Jacksonville landed three nationally televised games for the upcoming season, the most it has received since the 2000 season. It's an indication that the national networks believe the Jaguars could be a legitimate contender this season.
"I think that's what you can read into it," said veteran offensive tackle Tony Pashos. "They saw the success we had last year and the fact that we advanced in the playoffs before losing to New England."
"There's no reason to think we won't be even better this season. David (Garrard) had a fantastic season for us and that was just his first year as a full-time starter. He's got the respect of all the guys in the locker room and we're all ready to support him and do whatever we can to help this team win and go even further in the playoffs."
Two of the three national TV games are against marquee teams, the Indianapolis Colts and the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Steelers game will be a rematch of last year's wild-card playoff game that the Jaguars won aided by a key 32-yard run by Garrard late in the game to put Jacksonville in position to secure the game with a field goal.
At the NFL owners meetings in West Palm Beach earlier this month, Mike Pereira, vice president of officiating for the NFL, admitted there was holding on an unidentified Jaguars lineman on the Garrard play. That's bound to add to the rivalry that currently exists between the two teams.
The Jaguars will also make their first appearance on the NFL Network on a Thursday night game when they host division rival Indianapolis on December 18. The other prime-time TV contest is on Dec. 1 when the Jaguars travel to Houston.
The TV schedule isn't without drawbacks however. With the Houston game on Monday, Dec. 1, and the Colts game on Thursday, Dec. 18, it means the Jaguars will play four games in an 18-day span instead of the normal four in 22 days.
With an attractive home schedule for the 2008 season, the Jaguars are optimistic they will avoid TV blackouts as they incurred a year ago. The team has struggled with renewals each year, with as much as a quarter to a third of their season-ticket holders not renewing.
Fortunately the team has been able to secure new fans from among the growing number of people moving to the Jacksonville area in recent years.
The ticket-renewal rate was at an all-time high for this offseason, with 84 percent of season-ticket holders renewing for another year. That's an increase of nine percent from the previous year.
"We're excited and we think the fans are excited (about the coming season)," said Tim Connolly, the senior vice president who heads the ticket selling campaign. "But we've still got a lot of work to do."
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