The Jacksonville Jaguars were founded in 1993, but they were almost left out of the NFL’s expansion plans.
The Jacksonville Jaguars nickname history stretches back 28 years to when the team was first introduced into the NFL.
Before Jacksonville competed for the Super Bowl, there was the Gator Bowl, an annual college football bowl game held in Jacksonville, FL. The Gator Bowl was first established in 1946 and is the first college bowl ever to be televised nationally.
In 1993, the NFL unveiled plans to expand to two new cities: the first would be Charlotte, North Carolina, and the second would be either St. Louis, Jacksonville, Baltimore or Memphis.
In November 1993, following a hard-fought four-year campaign, the Jacksonville Jaguars became the 30th franchise of the NFL. Businessman Tom Petway spearheaded the city’s expansion application, and after renovating the already existing Gator Bowl stadium, the Jacksonville Jaguars were ready to play their first game.
How did the Jacksonville Jaguars get their nickname?
In 1991, two years before the city was officially awarded an expansion team, a fan contest was held to choose Jacksonville’s nickname. Names such as the “Sharks” and the “Stingrays” were considered before finally settling on the “Jaguars.” Though jaguars aren’t technically native to the city, the oldest living jaguar in North America was housed in the Jacksonville Zoo.
The Jaguars began to play in 1995 alongside the Carolina Panthers of the National Football Conference. The Jaguars’ first college draft pick was future All-Pro tackle Tony Boselli, who would play a pivotal role in their offense and help the Jaguars become a winning franchise.
The Jaguars’ 4-12 inaugural season record was the NFL’s best for an expansion team. Not long after their debut, Jacksonville reached the AFC Championship game in 1996 and 1999.