Former Jacksonville Jaguars coach Urban Meyer spoke publicly for the first time since he was fired late Wednesday night, apologizing to the city of Jacksonville after many missteps led to him losing his job 13 games into the season.
“I just apologize to Jacksonville,” Meyer said in a phone interview with NFL.com. “I love Jacksonville. It’s one of the reasons I took the job. I still think Shad (Khan)’s a great owner. It’s heart-breaking. I just had a dream of it becoming a destination place with a new facility he agreed to build and some day to walk into that stadium where it’s standing room only. Because I know how bad the people of Jacksonville want it. So, I’m just heartbroken that we weren’t able to do that. I still believe it’s going to be done. It’s too good of a place.”
The 57-year-old Meyer was hired in January after a successful stint as a college coach, winning three national championships with Florida and Ohio State.
The Jaguars are just 2-11 going into Sunday’s game against the Houston Texans, fielding one of the worst offensive units in the league. Offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell will be the interim coach for the rest of the season.
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“I tell people, losing eats away at your soul,” Meyer said. “Once you start losing, it’s hard on everybody. I thought at one point, when we won two out of three, there was some momentum, great energy, the defense was really playing well. We were running the ball and then when that dried up on us, then we started turning the ball over. We had that bye week and then James Robinson gets hurt.”
Though Meyer was fired just hours after former placekicker Josh Lambo said the coach kicked and cursed at him during a training camp practice, a spokesman for Khan said the decision was made earlier in the week.
Meyer told NFL.com that the incident with Lambo never happened.
“It was like, ‘Wait a minute, where is this coming from?’ ” Meyer said. “I’ve certainly made a few mistakes but those weren’t right.”
Reports surfaced Saturday that Meyer was fired for cause and that the team doesn’t intend to pay the remaining four years on his contract.
Meyer declined comment to NFL.com when asked about his contract situation.