As an NFL player, it's common to return to a place that was once home. Whether it was home for a year or a dozen seasons, it was still home. Heading to Jacksonville always gives me that feeling as it was my home for seven years, where I met my wife and where my son Jack was born. But, returning to a former home city is one thing; returning to the city wearing a different jersey, competing against players that were once teammates is quite another.
That's the situation Cecil Shorts III will face on Sunday when the Texans take the field against Shorts's former team the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The former Mount Union DIII All-American was drafted by the Jaguars in 2011 and played four years in Jacksonville. After only catching two passes as a rookie, Shorts then caught 53 passes each of the next three seasons.
Sunday, though, he won't be wearing a teal No. 84 jersey, but a Texans No. 18 jersey.
Shorts said on Tuesday that it'll be odd, yet exciting to return to the place where he started his career.
"It'll be exciting. I'm pretty sure my heart will be going a little bit. To see old faces you played with the last four years, you know what I mean. I've still got some good relationships with those guys. It'll be a little bit of emotion, but we've got to go out there and do our job."
I can empathize as last year was ultra-strange walking into that building where I had been numerous times, but this time wearing Texans gear. I saw a former student of mine that is in charge of the Jacksonville Roar and other marketing efforts for the Jaguars. I hadn't seen her since her graduation in 1997. My former coaching stomping grounds were just across the river from where I was standing on the sideline that day. It was a weird/odd day.
I can only imagine what it'll be like for Shorts III on Sunday.
For me, it'll be easier the second time back in Jacksonville as an employee of the Texans. But, for Cecil, his emotions will probably be all over the place as he sees his former mates in the stadium he called home for four years. However, after he makes a few catches, maybe a touchdown or two, that'll change instantly.