Jeremy Mincey listed the reasons, and the reasons were many.
Mincey, the Jaguars' veteran defensive end, spoke for not only himself, but his teammates and a whole lot of NFL players this week when he spoke on the topic of just what the incentives were entering the 2011 regular-season finale. Here's what those incentives didn't include:
They didn't include draft position, or anything of the like.
What did they include? Mincey counted them off:
"I want a job – I'm a professional," Mincey said as the Jaguars (4-11) prepared to play the Indianapolis Colts (2-13) in the 2011 regular-season finale at Everbank Field in downtown Jacksonville Sunday at 1 p.m.
Those were two reasons. Mincey had more.
"The Colts are going to try to win the game," Mincey said. "I want to win for the fans. I want to win it for the Weavers, for giving me an opportunity to play for this organization. I want to win for my family. I want to win for myself, for (Jaguars interim) Coach (Mel) Tucker, for (defensive line coach) Joe Cullen.
"There are a lot of reasons."
Such has been the story much of the week leading to the Jaguars' 2011 season finale.
Because of the record of the teams involved, and because of their positions near the bottom of the overall NFL standings, there has been as much talk this week among observers about the 2011 NFL Draft as there has been about the game itself.
The key phrase to that last sentence?
"Among observers," because among players, there is no talk of Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck, or Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III.
"I'm going to take the same approach, regardless," Jaguars nickelback Drew Coleman said. "If it's the last game of the season, and after this I'm going to go home, I'm going to go out with a bang. I'm going to go out winning. That's my attitude and I'm sure it's the majority of the guys' attitude.
"I'm sure it's like that with the Colts. I don't think you'll see many guys saying, 'I'm going to take this game and get it over with.' I don't think that's the nature of this business.''
Said Mincey, "This is our job, I keep hitting on it over and over. You've got to take pride in your job. That's the type of man I am. That's the type of men we have around here."
Mincey looked around at his linemates as he spoke, adding, "(Defensive tackle) Tyson (Alualu) takes pride in his job. (Defensive tackle) Terrance (Knighton) takes pride in his job. We all take pride in our jobs."
Among Colts players and coaches the talk has been about finishing the season strong, and the objective is to win a third consecutive game to go with the back-to-back victories they turned in over AFC South rivals Tennessee and Houston the last two weeks. The Colts never have finished below .500 in the AFC South, and can finish 3-3 with a victory Sunday.
Among the Jaguars the storylines are just as strong if not stronger.
The game is the last for the organization with Wayne and Delores Weaver as owners, and the last before Shahid and Ann Khan take over as owners. The sale is set to become final next Wednesday, and the team has designated the game as an Appreciation Day for the fans and for the Weavers, who have owned the team since its 1993 inception.
"It's one of those games where you know we're not playing for anything postseason-wise," Jaguars guard Uche Nwaneri said. "But there's a lot to play for, in honoring the Weavers in terms of what they've done for the team and the community as well.
"There's definitely going to be some emotion out there."
On the field, the Jaguars' incentive is strong. They need a victory to avoid tying the 1995 expansion team for the most losses in franchise history, and a victory would assure them a 3-3 record in the division.
They also never have swept the Colts in nine previous seasons in the AFC South.
The Jaguars' defense also has a chance to finish the season in the Top 5 in the NFL in total defense a year after finishing 28th in the league in the category. The Jaguars currently rank fifth in the NFL in yards allowed per game with 314, with San Francisco currently ranking fourth at 308.1 yards per game and Cincinnati ranking sixth at 314.2 yards per game.
The most high-profile storyline involves the Jaguars' most high-profile player.
Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew, who this week was named to his third consecutive Pro Bowl, leads the NFL in rushing by 128 yards over LeSean McCoy. He also needs 136 yards to pass Fred Taylor for the franchise single-season rushing mark of 1,572 set in 2003.
But while players said this week they are motivated to an extent by league rankings and rushing titles, they said more than that they are motivated by the fact that there is a regular-season NFL game to be played Sunday, and they have a chance to play in it.
In the NFL, that's more than reason enough.
"That's what got us here," Coleman said. "When you're competitors like we are, you don't play a lot of meaningless games. Even if it's, like, pickup basketball, the nature of the athletes you have in the NFL or the NBA is that there's no such thing as a meaningless game. Every game, we want to win. We want to compete, whether it's for the championship or to see who's in last place.
Said Mincey, "We're never going to give in. Nobody can say this team quit. People can speculate all they want, but were going to continue to fight until we win. You just have to dig deep and find that motivation. Instead of acting like it's the last day of school, act like it's the first day of school.
"You're only as good as your last game in this business. There are too many reasons to come out and win."