JACKSONVILLE – The pain was real, and the pain remains.
If any theme dominated the inbox this week – other than anger, disappointment and frustration – that was it: Jaguars fans are hurting – and understandably so.
Hence, we present this special "Let-It-Out" edition of the O-Zone. I don't say much in it, and there's little in the way of breaking down the Jaguars' loss to the New England Patriots last Sunday in the AFC Championship Game. There's also not much on the draft or free agency – or even what the Jaguars will do at quarterback moving forward.
Mostly, it's emails from this past week documenting how readers dealt with the pain and frustration of a heartbreaking loss that will hurt for a long while.
You know well the emotions. Anger. Bitterness. A feeling that maybe the Jaguars got robbed. Confusion over play-calling.
My wife used the word "devastating" – and that's how it felt for many. The extreme emotion perhaps had much to do with the newness of the experience. Longtime Jaguars fans hadn't experienced heartbreak with this team in a long while – and many casual fans and those new to the sport had no idea this sport could be so emotional.
Perhaps, though, what caused Sunday's shock to linger was simpler than that. This team was simply so much fun – and goodness, wouldn't it have been cool for that feeling to last a couple of more weeks?
Without a doubt that would have been cool. Sigh.
Let's get to it …
Dylan from 215:
I have a feeling I might cry myself to sleep tonight. Done with the NFL for the season. Thank God for the EPL.
John: This was Sunday, and this was a very common sentiment …
Andrew from Mattoon, IL (Sunday):
No regrets ... thank you Mr. Khan and all the Jags ... a fairy tale season.
John: … as was this.
Brian from Greenwood, IN (Sunday):
This is going to hurt for a long time. It was an absolute dagger to the heart. I'm in mourning. I might call in sick tomorrow … nausea.
David from Ada, OK (Sunday):
We came pretty close to going to the Super Bowl. But Justin Timberlake? Really? Who listens to that guy? Thirteen-year old girls? J.P. Shadrick?
John: The fans focusing their ire on Shadrick gave me early hope that as a group they would pull through.
Steve from Queenstown, MD (Monday):
No, we didn't get a Super Bowl. But you know what we did get? The energy from Duval grew so strong that I could feel it all the way here in Maryland. I likely speak for many that do not live in the Duval area. This season gave us good times. It gave us love. It gave us energy that we desperately needed. Going forth, it will just continue to grow. Thanks to Mr. Khan for everything he has done. Thanks to the entire front office. And especially thanks to the players. We love you all. #DTWD
Doug from Section 412 (Tuesday):
As bummed as I am this morning about the Jags' loss, and as frustrated as I am about the officiating playing a role in that loss, I have to say a huge THANKS to this team and the coaching staff and the ownership for making being a Jaguars fan FUN again. It's easy to forget, while wallowing in Monday Misery, how this season brought joy back to Jacksonville and how long it had been absent. I've been a season-ticket holder for 18 years, and I haven't enjoyed a season this much since ...
John: … maybe ever.
Marty from Jacksonville (Tuesday):
I know losing to the Pats is painful, but I see something much more important. In October, the stadium was half empty. In December: sold out, standing room only. To me, having a team is so much more important than what happened Sunday. And having a team means you must sell out that stadium. That's why this season was so monumentally important, and that's why I am so happy in spite of that loss to the Pats. Those 10 or so years of losing are over, and the franchise survived it.
John: Winning is cool. People like it.
Otto from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL (Wednesday):
John, not a question but a statement from a very proud Jaguars fan. Last week I was visiting friends in Los Angeles. Of course I was hugely disappointed in the loss. Sunday night we had tix to the Kings hockey game. I wore my Jags hoodie. In walking to my seat I must have had 100 fist bumps/high fives from Angelinos yelling Go Jags and you guys got robbed (er, not the actual word). A lady even gave me her free drink coupon. Just sayin' it's nice to be appreciated away from home.
Terry from Miami (Wednesday):
When the NFL granted Jacksonville the expansion team, my boys (nine and 11), my wife and I had a family meeting. We had been Cowboys fans (since I was a kid). But that night we voted as a family to become Jags and we have ever since. This season was by far the most fun we have had. I live in Miami now, but we all went to the Buffalo game and it was awesome! We were only a few minutes from the Super Bowl! Hold your heads up! You were the better team! My grandchildren are now fans and will never know a time when the Jaguars did not exist! Three generations now, how awesome. We will be back! #DTWD! One for the whole team!
Jay from Greenville, SC (Wednesday):
John, a few months ago, the girl I was dating and I broke up. We stayed friends this whole time since, and about four weeks ago she started coming out with me every Sunday to watch the Jags play at our local sports bar. Even though she didn't really like football, she understood some of it; and I still got the chance to explain a few things to her. The Jags over the few weeks have brought us closer together than before and today, we started dating again. It feels good, this season. We didn't finish in the Super Bowl, but I still feel like they won this one for me. Cheers to next season. Hopefully we'll be able to drive down for a game.
John: You can't blame gravity for falling in love – Albert Einstein.
Derrick from Jacksonville (Wednesday):
This was a joyous season by the Jags. They came within 15 minutes of playing for the NFL Championship when very few thought they would even have winning season. I've been an avid season ticket holder for over 18 years and this was my favorite season. It is a time to reflect and appreciate this team and the effort they put on the field every game. GO Jags.
John: I think a lot of people will remember this as their favorite Jaguars season. Because of the unexpected nature of the season and the personalities of this team, this one will be tough to top.
Steven from Charlotte, NC (Wednesday):
O-Zone, I have gone through a wide range of emotions over the last couple of days and just now start to look back and appreciate what this season has meant to me. I honestly want to just say "thanks." Thanks for the owner, coaches, players, and staff. Thanks for giving me a hope for the future. Thanks for providing new memories to mesh with old memories of a team, my team, that I grew up loving and watching every single Sunday. Thanks for giving me excitement to watch games that I haven't felt in years. Thanks for making it OK to watch every game online after moving away to a new city, even though I'm DTWD. Thanks for giving me a home playoff game - correction: home playoff win - that will be seared in my memory forever more. Thanks for giving me reason to travel hours to be closer with family and root for our Jaguars together. Thanks for being a reason all my children now wear Ramsey No. 20 jerseys. Thanks for making me act like a child, silly and joyous, watching Marcedes Lewis catch a touchdown to extend a lead on the Patriots - and the video reaction that will now be part of family lore. Thanks for Telvin, and Calais, Poz, and 91. Thanks for providing me reason to hold my head high at work all around Panthers and Falcons fans. Thanks for the rookies and veterans, wins and losses. Just, thanks. #DTWD
Shane from Atlanta, GA (Wednesday):
At least people don't look at me like my puppy just got ran over when I tell them I'm a Jaguars fan anymore ...
John: No, now they look at you like that for the right reasons.
Matt from Bremen, IN (Thursday):
John, I have only missed watching the Super Bowl one time since I was a kid. I look forward to it every year. I even watched it while deployed to Iraq. But as of right now, I'm not watching it this year, because it's just too painful. My wife is mad, because I told her she'd have to go to Super Bowl party without me. I don't understand how she can want to party at a time like this. Living around the smug, arrogant Colts fans in Indy for a long time, I always rolled my eyes when they talked about how much they hated the Pats. I get it now.
John: This was Thursday morning. My told me the night before that we wouldn't be watching the Super Bowl. It didn't sound like a question and it didn't sound up for debate. I sheepishly explained that I might "have it on" because, you know, my job and all. My voice tailed off as I said it and I'm hoping the episodes of House Hunters that night are the good ones.
Dave from Clayton, NC (Thursday):
I'm not over it …
John: You weren't alone …
Tim from Jaxx (Thursday):
I still can't believe it's over.
John: … and you weren't alone, either.
Michael from Middleburg, FL (Thursday):
O-Man, I'm trying to put this L behind me, but I find myself still stinging from it. I'm on the third phase of grief ... bargaining. I only the refs weren't terrible ... if only Blake Bortles snapped the ball in time … if only Dede Westbrook doesn't fall down ... if only we stop them on third-and-18 ... if only T-Gip was 100 percent ... It's going to be a long offseason.
John: Buck up, little camper.
Jags Fan 818 from Jacksonville (Friday):
The "GOAT" and company had to have help from the refs to win. We lost, but at the same time the Jags won! We don't have to cheat or play dirty to get the W!!! So proud of the Jags and how far they came! Can't wait for next season to begin! DUUUUVALLLLL!
John: You go, girl.