Jaguars Dispute Notion Of Player Protests Hurting Week 6 Attendance Figure
The Jaguars on Sunday drew their lowest attendance figure since Owner Shahid Khan bought the team in '11, and team President Mark Lamping said that the team "vehemently disagreed" with a theory that protesting players were a reason for the decline, according to Gene Frenette of the FLORIDA TIMES-UNION. The crowd of 56,232 for Rams-Jaguars sparked "immediate speculation" that the decline was due to fans staying away over protesting players in Week 3. Lamping insisted that the downsized crowd was the "result of not giving away nearly 6,000 tickets to first-responders like they did" for a Week 2 game against the Titans. Lamping: "I’m not disputing that there’s a (legitimate) story on Jaguars crowds. What I am disputing is the difference between the first and second game (attendance) being the anthem issue. The people who had tickets actually used them in greater percentage for the Rams game (than Tennessee)." But Frenette writes the truth is there is "no definitive way to know how many of them had tickets and chose to not attend the Rams game for that reason." What "appears evident is the fans’ biggest reason for smaller numbers so far this year is tied more to losing fatigue" than the issue of protests. Coming off six consecutive losing seasons, including 3-13 last year, the Jaguars "didn’t get their usual uptick from new season-ticket sales in the offseason." Lamping: "You can only sell hope for so long. I think the fans are sending a message to start proving it on the field." Frenette: "There’s only one proven method for the Jaguars to re-connect with some alienated fans and restore a true home-field advantage. Just win more games" (FLORIDA TIMES-UNION, 10/17).
MISSING PIECES: In Baltimore, Mike Preston reports there were "about 10,000 to 15,000 fan no-shows at M&T Bank Stadium" for Bears-Ravens on Sunday. Fan enthusiasm has been "dipping for years, and it appeared to hit a low point last season" when Eagles, Redskins and Steelers fans "occupied huge chunks of seats." The recent debate over player protests "just gave fans another reason to stay home." But the "biggest problem is that most NFL games aren’t entertaining, especially in Baltimore, where the Ravens have been stuck in mediocrity for years." In the past, the Ravens had "superstar players like Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Jonathan Ogden and Jamal Lewis in their prime." Now they have "virtually no one." Ravens QB Joe Flacco is "on the downside of his career," and the most popular jersey being sold right now "might belong" to K Justin Tucker. Preston: "When a kicker is maybe your most visible player, that’s trouble." The Ravens "need to get back to their old identity of playing tough, dominant defense." They also "need to win" (Baltimore SUN, 10/17).