A Bittersweet Journey

Growing up my dad and I watched the Miami Dolphins just about every Sunday during football season. I wasn’t really aware of football when the Dolphins were winning their superbowls so I watched during the era of Marino and Clayton and Duper as they almost made it year after year but never did.  My dad and I attended exhibition games at the old Gator Bowl and were in the stands the night that Bob Irsay arrived to use the city to get a deal somewhere else.

My dad was at work at 4pm on November 30th, 1995 when the NFL announced that the Jacksonville Jaguars had been awarded a franchise.  He was working the next night as well when my mother, my sister and I were in attendance with 25,000 other people to see the Weavers fly in to Jacksonville and we bought our season tickets that night.  I was 29 with a very low paying job, a lot of debt, and no savings but I couldn’t miss out on the opportunity to be part of the football dream that my dad and I had been having for decades.  We bought 6 tickets that night in section 412 high atop the upper deck. It was all we could afford, but we were there that year and the next and the next.

My sister moved away several years later and sadly gave up her tickets.   After many seasons we managed to convince my father that he could afford seats in the General Bowl and we moved our remaining 4 tickets to section 213. For the next few years we moved around a couple of times in section 213 (a ticket foul up by the Jaguars one year caused us to lose the best seats we had been able to acquire up till then) .  Finally, with my mom’s health failing my dad chose not to renew his season tickets for the 2008 season. He felt that mom was no longer able to go and he didn’t want to go alone. It was a decision that I tried to reverse at the time but it turned out he would pass away from a stroke in August finally passing after my wife and I watched a pre-season game with him in his room at hospice.

My wife and I maintained our tickets that year though we went to few of the games due to the powerful emotions that watching the games without him stired up inside us and my mom’s health issues.  She passed a year and a half later after the 2009 season. All throughout the next year my wife and I dealt with the death of both of her parents coming only a few months apart. The 2010 season was another season where we attended only a few games due to the family health issues.

The 2011 season was the first since my dad’s passing that we managed to attend most games again. The emotions were not nearly as strong and we could go to the games without being constantly saddened that they weren’t there. This year was also the year that something else momentous in our lives as Jaguar Season Ticket Holders would occur.  My company had purchased tickets in the East Touchdown Club for use in marketing. We had the fortune (or curse ) of being able to use those tickets three times in 2011. We knew the first time we attended a game in the Touchdown Club that our ticket costs were going to go up.

All throughout the off season we have been talking about finding a way to upgrade our seats to the Touchdown Club. Finally today several events came together to make that a reality.  A combination of lower prices this year in the East Club and some financial good fortune in other areas allowed me to make the phone call that I wanted to make. As I sat today after upgrading our seats to the Touchdown Club I got a little sad, my dad would have loved to have been able to sit in the Club Section, to have 50 yard line tickets and my mother who struggled the entire time getting to the stadium and to her seats due to health would have had a much better time of it.  I am elated to watch the first full season from our new seats, but there is a part of me that really wishes they were still around to experience it with me. That is a feeling that I have not had quite a while.

 

 

Jerry Sutton

I am, at heart, a software developer though I am currently managing a small Information Technology department for a mid sized company located in my hometown of Jacksonville, FL. When I am not playing with the latest smart-phone or trying to become inspired to write code I read almost anything I can get my hands on from Pulp Era adventures to biographies of world leaders and everything in between.