“First off, move those microphones back some. I’d like to say first of all that the comment that was made earlier about being a little bit older and having a knee injury. I didn’t have knee injury. I had a bone bruise. I never had any knee surgeries, and I played the whole season. That happened the eighth game of the season; I played the whole season. As far as the age, I was 31 years old last year and I had 12-1/2 sacks, so I kind of beat the numbers as far as how 30 year old players are. So I’m not worried about that. I’m kind of like Merlot – I get better with age. I just wanted to put everybody’s mind at ease on that.”
That was our first introduction to Hugh Douglas, new defensive end for the Jaguars. Douglas had overheard Times-Union writer Gene Frenette’s question to Jaguars personell vice-president James Harris. “Does it concern you that you’ve spent a lot of money on a guy who is 31, soon to be 32 and hid a knee injury from the media?” was how the question was phrased. Douglas took exception to that, and let us know right away.
“I take stuff like that back to the laboratory and put it in the mix. I’ll use it as motivation to let you guys know you can kiss my ass.” Maybe he was mistreated somewhere else, but Douglas took control of the situation without excuse. Not to say he wasn’t smart, sometimes funny and very direct. He’s ready to play, and is anxious to get on the line with Marcus Stroud and John Henderson. “The two tackles,” was his response to the thing that sold him on Jacksonville. “Marcus Stroud and (John Henderson), I was just like ‘Man!’ Not to disrespect Cory Simon and Darwin Walker, but being in a situation where you can play with some big guys in the middle that can really push the pocket, that’s really exciting. That’s something I never had a chance to play with, and having Marco Coleman on the other side, it’s just a great situation to be in.”
Harris was very thoughtful in his explanation of Douglas’ signing. “We’re in the player business,” Harris told the assembled reporters. “Hugh is a guy that wanted to come here. He played for Ray Hamilton in New York. I was with Hugh with the Jets and he played very well there. I knew what kind of character he was, what kind of player he was. The key thing for a player that is over 30 is that he is the right kind of guy with his work ethic and how tough a competitor he is. He does all those things. He practices hard, he plays hard and knowing the makeup of the player, that increases the real interest in signing a guy that’s 31. Guys are playing longer in the league because they are taking care of themselves and knowing Hugh like we do, we felt that he was the right kind of guy.”
Head Coach Jack Del Rio concurred, saying Douglas’ signing makes the team better, and that’s his job. “We are in the player business and we are looking to upgrade the roster and to make this as competitive a situation as we can. This is a good fit for us and a good player. We are happy to have him.” For the first time since his formal introduction in January as the Jaguars head coach, Jack Del Rio was not the affable, easy-going guy he’s been in other media situations. I’m not sure what he was uptight about, but there was definitely a burr under his saddle during his time with the media. Either way, he said he’s committed to doing what it takes to make the team better. “It’ll be now, during the draft and in the post-draft free agency period. We’ll keep doing what ever it takes.” As for the draft, Del Rio said he was pretty happy with the eighth selection overall. “We’d listen to offers to move up or down, but we’re pretty happy with where we are.”