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Trevor Lawrence #16 of the Jacksonville Jaguars walks onto the field after the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Acrisure Stadium on October 29, 2023 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Jaguars beat the Steelers 20-10.
Lauren Leigh Bacho/Getty Images

In recent weeks I have been positively inundated by requests for more "Jaguars Junction" content. (From readers, mind you—not the editors at Defector, who seem to have a rather laissez-faire attitude towards the site's editorial consistency.) The Jaguars are doing well, I gather, prompting a predictable outpouring of attention from fair-weather fans, leading in consequence to a clamor for high-quality analysis. The truth is that my schedule has not allowed me to divert my attention to football games and other little amusements that occupy the time of you fortunate souls who have little "going on" in your lives. 

For example: Mornings of late I have spent reclined on the couch, reading from a volume titled The Mammoth Book of Life Before The Mast: Sailors' eyewitness accounts from the age of fighting ships, edited by Jon E. Lewis. A typical weekday finds me absorbed in the words of a long-forgotten captain in the Royal Navy, circa 1794-1813, as he narrates his journey in the ship's log. French privateers are encountered and triumphantly conquered; prizes are captured; masts are splintered by cannon fire, and unfortunate boatswains have their arms removed by grapeshot in spirited back-and-forth salvos between these seaborne representatives of Europe's great powers. These episodes, thrilling though they may be, lead me to ponder elusive questions about this historic era. Was it all worth it? Building the ships, filling them up with casks of water and ale and ship's biscuits, putting them to sea, braving weather, prowling the hostile Portuguese coasts in search of merchantmen who can be claimed under the permissive laws of war? Young children, 12 years old, cast out to sea, tiny specks whose lives are determined by a clash of greedy empires, whose days are spent scrubbing decks and hoping not to whipped with a cat-o-nine-tails by a power-mad officer—was this the best educational system that England could come up with? Ever hear of a class room? For adults, the bargain was scarcely better. Even setting aside those who were violently pressed into His Majesty's Service by impressment gangs scouring seaside towns for unfortunate and unwilling recruits, a life at sea in the early 19th century was one sure to be riddled with woe. Then you read about the "prizes" they took from the ships that they raided—usually something like "a barrel of herring," or "cloth." I have yet to see the appeal of this lifestyle. With several chapters remaining to read, though, I will not issue a definitive judgment until I have had a chance to thoroughly digest the firsthand evidence. 

After several hours of intellectual exploration along these lines, I typically nap in the afternoons. Upon awaking there is an hour or so of lying still, to regain my senses. Often it has already begun to get dark by then, so I turn my attention to the matter of supper. And so the days proceed. This is the work that comprises the Life of the Mind. For all of the readers demanding that I produce ever more "content" like a mindless algorithm, I would love to hear suggestions as to when you expect this work to be completed. Shall I roll out of bed at 4:30 p.m., open my eyes, and, in my groggy state, immediately compose a flawless essay, which meets the exacting standards that this franchise has established? Absurd. The next time that you consider firing off an email haughtily ordering me to "do more Jaguars Junction," stop for a moment and ask yourself whether you would similarly issue a high-handed ultimatum to the great Lord Nelson. "Oh sir, I know that you have to beat the French and Spanish fleets at the Battle of Trafalgar, but would you mind setting all of that aside in order to compose some light verse making light of various sporting contests back on home's safe shores?" 

You would never do that. 

This "bye" week has at last allowed both the Jaguars and their humble chronicler to catch our collective breath. As we look ahead, let us all resolve to treat one another with a greater degree of understanding. Each of us is engaged in his own private struggle. None of us are mere entertainers. We are people. There we stand, before the mast, or the goalposts. Eyes on your fate, gentlemen. The real action is just over the horizon.

“Jaguars Junction” is an independent source of football analysis unaffiliated with any professional sports franchise.

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