Jaguars President Details How EverBank Rally Came Together After Road Playoff Win
Jaguars President Mark Lamping said that EverBank Field operator SMG "contacted him last week to discuss the prospect of opening up the stadium" if the team advanced to the AFC Championship Game, and only a "select group of people knew" about the plan to host a homecoming rally, according to Joe Daraskevich of the FLORIDA TIMES-UNION. Lamping: "The genesis of the idea dates back to ‘96 when the team returned from Denver, and the team plane flew over the stadium. The thought was to try and replicate that.” Daraskevich notes certain members of the Jaguars gameday staff "knew to be ready" ahead of the team's game against the Steelers, but the public "remained in the dark until after the game." Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry "sent out a message on Twitter shortly after the final whistle so people knew not to rush to the airport to welcome the team back to Jacksonville." SMG Jacksonville GM Bill McConnell said that the "most convenient part of the day was the fact that EverBank Field was hosting the Blue-Grey All-American Bowl for high school football players." It was simply a "matter of making sure contingency plans were ready to go." McConnell said that he "worked closely with the Sheriff’s Office so there were plenty of personnel inside and outside the stadium." About 10,000 fans "gathered in the stadium to congratulate the team when they got home." Neither Lamping or McConnell would comment on "any victory parties in the works" if the Jags were to beat the Patriots in Sunday's AFC Championship (FLORIDA TIMES-UNION, 1/16).
CAT SCRATCH FEVER: In Jacksonville, Vic Micolucci reported Fanatics yesterday saw a 1,200% increase in Jaguars merchandise sales in the 24 hours since the win over the Steelers -- with RB Leonard Fournette, CB Jalen Ramsey and QB Blake Bortles jerseys "being the top sellers." Fanatics said that more Jaguars gear "sold Sunday than the previous seven days combined" (NEWS4JAX.com, 1/15).