Founded in 1993, the Jacksonville Jaguars joined the National Football League (NFL) as an expansion team in 1995, alongside the Carolina Panthers.
The idea of bringing an NFL team to Jacksonville originated in the late 1980s when the city was experiencing a growth spurt. J. Wayne Weaver, a successful businessman, and philanthropist spearheaded the effort to bring a team to the city. Weaver and other local leaders formed the “Touchdown Jacksonville!” organization to garner support and cultivate public interest in the project.
In 1991, the NFL announced that it would add two (2) expansion teams to the league for the 1995 season. Following a competitive bidding process, Jacksonville, Florida, and Charlotte, North Carolina, were awarded the 1995 franchises. Weaver was named the principal owner of the Jacksonville franchise, initially dubbed the Jacksonville Jaguars. Opening in 1995 and originally known as Jacksonville Municipal Stadium, the Jaguar’s home field is the TIAA Bank Field.
The Jaguar’s first game. The team played its first game on September 3, 1995, against the Houston Oilers, now known as the Tennessee Titans. Unfortunately, the Jaguars lost that game 10-3, but they quickly became a force to be reckoned with in the NFL. Jaguars go to the playoffs. In just their second season in the league, the Jaguars’ made their first playoff appearance in 1996. The team finished the regular season with a 9-7 record and earned a wild card spot in the playoffs. In the first round, they defeated the Buffalo Bills 30-27 in an exciting game that went to overtime. The Jaguars’ season ended in the next round, however, when they lost to the eventual Super Bowl champion New England Patriots. Throughout the late 1990s and early 2000s, the Jaguars continued to be a competitive team, making the playoffs four (4) more times but never securing a Super Bowl.
In the mid-2000s, the Jaguars began to struggle on the field. The team missed the playoffs for five consecutive seasons from 2002 to 2006, and attendance at home games began to decline. In 2009, Weaver sold the team to Illinois businessman Shahid Khan. The team has made the playoffs just once since 2007, in 2017.
The Jaguars today. However, the Jaguars have made some notable moves in recent years to try to turn things around. In 2019, they hired former college coach Urban Meyer as their head coach, and they drafted Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence as the first overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.
The Jacksonville Jaguars have had a relatively short history in the NFL, but they have had their fair share of successes and challenges. Despite some struggles in recent years, the team has a dedicated fan base and continues to attract Floridians and out-of-state visitors.