JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The man who's given life to the Jaguars' beloved mascot for 19 years announced Tuesday morning he is hanging up his cat suit.
Curtis Dvorak said his time as Jaxson de Ville has come to an end.
The 40-year-old never missed a home game as the mascot, but he told me in an extended interview Monday that he's now ready for the next chapter of his life.
"It's time," Dvorak said. "(I've spent) 19 seasons in that building, jumping off those light towers. Even though I tell people I started when I was 10, I actually started when I got out of college. I eat a little too much Advil -- more than I should -- and I have some really cool opportunities here in town that I have been working on for a long time."
The Jaguars said Dvorak was inside the Jaxson de Ville suit for 37 preseason, 152 regular season and three postseason Jaguars games, including the 1999 AFC Championship. In addition to be a fan favorite locally, Jaxson has developed an international following, performing several times in London, including the Jaguars' two games there in 2013 and 2014.
"He has been a valued and important part of the Jaguars family and a key contributor to our fan engagement efforts and game day entertainment," Jaguars President Mark Lamping said in a statement Tuesday. "We are tremendously proud and thankful for what Curtis has accomplished inside the Jaxson de Ville costume."
The Jaguars said a search for Dvorak's replacement is underway.
Dvorak said when he was younger, he always knew he was going to have a career in entertainment. Growing up, he said he spent more time in the principal's office than class, but he made it to Virginia Tech, where his senior year he took over as "HokieBird."
That experience landed him the job as the Jaguars' mascot, and he's lived in a fur coat ever since.
"I decided I could either work for a living or I can dress up and act like an idiot -- which I do anyways -- and get paid. I have always loved performing, loved making people laugh. The instant feedback from live performance, (there's) nothing better."
Dvorak didn't expect his career as Jaxson de Ville would last this long.
"I came to Jacksonville thinking I was only going to be here for a couple of years and head to the NBA because that's where most mascots go," Dvorak said. "But I fell in love with Jacksonville. I am not leaving. I play too much golf, and I like boating too much."
He said doing "dumb stuff" like swinging from the light towers in 100 degree heat has allowed him to maintain his "girlish-figure."
"Did you see some of the stuff I did? There were literally moments in the first couple of seasons where I thought it might be the shortest career ever," Dvorak said. "Here is what I am proud of: 19 seasons, 40 years old; same weight of what I started at 22."
Dvorak said some of his favorites tricks as Jaxson were BMX bike jumps at halftime, stunts off the light towers and skydiving into the stadium, which he did at least once a season for the first eight or nine years.
"There is nothing better than standing up on the light tower on game day there, especially this last year and the year before, when the stunts are right before kickoff, the anthem just happened, the energy in the building, the family is all down there, that is the coolest part," Dvorak said.
The fans Dvorak refers to as his family are why he stayed as long has he did, he said. He called the games "a 3½-hour party with 60,000 of your closest friends."
With more than 7,000 appearances, 200 games, multiple video skits and more, Dvorak said he feels he got everything he could out of his time as Jaxson and is ready for some new challenges.
He said despite ending a long chapter of his life, "the best is yet to come."
"I had the privilege and honor of raising Jaxson for 19 years," Dvorak said. "I gave him life. I had 19 years to raise him. Now it's somebody else's turn."
The Jaguars have not yet announced who will replace Dvorak as Jaxson de Ville.
Jaxson de Ville leads the team onto the field in 2012.