JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Jaguars fans were showing their support all around the city by wearing teal, black and team gear on Friday as they counted down to the prime-time game Saturday against the Tennessee Titans.
From downtown to the Southside and across Jacksonville, the city is united for the Jaguars, and fans are optimistic that after some growing pains, the Jaguars can win Saturday’s game, delivering them the AFC title for the first time since the 2017 season and guaranteeing them a home playoff game as the No. 4 seed.
Cathy Marie Lopez-Jenkins was dressed from head to toe in Jaguars gear. She was even sporting a Jaguars purse.
“Ever since day one, I have been a Duuuval fan,” she said.
Some ultimate fans dressed the part and decked out their homes, too. Jon Fichter calls his home a Jaguars museum. He told News4JAX that he has 120 helmets and 200 jerseys. And if that wasn’t enough to prove his loyalty, he has over 130 pairs of cleats, as well as dozens upon dozens of autographed photos— all from Jaguars players. When News4JAX asked him how many, he said, “Oh, I have no clue.”
He’s been a fan since 2011 and has a prediction for Saturday’s showdown.
“The Jaguars are going to win. They are going to win this game, and I think they’re going to do a lot of surprises like 2017,” Fichter said. “And we have Trevor [Lawrence]. We have a good quarterback this time.”
Loyal fans like Fichter have watched the Jaguars through roller coaster seasons for years but believe they have the right coach and players to win now.
Tucker Worsham has been a Jaguars fan for “as long as I’ve been around.”
Danny has been a fan since 1996.
“I have been very hopeful. Going in it was, like, I think we are going to turn it around, and really after that little slump, it was kind of concerning, but this last run, has been fantastic,” Danny said.
The Jaguars didn’t look like a playoff team near the midway point of the season, sagging to a 2-6 mark and finding ways to lose close games weekly. With a post-bye surge, Jacksonville (8-8) has positioned itself for a winner-take-all game against the Titans (7-9) at 8:15 p.m. Saturday at TIAA Bank Field.
News4JAX also spoke with Kerri, who has been a fan since 1995.
“It looks like they are having fun, and I think that makes a big difference,” Kerri said.
Local business owners like Ansar Owais, owner of Hala’s Middle East Eatery and Market, have been getting in on the fan fun, too.
“Diehard — it’s, like, I’m sad when they lose, happy when they win,” Owais said. “It’s a different feeling when they are doing good, like, everybody is happy, the customers are all wearing black and teal, and it’s fun. It’s a lot of fun.”
The Jaguars were also a hot topic Friday at a local barbershop.
“Go Jaguars, go Duuuval, go Super Bowl. Let’s win it. Let’s take it all,” said Jaguars fan Camp, who is more hopeful now than in 2017. “Definitely — a fresh start. I think we are there. I think we are all on the same page/ I think we are moving forward from 2017, and a whole new squad, I think we can do it now. I think this is it — 2023.”
Nate Washington, who’s been a Jaguars fan since 1995, believes head coach Doug Pederson is the difference maker with this season’s team.
“He takes chances with the team, and I like that about the coach,” Washington said.
Barber J.D., who has been a fan since the team’s inception, also had a big prediction for the matchup.
“Tomorrow, we are going to win by 16, and we are going to win the first home playoff game,” he said.
But don’t tell that to the Titans fans who packed into Hurricane Grill and Wings in San Marco on Friday night to rally before Saturday’s game.
Lady Hype believes her team can pull off the upset.
“Oh, we’re not hoping. We know,” Hype said.
Ricky and Denise Rukab, both lifelong Jaguars fans, disagreed.
“We are ready to go. We’re going to win tomorrow,” Ricky Rukab said. “There’s no doubt.”
From business owners to fans and collectors, Jaguars mania is in the air, with fans eager for game day, and hopefully, another victory.