Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

UF Fans Don't Realize This Loss

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

UF Fans Don't Realize This Loss

Article excerpt

The words rang loud through a departing crowd last Sunday at

Alltel Stadium. Sadly, the idiot who uttered them probably

wasn't alone in his thinking.

"James who?" the man yelled. "Go back to Tennessee where you

belong."

It was an obvious reference to Jaguars running back James

Stewart, who had just suffered what was later found out to be a

season-ending knee injury. While Stewart was being X-rayed inside

and wondering if his career would ever be the same, rookie Fred

Taylor was rushing for a team-record 128 yards.

It was what the Florida fans had waited to see. Get this

Tennessee guy out of here, and let the Florida player run.

For three-plus seasons, Stewart has had to deal with that kind

of stupidity.

Sadly, fans may never know what has been lost in Stewart. If

for some reason he never plays in a Jaguars uniform again --

which is always a possibility with a knee -- it will be a major

loss for the team in more ways than on the field.

Stewart is a class act, class that most will never appreciate.

All because he wore a different shade of orange in college.

Despite all the ripping by the fans, all the calling for his

head, Stewart never ripped back. He never once took a shot,

although he had every right. Instead, he just worked to become

the kind of back he always knew he could be.

A good one.

Maybe Stewart would never have become a superstar back, but he

was good enough to win a Super Bowl. He was good enough to be a

1,300-yard rusher and certainly good enough to be a legitimate

NFL starter.

Stewart responded to the challenge of Taylor by easily winning

the job this summer, then getting two 100-yard games in his

first two starts this season.

Now it's gone, and he will never be appreciated as much as he

should. Stewart has always been a stand-up guy. …

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