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NFL Draft

Why Gardner Minshew Is Perfect QB For Jacksonville

  • The Draft Network
  • October 7, 2020
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Did you ever wonder why the St. Johns River flows north instead of south? It’s because as soon as it hit Jacksonville, it took a look around and said, “Nah, I’m out.”

As a native Floridian and University of Florida alumnus, who spent a lot of time in “good ol’ Jax” covering Jaguars games throughout college, you can rest assured there’s validity to these claims.

A self-loathing native son? Sure, you may be right, but the truth is the entire state of Florida is weird—to its very core. And Jacksonville has become an embodiment of it.

All jokes aside, the highlights are noticeable, and one of them is the extreme amount of pride the residents have, especially regarding the Jaguars. They love their team. They love their colors. Now, they love Gardner Minshew.

And there’s no reason why they shouldn’t. Minshew is perfect for Duval County. From the jorts, to the flowing locks propped back by a sleek black headband, to the way that magical mustache dances in the breeze riding in from Jacksonville Beach … Minshew Mania is alive because, from a marketing perspective, he’s the perfect fit for the city and the county.

Before we buckle in for this specific rabbit hole, consider for a moment how the Jaguars came into existence. Their first-ever trade as a franchise was for Mark Brunell, a former fifth-round pick of the Green Bay Packers. Jacksonville gave up a third-round pick and fifth-round pick in the 1995 NFL Draft to acquire the man who would lead the franchise until 2003.

He was an underdog quarterback in an underdog city, playing for an underdog franchise. And somehow, he led them to the playoffs in four consecutive seasons during that stretch.

The franchise was born off of lightning in a Bud Light bottle.

Even when you fast forward the tape to former first-round pick Byron Leftwich getting hurt and subsequently losing the starting job to former fourth-round pick David Garrard, it’s clear the fan base clings to those with more of a David-versus-Goliath type profile as opposed to the big-man-on-campus sentiment that accompanies most first-round quarterbacks.

Blaine Gabbert’s hype dribbled into the abyss. Blake Bortles truthers disappeared into the night, as any hope for him to be a successful starting quarterback deflated in seemingly one fell swoop.

Now, here comes Minshew, a sixth-round pick out of Washington State, who unapologetically took away the starting job from veteran Nick Foles despite the fact Foles had signed a four-year, $88 million contract with the Jaguars a few months earlier.

But, in all honesty, there’s more to it with Minshew in Jacksonville than just the underdog element. It’s the fact an adult film company offered him a lucrative endorsement deal. It’s the striking resemblance he bears to Uncle Rico from Napoleon Dynamite and his willingness to steer into the skid for that and any other joke made against him. It’s the idea that a professional athlete with a base salary of $495,000 in a state without income tax decided to spend his vacation taking a cross-country road trip in an RV.

For crying out loud, this man teamed up with Bud Light to promote himself as a viable fantasy football option this season.

If you’re not familiar with the Jacksonville market, you’re probably slightly confused. But if you are, then this makes perfect sense.

Of the population in Jacksonville, 61.4% of the people there either never went to college, took a few classes, or stopped after getting an Associate's Degree. And roughly 46% of the population is either a Millennial or Gen Z. That’s a pretty wide strike zone in the market for a 24-year-old quarterback, who went to four different colleges before figuring things out in his life.

It’s similar to that age-old poll about presidential campaigns regarding which one with whom people would rather grab a beer. You’d be hard pressed to find a single soul in Duval County who doesn’t want to grab a beer with Minshew.

He is perfect for that market, and if he can manage to keep progressing and eventually find sustained success with the Jaguars, the advertising dollars will pile up for Minshew to go full-on Scrooge McDuck diving into a pool of money. Hell, the guy probably loves DuckTales, too. How could you not love him?

And that’s the point. Minshew is beloved in Jacksonville. He was made for Jaksonville. The target audience he appeals to accounts for more than half of the city and is growing.

First-round quarterbacks don’t belong in the Jacksonville market. Do you want Trevor Lawrence? Okay, go right on ahead. Football wise, there’s no debate there. But from a marketing perspective, from a public relations perspective, and from a profit margins perspective, Minshew is a walking, talking, female-gawking goldmine for the Jaguars.

He’s costing pennies on the dollar for the franchise. So, if they can build a contender around him and find that same kind of mojo Brunell found almost two decades ago, the Jaguars have a chance to build and develop audiences within newer, younger demographics that they might have previously been struggling with.

And the corporate partnership potential can’t be ignored either. Imagine the conversations the franchise can field regarding exclusivity if Minshew ends up leading the team to the playoffs in the next couple of years. Imagine the interest from up-and-coming brands looking to tap into southeastern markets—just like Jacksonville.

Plus, the brand power behind the mustache and Minshew Mania is astronomical. We’re talking about macro-level campaigns that could be built off of those two things alone. The fact that both are organic and simply who he is as a person makes it all the better. He’s a down-to-earth guy and doesn’t try too hard. People respect and identify with that, especially in Jacksonville.

He wants to be there. Jacksonville wants him there. Now, all we need is for Minshew to get “DUUUVAL” tattooed on his back, so we know it’s real.

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