Tony Boselli was a sports fan long before he was an All-Pro offensive tackle. Now, professional football is his job, but, if it wasn't, he'd still be interested.
"I enjoy the game. I'm a fan of sports," Boselli said following today's final practice for Sunday's game against the visiting Baltimore Ravens.
These are times the likes of which the Jaguars and their fans had not experienced, other than in the team's inaugural season, when the Jaguars' very competitive 4-12 record was not especially disappointing. Now, at 2-3 in a season that was considered to be the Jaguars' last gasp at the Super Bowl, the mood among Jaguars fans is one of great despair. This has been a week of intense scrutiny and criticism of the team, from the performance of the players to the head coach.
Will Alltel Stadium be full Sunday night? The game is not sold out, even though the Jaguars and ESPN reached an agreement for the game to be telecast in Jacksonville.
Would you go to see the game, if you were a fan, Boselli was asked?
"You kidding me? As a kid I used to sit in the fifth tier at Mile High Stadium. I was begging to go," said Boselli, who grew up in Denver.
"I'd be excited for Sunday night, if I was a fan," he added. "I remember going to watch the Broncos play the Giants. It was snowing and the Broncos weren't very good, but there wasn't a seat empty."
Empty seats are expected Sunday night in Jacksonville, which has enjoyed the most successful expansion franchise in NFL history. Four consecutive playoff seasons and two AFC title game appearances have raised expectations to the point that fans have become almost indignant of the Jaguars' 2-3 record.
"At USC, we were 3-8 one year. We got ridiculed pretty hard. You find out what you got," Boselli said.
In contrast, running back Fred Taylor has never played on any kind of a team that had a losing record. Taylor's faith in the Jaguars' recovery is blind.
"That's the ultimate test of great teams, to fight through adversity. We're going to be alright. I just have that confidence," Taylor said following today's practice.
The mood in the Jaguars' locker room was almost festive. Another week of practice was complete. The team is now five days removed from its 24-13 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Despair has been replaced by hope.
"We've got other things on our minds. We're worried about playing better," wide receiver Keenan McCardell said when asked if he's listened to the talk shows this week. "There's a lot of pride in this locker room and we need to play better. We don't need you guys to tell us that."
Four years ago, the Jaguars were 4-7 and heading to Baltimore for what was considered to be a meaningless game. The Jaguars were at the low point in their history.
They rallied for an overtime win in Baltimore, and seven wins later they were in the AFC title game. It was the start of their unprecedented four-year streak of success.
The Ravens were the team that kick-started the Jaguars' success. "It could be the team that kick-starts us again," McCardell said.