's old trolley-dodgers, it would only seem fitting.
About as fitting as the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
I shudder the thought.
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