Bortles! - Sports Illustrated Vault |
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BEFORE THE Jaguars' run to the AFC title game, most of the national attention quarterback Blake Bortles (below) received came from being repeatedly name-checked on NBC's sublime sitcom The Good Place. On the show, Jason Mendoza (played with the perfect amount of lunkheadedness by Manny Jacinto) is a recently-deceased Jacksonville deejay who does things such as punctuating his wedding vows with "Jacksonville Jaguars rule!" and screaming "Bortles!" while tossing Molotov cocktails, much in the same way wannabe hoopsters yell "Kobe!" while launching J's.

In an episode that aired in October, Jason (above) asks Ted Danson's Michael, the all-knowing being who oversees Jason's afterlife, if the Jags will ever win the Super Bowl. "Jason, I can't predict the future," Michael says with a laugh. "But no, they won't." After that line, Jacksonville won eight of 10, but show runner Michael Schur wasn't worried about having to account for the line. "I am the opposite of sweating," Schur said last week. "I actively want them to win. Having to explain why an omniscient deity-figure was wrong? What a fun writing exercise!"

Even though so many of the laughs come at the expense of the city and team—"At one point [Jason] describes Jacksonville as 'definitely one of the top 10 swamp cities in northeastern Florida,' and he's bragging," Schur notes—no one seems to be taking offense. "I have heard from a number of Jacksonville residents," he says, "and the overwhelming sentiment is, 'Everything you say about the city is dead-on.'" The team even invited Jacinto and writer Joe Mande to attend the playoff win over Buffalo. The pair returned with a ball autographed by Bortles. Says Schur, "It will sit in a place of honor in our office for as long as the show is on the air."