by David Chapman
Workspace: Jaguars Vice President of Mascot Relations Curtis Dvorak aka Jaxson De Ville
Curtis Dvorak is one of the most visible Jaguars, yet he’s never played a down for the team. He’s in the community, in the stands, on the field and keeping fans of all ages entertained, but one probably wouldn’t normally recognize him.
Until he dons the suit and becomes Jaxson De Ville.
“I love it,” said Dvorak, “and Mr. Weaver and everyone else has been unbelievable to me over the years.”
He’s been the one and only mascot for the team since it was introduced for the 1996 season (the team didn’t have a mascot for its inaugural season in 1995), after beating out close to 50 other candidates following his college years at Virginia Tech where he served as the college’s Hokie Bird mascot. Just before graduation, Dvorak was offered the mascot position with the Charlotte Knights, the city’s Triple-A baseball team, but would have had to leave school — something he knew his parents wouldn’t have been keen about.
“They wouldn’t have been happy to hear I was dropping out of school to be a mascot,” he said.
Instead, he said he was lucky to get the tryout call after being referred to the Jaguars by the Charlotte baseball team and hasn’t looked back after earning the position.
“I fell in love with this place,” said the New Jersey native. “I’m not going anywhere.”
One of the reasons is the wife Melanie, a Jacksonville native, he met through work. He didn’t find her in the stands, though. Instead, she was on the sidelines as a member of The Roar cheerleading squad.
Dvorak really has no typical day at the office. Much of his time is spent making appearances — more than 300 a year — at schools, grand openings, businesses and weddings. He even had his first request for Jaxson at a bachelor party, something that caught him off guard at first.
“The bachelor’s friends told him he was getting some entertainment,” he said, grinning. “They blindfolded him ... and when they pulled if off, I threw a pie in his face.”
Home game days is his time to shine before his biggest audience, something he relishes.
“I want to make all the fans laugh, have a good time and be entertained,” he said. “Everyone who paid a lot of money to go to the games, I want to add to that experience and help make them go home happy ... I want them to say ‘I got my money’s worth.’”
His greatest feeling came following the playoff win on the road against Denver in the 1996 playoffs, his first year, when thousands of fans filled the stadium until the early hours of the morning awaiting the team’s arrival home. He helped entertain the crowd for hours before the team arrived.
“The feeling really was awesome,” he said. “You can’t get those types of moments watching them on TV.”
The lifetime of a mascot itself can go for decades, but for the man entertaining underneath? It’s not forever, but Dvorak does have a plan.
“I’ve always told myself (I’ll do it) until we win a Super Bowl,” he said.