JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP/WJXT) – Doug Marrone's love of bologna will end up feeding about 300 people.
The Jacksonville Jaguars coach donated 350 pounds of beef bologna Wednesday to an organization that distributes food to local charities. It was actually more like 330 pounds after Marrone kept some for himself.
The bologna donation was distributed to the community Friday during Daily Manna Serving Center Food Pantry’s weekly food distribution at 2659 Edison Avenue.
It looked much like an assembly line, as boxes full of food slid across a table and into the arms of families in need.
News4Jax spoke with Eric Blessing, who has 13 grandchildren. He said he was happy to see a log of bologna in his box.
"All the kids like bologna. I'll be making bologna and cheese grilled cheese sandwiches," Blessing said. “When you live on a fixed income, it's not always easy to make ends meet between rent, utilities, etc. Any food is always a big help.”
Still, Marrone's odd obsession with the lunch meat has become an interesting -- and now benevolent -- storyline for the Jaguars (8-4).
"I've probably eaten more bologna than anybody else in the world," Marrone said. "Anybody who's my age."
The 53-year-old Marrone first disclosed his fondness for bologna following an overtime victory against the Los Angeles Chargers last month. Marrone said bologna and cheese sandwiches are his go-to meal after games.
ESPN dug deeper into the story and revealed that Marrone grew up eating the sandwiches in New York City and never outgrew them. Marrone even stuck with bologna and cheese through college despite getting razzed by teammates.
Marrone also wants his sandwich a certain way: on white bread, with thin-sliced bologna from a deli, topped with American cheese and spicy mustard. He prefers to eat them alone with a glass of milk.
Marrone was asked about his postgame tradition again Sunday following a win against Indianapolis and seemed disappointed that he was scheduled to eat dinner with his wife and some friends from Syracuse University instead of heading home to raid the fridge.
"I was thinking about you guys last night," Marrone said after the game. "There was a little brown on the bologna because after a while, it gets a little (old). I was like, (shoot), I'm going to eat it anyway. I don't care. Normally I fry it, but I was too damn hungry."
Marrone's bologna banter caught the attention of Eric Mittenthal, president of the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council. Mittenthal sent 100 logs of Boar's Head beef bologna to EverBank Field for Marrone and his team.
Marrone opted to donate them instead of passing them around.
"It's going to go for a good cause," Marrone said. "I think the right thing to do is help the local food shelters in the area, things of that nature. I don't know if when they looked at it, they said, well, let's send them down the bologna to match his weight. I'd (take) offense to that, about 350, but again, I think it's a great gesture. I think it's something we can help with our community and move on from there."
The Jaguars donated a pallet of 3 1/2-pound bologna logs to Feeding Northeast Florida, whose officials said the logs would be distributed to nonprofit organizations Thursday and estimated they would feed about 300 people.
Marrone, though, wanted to keep five logs, nearly 20 pounds of meat. The agency gladly obliged.
"You've always heard about the coach's love for bologna, and to be able to get the love that coach has for bologna to actually make an impact, a positive impact in the lives of people in our community, we just thought it was the coolest thing," said Frank Castillo, interim CEO of Feeding Northeast Florida. "That's a win-win for everyone."
"The good part about it is that because we serve a lot of homeless people, it's something you don't have to cook," Daily Manna Serving Center CEO Jer Dinkins said. "It's easy with bread and crackers."