With its low self-esteem and high urban blight, Hartford is the ultimate underdog city. Sad City Hartford documents the joys, sorrows and eccentricities of New England's Rising Star.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Strange Saga Of The El Mercado Jags Jersey

Fans of Sad City know that we love the El Mercado grocer and often frequent the various dining establishments within. Over the course of the last year and a half there has been one thing inside the El Mercado that has endlessly confounded us. One store in the market sells various non-food wares. The vendor sells t-shirts, cell phone cases, sunglasses, mini flags and religious paraphernalia. There is also a handful of futbol (soccer to us) team jerseys for sale. Makes sense, since soccer is, by a wide margin, the most popular sport just about everywhere in the world except the United States.

Hanging amongst the various soccer jerseys is a sports jersey so out of place that it defies belief. We can't even fathom how it came to be at the market. The curious jersey is a #52 jersey of the NFL's Jacksonville Jaguars.

While we would expect soccer jerseys to be the popular at a Latin market, we wouldn't be all that surprised by the presence of an NFL jersey as it is by far the most popular sport in the United States.

What we would expect though is a local team like the Jets, Giants, or Patriots. If not one of the local teams one would certainly expect to see a jersey of one of the major national teams like the Cowboys, Steelers, Raiders, or Packers. Maybe even a Colts jersey given their ties to areas with local Dwight Freeney and former UConn stars Dan Orlovsky and Donald Brown. But the Jacksonville Jaguars? They are right at the top of the list of boring, nondescript, NFL franchises with the Atlanta Falcons.

We searched high and low for meaning in the #52 Jaguars jersey. The Jaguars have never really had a historical player in their short history. Perhaps there was a player of Latin descent that wears #52 for the club? Nope, #52 is worn by Daryl Smith, of Albany, Georgia, a decent player for sure, but not exactly the type of player that inspires jersey sales from a mediocre team 1,000 miles away.

What could it be? For a year and a half we wondered without a clue. Then we started paying attention to the NFL around Thanksgiving. During this time a national frenzy was building up around Mr. Tim Tebow, a young quarterback who often seemed to play terribly, only to suddenly become very effective at the end of the game and lead his team  to stunning victories.

At the center of all this excitement was the fact the Tebow is devoutly religious and often often took a knee in prayer around the field, something that became a national phenomenon known as "Tebowing."

We knew Tim Tebow had been an extraordinarily successful player at the Univsersity of Florida. What we didn't know is that Tebow grew up in Ponte Vedra Beach Florida, a mere thirty minutes outside of Jacksonville. We remembered the many religious icons depicting Jesus Christ for sale at the the store at El Mercado. Finally!! An explanation for the presence of the Jaguars jersey. The El Mercado and Hartford had been "Tebowed!"

All we all know, Tebow works in mysterious ways.


  1. The Mercado is great place, Park Street is the most up beat area in the Whole Sad City. The Saddest is the XL center. Just brought my grandson to the Ice Capades. The place is a rat hole. Thanks for the pics I may have to go the Mercadco soon it's been a long time. Oh, and Soccor sucks no matter what it's called. Keep up the good work on this blog.

  2. Awesome place for sure, haven't been there in years. And I don't want to diss Nutmegger, but I'm pretty sure the Ice Capades is worse than soccer....