JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Now that it looks likely that the Jaguars could be back in the playoffs this season, we need to keep an eye out on bandwagon jumpers. Especially from the celebrity set. Celebs love to try to ride to coattails of a team’s success, even if they haven’t endured the lows that a team’s fans have before they return to greatness.
Yes, there are celebrity fans, many with strong Jacksonville ties. As we reported in 2018, artists like Lil Duval, pitcher-turned-country music artist Derek Trucks, perhaps the best rock guitarist in the world all were born, raised, or both in Jacksonville and have maintained their Jaguars fandom.
When Jack Del Rio was the coach, his ties with Gene Hackman made the two-time Oscar-winning best actor a Jaguars fan.
So when I heard that Asher Grodman, star of Ghosts on CBS (he’s the guy with no pants) was claiming to be a Jaguars fan, I was skeptical. How could a guy in his mid-30s who was born and raised in New York be a Jaguars fan? But it turns out, he really is a big Jaguars fan.
“My dad is a lifelong Detroit Lions fan. And so I was raised as a Lions fan,” Grodman said. “And somewhere around my eighth birthday, my mom was like, ‘You can’t do this to your children. It’s not fair and they’re going to suffer and they’re going to lose for all those years and they won’t have any friends.’”
After some thought, his father, a Columbia professor, thought it was wise counsel and sat Grodman and his brother down and told them to choose a different team to root for.
The year was 1995.
“The Jaguars were just added to the league, and for an eight-year-old, it was the coolest logo, coolest uniforms,” Grodman said. “I loved them from day one.”
As anyone who was a fan of the Jaguars in the early years knows, those were the golden years. The years of Tony Boselli and Mark Brunell. Jimmy Smith and Keenan McCardell. Fred Taylor and Tom Coughlin. The team made the AFC championship game in just its second year of existence. By year five, they had the best record in the NFL and returned to the conference title game.
“I experienced things in those first five years that my dad in his whole lifetime hasn’t experienced being a Lions fan,” Grodman said.
Unlike Jaguars fans in northeast Florida, who had hundreds of thousands of like-minded football fans to celebrate and commiserate, Grodman was basically alone in his fandom. Only one other friend, who chose the Jaguars for the same reasons that kids do, the uniform and the logo, cheered the Jaguars on.
“It became a defining characteristic,” Grodman said. “I’m usually the only Jaguars fan a person knows out of town and I get all of the text messages when they win or they lose.”
You may think Grodman’s fandom would have been tested after the team was hit hard by the salary cap in the years after 1999, or the 2 playoff appearances in the decade of the 2000s, or the miserable stretch between 2008 and last year when the Jaguars had the worst record in the league (twice) more often than they made the playoffs (once).
“It wasn’t ever hard to be a Jaguars fan, because the harder it got, the more it was like a chip on my shoulder,” Grodman said. “Someday, we’re going to turn this thing around, and all these people who shuffle aside the Jaguars…the tide is going to change.”
Grodman attends as many games as he can and Sunday as the Jaguars pulled off the thrilling 17-point comeback and eventual overtime win over the Cowboys, he had a pretty good seat. He sat in Shad Khan’s suite for the game.
“I was an unemployed actor for basically 20 years, hitting my head against the wall trying to get a job, then this show happened, Ghosts on CBS and it has changed my life,” Grodman said. “There isn’t much of the perks of being on television that I would cash in, I like to live my normal life. When it comes to the Jaguars, I will cash in everything, because being here at the games and hanging out in the suites or being on the field, my little eight-year-old is losing his mind.”
He’s starting to gain a wider reputation as a Jaguars fan.
“A friend of mine was at the Detroit game and he overheard someone saying, ‘You know the pantless guy on Ghosts is a Jags fan. So those are my two worlds colliding right there,” Grodman said. “My claim to fame, no pants and Jaguars.”
CBS Sports’ Nate Burleson interviewed Grodman before the game and asked for a prediction. Grodman called the Jaguars win over the Cowboys and predicted a playoff appearance. So far, so good.
“The future is very bright,” Grodman said. “This year is kind of a wild card and I’m not sure what’s going to happen. We’re the most talented team in the division. The energy around here is incredible, so I have a lot of faith. And I wouldn’t trade our quarterback for anyone.”
Yep. Sounds like a true Jags fan. He’s been through the lean years and now, he’s hoping to feast. Hopefully with pants on.