JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The arrival of Super Bowl LII MVP Nick Foles means the end of the Blake Bortles era in Jacksonville.
While Bortles' career on the field for the Jaguars was a roller coaster, his support of the Jacksonville community had been tireless and steady since he established the Blake Bortles Foundation in 2016.
Bortles was the team's nominee last season for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year award, which recognizes players for having significant positive impacts in their communities.
Bortles focused his charity's efforts on children and first responders -- passions that were evident in an interview before the quarterback's first charity golf tournament in Jacksonville.
“Two of the things that are really close to me are autism and mentally and physically disabled kids. Cops, firefighters, paramedics -- things like that,” Bortles said in 2016. “Those are two things that are close to my heart and areas where we want to reach out and try and make a difference.”
His foundation focused on providing opportunities for those with intellectual and developmental disabilities, recognizing first responders and leadership through youth football.
At a 2018 event for hundreds of Jacksonville children, Bortles explained why they are close to his heart.
“Jacksonville’s a huge town, and there’s a lot of kids here that want to be active and play football,” Bortles said. “With the Jags being here, with the success being here, there’s kids that want to come out and be a part of it.”
Bortles also stepped in when tragedy struck for a Jacksonville law enforcement family. He offered to match up to $15,000 in money donated to help the family of Officer Jack Adams after Adams was badly injured and his wife, a Jacksonville corrections officer, was killed in a crash with a suspected drunk driver.
Bortles' efforts in the community haven't gone unnoticed.
A farewell message on the Blake Bortles Foundation Twitter page received more than 100 replies from well-wishers thanking Bortles for his contributions to the community.