JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The end of the fourth preseason game brings back many memories.
For me, it was always bittersweet. During my career as a starter, the final seconds of the last preseason game meant one thing: The regular season had begun. Camp is over. The games that mean absolutely nothing are done with.
And so it has begun for the 2018 Jacksonville Jaguars. The preparation has already started. All thoughts will now turn to what is sure to be a long and promising season. It's not time to think about the playoffs. It's not time to think about the record. It's time to think about one thing: the New York Giants.
There were always parts of the season that were very important to me. Obviously, divisional games and playoff games were big. One game that meant a lot to me was the opener. You just never knew how it was going to turn out, and you wanted to get off to a good start. You knew the personnel, you knew the scheme but you just never knew how good the other team would be at the start of the season.
One opening day game that I will forever remember was in 1999 when we hosted the San Francisco 49ers. I knew in training camp that year we were going to be good. But Steve Young was coming to town. The future Hall of Famer was one of the best in the business. And I couldn’t wait to compete against him. I had always modeled my game after him. Every chance I had, I watched his tape. He was accurate, made great decisions and once he got out of the pocket, that's when the magic happened. The game went very well. Our defense dominated and we easily won 41-3. It goes down as one of my
I’m hoping next Sunday goes down as one of Blake Bortle’s favorites. I’m guessing he might have a measure of anxiety before the opener, like I once did. Maybe not. But he would agree, as most quarterbacks do, that the first game can really go either way. I'm sure he knows he’s leading a good team. And maybe my Steve Young is Blake’s Eli Manning. Perhaps Blake sees a lot of himself in the future Hall of Famer for the Giants. I'm sure he respects and admires Eli. What fellow QB wouldn’t?
Either way, this opener is important. It, of course, would be no surprise to anybody if the Jaguars put it on the Giants like we did the 49ers. This game can't get here soon enough.
I mentioned that the end of the preseason was bittersweet for me. While I never had to worry about making the cut on the final day, many of my teammates weren’t so fortunate. For some players, getting past cut day will be one of the best days of their lives. For some, it will be heartbreaking. Doug Marrone said last week that having to cut players is “probably the worst part of the job.” It's true. Having to part ways with teammates can be gut-wrenching. These guys work so hard, only to be told they simply weren’t good enough. We hope the Jaguars that don’t make it land on another NFL roster. We wish them the best.