JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Music, high-fives, energy, cheers -- and plenty of chants of “Duuuval!”
Hundreds of fans gathered along barriers Friday at TIAA Bank Field as Jaguars players left team meetings and a closed practice to head to the airport for their flight to Kansas City for Saturday’s AFC divisional round matchup.
The send-off started at 9:30 a.m. but fans began arriving much earlier. News4JAX met one fan, named Miss Mary, who told us she believes the Jaguars are going to the Super Bowl.
“It’s beautiful. I love it. I knew this day would come eventually. A lot of people didn’t have faith. Shame on you, but I always kept the faith, honey,” Mary said.
The fans gathered in Lots J and P outside of the Gallagher Club West Gate at TIAA Bank Field. They had the chance to make posters, grab a cup of coffee and enjoyed performances by the Roar, the D-line and Jaxson de Ville.
Jarvis Thomas said he has been at every game this season -- home and away.
“I went to the first game and when I was out there, they gave me something to root for. For it to start off good then turn bad and go all the way here. I’m overwhelmed,” Thomas said.
As the players left individually, fans cheered them on and some players ran down the line for high-fives, yelled out the “Duuuval” battle cry with the fans and even signed a few autographs before making their way to their cars for the drive to the airport.
The city and Jaguars are also hosting a watch party for the playoff game on Saturday.
The watch party is planned for Saturday afternoon at the Daily’s Place amphitheater.
Here’s the schedule for that:
- Lots J and P open at 3 p.m.,
- Gate 1 opens at 3:30 p.m.,
- And then the viewing begins at 4:30 p.m. when the game kicks off.
There will be food available from vendors and gear for the fans.
Admission and parking for the watch party are free, but you must reserve your spot here: https://am.ticketmaster.com/jaguars/DDWP. As of 1 p.m. Thursday, spots were still available, News4JAX was told. Daily’s Place holds about 5,500 people, and News4JAX was told there will not be any walk-ups allowed.
Jaguars fans are pumped about the big game and the festivities surrounding the matchup.
News4JAX caught up with Marquis Bob, who was wearing Jaguars gear, as he was getting lunch downtown on Thursday. He said he might be flying out Friday to the game, but if not, he has a reservation at Daily’s Place for the watch party.
“It’s exciting,” he said.
Other fans told News4JAX that they cannot make it to the watch party, but plan on watching the game their own way.
“Well, since I’m going to be working, I’m going to be watching it on my phone,” said a Jaguars fan named Michael. “And it’s actually an important game for me because my uncle is from Kansas. It’s going to be like my family is split in half on the weekend so.”
But he said he “obviously” will be cheering for Jacksonville.
“Because I live in Duval County,” he said, “I’ve got to represent.”
News4JAX also talked with some of the players in the locker room about how the enthusiasm from the city is motivating them.
“I feel like it’s a different energy around the town, and everybody’s happy to see us getting wins and see where we’re at now and the success we’re having,” said offensive lineman Jawaan Taylor. “So we’re just trying to keep that going and keep bringing wins to the city of Jacksonville.”
“It’s been amazing. I feel like they’ve really fed off the energy that we’ve brought, and now we’re trying to be able to feed off their energy, and they’ve really brought it the past, you know, two home games being big prime-time games and helped us, you know, be able to come back from deficits in both of those,” said offensive lineman Walker Little. “And obviously, we’re going to be on the road this week, but we still know that we have the sport of the city behind us.”
On Thursday, News4JAX also learned that Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry’s special bet with the mayor of Kansas City on the game was accepted.
Just 24 hours later, Mayor Quinton Lucas accepted Curry’s challenge, betting KC’s “best barbecue” as a wager.
Curry also expressed feeling “beyond excited” about today’s send-off.
“I had a hard time sleeping last night. It’s so good to pull up and see all these fans having a great time celebrating this road trip,” Curry said.
Other die-heart Jags fans said this is the very moment that they have been waiting for.
“We have been through so much as fans from day one. I’ve been here since ‘95. Duval together. I am a season ticket holder. This is what we live for. This is what we have been waiting for. Go Jags!,” Sandy Dalmida said.
A few younger fans also said they even skipped school so they wouldn’t miss out on the action.
Duvvvallll made sure to show unrelenting support for the Jags as kickoff time at Arrowhead Stadium Saturday afternoon quickly approaches.