'I can guarantee you that we will make reference to his real-life employment situation,' says Mike Schur

By Dan Snierson
June 25, 2019 at 11:30 AM EDT
Colleen Hayes/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images; David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
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The shirt is about to hit the fan: The Good Place is hurtling toward the end game. Yes, season 4 of NBC’s heaven-sent afterlife comedy will serve as its final-ever-this-is-not-reversable batch of episodes. Questions abound: Will this new grand experiment stave off eternal damnation? Will Eleanor (Kristen Bell) and a memory-wiped Chidi (William Jackson Harper) find their way back to each other, just as Eleanor promised? Will the two new test subjects that we haven’t met even more difficult to work with than the first two? Will we ever see someone deliver the 100-percent savage insult? And let’s not forget the most critical and pressing question: Will word of Blake Bortles’ move from the Jacksonville Jaguars to the Los Angeles Rams reach Jacksonville’s No. 1 fan?

The quarterback with the amusing, quasi-alliterative name has served as a frequent source of name-check humor on the series, courtesy of Jason (Manny Jacinto), who is obsessed with his hometown Jags — and has even gone semi-undercover in the Bad Place as Jake Jortles. (Last year, the Jaguars even hooked up Jacinto with tickets when the team advanced to the playoffs for the first time more than a decade.) So, how will one of the NFL’s not-quite-biggest moves in the offseason — the Jags released Bortles, who then signed a one-year deal with the Rams — be recognized on The Good Place? And with Bortles playing just a few miles down the road from where the NBC comedy films, is there any chance that he will make a cameo?

“Don’t think we didn’t think about that,” creator Mike Schur tells EW with a laugh. “But the problem is, once Bortles is off the Jaguars — and the way that Jason and all sports fans work — it’s just like, ‘You’re dead to me.’ Jason is just such a tribalist and such a Jacksonville loyalist that he is always going to be a Jaguars fan, no matter what.”

On the other hand, though… “If an 11-year-old kid loved Blake Bortles as much as Jason loves Blake Bortles, that 11-year-old kid might just become a Rams fan and root for Blake Bortles,” says Schur, “because that’s where Blake Bortles plays now.” (And last we checked: Jason is a pre-teen trapped in a man’s body, so the plot thickens.)

The Good Place is in the middle of filming season 4, and at this point, Schur does not want to raise too many hopes that viewers will see Bortles slip through a portal: “I can guarantee you that we will make reference to his real-life employment situation,” he says. “But I think it’s far less likely that he actually appears on the show at this point — at least…. Never say never.”

Is Bortles a fan of the series? “I have no idea whether he has heard of this show or has watched the show,” says Schur. “I would assume someone at some point has told him that there’s a network TV show that has mentioned his name 500 times. I will say that the Jacksonville Jaguars PR and marketing people have been incredible. They’ve just been really fun to deal with and they totally get it. And they have enjoyed all of the references and jokes. There’s more Jaguars-related humor to come in season 4.”

As Jason once said whilst wielding a croquet mallet: “Jaguars rule!”

The Good Place kicks off season 4 on Sept. 26.

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