On the surface, Chris French looks just like any other 21 year-old college senior. He sits through classes, drives a car, cooks his own food, and even hosts his own podcast, the Hot Tub Experience.
But those who know Chris understand that his life is a little bit different than ours, because he has a unique trait that shapes his day-to-day life.
Chris is a Jacksonville Jaguars fan.
I recently sat down with Chris for a full deep-dive into Jaguars fandom. We discussed how he got into the Jags, the moments that have defined his fanhood, and the craziest things he has done in the name of the Jaguars.
Growing up an NFL Nomad
Chris grew up in South Florida, right in the middle of Miami Dolphins country. Despite most of his friends being Dolphin mega-fans, Chris found it hard to connect with Miami’s culture: “(Dolphins fans) have the same elite mindset that you would find in a Cowboys fan. It all stems from the 1972 perfect season… they’re on a drug trip that will never end”. This elitism simply didn’t resonate with Chris; he values grit, hard work, determination, and fun - all things he did not see in the Dolphins.
So Chris found himself a nomad among NFL fans, not connecting with his hometown team and finding nowhere else to call home.
That began to change when the Jaguars drafted Blaine Gabbert to be their starting quarterback in 2011. A lifelong Missouri Tiger fan (“QB2-U”, as he calls it), Chris now had reason to pay attention to the Jaguars. He watched with mild interest through the early 2010’s as Gabbert headed up the Jacksonville offense. But in 2014, the Jaguars would select a QB even closer to Chris’s heart - Blake Bortles, a “true Florida man” -, which made Chris pay even more attention to the Jags. After a few of his friends floated the idea of converting from Dolphins to Jaguars fans, Chris now had a valid reason to cheer for the team he had wanted to be a fan of all along.
By 2017, just in time for a magical AFC championship run, Chris was a full-on, out-of-the-closet Jaguars fan. He watched in amazement as the Jaguars’ stifling defense grinded out win after win, ultimately losing a nail-biter to the Patriots in the AFC Championship (and don’t forget - Myles Jack wasn’t down).
When Stars Align: From Casual Fan to Jaguars Man
However, it wasn’t until the last game of the 2018 season (which was a letdown after the previous year’s postseason run) that Chris experienced what he calls his “baptism” as a Jags fan. The scene was poetic - Chris’s Jags traveled south to face a Dolphins team that was one win away from a playoff berth. In the stands, watching his newfound love take on his bitter ex, was Chris.
The game was tight throughout, with the Jaguars’ defense making plays to make up for a lackluster offensive performance. A light tension swept over the stadium as fans of both teams prayed for a change of momentum. With the Dolphins up late, Chris was faced with the horrifying reality that he may have to watch those same snobby Dolphin fans celebrate a playoff berth, against his new team - right in his face.
Duval Nation had different plans. As fate would have it, the Jaguars extinguished Miami’s season by recovering a fumble for a touchdown.
Meanwhile, in the stands, Chris was experiencing his baptism.
Surrounded by Jags fans, screaming for joy as the clock struck zero, Chris was in his personal heaven. Chants of “DUVALLLL” roared through the stadium, and hoards of deflated Dolphins fans exited the arena as the reality that their postseason hopes were truly dead slowly sank in.
Amid the elation, a Miami fan launched a beer can at Chris’s back, and he felt the unmistakable sting of aluminum strike his body. Despite the shock of being hit with a can, Chris couldn’t have cared less.
Standing there, with beer soaking his Jalen Ramsey jersey, a new Jaguars fan had been indoctrinated into the Duvall school of football.
After years of wandering, Chris French had found an NFL home.
Does anyone else out there have a story like Chris’s? Let us know in the comments below!
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