There will be more to Sunday than just a football game between Jacksonville and Buffalo. There will be more than the return of EJ Manuel to the Sunshine State, where he played college ball at FSU.
There will be more to the game than C.J. Spiller returning to the area where he grew up. And there wull be more to the game than Paul Posluszny playing against his old team for the first time since he left Buffalo for Jacksonville.
Sunday will be all about Mark Brunell.
It is hard to believe that Mark Brunell was not the first quarterback to start a game for the Jacksonville Jaguars.
That honor goes to Steve Beuerlein. But midway through the second half the Jaguars first game of their infancy, Brunell replaced Beuerlein and a star was on his way to NFL success. The former backup to Brett Favre did more to help put this team in the map in the mid to late 1990s than any other player in Jaguars history (maybe with the exception of Tony Boselli and Fred Taylor).
On Sunday, the man who is still regarded as the best quarterback to ever play the position for the teal and black is having his No. 8 retired as he enters the Pride of the Jaguars.
“I am deeply honored,” Brunell said this week on jaguars.com. “Of all the honors and awards I have received in this game, this is tops. No question.”
Brunell on Sunday will be inducted into the Pride of the Jaguars. He joins former Jaguars left tackle Tony Boselli – Brunell’s best friend from their playing days with the Jaguars from 1995-2002 – and former running back Fred Taylor, with whom Brunell played from 1998-2003. He also joins former Jaguars Owners Wayne and Delores Weaver.
Brunell in the prime of his career was the dual option teams today look for. A passer with a cannon arm and legs that could stretch for a first down, he made the position one where teams were following the Jaguars pattern. Brunell responded by leading the neophyte team to two AFC Champions in the first five years of existence. Those are feats few can lay claim to.
Sure he had help with Boselli and Leon Searcy at tackles, Taylor at running back and Jimmy Smith and Keenan McCardell at receiver, but everything was channeled through their leader.
According to jaguars.com senior writer John Oehser, “Brunell, the first player acquired in a trade by the Jaguars, played for the franchise from 1995-2003, and made three Pro Bowls. He moved into the starting lineup in 1995, quarterbacked the Jaguars to four playoff appearances, two AFC Championship Games and two AFC Central titles and was the standout player in one of the most memorable games in franchise history."
"That was the AFC Divisional Playoff victory over the Denver Broncos in the 1996 postseason, a game the Jaguars won, 30-27, at Mile High Stadium in Denver and the signature game in the team’s run that season from 4-7 to an AFC Championship Game loss in New England.”