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Blame it on the pants


The following is Jaguars long-snapper Joe Zelenka's diary for Oct. 28-Nov. 3.

Monday, October 28, 2002

Coming back to work after the loss to the Texans was not easy. Besides the fact we had lost, we lost to a first-year expansion team. I said last week that losing in Baltimore felt like a kick in the stomach, well, this week's loss felt like a kick in the family jewels. Losses like this are just not supposed to happen to us. Yet, this is the NFL and the Texans did play better on Sunday. They deserved to win. We came in on Monday, all of us in a funk. We lifted and ran without much chatter. It seemed to me each man was still reflecting on last night's game. The bad taste of defeat still lingered in our mouths and no amount of mouthwash would get rid of it. We had our meetings and looked at the film. I left work at about 4:30 and spent a quiet evening at home with the wife and dogs. We ate pizza and the dogs ate the crusts.

Tuesday, October 29, 2002

The glorious day off finally arrived. This is one I knew the fellas needed. I got up and noticed the sun shining through my window. It was only about 630. It seemed the whole loss to the Texans had made me forget about how great daylight savings really is. I am a morning person. I love getting up early, walking the dogs, watching the sunrise and reading the newspaper while I enjoy a cup of coffee. All of these things I did today. I went in and watched film. I needed to get a jump on the Giants and all of their schemes. When I finished with that I quickly enjoyed a quick breakfast with Chris Hanson. Together we plotted on how we could together take the special teams to a higher level. We needed to be the difference-makers this week by pinning the Giants deep in their own territory when we had the chance. We had to make them start from inside their 10-yard line. This week we are getting it done. That afternoon I went to St. Joseph's School. I had to give a talk to the youngsters about the importance of living a clean and drug-free lifestyle. The kids were very well-behaved and listened as Sam Kouvaris and I talked about what it takes to be a winner in life. This was fun for me, something I had not done since I talked at my mother, Linda's, second-grade class in Berea, Ohio. I ended the day like I always do on Tuesdays, relaxing and goofing off with the dogs. We wrestled again this week and Beau and Annie won. If you are keeping score, it's one win for Joe and one win for the dogs.

Wednesday, October 30, 2002

"Bloody Wednesday" of Giants week; it seemed as we went through our normal Wednesday schedule that something was different. Not the meetings, they seemed the same, and the practice was definitely the same, but it was the attitude. The team's attitude changed on the day off from being down, to just plain mean and being all about business. The quarterbacks were making great throws, and the receivers and backs were making world-class plays. The defense was beginning to start the process of shutting down the G-men. Kickers were making field goals and punting the ball well, and little Joey Z. continued to snap the ball. I felt as we left the practice fields the team was looking forward to the battle with the Giants.

Thursday, October 31, 2002

I got to work early Thursday morning and sat in the sauna. As I sweated and thought about the upcoming game, I knew we needed to put back-to-back practices together. The day went by and so did practice. The boys were working hard and pulled off another good day. The "football is fun" attitude was back. There were pranks in the locker room and music. This week it seemed to be the sound track from the movie "Eight Mile;" not bad tunes, good beat. Thursday was also the day the idea of playoff mustaches got passed around. The idea got pushed to me when Mark Brunell asked me to grow mine back. I told him I would only do it if we went to the playoffs. He agreed and even told me he would also grow one. Once Mark was on board, a bunch of the other boys got on board. The rally mustaches idea was born. Thursday was also Halloween night. We only had one trick-or-treater. That one kid got lots of candy. Too bad her dad was Brad Meester and he most likely ate it all.

Friday, November 1, 2002

Friday turned out to be a quick polish day of practice. The team went through its standard day of practice and began to look forward to the trip to New York. I felt the boys were ready and that the day was in the barn. I left practice and had to go and buy a new dress shirt for the trip to New York. Now, where does an NFL football player buy his nice dress clothes in Jax? Wal-Mart. Yes, that's right, I went to Wal-Mart and got a nice blue shirt to go with my blue-blazer and red-tie combo. I also picked up some movies for the plane flight. I ate my cheese steaks and enjoyed a nice evening at home with the wife and dogs, as is my custom.

Saturday, November 2, 2002

The bags were packed. The breakfast sandwiches were eaten and the plane was boarded. The team was on its way to New York for its Sunday night matchup with the Giants. We took the bus to the hotel for the night meeting and meals. I rode next to rookie Chris Luzar. Lu told me this was his first time above the Mason-Dixon Line. I was glad to be there for this momentous occasion in his life. We had our meeting and headed off to bed.

Sunday, November 3, 2002

I awoke in sight of the city that never sleeps, rested and ready for the day. It was going to be a long day of sitting in the hotel. After a couple of showers, a meeting, a movie and meals we headed off to the stadium. It was a great atmosphere to play a game in. Lots of crazy fans and the cool autumn air. We wore our black pants for the first time in franchise history. Too bad it might be our last.

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