By: David Levin (@davidlevin71)
Like or dislike him, the one thing you had to respect about Maurice Jones-Drew while he was here in Jacksonville was for the past eight years he was about business. While the small running back treated life in the NFL as his job and when he spoke, you knew where you stood and everyone knew where he stood with the media.
That’s why in the case of the disgruntled running back, you knew what you were getting day in and day out.
When it comes to the situation surrounding Justin Blackmon, you pretty much know where the team and the troubled wide receiver stand because the third-year receiver has not made much of an attempt to contact the team or players who have reached out to him.
When it comes to the recent developments concerning Ace Sanders, I am not sure where I stand on this issue other than the fact this is another pass catcher on a Jaguars roster who is troubled for one reason or another. But there is something about this situation that makes me want Sanders to be the exception – not the norm when it comes to athletes and substance abuse.
“Sometimes life hits, and it hits hard. I’ve made some mistakes that I do regret…,” Sanders said.
WE have heard this all before – not just from Sanders and Blackmon, but from other players with the Jaguars and other franchises in the NFL who seem to act contrite, then go back to not only hurting themselves, but the team they play for and fan bases that wear their jerseys.
The ever charismatic Gus Bradley tried to take a sad situation and turn it into a positive on Wednesday, addressing the media and discussing how the team expects to deal with the loss of a player who had 51 catches as a rookie. While the fact is the Jaguars essentially lost a good player for four weeks of the regular season (should he be suspension), the coach’s comments shed light on the fact Sanders is a human first and athlete second.
“It is unfortunate,” Bradley said Wednesday. “You hate to lose a player of Ace’s caliber for a period of time. He’s a great teammate, and players really respect him. He’s very talented.
“But with that being said, a lot of good has come about with this, and we’re not going to miss that opportunity.”
If the Jaguars do give Sanders that “opportunity” and this is an isolated incident, then kudos for Sanders for conquering demons he has to face. It also shows this is a franchise who believes in the kicker returner/wide receiver. It also sends a message to the team, the league and the fans that the Jaguars don’t judge a player who suddenly becomes flawed – the investment the team shows in Sanders could produce a return that speaks volumes on what kind of character both sides have.
By: David Levin (@davidlevin71)
Oops, they did it again. If you are keeping score at home, here it goes; Jimmy Smith had an issue with drugs. They ended his career. R Jay Soward couldn’t get to Jaguars practice because of his affinity for the illegal stuff. Reggie Williams may have been serviceable, but he liked the wacky weed. Matt Jones was caught with drugs as a member of the team. Justin Blackmon has been suspended more than he has been on the field and now we can add Ace Sanders to the list of players who have been in violation at one point or another of using illegal substances.
Take into account that Jerry Porter and Troy Williamson never panned out as free agent pickups (without violations) and the wide receiver unit for these Jaguars over the course of its existence has been a lesson futility. Quite honestly, I wonder if the team is somehow cursed.
With the latest announcement of Sanders violating the NFL”s Substance Abuse Policy, you have to wonder if the team will ever be able to field a unit that is error and guilt free. It also makes the drafting of Marquis Lee and Allen Robinson that much more important.
The Jaguars are on the uptick and no matter whether I write about wasted cabanas and fan-friendly activities, this is just another blow to the roster as the team must now concentrate on another off-field issue. In recent years, Blackmon, Maurice Jones-Drew and the hires and firings have been the issues which have put the team on the map and in the media. The recent growth of the roster, the draft picks the past two seasons and of course Gus Bradley and his intensity have overcome those obstacles.
This one, however small it seems in NFL context, is more damaging to the team because it halts the progression this team has made. It also may have determined Sanders’ fate on a roster that is now crowded with solid hands.
Lee and Robinson have helped to cause plenty of competition on the outside.
“I just really wanted to let the fan base know, let my family know, let Mr. Shad Khan, (General Manager) Dave Caldwell and (Head) Coach Gus (Bradley) and all my teammates know that I am truly sorry for what has happened,” Sanders said on Jaguars.com.
The apology is one thing, but showing that he meant it is far more important. Blackmon did the same thing – three times – and is not on the current roster, but has not been released by the organization.
One can only hope this is a one-time offense and not the start of another situation that will grow from a tiny spore into a larger mushroom.
This team and its fans deserve a better fate than to have to go through this again.
Fulham players to sign autographs with Jaguars players following Friday’s training camp practice
Members of Fulham Football Club will attend the Jaguar’ first training camp practice on Friday at 9:55 a.m. at the Florida Blue Practice Fields. Fulham players will sign autographs along with Jaguars players following practice.
Fulham FC players will be visiting a youth summer camp at the YMCA (7373 Old Kings Road S, Jacksonville, FL 32217) from 3-3:45 p.m. on Friday. Media are encouraged to attend.
Fulham and D.C. United to hold open practices at EverBank Field Friday evening
Fulham and D.C. United will each hold an open practice session at EverBank Field on Friday evening in preparation for their friendly match on Saturday. D.C. United will practice from 5:30-7 p.m. at EverBank Field while Fulham will practice from 7-8:30 p.m. Gates will open to the public at 5 p.m., and all fans should park in lots C or D and enter the stadium through the East Touchdown Club.
For media, Fulham Manager Felix Magath and selected players will be available to the media at 6:45 p.m. outside the south locker room at EverBank Field.
Fans encouraged to use JTA Stadium Shuttle Saturday evening
There will be limited available parking for the July 26th Mega Event in and around the sports complex. With three events and the first beginning at 6 p.m., fans are encouraged to use the JTA Stadium Shuttle. The Stadium Shuttle will be available for $7.00 round trip from one location, the Convention Center Lot, at 1005 Forsyth St., across from the Prime Osborn Convention Center.
Limited spaces available for Monday’s practice at Bartram Trail High School
A limited number of spaces are available for the Jaguars training camp practice on Monday, July 28 at Bartram Trail High in St. Johns County. The practice is scheduled to run from 6-8:20 p.m. Fans must register at jaguars.com/rsvp and show a proof of RSVP at the gate before entering.
By: David Levin (@davidlevin71)
The Jaguars could not ask for a better offseason than the one the team is enjoying right now. As training camp opens this week and the finishing touches are put on new scoreboards and cabana seating and swimming pools, it is a good time to be a fan of the “hippest” football team in the NFL. All those things are great, but there is still one thing that has not been fixed with this franchise yet – a winning record and a drive toward the playoffs.
I hate to burst anyone’s bubble here, but facts are facts. A 6-26 record the past two years, plenty of team turnover and changes made up and down a roster that now has the look of a “real” NFL franchise are road blocks this team must address. The fancy decorations may be great and they look better than anything the city and its fans have seen before. But the amenities do not win football games. Novelties are great. Win football is reality.
We are a city and a fan base that has now been teased by the prince and we hope the gala never ends. We can only keep the clock from striking midnight by doing things – winning and improving.
Shad Khan, Gus Bradley and David Caldwell must continue to work together to make this happen. While making the NFL experience better for fans is one of the most important elements of a winning football culture, unless touchdowns are caught and fumbles are recovered, it all means nothing. Players must step up, rookies must adapt and free agents must impress. Everything means nothing if we are 2-6 after eight games this year.
The Jaguars have a chance to be “something” but that “something” isn’t known yet. Maybe they are a playoff team like Gil Brandt said last week. Maybe they are the team that mirrors a Seattle Seahawks rebuild. Maybe in three years the defense is regarded as the best in the NFL, but for now our team is truly the great unknown.”
Our practice facility will open to the public this week, and thousands of fans will flock to see what the noise is all about, take some pictures, get some autographs and live in the “Jaguars moment.” We will buy season tickets, put on our new jerseys and support our team. But in the end, it means nothing if the product on the field does not generate a new look and a new field. Because if the product on the field can’t improve, the improvements off the field really mean nothing.