Jacksonville Jaguars safety Donovin Darius has always been a firm believer in the importance of interacting with fans on a regular basis. Entering his eighth season in the league, Darius is finding new ways to stay in touch with fans. He decided to do something that not many players often do.
"I went to jaguars.com, I clicked on the message board, made a couple of posts and introduced myself. At first nobody believed it was me, until the Jaguars confirmed that it was me," said Darius.
Many fans were astonished that an active Jaguars player was using their message board. Most initially didn't believe it was him. The message board, which is typically known as the "fan forum," was now being invaded by a player who they have cheered for over the past seven seasons at Alltel Stadium.
The message board is a great tool of communication among fans. Fans get a chance to voice their opinions, provide comments and discuss football. The fact that a player is now joining the board is an added and unexpected bonus. Darius' participation gave fans an opportunity to ask questions and provide comments to one of the Jaguars' starting defensive players.
"The message board is a great way and a great opportunity to interact with the hardcore fans," Darius added. "These are the fans who, no matter what - good, bad or ugly - they're always going to be there."
After a few days of responding to fans' questions and comments, Darius thought it was time to have a get-together with them. "As we continued to send messages back and forth and responded to questions, I thought bowling would be a great way to have a good time and have some fun," Darius said.
On Friday, June 24th, Darius invited fans to join him at Bowl America on Beach Boulevard for an afternoon of bowling. Approximately 100 Jaguars fans attended the event and got a chance to get to know, interact with, and bowl with one of their favorite players. In addition to bowling, Darius signed autographs and took pictures with fans.
"Anytime that we can get a chance to meet a player that we root for on Sundays, it's just awesome. Donovin is a great player and an even better individual," exclaimed one season ticket holder.
When asked why he wanted to organize this event Darius said, "I always believed that fans spend a lot of money to come to a game. They spend $20 for parking, $30 for something to eat, $60 for a jersey. This gives fans a chance to come out and spend a little time with someone that they look up to, and it's a wonderful chance to support the team."
As a little incentive to the winner of the bowling event, Darius gave out one of his replica jerseys to whoever bowled the highest score. David D., a Jaguars season ticket holder, won the event with a score of 233 and took home the autographed replica jersey. Darius also gave out autographed football cards to all of those who scored a higher score than he did. Jaguars t-shirts and hats were given to the kids that participated.
One fan explained that he had a tough time getting off work to come to the event but he was sure glad he did. "As a fan you pour a lot into the team. When I heard about this event, I really wanted to be here and support it. I wanted to be here to show him that he has a lot of fans and to thank him for spending time with us and showing appreciation for what we do as fans."
Darius plans on having other activities such as this in the future, as this one was truly a success. Fans, as well as Darius, left the lanes on this afternoon with big smiles on their faces.