The Jaguars honored me with an invitation last winter to participate in a vote to select an All-25 team of non-active Jaguars players. It was a chance for me to travel down memory lane. I invite you now to take that trip with me.
1. Tony Boselli -- If you support Boselli for being the Jaguars' No. 1 all-time player, this should be your argument: He was the best player in the league at his position for multiple seasons; no other player on the ballot can make that claim. Boselli is the first-ever draft pick in Jaguars history and possibly the best-ever draft pick in Jaguars history. If not for injury that shortened his career, he'd already be in the Hall of Fame. It could still happen, which would cement his place at the top of this list.
2. Fred Taylor -- Fred was No. 1 on the ballot I submitted. Why Fred over Tony? Because Fred's big plays can't be ignored; it's the nature of the position he played. The 97-yard touchdown run against Miami in the 1999 postseason leads the way. Fred's record-setting day in Pittsburgh in 2000 is most memorable for me and for this reason: I was covering the Steelers when O.J. Simpson set the all-time Three Rivers Stadium single-game rushing record in 1975. Twenty-five years later, I was covering my final game in Three Rivers when Fred broke Simpson's mark. Three Rivers is gone but Fred will forever be its all-time, single-game rushing champion. In my opinion, Fred might be the most underrated and under-appreciated player in NFL history.
3. Jimmy Smith -- He caught the game-winning touchdown pass in the Jaguars' greatest-ever victory, the legendary Jagwad upset win in Denver in the 1996 playoffs. Jimmy overcame health and injury issues that would've ended the careers of weaker men. His great career is as much about his will as it is about his combination of size, speed and athletic ability. His fame is for overcoming misfortune, in football and in life.
4. Maurice Jones-Drew -- Fans will always remember Mo's block on Sean Merriman, the 375-yard pounding Mo and Fred put on the Colts, and Mo's NFL rushing title in 2011. My No. 1 memory of Mo is for his kickoff return against the Steelers in the 2007 playoffs; it was the turning point in that game. Pure and simple, Mo played too big for his body; he was a 5-7 brute. I'm happy to see Mo score as high as he did with the voters.
5. Mark Brunell -- No. 5? Really? Mark was No. 3 on my ballot. He was the face of the franchise. He was the Jaguars' first true star. He was the heart and soul of that '96 run to the AFC title game. Without Mark, there would've been no middle-of-the-night pep rally. Without Mark, the Jaguars franchise would still be looking for an identity.
6. Tony Brackens -- Pure athlete. Tony was the Jaguars' Lawrence Taylor. I can't help but believe Brackens would be headed for the Hall of Fame if it wasn't for the knee injuries that cut his career short. He was a more impactful player than Julius Peppers, who's considered a lock for the Hall of Fame.
7. Keenan McCardell -- Ah, one of my favorites. Swann and Stallworth or me and Jimmy, Keenan would not-so-jokingly ask of me? I'll say this: Keenan had the best hands I ever covered. Is that good enough Keenan?
8. Rashean Mathis -- Rashean joins Rod Woodson and Charles Woodson among the greatest athletes I've ever covered. Rashean was the best big-play corner of his time. There was the walk-off interception and return for a touchdown in overtime in Pittsburgh in 2005, and the interception of Brett Favre in the end zone in the Jaguars' win in Green Bay in 2004. Rashean is the best draft pick of the Shack Harris era.
9. Marcus Stroud -- Stroud was the first building block in Tom Coughlin's reconstruction of the Jaguars roster. Stroud was one half of the best defensive tackle tandem in the NFL for the first five years of the Jack Del Rio era of Jaguars football.
10. John Henderson -- He was the other half of that defensive tackle combination. In 2007, Henderson was unblockable. It was arguably the best performance by a defensive lineman in Jaguars history.
11. Paul Posluszny -- Posluszny was one of the best form tacklers in the league. He was the Jaguars' best player during the franchise's worst of times.
12. Daryl Smith -- You can't say his name without saying underrated. He did it all: support against the run, rush the quarterback, drop into coverage, and he did it all quietly and humbly.
13. Brad Meester -- Meester was the best pick of a not-so-good draft class. He was talented, durable, dedicated and dependable. When the Jaguars celebrate their 100th anniversary, Meester might still be the best center in franchise history.
14. Leon Searcy -- Searcy was a pricey free-agent acquisition Coughlin targeted to bookend Boselli, protect Brunell's blindside and weaken the Steelers. Opponents feared Searcy's "punch" in blocking. No team had a better tackle combination than Boselli and Searcy.
15. Kevin Hardy -- He was the second overall pick of the 1996 draft, in a class that included Brackens and Aaron Beasley and immediately improved a weak defense. Hardy's career peaked in 1999 with the arrival of defensive coordinator Dom Capers.
16. Donovin Darius -- Darius was an end-of-an-era player whose calling card was violent safety play. Collisions with Steelers running back Jerome Bettis and Packers wide receiver Robert Ferguson punctuated a career built on enforcing the middle of the field. On the day Darius was drafted, defensive coordinator Dick Jauron predicted Darius would "bring some violence" to the Jaguars secondary. Darius did.
17. Kyle Brady -- Brady was an old-fashioned block-and-catch tight end. He was one-third (Carnell Lake and Gary Walker) of a pricey free-agent class that helped make the Jaguars the best regular-season team in the league in 1999, and brought the franchise to within one win of the Super Bowl.
18. Vince Manuwai -- Manuwai was powerful and underrated. If you needed a yard, you ran behind him. Manuwai was the ultimate road-grader, and he was one of the most gentle men I've ever covered. He is missed.
19. Mike Peterson -- Mike is one of my all-time favorites. He was pure energy, a life completely dedicated to football, and he was a reporter's dream. Mike loved to talk about football and I loved to write about him playing it.
20. Aaron Beasley -- He was a great athlete, a cornerback who tackled like a safety and intercepted passes with the hands of a wide receiver. He had a dream season in 1999, which began with a 90-yard return of a pick-six interception against the 49ers.
21. Josh Scobee -- His 59-yard, final-play-of-the-game field goal to beat visiting Indianapolis in 2010 is how I'll remember Josh. He was a big-kick machine.
22. Gary Walker -- Gary could be moody, and when he was in the mood to kick butt, he did. Walker helped make the '99 defense the best in the league.
23. David Garrard -- He came out of nowhere to play at a nearly elite level in 2007. Had Dennis Northcutt and Matt Jones not dropped sure-touchdown passes in a playoff game in New England, Garrard would've beaten Tom Brady and the undefeated Patriots.
24. Joel Smeenge -- His was a magical name in the Jaguars' inaugural season. It rolled off the tongues of Jaguars fans who were looking for reasons to cheer. Smeenge gave them reason.
25. Chris Naeole -- In 2002, Coughlin was attempting to patch a roster that had been gutted by the salary cap. Naeole was a value signing in free agency and he went on to play at a high level deep into the Del Rio era. Naeole was as quick as he was powerful. He could pull, trap and drive block.
I can't help but wonder how many of these players will be on the Jaguars' 50th anniversary team.