By Nick Shook
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Super Bowl week in the year’s host city — for this iteration, Houston — is annually a hive of activity, excitement and seemingly unending media attention.
Look around and you’ll likely see at least a few current NFL players taking in the sights, sounds and festivities among football royalty and almost anyone who’s anyone. At least one player is already tired of it.
“I’m unfortunately used to it,” Jaguars wide receiver Allen Robinson told the Jaguars‘ official website Friday afternoon. “I’d much rather be playing than going through the media row aspects of it, but it is what it is.”
Robinson’s Jaguars were preseason favorites to make a big leap, from mediocrity to head of the AFC South. Things went in the opposite direction. Head coach Gus Bradley was fired in the midst of a 3-13 season, Jacksonville’s offensive struggles dropped Robinson’s output from 1,400 yards receiving and 14 touchdowns in 2015 to 883 yards and six scores in 2016, and he now finds himself doing the Radio Row tour during the first week of February instead of playing in the game.
As Herm Edwards once said, you play to win the game. No one wants to lose, and to be on vacation instead of playing for the ultimate prize in football: the Lombardi Trophy. Many probably feel this way, even if they won’t admit as much. Just this week, Falcons center Alex Mack, upcoming Super Bowl LI participant, wasn’t shy about how losing drove him out of Cleveland to Atlanta.
For the Jaguars to become the Falcons of the AFC in 2017 and beyond, plenty more needs to happen than just a few acquisitions. Actually, on paper, the roster isn’t that bad. Robinson says it begins with a much-needed culture change.
“That’s something that we need,” Robinson, a third-year pro, said. “We have to come in here about business and about changing this thing. If we really want to change this thing, we have to have a serious approach about it. From talking to the guys, that’s something everyone is serious about.
“That starts now. Every day we set foot in that facility — to work out, to get treatment, whatever — it’s all about business.”
Doug Marrone is back as a head coach after jumping ship from Buffalo to nowhere (he eventually landed in Jacksonville as offensive line and assistant head coach) after the 2014 season. Robinson said the new coach, who spent the final two weeks of the 2016 season as the interim head coach, will make things “uncomfortable” for the players, which is what Robinson says will be a welcome change.
It would surely beat comfortably strolling around Radio Row before Super Bowl LII and beyond.