Regardless of whether or not Jags QB David Garrard is able to bring the Lombardi Trophy home to Jacksonville, he will still leave behind quite a storybook career.
Garrard's career might not have had such a hyped beginning, as the Jaguars signal-caller was not a first-round pick, and his beginnings in Jacksonville were not due to a high-dollar free-agent signing.
Instead, Garrard was selected by former Jags headman Tom Coughlin in the fourth round of the 2002 draft, in which Garrard was picked to be a "project guy," or in other terms, a guy who has good potential, yet often times does not "pan out" and sees little action on the field.
Garrard knew his worth, and welcomed the opportunity to play in Jacksonville with open arms. He would spend the beginnings of his career learning the system behind Jags legend Mark Brunell.
Following Garrard's rookie year, the Jaguars fired Coughlin, and a new regime took shape with Jack Del Rio becoming the second coach in franchise history. One of his first moves as coach was to draft Byron Leftwich with the No. 7 pick overall in the 2003 draft, a pick that all but ruined Garrard's chances of inheriting the starting job following Brunell's imminent departure from Jacksonville.
What was Garrard's response? Simple. He welcomed the opportunity.
He spent time working with Leftwich upon his arrival, and continued to work at his own progression. He filled in during Leftwich's injury plagued first and second seasons as starter, and regardless of whether or not he had the upper hand in talent or experience, he never said a negative word about his situation, he was eager to improve and show his talents when they were needed.
During the 2004 offseason, Garrard was diagnosed with Crohn's disease, and was forced to go under the knife to have a 12-inch portion of his intestines removed, a surgery that certainly ended chances of playing the following season.
Garrard was determined to get back on track, and his recovery was much faster than ever expected. Many doubted he would be able to contribute in 2004, yet to the surprise of many, he was able to start in Week 9 for an injured Leftwich.
At season's end, when the opportunity came for Garrard to leave Jacksonville as a free agent and pursue a starting job elsewhere, he instead chose to return to the Jaguars as a backup. Prior to the 2007 season, Del Rio and the Jags brass grew tired of Leftwich and his inability to stay healthy. Garrard was finally awarded the job as starting QB he had worked and waited so long for.
It's quite the story, isn't it?
Garrard sat patiently and waited, and never had a bad thing to say about the team that never really gave him his due chance until it was convenient for them. Garrard has been nothing but faithful to the Jaguars, and has been determined to play his part in turning the Jaguars into a winner regardless of whether he is a starter or not.
Garrard is quite deserving of the title of the "face" of the Jaguars. Yes, they may have found the next great running back in star Maurice Jones-Drew, and emerging TE Marcedes Lewis has also become popular with the fans. Garrard brings something different, a distinct attitude to the team, which they so desperately need.
The Jaguars need Garrard, simply because he refuses to quit and is determined to make the Jaguars a better team. His career tells the story of a man who was passed up, who was turned down, who was put on the shelf, who was doubted once again, and yet still was able to fight through it all and prove everyones' doubt wrong.
Such a perfect attitude to bring to a team who is constantly doubted and ignored by the national media and often talked about as a team who is bound to be ran out of town.
In the end, if David Garrard is unable to win the big game for the Jaguars, it will be an unfortunate ending to an already quite impressive story. However, make no mistake about it, Garrard will leave a legacy behind that is quite epic its own special way.
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