When the Jacksonville Jaguars telegraphed their intentions to retain general manager Trent Baalke despite the Jaguars yet again being one of the worst teams in football, the Duval County faithful balked at the decision of a franchise that has given them little amusement. And so, loyal fans of the Jaguars struck back at their organization and its ringleader, bringing the circus to the stands of TIAA Bank Field.
For their Week 18 finale against the Indianapolis Colts, a number of Jaguars fans participated in a "clown out", which had been organized by fans online as a means of protesting owner Shad Khan's decision to retain Baalke. After the leadup to the game featured Jaguars fans on Twitter changing their avatars to a clown emoji with Khan's handlebar mustache, many fans in attendance at Sunday's game donned rainbow wigs, red noses, and other clown gear.
The fans made themselves not only seen, but heard as well. According to Demetrius Harvey of Big Cat Country, a plane flying a banner reading #KlownTown" was seen above the stadium. Almost immediately after the game began, chants of "Fire Baalke" began to ring out from the stands. One fan even said "C. Fire Baalke" during a stadium trivia segment.
The indignation of Jaguars fans, whose franchise has been among the worst in the NFL since it was bought by the Khan family in 2012, was highly understandable given the way their season has transpired. The Jaguars rebuild never got out of the starting blocks after being an NFL-worst 1-15 last season, as their hire of head coach Urban Meyer proved a disaster from start to finish. Quarterback Trevor Lawrence was hailed as the franchise's savior when he was introduced as the No. 1-overall pick, but he made little difference in changing the franchise's fortunes during a brutal rookie season.
Lawrence, who was accustomed to winning at Clemson, admitted this week that he did not quite understand the fans' approach to their clown-out.
"Would I do that, personally? No I wouldn't do it. But fans feel how they feel," Lawrence said. "... I get the frustration."
As luck would have it, Jaguars fans would end up being rewarded for their efforts to actually show up to their season finale. The Jaguars stunned an Indianapolis Colts team on the door of a playoff spot, trouncing them 26-11 and putting Indianapolis' chances of making the playoffs in serious danger. The Jaguars will finish with a league-worst 3-14 record, ensuring them the No. 1-overall draft pick for the second year in a row.