Jacksonville mayor: ‘We need to give our team a good sendoff to Kansas City’

City preparing plans for Jaguars’ upcoming playoff game

Trevor Lawrence of the Jacksonville Jaguars celebrates on the field after beating the Los Angeles Chargers in an NFL wild card playoff football game at TIAA Bank Field on January 14, 2023 in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images) (Kevin Sabitus, 2023 Kevin Sabitus)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The city is preparing its plans for the Jaguars’ upcoming playoff game.

After defeating the Los Angeles Chargers 31-30 in a wild-card matchup last weekend at TIAA Bank Field, Jacksonville will head to Kansas City to take on the Chiefs on Saturday in an AFC divisional-round showdown.

“I still couldn’t believe it was happening when it was happening,” said Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry. “When he made the kick, it was the most memorable game in Jaguars’ history.”

News4JAX caught up with Curry at the Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade downtown on Monday and asked about the city’s plans to celebrate the team and if that will mean opening up TIAA Bank Stadium during this weekend’s playoff game.

“I don’t know. We’ll get settled after today. Today’s a holiday. We’re going to celebrate and honor the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. and then we’ll start thinking about what it might look like this week for the fans. Everybody’s excited. We need to give our team a good sendoff to Kansas City, and I’m expecting them to come home with a win,” Curry said. “I don’t know exactly what we’ll do yet, but we’ll certainly be talking with how, what can the city do to make the fans feel part of this as the team travels this week.”

The Jaguars’ first playoff run came in their second season in 1996. Like this season, they appeared dead in the water at 4-7. No one was thinking of the playoffs. Then they won four straight, and the season came down to the last game. They escaped with a 19-17 win over the Atlanta Falcons when Morten Andersen shanked a chip shot field goal that would have knocked the Jaguars out of the playoffs. The Jaguars pulled off back-to-back road upsets in Buffalo and then Denver by the same score, 30-27.

For the Broncos game in early 1997, 40,000 fans watched the game on the Jumbotron at the then-called Jacksonville Municipal Stadium. When the Jaguars knocked off the Broncos, there were still thousands of fans at the stadium when the team plane flew back, and it flew over the stadium.

That magical year ended with the Jaguars losing 20-6 to the New England Patriots in frigid Foxborough.

RELATED: Pick 7: Ranking the Jaguars’ all-time playoff wins

During the 2017 season, before the Jaguars headed to Pittsburgh for a playoff game against the Steelers, Curry hosted a “Sack the Steelers Send-off” at City Hall. More than 100 Jaguars fans stopped by to sign well-wishes and good-luck messages on a giant banner, which was presented to the team before heading north for the divisional round game.

After the Jaguars stunned the Steelers 45-42 on the road, following Jacksonville’s 10-3 home win over the Buffalo Bills, the city opened up then-named EverBank Field. Thousands went to the football stadium in downtown Jacksonville to welcome the team home.

That playoff run also ended with a road loss to the Patriots, this one 24-20.

About the Author:

Jim Piggott is the reporter to count on when it comes to city government and how it will affect the community.