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Raiders Jack Del Rio returns to Jacksonville where he spent first nine years as head coach

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It’s hard to predict where life will lead you. Jack Del Rio probably could never have predicted his first head coaching job would have been with the Jacksonville Jaguars or that he would spend nine seasons on the job there. And although he probably envisioned being the head coach of the Raiders, it’s quite another matter to see it actually realized.

Del Rio left the Jaguars in 2012 with a 68-71 record as head coach. Though if you cut out his first and last season on the job, the 7 seasons inbetween, he went 60-52 with two trips to the playoffs and two losing seasons. When he took over in 2003, the team was coming off three straight losing seasons.

Since he was fired during the 2011 season, he has spent three seasons as defensive coordinator in Denver and is in his second year as head coach of the Raiders. He will now make his first trip back to the city where he spent nine years as head football coach.

“Excited to get on to the next [game],” said Del Rio. “Opportunity to go down to Jacksonville, spent nine years of my life there coaching, head coach. I’m very appreciative of Mr. [Wayne] Weaver giving me that opportunity back in ’03. Certainly learned a lot during my time there, had some great experiences and family and friends there.”

If going back to Jacksonville will be emotional for Del Rio, he’s either not letting on, or it just hasn’t hit him yet.

“I’ve been in this league a long time, so I’ve gone back to a few places before,” he said. “It’s not the first time going back to places where I’ve been. So yeah, I think I’ll be OK.”

At no time in his football life did he spend a longer stretch of time in one place than he did in Jacksonville. Jack’s son Luke now plays college ball at Florida, in Gainseville, which is about an hour from Jack-son-ville.

By the same token, no coach in Jaguar’s (short) history was head coach longer than Jack Del Rio. Though, the same year Del Rio’s time in Jacksonville ended, so too did former owner Wayne Weaver, who sold the team to Shahid Khan. So, there won’t be a reunion in that regard.

Either way, coming onto the field in Jacksonville will be a familiar and nostalgic day for Jack Del Rio. Though it may seem a bit foreign to him seeing the place from the opposite sideline.