JACKSONVILLE – In 2018 offseason jaguars.com series featuring 11 former players talking about 11 current players, former Jaguars cornerback Rashean Mathis talks with senior reporter/editor J.P. Shadrick about the franchise's success in 2017, Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye at cornerback plus his work in the community…
Question: As a former player for the Jaguars, and with Jacksonville as your hometown, what did it mean to you to see the Jaguars relevant on the national stage again?
Answer: It was impressive to see; it was good to see. Being that it was only my second year being removed, I was probably less a fan than most, but more supportive than most as well. This is roots. My roots are here. I was raised here. It was awesome to see the guys come together and play well.
Q: Being from Jacksonville, going to games when you were younger, being in the city … that doesn't happen for most players for the Jaguars, so it probably means a little bit more for you, right?
A: This is community for me. Community is family. It's life. To see the community rally together just goes to show how much an impact sports have throughout the city and how positive it can be. The support of the community was bigger than people realize, and the players appreciate it more than people realize. That's one thing the fans don't really realize; they don't think we appreciate them as much as we do. It was great to see the city rally together and support the team.
Q: How many of the games did you watch last year; were you paying close attention?
A: Normally I don't watch football, but I will say that I watched more last year than I've done my 13 years playing – or even being retired for two years. Last year I did watch a lot of football, so I was able to see what all the fuss was about.
Q: A lot of the fuss was about cornerback Jalen Ramsey and what he did in his second season. He talks the talk, but he can back it up, can't he?
A: Yeah, he's a player. He knows he's a player, but he also knows he has dogs in front of him. The D-line and the linebackers, they allow cornerbacks to do their job and to do it very well and do it very fast. Once you have a talent such as Jalen and you have these guys getting after the quarterback and put them on a time clock, all he has to do is know that his technique is good that day and he can believe what he sees. That's the best thing for a cornerback is believing what you see, knowing that the quarterback is not going to have all day to throw the ball and the quarterback knows he doesn't have all day to throw the ball … the clock is ticking. It was impressive to see him and A.J. Bouye on the other side, so I liked what I saw from the guys.
Q: Bouye worked his way up from being undrafted, got a big contract here, but he still has a chip on his shoulder. That second-team [Associated Press] All-Pro nod that he received, he's mad about that. You have to have that attitude as a corner.
A: You definitely have to have it as a successful corner. Jalen has it, and he was a first-round draft pick. It just goes to show the competitiveness that it takes to be successful at this level. You just have to know that you've never arrived because it is year in and year out. If I could say anything to the guys it would be keep plugging away. An old veteran James Trapp asked me the question, "Are your ribs still showing?" It means are you still hungry to get better? That would be my input to the guys: keep your ribs showing, because there's more to be done. The city needs it, and you need it as an individual to help the team win.
Q: What are you doing now, how do you keep your time here in town?
A: First, I'm dad. I have a five-year-old who's playing all-star baseball, and I'm the coach. All-stars have taken over my life, but it's fun to see. Baseball was my first love, so this is fun to get out there and teach technique and fundamentals to my son. Also, I partner with FSCJ on an initiative called "Bridge the Divide." We're trying to get people to cross these seven bridges in Jacksonville and come together and realize that we're all one community, not seven communities. We're trying to have serious conversations about you name it: health disparities, economics, everything that's impacting our community. It's been fun. I'm just trying to stay plugged into the community, because like I said, community is life – it's family.