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Jaguars players, alumni meet fans at Nike Town London


LONDON- As former Jaguars running back Fred Taylor sees it, playing in London is a good thing for the Jaguars and for Jacksonville.

"I think this is an opportunity to showcase the team, one, and to give the city (Jacksonville) itself some notoriety," Taylor said before a NFLUK fan event at the Nike Town London store on Oxford Street on Tuesday night.

"There are so many opportunities that can come from it in terms of possibly bringing big businesses back in the city. I believe it's a win-win."

Taylor, along with former Jaguars tackle Tony Boselli and defensive end Jeff Lageman, and current Jaguars Tyson Alualu, Johnathan Cyprien, Blaine Gabbert, Chad Henne, Paul Posluszny and Cecil Shorts III answered questions from emcee Neil Reynolds of Sky Sports in front of a group of fans selected in a contest to attend the private event.  

Taylor said that it is evident that support for the NFL and for the Jaguars are both on the rise in the United Kingdom.

"This is actually my third time over representing the team and having an opportunity to see the fanfare and awareness; I believe it's good," Taylor said. "Last year when I came here just to be able to see how the locals embraced the NFL, and not just that but the amount of Jaguars fans that are here. I'm sure it will grow.

One of those locals in attendance Tuesday night was Ian Pointer of Farnborough, Hampshire, England, wearing a teal Fred Taylor No. 28 jersey.

"I'm looking to meet 'Fiery Fred,' yes, he's my favorite Jag hero," Pointer said. "I hope I don't go all fan boy, and go, 'Ahhh, you're wonderful.'"

Pointer said he became a Jaguars fan after the first AFC Championship Game appearance for the franchise, and has been loyal ever since. When he heard the news that the Jaguars would play in London once a year for four seasons, the reaction was pure joy.

"I was jumping around my living room, literally," Pointer said. "I saw it on Facebook and was just whooping. My wife thought something was wrong with me."

Jaguars fan Marlon Smith of London had a similar reaction when he heard the Jaguars would play at Wembley Stadium.

"I actually did a sprint around the block in my jersey," Smith said. "I phoned everyone that I knew that were Jags fans as well. I was very excited." 

Smith was wearing a Justin Blackmon jersey and a Jaguars logo cap to the event. Playing cornerback in a local London amateur league, one former Jaguar initially caught his eye.  

"The first game I actually watched was a Jags game, and fell in love with the team," Smith said. "The first player that caught my eye was actually Rashean Mathis. Because I play corner, he's a corner that stood out for me as well.

"From then I just got hooked, and I've been a Jags fan since."

Smith said that the next step is a visit to Jacksonville.

"I can't wait to come over and go to EverBank Field," Smith said. "I'm dying. I need to experience a game in our home ground."

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