One of the reasons I blog about football and religiously watch sports and support my teams is because aside from being wildly entertaining, sports can truly be the greatest unifier. I find the ability to understand and relate to people through sports to be a fun and genuine way to connect with strangers, make new friends, or bond with my existing circle, and it’s one of my favorite things about the NBC comedy show The Good Place.
If you haven’t seen it (you should), The Good Place is fantastic and universally loved (I just assume anything with Kristen Bell is universally loved), starring the adorable and relatable Kristen Bell alongside Ted Danson, D’Arcy Carden, Jameela Jamil, and others. The show was created by Michael Shur, who also created Parks and Rec and was a writer on The Office, so you know it has greatness written all over it. The show always feels relevant and timely, and in touch with the society. For those who have indulged in this forking awesome show, you know the Jacksonville Jaguars and more specifically Blake Bortles (Jake Jortles) have both been staples of the show.
The fake monk turned goofy dude from Florida, Jason Mendoza (played by Manny Jacinto), has a strong allegiance to the football team from Jacksonville by design, to demonstrate one of the many reasons he belongs in the bad place with his fellow castmates. If you’ve watched The Good Place you may recall Jason getting married in a Bortles jersey under his suit jacket, or that time Jason learned the Jags games are the only ones broadcasted in the bad place because, and I quote, “they suck,” to which Jason replied “No they don’t! All we need is a defense, and an offense, and some rule changes.” Ironically, Jason may have been on to something because during a break in the show in 2017, the Jags went on to win their division for the first time since 1999 and were actually good!?
Although Jason has a long history of missteps and often comes across lacking the common sense of Eleanor (K.Bell) and the book smarts of Chidi, Jason brings a somewhat innocent and simple perspective on life that he shares through Jags references and football jargon. Unfortunately, the time has come this season for Jason to learn the fate of his beloved Blake Bortles. He was understandably disappointed his favorite QB was cut, until he learned of Bortles replacement, the Philly Philly-Super Bowl savior himself, Nick Foles:
Even more shocking than Bortles being booted and Foles at the helm of his favorite team, Jason has made great strides in his attempts to be a better person. Jason may not be the traditional smart guy, but he utilizes his expertise, football, to lead the group in the right direction. For example, of all people Jason is the one to figure out the crew was in the bad place in season 2, how you may ask? Jason ripped off this little number, “Yo, yo! Homies, check it! There’s something messed up with this place. We keep fighting with each other, none of the TVs get the NFL RedZone channel, my soulmate doesn’t even know who Blake Bortles is. I know this sounds crazy, but I think we’re in the Bad Place.” I agree with Jason, can you imagine a world where we don’t have 3 days of football and constant access to our players and teams via social media? Sounds like a bad place to me!
But Jason’s transformation over the seasons from resident idiot to loveable goofball who occasionally or accidentally provides helpful insight was on full display in last week’s episode of The Good Place. Speaking directly into the souls of football fans everywhere, when Eleanor noted the group was attempting to run out the clock on their bad place challenge hoping “[their] early successes make up for the embarrassing mess [they’ve] become. Like Facebook. Or America,” Jason wisely dropped a bit of advice NFL teams across the country would benefit from, “the only thing prevent defense does is prevent winning.” I don’t know about you, but I feel both heard and seen. The group was obviously stunned by the insight, but if the writers on The Good Place know this is sound guidance, why do we still see this Sunday after Sunday? Prevent defense should be sent to the bad place asap. Obviously, you can take this a step further and apply it to life, but let’s save that for another time. Surprisingly, Michael (Ted Danson) and Eleanor heed Jason’s advice and devise a new plan as a last-ditch (LOL) effort to save their experiment, that’s when Jason wisely notes this Hail Mary attempt, again leaving everyone stunned at this appropriate analogy. Is Jason a genius, a demon in a Jason suit, or a student of the game? Maybe all, maybe none, but I’m enjoying the sage life advice that comes from a love of the Jacksonville Jaguars.