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Jaguars 20th Anniversary, Day 3


JACKSONVILLE – So, we ask again, finally:

Where were you twenty years ago, on the day it all began?

Do you remember what it meant to you?  How it felt?

That was what we at wanted to know. So, on the 20th anniversary of the Jacksonville Jaguars being named the NFL's 30th franchise, we asked readers to share their memories and to tell us just what November 30, 1993 meant to them.

The readers responded.

And the responses were emotional. They were vivid. And real. They took us back 20 years, and painted a picture of what this franchise then meant to the fans. They brought us back again to the present and to what it still means.

A story was told – a story of a city, a fan base, a team and how they are all intertwined forever.

We have shared the responses the last two days, and we are pleased to do so again on this day – the 20th anniversary of the birth of the Jacksonville Jaguars:

Name: Owen Kavanagh

My story starts in Baltimore, which for over a decade in the 1980s and 1990s was a kind of football Egypt. A great pyramid, Memorial Stadium, still stood, empty in the fall, slowly crumbling, casting its shadow on rows of houses near 33rd Street.

My generation sat on Artie Donovan's lap as proud parents snapped pictures, but he was just a gray, old uncle to us.  When my dad pestered me to ask for Johnny U's autograph at a Skipjacks game – he was sitting a few rows down – I was more inclined to ask him to move his head so I could follow the minor league hockey happening in front of it.

When the Colts left Baltimore in 1984, I was six years old and I did not understand why mom and dad were crying, sad, angry, bitter. Somewhere in the back of a Mayflower truck headed west among sleds, pads, and footballs was my family's joy of football fandom. It was replaced with nostalgia … grandparents, aunts, uncles sharing stories that ended like dreams dissolving into a grey reality where all were resigned to know that such memories of joy and glory would never be formed again.

My family moved to Duval County in January of 1993, part of CSX's relocation to the Bold New City of the South. I had just turned 15 and I'd never rooted for my own football team. While my old friends in my old hometown were Eagles fans, Redskins fans, Steelers fans – teams I was supposed to hate! – pro football had barely existed somewhere in the periphery of my family's life, just an excuse to attend bull roasts and buy raffle tickets once a year in late January. I'd grown up seeing the monuments, but they had no meaning for me.

Why am I tearing up as I write this?  I realize: I thought this was going to be a story about me falling in love with football. But this is really a story about my parents. For them in the 1950s, the Colts helped elevate their hometown from a podunk burg between DC and Philly to a place where champions played, champions who joined them in the bar after the game.  Champions who put them on the map.

When they lost their Colts, they lost part of their identities.  As season-ticket holders, they lost their Sundays. They lost their autumn religion. They lost their heroes, their martyrs, their mythology.

But on November 30, 1993, we got our team.

I was a shy teenage transplant and the Jags helped me feel like a part of my new city, giving reason to celebrate with my new friends, reason to make new friends, as we all bristled, anticipating our first kickoff.

But for my parents, it was something different, something deeper. Because they'd been there before, they'd shared in the sublime joy of growing up to love something as silly as team of grown men who chase a ball around a grassy field.

And they lost it all.  And they never thought they'd see it again.

But we got our team.

One day, perhaps my kids will be luckier than little me on Artie's lap. Perhaps they'll be smiling, sitting on an old, grey Fred Taylor's lap as their proud father snaps pictures.

Perhaps they'll be on the way to a game

So where was I when we got our team?  I was in my new hometown, my 10-year old brother and I jumping up and down in front of a TV, mimicking our parents, who were crying again, but this time with pure joy.  We saw them become fans of football again.  The Jags have given me the last 20 years to learn to love it as much as I've realized my parents always did.

Name: John McDonald

I'd just gotten off my shift at Union Station restaurant on campus at Georgia Southern. I was a freshman, and always homesick. As I got ready to exit the student union I noticed a huge crowd of people around a TV, so I stopped to see. It was Hicken, and he was getting the thumbs up from someone as they walked out of a meeting. I immediately knew what had happened, and the 30 or 40 of us gathered there let out a huge cheer. We hugged, and laughed, and stood around discussing how we'd get to our first game when they finally started playing. A few friends came home that weekend, and when they came back they brought me an original logo sweatshirt they'd picked up from a street vendor. I wore that thing until it fell apart. I didn't get to my first game until 1999, but I got to watch Fred break off that incredible play form scrimmage to begin the last game of Marino's career. I was hooked. I watched as much as I could from there on out, and when Boselli and Team Teal formed in 2009 my wife & I decided we were finally in a position to buy season tickets. We haven't looked back since. Through everything we take the kids, we tailgate with the Brigade, and we have a blast building memories they'll have of their mom and dad long after we're gone. Thank you, Jaguars.

Name: Zarr Chase     

I was a middle school student at Lakeshore Middle School the day I found out that Jacksonville was going to be an NFL city. I remember my mom picking me up from school that day and we gave my friend a ride home as well. When I heard the announcement on the radio my friend and I were yelling with excitement to the point my mom had to ask us to calm down. We were ecstatic!

Name: James Sorce

I was in Orlando celebrating my 21 birthday 11/28.  I came back from the park to watch the press conference.  It was the best birthday present ever!!!

Name: Byron Williams

I remember seeing the two new expansion teams and thinking, "I like the sound of the Jaguars." So many people gave me a hard time for choosing them over the Panthers. I guess because I'm from NC – lol. I stay true to the Black & Teal. Jaguars!

Name: Tim Board      

I had been in Kitakyushu, Japan since 1991. Had always heard the rumors of a team and the closer the time for a decision came, the less I felt confident that my hometown would be given a team. I was not aware of the exact date of when the announcement would be made so when I opened up The Japan Times, I was in shock. I must have read the short blurb several times. I immediately called my dad back in the States to confirm that Jacksonville really had been given its own team. Talk about excited! I think I must have grabbed and hugged every Japanese that day, whopping it up and scaring the natives as the crazy American babbled something about football and Super Bowl. It was before I had a computer or Internet access, and international calls were still very expensive. I believe I spent over $1000 that day in international phone calls to call my dad and friends to talk about what an incredible thing had just happened. My hometown, Jacksonville, Florida had its own major sports franchise. It put my hometown on the international map. It gave me a sense of pride and excitement that has not diminished since the announcement.

Name: Miguel Reyes

I was part of the crew with Miller Electric retro-fitting the new stadium. I have been a proud fan ever since. I had just been discharged from the navy (NAS JAX) when a friend told me of a job opening at the new stadium they were building for this football team that was coming to Jacksonville. So I went and applied, got the job, and I bet to this day I can find my "marks" I left behind in hidden corners of the stadium. I have seen the victories. I have seen the struggles (and there has been a few lately). I now live in Miami Beach, Fl. where I only get to listen for the games. I still have and wear my Mark Brunell jersey every chance I get. Can't believe it has been twenty years. Happy birthday Jags. ROAR!!!!!!

Name: Zach Blaine

I got to go my first Jaguars game last year in Nashville with my dad and my brother even though we lost to the Titans it was still an honor to go see my favorite NFL team!

Name: Keith Jennings

That day I was at work – excited like everyone else about the possibility of Jacksonville getting an NFL team. It was quiet all day. Excitement filled the air and everyone felt it. Work was not getting done and nobody seemed to care – not even management. Anyway, the moment of waiting and the need to breathe had finally arrived when we finally got the answer we had all been waiting so patiently for. It was a celebration for at least three hours throughout the entire warehouse when we heard Jacksonville was one of the chosen ones.

Name: Richard Bousquet     

Less than 12 hours after we got the team, my wife and I at 5:30 am left for Hawaii with our new Jags shirts on.  I had the first Jag shirt in the state of Hawaii and a man offered me five hundred dollars for the shirt.  I did not sell it and still have the shirt at home.

Name: John Hodges  

I had friends and acquaintances that were either charter members or the core Touchdown Group put together to show the NFL that we could not only sell tickets, but also sell them fast. We had season tickets to the Bulls that gave us just a hope of what an NFL team could do here. November 30, 1993 changed my whole family's life. As soon as ticket sales were announced, I was in line to get tickets for my wife, son and myself. We were able to keep the tickets for eight only to have to give them up after my wife of 35 years found that she had non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma. As of February of next year, she will celebrate 10 years in remission. She told the Oncologist she didn't know what was harder – going through Chemo or giving up her Jaguar Tickets. I want to take a little time to Thank WTLV for voting me the "Ultimate Jaguar Fan." Also, thanks to Mr. Shad Khan and Associates for the invite to the December 23 2012 Jag-versus-Patriots game.

Name: Dan Iannaccone

Being from New Jersey and a fan since I was two years old, I have loved the Jaguars and been loyal to them for a very long time. However, it was always difficult to watch them and the only time I would see the team was on ESPN highlights. For my eighth-grade graduation, my Uncle Sal decided to take me to Jacksonville for my first Jaguars game. It was an unforgettable experience: the crowd, the fans, being able go buy Jaguars memorabilia without the internet. The game was October 3, 2010 when Josh Scobee hit the game-winning 59-yard field goal as time expired.

Name: Natalie Cushnir

I was in fifth grade! I remember sitting at home doing my homework, and I heard my mom and dad yelling with excitement from the kitchen! They told me were getting a football team! Little did I know, the Jaguars would change my life forever! My parents have been season ticket holders from Day One!

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Name: Mark Cozine

I bought a leather Jaguars cap in Massachusetts before they were even an official team, and I still wear it proudly. Before that I was a Cowboys fan. Boy, am I glad I chose the correct team.

Name: Tricia Gruhn

I was only eight years old but I remember very vividly watching the announcement on the TV in the lobby at the old Nancy Dance Studio location on Atlantic Boulevard.  On the way home from dance that night we stopped at Pic N' Save on 3rd at the beach and got T-Shirts.  20 years later and I still have that shirt. Duval Til We Die.

Name: Danika Mitchell

I remember that I was sitting in my seventh grade science class at DuPont Middle School. The principal came over the intercom and said she didn't know if she should interrupt school for this....but Jacksonville was awarded an NFL team. It was like you could hear the cheer throughout the school! I just know my classmates and me went nuts. It was the best feeling in the world. Prior to that one of our other teachers had us write to the commissioner at the time when the Carolina was awarded a team first, asking why didn't we get the team? I remember one of the local new stations coming into the classroom and recording us writing our letters. I remember wanting a T-Shirt sooooo bad! My grandfather got me a T-Shirt to wear two days later.

Name: Joseph Fitzpatrick     

I was at work and my wife was at home. She was watching TV and I listening to the radio. As soon as we heard the great news, she was on the phone and in less than 20 minutes, we had two season tickets. I still have my two tickets.

Name: Chris Burgess

I remember where I was 20 years ago. I was still living in Jacksonville and watching TV at home. I remember seeing then-NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue about to announce who the two new franchises were. When he said, "Jacksonville Jaguars," I was so excited. I could not contain it. I continued watching TV and there was a live shot of downtown Jacksonville where there were so many people at the Landing partying and having fun celebrating.

Name: Nilda Allen

I was eight years old and in dance class. All of a sudden you just heard this roar come from the waiting area! All the moms and a few dads had been crowded around the TV screen and yelled when the announcement was made. One of the parents even ran to the studio to tell all of us. I remember feeling pretty excited that we were going to have our own team!

Name: Mark Cain

There was a TV on at work and we saw Dan Hicken get a thumbs up from Deron Cherry as the group from Jacksonville was being led into a room.  All day, I was resigned mentally that the NFL would pick St. Louis, who had been given an extension to get their ducks in a row.  After the announcement, they showed the first Jaguar T-Shirts with the original logo being printed.  Christmas shopping was easy that year!

*Name: Joe Gasson     *

I was eight and didn't even really comprehend the magnitude of being awarded an NFL franchise. I was at home with my mom and four-year-old sister and can vividly remember my dad almost knocking the front door off its hinges with a newspaper in his hand screaming. He started jumping up and down on top of the pool table. We have been season-ticket holders ever since.

Name: Donald Tolbert

I was just five days old and ever since I always loved the Jags. Every game I ever went to the Jags won, and I remember in 1998 and 1999 in the playoffs the stadium would shake with fans chanting, ''We Will, We Will … Rock You.'' Today is my B-Day and I'm 20 now so after all these years, I love my city, my team, and all the great stuff the players do for the city.

Name: Dakota Arnold

I was born November 8 1993 in Jacksonville, Florida, right before the Jags became an official NFL team. I will forever be a Jags fan because they are MY home team and I'm proud of them.

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Name: Jason McMillan

I was in the front yard of my brother's house in Arlington throwing a football with my nephew. The announcement was coming on and I had given up any hope of Jacksonville getting the team. I heard my brother yell from inside the house, "We got it!" I almost passed out! The Jaguars had long been a dream for the city and after all of the work on the part of the ownership team and the citizens of the city it finally happened. Jacksonville has long been a city of people who are stationed there and less a city of Jacksonville natives, so it is hard to build a serious fan base. But we are out here. The people who signed the petitions and attended the rallies. The people who pushed the ticket sales to prove to the NFL that we deserved a team.  I have since had to move away but I still carry the feeling that I had that day. A sense of pride, jubilation and excitement of what was to come for Jacksonville. It is home and the Jaguars are my team and the best is yet to come. Believe and Achieve...for the team and the city.

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