Yes, yes, sweet Mother Hubbard, yes!
We are huge football fans round here. In the NFL, Mr PugRunner is a Jets fan (sigh), I am a Dolphins fan, and we agreed that little man will be raised as a Jaguars fan. It keeps Sundays somewhat civil.
For the past three years, we have attended the open-to-the-public training camps that the Jaguars host, enjoying the up-close look at the players, and appreciating the fan interaction afterwards. Owner Shad Khan and head coach Gus Bradley are going out of their way to create a great product and a great experience and I am super excited to see what the season brings.
All the camps were in the morning, so we ended up hitting Saturday’s and Sunday’s sessions. Warning: massive photo dump ahead.
Saturday. Was. Awful. It was so hot and so humid and practice ran a lot longer than it did last year. Poor little man was an absolute mess by the end (and I was right behind him).
We watched everything from the team walking in, to the warm ups and the stretches, to the drills and the scrimmages.
There were a few differences from the last few years that are worth noting. For one, the covered bleachers to the back of the practice area were not open as they had been in years past, which was kind of a bummer. It’s definitely nicer to watch from the shade. Additionally, this year they pumped in some pretty fun music through the speaker system which gave a much more fun atmosphere.
As practice started to wind down, we headed out to the barricades leading from the practice field to the stadium to wait for players. Dark clouds rolled in, threatening a nasty storm, but the sudden drop of temperature was heavenly. When we had walked in, we had been handed green lanyards from some Publix representatives – the first 750 fans received one in honor of the announcement that Publix would be the Official Supermarket of the Jacksonville Jaguars. To celebrate, the lanyard-bearing fans were invited to a delicious tailgate after practice. Publix had set up a huge tent, and was serving all kind of delicious foods: chicken tenders, fried chicken, potato salad, shrimp gazpacho, ramen salad, pork sliders and little desserts.
I offered to hold our spot while the boys went to get some food. As as special gift, Publix gave away some really nice co-branded Jaguars t-shirts. Love swag. They came back with cold water and a delicious brownie bite, and then the players started walking back to the locker room.
It was kind of a slow autograph day. No one wanted to get caught in the storm, and the poor players were surely exhausted from a grueling practice in 90-something degree weather and high humidity. We did get to say hi to #51 Paul Posluzny (I was bummed that little man didn’t want to smile for a picture with him),
And #93 Tyson Alualu (that is just fun to say), who was awesome enough to come down the line for a few more autographs and high-fives, even though the coaches were herding them inside.
On Sunday morning, we headed back, this time arriving about an hour before the end of practice, rather than being there for the beginning. It was overcast and significantly cooler so little man was in a much better mood (understandably).
We missed the stretching, but I was excited to see that the Jags were practicing in pads. That always makes things more exciting.
There were some real bright spots. The defense looked really good. Really good. And I loved watching wide receivers Cecil Shorts III and rookie Ace Sanders in action. They both have so much heart and are huge assets for the o-line. Of course, Josh Scobee, the kicker, and Bryan Anger, the punter, looked incredible. And the quarterbacks… Well… there’s still work to be done. Backup (and former Dolphin!) Chad Henne and newcomer Matt Scott looked pretty solid, while I thought Blaine Gabbert seemed out of sync and Mike Kafka struggled. I’m hoping things improved throughout the week, especially knowing that Gabbert was injured at Monday’s practice.
The team worked hard and seemed to be in great spirits. I’m excited to see them in action on the field for real.
Once again, after practice we headed back down to the barricades.
Little man was a lot more chatty today, so we were able to exchange hellos with Gabbert and Henne, Anger, enormous rookie OT Luke Joeckel, Jeremy Mincey and Marcedes Lewis.
We got a photo with Ace Sanders, who is just as sweet as can be.
And then, out came little man’s favorite player: guard Uche Nwaneri. We had seen him briefly yesterday, but he wasn’t able to get over to us, and we were lucky to be able to come back out to try again. Little man had a #77 jersey that he wore pretty much every Sunday last season, but he had outgrown it and we were hoping that Uche would sign it. He did.
The Uche love started in 2011, when Mr PugRunner took little man to the stadium to pick up a particular shirt the Jaguars were selling. They happened to be leaving as the players were heading back to their cars after a practice and Mr PugRunner (who has the amazing skill of being able to approach pretty much anyone), walked right up to Uche and asked him for a picture. Uche was so gracious and obliged, and little man was a fan for life. He was even taped for a sports segment on our local news while he was wearing his #77 jersey, which was really cool. I’m excited to get the jersey framed for him with a collage of these pictures through the years. I love that we have one for every year since we’ve started attending practices and games.
Preseason starts this weekend, and I’m a little sad that we won’t be at the game, but I’m hoping we’ll make up for it during regular season.
Are you ready for football season?
What’s your favorite NFL team? How about in the NCAA?
Is there a player you just absolutely adore?
Karen @karenlovestorun says
Looks like fun! Your son is adorable 🙂
We don’t watch a lot of pro football but my fiancee LOVES college football. He went to one of the Big Ten schools so we are always watching those games on the weekend. My parents love football and throw a big Super Bowl party each year, it’s fun!
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It was so much fun. I am always so impressed at how accessible the players and coaches are. Mr PugRunner was super disappointed because they said that Head Coach Gus Bradley stayed to chat and sign autographs until the last fan left on both days, and he thought he was already back in the building. I say all the time that they may not be the best team in the league, but they are doing something right when it comes to their fans. Fingers crossed that we see some great things out of them this year.
In the NCAA we are huge Miami Hurricanes fans (I’m an alum, class of 98!). It’s hard living in Gators/Noles/Bulldog country, but we make it work.
Amanda @ There Are 2 Sides says
We are huge U of Michigan fans in our house.
And we are Browns fans when it comes to NFL.
But college is our thing.
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I think a lot more people enjoy NCAA than NFL. It’s a little bit more exciting for sure.
Good luck to the Browns this year. It’s a tough team to love.
Kristen @ Medium Roast says
Full disclosure: I don’t regularly follow football. That being said, I love sitting down to watch a game with friends and really rooting for a team. Being that I’m from Maryland and I am a lover of literature, I love that the MD football team is named after Edgar Allen Poe’s poem, the Raven. And It was pretty cool when they won the superbowl. But again, not real allegiances.
That is so wonderful that the players were kind enough to stop off and say hello/take pictures. I love athletes who are humble enough to celebrate the people that celebrate them! It really does make fans for life. And your little guys is SO CUTE! I hope you keep trying to get a pictures with the same player each year. That would be such a neat keepsake!
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Gasp! Well, at least you love to watch. And I love your rationalization for liking the Ravens.
I have to say, these guys are amazing. There have only been one or two who just can’t be bothered, which is unfortunate, but the others more than make up for it. I love that a few of the players actually remember us (well, little man) from year to year. They have such great attitudes. I hope that as long as Uche is on the team, we’re able to get those pics, because you’re right, it would be a great keepsake.
I remember going to the Chiefs’ camp as a kid, so this brought back great memories.
Somehow, I picked up my dad’s love of the Dallas Cowboys (I couldn’t stand them for many years and was a huge Brett Favre/Green Bay fan. When Brett left, I started following my dad’s team. If they’d get rid of Tony Romo, I’d be happier.
I’m a Kansas State graduate and love going back for a few games each year. I love college football!
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Sadly for Tony Romo, I think I lot of people would be happier if he left. Brett Favre was always one of my favorites, until the infamous sexting incident a few years ago. What a huge disappointment.
College ball is the best. We are getting to go to a Hurricanes game this year and I am GIDDY with excitement.
Presh @ The Coily Bombshell says
You’re a dolFAN!! Me tooo! I’m from Miami so that’s my home team! I love me some football. I don’t watch it every sunday but I’m not one of those girls that be like uggghhh football nooo. lol.
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HUGE DOLFAN! I was a season ticket holder for about 5 years, and I would have continued but we moved. Sad panda.
Once the season starts, we pretty much watch Mondays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays. We have the NFL Ticket and it’s all games, all the time. We do fantasy teams from time to time, too. I miss the tailgating and being AT the games, but I think we will get Jags season tickets soon.
Debbie @ DebRuns says
Yes, we are ready for some football! We have season tickets for our beloved Virginia Tech Hokies! Growing up I was a huge Dolphins fan, too! Now I cheer for the Redskins and the Ravens… our two local teams. I’m thrilled that our Hokie QB Tyrod Taylor plays for the Ravens, even though he doesn’t see much playing time yet.
I love all of the photos of your little man with his favorite players!
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Yay for more DolFans! I hope you enjoy your season!
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Oh my, your little guy must’ve been in HEAVEN! What a fun experience!
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He really was. And I was in heaven because he was. <3
Yay for football season! I’m a HUGE Gators fan! And my family’s had season tickets since the inaugural season. And I loooove fantasy football!
Your football pictures look fake(in a good way!)–they’re so incredibly perfect! What kind of camera do you use?
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Yay for football season, is right!
I am shooting with a Canon Rebel T4i. I think I was using my 85mm for most of them (with the 15-85 for meet & greets). I love it.