Too bad Jason Mendoza is alive again to see what has become of his beloved Jacksonville Jaguars and
Jake Jortles Blake Bortles.
Once upon a time, The Good Place was the best thing that had happened to the lowly NFL franchise, one of only four organizations to never make the Super Bowl. The 2016 debut of the NBC comedy gave the team something they have rarely ever had: relevance. The presence of Jacksonville native/backup dancer/terrible safe robber Jason Mendoza (Manny Jacinto) gave The Good Place ample opportunity to make jokes at the expense of Florida, and more specifically, Florida’s least successful football team.
But you know what, something funny happened amidst all of the Jaguars digs and Blake Bortles GIFs — the Jaguars became good. In the biggest Good Place twist of all, the 3-13 team and their disappointing first round draft pick of a quarterback transformed into a winner, making a run to the AFC Championship and coming up only a few minutes short of advancing to their first Super Bowl. The playoff run even included an in-person appearance by Jason Mendoza himself, when Jacinto and Good Place writer Joe Mande attended a playoff game in Jacksonville.
The Jaguars might have lost to the New England Patriots, but they proved to be the future of the NFL, loaded with the best young defense in football, an elite running back in Leonard Fournette, and a much improved Bortles, who was given a rich contract extension. It looked like nothing could stop them — until the very thing that made them America’s team (or at least the team for the millions of non-football fans who watch The Good Place) is exactly what killed their bright future.
The date was Oct. 4. The Jaguars were riding high at 3-1, having just recently demolished the mighty Patriots, officially positioning themselves as the new team to beat in their conference. But then, The Good Place aired “The Brainy Bunch.” In the third episode of the third season, the gang is fully reunited back on Earth with the help of Michael (Ted Danson) and Janet (D’Arcy Carden), which the Judge (Maya Rudolph) soon discovers. She rips Michael and Janet for interfering in human affairs, saying it has caused ripple effects and “weird stuff” is happening as a result, ranging from Brexit to the wild success of The Greatest Showman. But she saved the biggest offense for last. “Also, the Jacksonville Jaguars are good now,” she declares, which Michael deems impossible. “I’m serious. They’re gonna make the playoffs. Blake Bortles is kind of okay, maybe, I don’t know, it’s being debated amongst experts; it’s confusing. But whatever it is, it’s yo’ fault!”
Why is this exchange so significant when the show has made countless Jaguars jokes? Well, because the Jaguars have not won a single game since. Yep, seven straight losses. And guess what else? Remember that “kind of okay, maybe” quarterback Blake Bortles? Yeah, you see, he wouldn’t even be able to hit a boat with a Molotov cocktail right about now, which is why he was just benched for the rest of the season in favor of Cody Kessler. The same Cody Kessler who sports an 0-8 career record.
Now with only one episode left during the football season, there’s nothing The Good Place can do at this point to salvage the Jaguars season, but how about moving forward? How can they right this wrong? Will it require them to start making fun of how bad the team is again? Do they need to get Blake Bortles an offseason cameo to get him back on track? (Jason surely would have some tips for him).
Or maybe, just maybe, this was always the plan. Creator Mike Schur is a New England native and noted Boston sports fan. Could he have seen how close the Jaguars were to beating the Patriots in the playoffs last year and gone into the season 3 writers’ room with the sole focus of bringing about the downfall of his favorite team’s toughest competition? Let’s go directly to Ted Danson for his thoughts: