Since Khan’s first season as owner in 2012, no team has a worse record than the Jaguars (39-105), who until last year’s 1-15 debacle somehow never managed to be quite putrid enough to earn the No. 1 draft pick. They have outspent every other team in free agency over that period, but recorded only one winning season, in 2017, during which they lost the A.F.C. title game at New England. Since that apex, Jacksonville is 12-36.
John Caputo, the president of Bold City Brigade, a Jaguars supporters club with chapters around the country and overseas, likes to say that fair-weather Jacksonville fans cannot exist. For years, they have endured taunts about their team, their city, their own perceived apathy, and still they fork over discretionary income to watch bad football in person.
The darkness lifted in December when the worst season in franchise history yielded its most promising moment: The winless Jets beat the Los Angeles Rams in Week 15, vaulting one-win Jacksonville ahead on tiebreakers for the right to draft Lawrence. “The last month of the season was the most fun we’ve had since 2017 even though we were setting a franchise record for being terrible,” Caputo said. “Because of the Trevor watch.”
As the Jets edged Los Angeles, Caputo sat, riveted, at a bar near his home in Jacksonville Beach. Patrons chanted, “J-E-T-S, Jets, Jets, Jets!” Afraid the Jets would lose if he left, Caputo stayed until the end.
“For the last 10 years all we want is for the Jaguars to win, but they lose,” Caputo said in a video call. “And so now we’re actually cheering for them to lose, which was kind of liberating.”
His friend Pat Donnell, the Brigade’s vice president, chimed in: “And they didn’t let us down.”
In light of the team’s rebuilding fortune, fans are rallying to newfound ambitions. Since Meyer arrived, deposits for season tickets have poured in so fast — and from so many new customers — that the Jaguars hired 20 new sales representatives. Traffic on the team’s website and social media accounts has soared, with much of it coming from locations outside Florida, including the Midwest, where Meyer last coached.