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Brunell set for farewell


Mark Brunell admits to sentimentality, but he's also ready to move forward, just as the Jaguars have this season with rookie quarterback Byron Leftwich.

"I'm going to enjoy the moment; emotional, perhaps, but I'm certainly not going to break down in front of 60,000, or, 40,000 people," Brunell said of his planned Alltel Stadium farewell this Sunday.

Brunell will be a Jaguars captain for this Sunday's game against the visiting New Orleans Saints. It will be the final time the most popular player in Jaguars history will tread on the turf he scrambled across in 1996, when he was one of the game's most exciting young quarterbacks.

His fans will no doubt cheer his every step along the sideline this Sunday. They know their favorite quarterback will be cut by the Jaguars this winter, in a salary cap move that will truly end the first era of Jaguars football. Two years ago, it was Tony Boselli. Last year, it was Tom Coughlin. Sunday, Brunell goes out.

"I think Leftwich is going to carry me out on his shoulders," Brunell joked. "I appreciate it. It's a very nice gesture," he added of being named captain for Sunday's game.

Coach Jack Del Rio announced that fact this past Monday. The Jaguars will also offer scoreboard video highlights from Brunell's career, and Brunell said his father, Dave, will be on hand.

"For most of the year, I've thought about all of the things that have happened here. They're the best nine years of my life, without a doubt," Brunell said.

But he expects to begin a new career next season. Brunell wants to reclaim his career as a starting quarterback, and he's not ruling out any team.

"A chance to make it to the Super Bowl; that's at the top of the list," he said.

Of course, Jacksonville will host next season's Super Bowl. "I'll be shooting for it. Wherever I'm at, that's the goal," he said.

What if Coughlin gets another head coaching job and calls his former quarterback?

"Absolutely; I'd certainly play for him again," Brunell said.

"I want to play. I've had enough of sitting on the bench," he added.

Brunell's favorite target during the Jaguars' glory years also confessed to sentimentality.

"It's sad, but we all understand the way this business works. We all want to end it riding out on that white horse with our family around us, but it doesn't always happen that way, which lets you know it's a business. It's been very hard on him," Jimmy Smith said of this season, which resulted in Brunell losing his starting job following a week-three loss in Indianapolis. Brunell sustained an elbow injury in that game and underwent surgery that effectively ended his Jaguars career.

"We really don't reflect on that stuff until after the season, but I've been thinking about that stuff lately," Smith said of the great moments in the Jaguars' early history; the playoff run in 1996, the two AFC title games. "We did grow together," Smith added.

So did Jacksonville.

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