We like to have fun here with our mock drafts at RCR, and we like to focus on local stuff sometimes too. There are many people, companies and fixtures in our fair city that originated here and have helped further the name of the Bold New City of the South. We selected the most influential below.
1. Tim Tebow, athlete/media personality
I did not want to pick him, since I am a Seminole. But there aren’t enough words to describe how successful Tim Tebow has been. High school state champion. 2x BCS national champion. Heisman Trophy winner. NFL 1st round pick. Won a playoff game. Philanthropist. People may think he’s successful for his on-field work, which does deserve merit, but his off-field work is even more impressive. Tebow has the The Tim Tebow Foundation, has built hospitals in his birthplace of the Philippines, raised money for pediatric cancer centers. Although people may be split on their thoughts on him as an athlete, there is no debate on this. Tebow is a down-to-earth person, an excellent role model, and also someone who loves his community.
2. Lynyrd Skynyrd, band
Lynyrd Skynyrd’s big hit might be Sweet Home Alabama, but you can’t attend a Jags game without hearing it. Plus, naming your band after your teacher at Lee High School is pretty awesome.
3. Harriet Beecher Stowe, author
Immediately following the Civil War, famed author and abolitionist Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811-1896) and her family made Mandarin their winter home. Prior to moving to the First Coast, Stowe became one of America’s most famous and celebrated authors with the publication of Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1851). Her novel is arguably the most significant work of fiction in American history, as it introduced millions of Americans to the inhumane horrors of slavery and inspired the nation’s abolitionist movement. Upon meeting Stowe in 1862, President Lincoln greeted her by saying “so you’re the little woman who wrote this book that made this great war.” While living in Mandarin, Stowe published Palmetto Leaves (1872), which implored Yankees to vacation in Florida. Additionally, she founded an Episcopal Church and was instrumental in building a school for the area’s African American children. Stowe and her family’s home is now the Mandarin Community Club, where her legacy lives on.
4. Bob Hayes, athlete
Bob Hayes should always be the first name Jax residents respond with when asked about this city’s best homegrown sports talent. An Olympic sprinter and member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, I landed a steal at four. The Bob Hayes Invitational is the most well-known high school event on the First Coast.
5. Chipper Jones, athlete
Still a fresh retirement in my mind, Chipper Jones’ connection with Jacksonville is that he played high school baseball at The Bolles School.
6. Fanatics, company
What started as a set of brick and mortar stores in the Avenues and Orange Park malls, Fanatics has grown into arguably the largest sports merchandise retailer in the world, as the official online retailer for most major sports leagues in the country.
7. Yellowcard, band
A bunch of notable artists have called Jacksonville home – as shown by some of the earlier picks on this list. But as someone who was 14 when Ocean Avenue came out, I was in the sweet spot for early-2000s pop punk, and Yellowcard was a big part of that. I’ve gotta admit that seeing them play a show here last year was a pretty great (and oddly nostalgic) experience.
8. Brian Dawkins, athlete
A Hall of Fame NFL safety that played his high school ball at Raines. This nine-time Pro Bowler is the hardest hitting Jacksonville-ian on this list.
-Jordan de Lugo
9. Firehouse Subs, company
Founded by former local firefighting brothers Robin and Chris Sorensen, this casual restaurant is a favorite among many local residents. Their subs are delicious, and on top of that, they still give back to the community and especially local fire stations. There are over 1000 franchise locations across 44 states, Puerto Rico, Canada and Mexico. If you haven’t had Firehouse Subs yet, go to your nearest one. You won’t regret it.
10. Daniel Murphy, athlete
D-Murph was an easy choice since I am a Nationals fan. JU was the only four year school to offer him a scholarship which I still find crazy.
11. The Allman Brothers, band
This weekend The Allman Brothers Band (1969-present) lost their second member in 2017, as Frontman Gregg Allman succumbed to his battle with liver cancer (Drummer Butch Trucks, a Jacksonville native, passed away in January. Both men were 69). I could write thousands of words on the Allman Brothers legacy, but I’ll stick to a concise recap of their time in Jacksonville. Butch Trucks, who was born and raised on the First Coast, recruited the band’s future lineup to come jam with him. Duane and Gregg Allman, along with musicians Jaimo Johanson, Berry Oakley, and Dicky Betts, crashed on Trucks’ floor for several weeks. Now known as the “Jacksonville Jam,” the group held sessions at Willow Branch Park. The Allman Brothers Band was born and the group performed their debut show at the Jacksonville Beach Armory on March 30, 1969. Check out their rendition of Don’t Want You No More from the show. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ly0sGft9ZM The band moved on to Georgia to become one of the most legendary of all American rock bands. Do yourself a favor and celebrate Butch and Gregg’s lives and listen to a few of their terrific songs.Ramblin’ Man, Whipping Post, Jessica are among my favorites.
12. Herb Payton, entrepreneur
Herb Peyton was another no-brainer with his owning Gate Petroleum and being the father of former Jacksonville mayor John. He’s made donations to area non-profits and helped fund Bolles athletics the past few decades.
13. David Duval, athlete
Born in Duval. Last name is Duval. Former #1 golfer in the world. He’s worth this pick here.
14. Rashean Mathis, athlete
The former longtime cornerback for the Jaguars starred at Englewood High School before heading to Bethune-Cookman. A former Pro Bowler, Mathis recently retired on a one day contract with the Jags, and is still an active member of the community.
15. Fred Durst, musician
16. Metro Diner, restaurant
Jacksonville’s breakfast MVP has appeared on “Diner, Drive Ins and Dives” and is now spreading throughout the nation, but that’s not why we love it. High quality comfort food at a fair price.
-Jordan de Lugo
17. Gene Deckerhoff, broadcaster
Seminole fans know him well. Buccaneer fans know him well. And those who play sports video games like Madden, know him well as well. Deckerhoff is the voice of the Florida State Seminoles, and also the play-by-play announcer of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He also voices the P.A. announcer for Madden franchises, NCAA Football (RIP), and Arena football games. Although Deckerhoff’s alma mater is the University of Florida, he has been quoted as saying, “I’m not a Gator. Period.”
18. Ray Charles, musician
Though Charles was never in Jacksonville, he was most notable at the Florida School for the Deaf & Blind in St. Augustine. He basically pioneered soul music in the 50’s.
19. Burger King, restaurant
The story of Burger King’s humble origins is “whopper” of a tale. Jacksonville natives Keith Kramer and Matthew Burns decided to open a burger franchise of their own in 1953. With the aid of investor’s Ben Stein’s money, the duo created a prolific burger oven known as an “Insta-broiler,” and “Insta-Burger King” was born. They opened locations on Beach Boulevard, Arlington Expressway, Main Street, and franchises followed throughout Florida. Unfortunately, the fast food entrepreneurs’ success was short lived. Stein acquired the national franchise rights and promptly sold it to the owners of Miami’s “Insta-Burger King” franchise. The new owners changed the name to “Burger King” and embarked on a nationwide expansion. The rest is flame-broiled history. Jacksonville’s multiple abandoned Miami Subs Grills (most likely haunted) are living reminders of the cutthroat realities of fast food on the First Coast.
20. Louis Wolfson, industrialist and financier
I knew I wanted to go with a Wolfson family selection at some point. They’re one of the more interesting families to live in this area. Picking Louis Wolfson was parts intrigue (read into his ties to Larry King), his connections with horse racing and the family’s philanthropic goals with Wolfson’s Children’s Hospital.
21. Maxwell House Factory, landmark
The “Drip, Drip, Drip” sign has been a Jacksonville landmark since 1955. The Maxwell House is one of two plants in the United States that produces all of the Maxwell House coffee sold.
22. Leanza Cornett, model
The former Miss Florida and Miss America is a Terry Parker High School and Jacksonville University graduate, and has also worked as a television host of shows such as Entertainment Tonight and on stage in productions such as Godspell.
23. Jonathan Papelbon, athlete
A whole bunch of Major Leaguers spent their high school years in the low-key baseball hotbed that is our area. But, Jonathan Papelbon is one of the few who was arguably the best in the game in his role for an extended period of time. The former Bishop Kenny star dominated the ninth inning in the mid-2000s with the Red Sox, and still brought it on occasion during the later years of his career… when not going after Bryce Harper in his own dugout.
24. Ryan Murphy, athlete
This young swimmer attended Bolles and went on to star on the world’s biggest stage: the Olympics. In Rio in 2016, Murphy brought home the gold in the 100m backstroke, 200m backstroke and 4×100 medley.
-Jordan de Lugo
25. Leon Washington, athlete
Keeping my picks college-themed, here is another local product that was successful during his college days. Washington attended Andrew Jackson High School, and then chose Florida State to play his college football at. He had brief success in the NFL, playing 8 years in the league. But his most important work has to be off-the-field. Washington established a charitable organization called the Leon Washington Foundation, which helps low-income families in the Jacksonville area with education, sports, and life skills. He also runs an annual event named the Leon Washington football camp which is a one-day football clinic (no-contact) and is free of charge to the youth.
26. Gator’s Dockside, restaurant
Scooter Sauce. Need I say more? Fine. Good deals, lots of food/drink choices, and lots of TVs to watch the game.
27. Merian C. Cooper, aviator/director
The director of the King Kong (1933) is from Jacksonville! While his direction of the iconic creature feature was undeniably impressive, Cooper’s life consisted of a series of badass adventures. He served as a fighter pilot for the US Air Force in WWI and rose to Brigadier General in WWII. Additionally, he flew for Poland’s Air Force in the country’s 1920 conflict with the Soviet Union, where he was shot down 3 times and survived a Russian POW camp. Between WWI and WWII, Cooper spanned the globe to film documentaries, invented the Cinerama film projection method, and even befriended a tribe of baboons in preparation for King Kong. How cool is that?
28. Tillie Fowler, politician
Ranging about a decade and a half, Tillie Fowler was a mainstay in local politics from the late 80s until her death in 2005. As long as I can remember, Fowler had an influential role with Jacksonville City Council and then Congress. Other than the video game mock, this has been the best overall drafting from Team Miller.
29. MA$E, musician
Born in Jacksonville, P. Diddy’s sidekick went on to have a interesting career change after he left music: He became a pastor.
30. Goony Golf Dinosaur, landmark
Even those that don’t know the origin of the looming, red-eyed dinosaur on Beach Boulevard know what I’m talking about. The lasting landmark of times come and gone now fronts a strip mall, the only distinguishing factor of a bland stretch of road on the Southside.
31. Winn-Dixie, company
My first three picks were all people, but I felt like closing out the draft in a totally different direction. With 500+ stores spread throughout the Southeast, Winn-Dixie is a major player in the supermarket game – and one that’s called Jacksonville home since the 1940s. I actually don’t shop there all that much (shouts to Publix and Trader Joe’s), but nonetheless I feel like the pick holds up.
32. Wayne Weaver, businessman
While he’s Mr. Irrelevant on this list, the truth could not be more different. Weaver did one of the most important things in the history of our fair city and that was to convince the NFL that Jax was the perfect city for an NFL team. He may not have been the best owner at the end, but he brought us the Jaguars and ensured they would stay here when he sold the team to Shad Khan.
-Jordan de Lugo
 McPherson, James. A Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era. Oxford: New York, 1988: 89-90.
 Crowe, Cameron and Diamond, Faybeath. Rolling Stone #149. December 6, 1973.