“Jacksonville, Florida: the classiest city on earth.”
The stadium reminded me of Detroit, as Kid Rock played throughout the stands. As I peered down at the tunnel, he appeared through the thick cloud of smoke emitted from the cheap cigarettes of fans.
My hero, Blake Bortles.
He chugged a Pabst Blue Ribbon and proceeded to crush it against his unprotected skull. He didn’t need to warm up; he was born ready.
“Kick or receive?” the ref asked him.
“I’m just here to win football games,” Bortles replied.
As the ref looked over, he saw head coach Doug Marrone signaling the Jaguars would receive.
After the kick flew through the air, the ball zipped into the hands of Dede Westbrook, who proceeded to drop it. Diving on the ball, he barely saved the drive.
As Bortles majestically trotted onto the field, backup quarterback Cody Kessler chased after him, carrying his helmet that he forgot on the sideline.
The first play started with a TJ Yeldon run up the middle; however, the handoff was fumbled, the ball slipped into the opposing player’s hands.
The crowd knew they were in for a long day as Bortles skipped off the field, not a care in the world.
As one quarter turned into three, the score held at a 3-3 tie. The pressure was on. The weight of the game was on the shoulders of the oblivious AFC South champions.
Putting his head down, Bortles turned up the sideline, kicking up grass and making it to the opponent’s 40 yardline before being forced out of bounds.
As the offense lined up once more, Bortles saw the blitz coming from a mile away and changed the play. Taking the snap, he immediately tucked the ball and ran to the outside, once again finding the edge.
As he charged down the sideline, a loud crack signaled that he was met by the safety.
When he got off the ground, his dreamy brown eyes were met by mine; however, he wasn’t gazing back. I don’t think he even knew where he was.
Suddenly, a warm sensation began to trickle down my back, slowly taking me out of my trance. I turned around to see a burly man with a half-empty beer. I smiled at him, receiving the bird in return.
With the Jaguars at the five-yard line, Marrone knew they had to catch the defense off guard. As Bortles received the snap, he dove through the defense and hit the ground. The entire stadium glanced at the ref. The crowd roared as he threw his arms in the air.
Picking himself up off the ground, he proceeded to walk up to my section of the stands and toss the football to a person two rows behind me; however, I effortlessly picked it off as it fell right into my hands.
It was a dream come true.
After the game, Bortles was signing autographs. I handed him my marker and he fumbled it.
“What’s your name?” he asked me.
“William,” I replied.
As he scribbled on the football he had only recently scored a touchdown with, he started talking about the haters.
“You know, I don’t even care what they think,” he said. “I just want to win football games.”
Handing the ball back to me, he winked. My heart began to pound out of my chest.
As I walked away from the table, I began to read the hardly legible scribbles on it. He didn’t even spell my name right.
But then I deciphered his note.
“Hey Wilyum, lets pound a couple beers sometime. Here’s my number.”
I began to cry. My dream had come true. This was the best day of my life.