Second Act

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by Damon Noisette // Photo by Agnes Lopez

Curtis Dvorak spent 19 seasons literally doing a high wire act as Jacksonville Jaguars team mascot Jaxson De Ville before retiring in June. Still a thrillseeker outside of the suit, he took some time off to go to the annual running with the bulls in Pamplona, Spain. “It’s kind of like surfing,” he says. “Get on that wave for about 10 seconds or so and get off before you trip over somebody or get trampled.” Dvorak spoke to Jax Mag about his time inside the suit and his new career as the co-host of First Coast Living and entertainment and lifestyle reporter for Good Morning Jacksonville on WTLV / NBC 12.

• Like players, mascots can jump from college to the pros. Dvorak was Virginia Tech’s mascot, HokieBird, from 1995 to when he graduated in 1996. “I ended up finding a gig that basically said, ‘show us an insurance certificate and we’ll let you do it,’” he says. “I had an NFL budget to do stuff in my jungle gym—the stadium—that I only dreamed about as a kid.”

• In a busy week, Dvorak would do 15 appearances. Sometimes more. He did 26 during the week of the Super Bowl back in 2005. “In the suit I did about 7,000 appearances throughout those 19 years.”

• A lifelong golfer, Dvorak is better than most—even in the full Jaxson De Ville costume. “I got invited to the NFL Bermuda Golf Classic. I bogeyed four of my last five holes to shoot a 78 and lose to [NFL Hall of Fame linebacker] Lawrence Taylor and [former Saints QB] Billy Joe Tolliver by three strokes. I was so mad.”

• The Jaguars’ preseason game against the Pittsburgh Steelers was Dvorak’s first after handing over the suit. “For me it felt like a high school reunion. I made my way around the stadium and didn’t spend a dollar the entire game. Every time I didn’t have a drink in my hand I got handed one by somebody. They were total strangers too.”

• Serious thoughts of retirement for the 41-year-old just happened to coincide with a job offer from First Coast News. “Everything felt like the right timing. I really like what they’re doing there and the opportunity that they gave me. I love entertaining people. I’ve done that my whole life.”