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A very happy new year


It was a very good year.

If the Jaguars franchise becomes the dynamo it appears to be on the verge of becoming, 2007 will have been the year that put this team over the top. We're talking about the possible turning-point year in this team's history.

To achieve perspective, let's go back to this day a year ago. The Jaguars were 8-8 and licking their wounds following a season finale loss in Kansas City that only served to create more instability.

Jaguars fans were divided into three camps: the Byron Leftwich camp, the David Garrard camp and the Quinn Gray camp.

The team had just executed a three-game collapse to miss the playoffs. It had a tumultuous situation on its hands at quarterback, and nothing about the offseason promised to drive ticket sales.

Think back. How did you feel on this day a year ago? Now, flash forward to Feb. 22, 2007. How did you feel on that day when you heard that Jack Del Rio had reinstated Leftwich as the team's starting quarterback?

The situation was bad, wasn't it? You bet it was, and it only got worse on draft day when the Jaguars twice passed on quarterback Brady Quinn. In the eyes of its media and its fans, this team was struggling to do something right, and then it did.

The Jaguars' young, bold coach decided it was time to do something dramatic. He decided it was time to do something right, which he did by trusting his instincts and making Garrard the team's starting quarterback.

Sixteen games later, the Jaguars are in the playoffs. They are being hailed around the league as a wunderkind team. They are considered to be a legitimate Super Bowl contender.

As a result of all of this, the Jaguars are a hot ticket in their own town, and that's the most important result of all because that goes directly to the future of professional football in Jacksonville. When this season began, TV blackouts were guaranteed. As many as six, but certainly five, were possible. When this season began, a lot of people thought the Jaguars' future in Jacksonville was cloudy, to say the least.

Three games were blacked out in '07, which ties St. Louis for most in the league and that's not good, but the tide may have turned forever two days before Christmas, when the Jaguars sold out a lackluster game against the 4-10 Raiders.

Remember that day, Dec. 23, 2007. For the first time in Jaguars history, a Jaguars home game became a hot ticket for reasons other than the visiting team. The Steelers didn't sell it out. The Packers didn't sell it out. The Jaguars did. Tom Coughlin would've been so proud.

So here we are on the first day of a new year and everything looks so wonderfully promising that you can't help but say, "Happy New Year." I gotta tell you, though, I kind of miss the old year already.

It was a very, very good year.

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