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Ten things


As we arrive Sunday at the end of era, let's also remember the beginning.

Actually, make that before the beginning. Because as we take this lead-in to the weekly 10 Things the Jaguars Must do to Beat the Opponent Column to reflect on Wayne Weaver's tenure as Jaguars owner, what keeps coming back to me is what it was like before.

If you lived in Jacksonville before 1993 and loved the NFL, you remember, too.

Bob Irsay and the Gator Bowl in 1979. The flirtation with the Cardinals. And the Patriots. And the Oilers. All the preseason games in the Gator Bowl with Jacksonville trying to show the NFL it was a legitimate market.

Sharks games in the WFL in '74. Express games in '75. I saw Herschel play for the Generals against the Bulls in '84. Shoot, I sat in the Gator Bowl in August '73 watching O.J. Simpson and the Bills play Roman Gabriel and the Eagles.

That was Jacksonville pro football pre-1993. It was small-time stuff, and it wasn't the fault of the leaders in the community. The town dreamed and aimed big, but did so with most in town and out pretty much believing the dream was one that never really could happen.

That stayed true even when a group of business leaders put together Touchdown Jacksonville! in the early 1990s. This was a group of powerful, capable men who believed in Jacksonville, but as powerful and capable as they were, they weren't quite NFL-powerful and capable.

Wayne Weaver was.

Weaver gave the effort legitimacy, and if you lived in Jacksonville on November 30, 1993, you remember what happened, that that was the day Jacksonville became the NFL's 30th team. You remember the disbelief, the joy, the energy, the realization that yes, this was real.

Without Weaver, it doesn't happen.

I sat down recently for a final question-answer session with Weaver for this site. His office already was half-packed, and he talked of it being strange to fully realize he soon wouldn't be the Jaguars owner anymore. He said, too, he was disappointed the Jaguars hadn't won the Super Bowl, and that he thought that goal could have been attained.

"I have to be honest with myself," Weaver said. "We didn't get it done."

That's noble stuff. What I liked best about Weaver when covering him for the Florida Times-Union in the 1990s was that honesty, but here's what you hope Weaver fully realizes, and what anyone who lived here in the decades before he arrived should realize:

What Weaver did for Jacksonville far outweighs whatever he believes he didn't do. No, the Jaguars didn't win a Super Bowl under his watch, but they existed.

If you were here before he arrived, you know that was the biggest victory of all.

And now, 10 Things the Jaguars must do to beat the Colts in Weaver's final game as Jaguars owner.

1) Run Maurice Jones-Drew.He leads the NFL in rushing by 128 yards over LeSean McCoy and almost certainly will win the rushing title. That's not why you run him. You run him because you've run him all season, and when you have, it has worked.

2) Pressure Dan Orlovsky.He was 0-9 as a starter. Two weeks later, he is 2-0 and has shown if you give him time he can make enough plays to win. The Jaguars' pass rush is beat up, but it has managed to create pressure in recent weeks. Orlovsky's hot enough, you need to do it again.* *

3) Let Gabbert throw.The numbers haven't been mind-blowing in recent weeks, but he has been improving. His confidence is growing. Keep putting him in situations where he can succeed, and keep letting him throw.

4) Block Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis.If you're going to let Gabbert throw, you have to block these guys. They aren't as high-profile as they were because of the Colts' record, but they're still very dangerous.

5) Cover Reggie Wayne.He may be playing his last game for the Colts. Don't let him go out in style.

6) Contain Donald Brown.The Colts' third-year running back mostly has been a disappointment, but he rushed for 161 yards two weeks ago and has the speed to score from anywhere. The Jaguars have been good against the run most of the season. Don't let Brown escape.

7) Forget the Andrew Luck talk.At this point, it's all noise. And at this point, no one knows how good he is going to be anyway. Forget the talk of April. Play to win now.

8) Don't underestimate Indianapolis.Yes, they're 2-13, but they've won their last two games and want to finish hot. They will be motivated. Get them down early. Take away their confidence.

9) Stay focused.The team has played with effort and heart all season. Don't start the engines in the parking lot before the game (with this team, that shouldn't be an issue). There's plenty of time for the off-season later.

10) Remember Weaver.Usually, off-field stuff is of little importance on game day. This is different. Weaver is a guy players respect, and he's given his life to this franchise for nearly two decades. Don't make sending him out in style a pre-game cliché. Really do it and make it an appropriate send-off for a man who deserves it.

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