Back on the road and time once again to appease my editor, who makes me do these 'On Location' pieces when we go on the road. I actually do enjoy them because it's a blessing to be on the road in the NFL (even during strict protocols which limit breathing too close to other people).
The Week 15 stop is Jacksonville. I have been here many times. The first visit was with the Miami Hurricanes for the 2000 Gator Bowl on New Year's Day. We spent 1999 New Year's Eve in downtown Jacksonville, slightly nervous about all the Y2K hype. [Kids, there was a huge fear that the world would go kablooey when 2000 hit because so many computers were programmed with a double-digit calendar, so when '99 hit '00, everything would reset. Well, we're still here!]
Anyway, that night, the city put on a terrific fireworks show, and I was impressed with what Jacksonville had to offer. If you search the top attractions, you won't exactly find the eight wonders of the world. But there are great beaches and this is definitely the golf capital of the USA.
TPC Sawgrass is an outstanding course known for the iconic island green on 17. Allow me to golf-brag and share that the only time I played it, I landed on the green with my tee shot (okay, I three-putted, if you must know but I'm still happy about not hitting into the drink).
This is a small town by NFL standards but is still a bigger TV market than New Orleans and, of course, Green Bay. Jacksonville took a lot of heat hosting the 2004 season Super Bowl when the league had to bring in cruise ships to help out with hotel space. Everyone seemed to have a good time, though (except for the Eagles. Actually, David Culley was an assistant on that team and is eager to get a win in his first visit to the city as a head coach.
The Jags' home is the former Gator Bowl. It's been renovated a few times. The latest improvements included two swimming pools in the upper deck end zone section. One seems to be for kids and families and the other appears to be populated with model types. I swear that from the radio booth, the kid-friendly pool looks murkier than the other one…but what do I know?
I think as far as Texans road trips go, you could do a lot worse than Jacksonville. The downtown area has some good places to eat and the beaches and golf are never too far away. Oh, and the Texans have an 11-8 all-time record in North Florida.
Catch the Texans at NRG Stadium on December 26 when they take on the Los Angeles Chargers. Kickoff is set for noon CT. Click here for tickets.
Check out the best photos from the Houston Texans practice on Thursday.