There was homework, peer pressure, and the eternal fear of getting pantsed in the hallway. I longed for the days of recess and multiplication tables.
Those things I understood—puberty, not so much.
My high school experience is what I imagine the AFC South must be like for the Jaguars.
There's stiff competition, great quarterback play, and the eternal fear of Jack Del Rio getting fired. They must long for the days of Mark Brunell and the AFC Central.
Sunday, the Jags host the defending Super Bowl champion Colts, with the winner taking the top spot in the division. In the past five years, these two teams have fought for control of the South—but it always seems like the Colts come out on top.
Even when the Jags went 12-4 in 2005, Indy finished with a better record and got farther in the playoffs.
Jacksonville just can’t quite get over the hump.
I felt the same way when I was battling for attention in high school. The similarities between the Jags’ struggle for belonging and my own fight for popularity are striking.
Both of us were good at what we did, but there was always something or someone else standing in our way.
In the Jaguars’ quest for AFC South dominance, it's the Colts. In my quest for high school fame, it was the jocks.
Technically, I myself was a jock. I played varsity football, and I was pretty good. However, I was a lineman, and chicks didn't flock to 150-pound centers. They preferred the starting running back and his skill position friends because those guys had “muscles” and “good looks” and “friends who would buy them alcohol.”
The things I did well never inspired underclassmen to want to be me. I had a 4.0 GPA, I started the school newspaper, and I was never tardy for a class. What’s not cool about that?
The school guidance counselor was the only one worshiping the ground I walked on, and I’m pretty sure she was just trying to get me to sign up for PSATs.
Keeping this a football story, it is easy to see that the Jaguars suffer from the same misplacement of resources. Their style of play can best be described as dull.
David Garrard doesn't make mistakes in the Jags’ offense, which is like saying a four-year-old never burns down the house with her Polly Pocket kitchenette.
The defense is great at stopping the run, but watching opposing running backs plow into a pile of bodies for no gain isn't very appealing.
People want to see the high-flying Colts, with Peyton Manning winging TD passes, Joseph Addai breaking tackles, and Marvin Harrison shying away from contact.
Indianapolis plays a style of football that fans enjoy, and their four straight division titles proves that it works.
Just like the Jags are never going to have a quick-strike offense in their arsenal, I knew I was never going to have Abercrombie and Fitch in mine. Being cool the way that people wanted cool to be was beyond my capabilities, but it didn’t stop me from trying.
My freshman year of high school, I volunteered to be class president, assuming there would be accompanying fame and cliques. Little did I know that I was simply a figurehead whose only decision of the entire year was made for him by the guy who sold class rings.
As a sophomore, I wore a sweet throwback jersey to school during spirit week, and the jocks were impressed enough to talk to me. I lost ground the next day by tucking my button-up shirt into my jeans.
I even bought a Sega Saturn my junior year. I later found out this was not cool.
So by my senior year, I was ready to give up. I imagine that the Jaguars have found themselves at the same place too.
Despite all their best efforts, they're still bridesmaids to the Colts. Their defense has never been enough to carry them when it matters, and they always disappoint when the pressure is greatest.
Funny, my winter formal date said the same thing about me.
However, there’s no reason why Jacksonville should change their tune now. They have a good thing going, and even though it's not the marketable, watchable, polished product the Colts have, at least it works.
Of course, it may not work against Indy—the Colts are pretty good.
In that case, Jacksonville would be wise to just say, “Forget it. We’re going to get swept by the Colts and hope they stumble somewhere else in their schedule so we can take the division right out from under them.”
There’s no shame in that.
I reached the same conclusion myself. Realizing exclusive parties and dating would forever elude me, I found contentment in the person I had become. I stopped pursuing popularity and started hoping that the jocks all got ringworm.
I also hoped that being able to do Minesweeper’s expert level in under two minutes became the new criteria for coolness.
It never did.
Oh well. Being who you are is more important than high school hotties.
And being 4-2 after a loss to the Colts is a lot better than whatever it is the Texans are doing.
Colts 27, Jaguars 14
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