Goodnight, sweet prince.
Former NFL quarterback Blake Bortles made it official on Wednesday, announcing his retirement from professional football. The quarterback rode a magical junior season at Central Florida — where he was named the AAC Offensive Player of the Year and won MVP honors at the 2014 Fiesta Bowl — to the top of the NFL draft.
The Jacksonville Jaguars selected Bortles third overall in the 2014 NFL draft, and Bortles was the team’s starting quarterback from 2014 through 2018. During the 2017 season, Bortles and the Jaguars reached the AFC Championship Game, and on the road in Foxborough the team was one half away — and one disputed knee, as I am sure our friend JP Acosta will mention in a moment — from representing the AFC in Super Bowl LII.
Along the way, he even earned an incredible nickname. The BOAT:
With Bortles’ announcement, we thought we would share some of our favorite Bortles memories.
The 2017 AFC Playoffs
The 2017 Jaguars were led by a young, athletic and explosive defense. Reading it now almost seems like scanning a Pro Bowl roster: Myles Jack, Jalen Ramsey, Calais Campbell, Yannick Ngakoue and A.J. Bouye are just some of the names that stand out.
As for the offense? That unit had an up-and-down season, especially Bortles. He survived a training camp competition with Chad Henne to win the starting job, but his inconsistency continued throughout the regular season. For example, after throwing for four touchdowns in a Week 3 win over the Baltimore Ravens, Bortles followed that up with a sub-50% completion game against the New York Jets in a Week 4 loss.
The inconsistency continued into the playoffs. After the Jaguars survived a “thrilling” 10-3 game in the Wild Card round, Bortles faced questions about his play. He dropped this incredible quote: “It’ll probably never stop. There’s people who think LeBron James sucks, so if that happens, I’m sure there will always be people who always think I suck.”
Bortles followed that up with perhaps two of his best games of the year, or even perhaps his career, given the stage. In Jacksonville’s Divisional Round win over the Pittsburgh Steelers on the road, Bortles completed 14 of 26 passes for 214 yards and a touchdown — without an interception — and added another 35 yards on the ground.
Then he went into Foxborough, and had the New England Patriots on the rope for three quarters. Ultimately, Jacksonville fell short, but against a Bill Belichick defense Bortles completed 23 of 36 passes for 293 yards and a touchdown, again without an interception. He posted an NFL passer rating of 98.5, the highest of his three-career playoff games.
— Mark Schofield
The beautiful and hilarious doink INTs
As the resident Jaguars fan, my thoughts on Blake Bortles are this: there were good times, like the 2017 playoffs Mark mentioned above. Or even when he fooled the entire league by throwing 35 touchdowns in 2015.
However, there were a LOT of bad, bad, interceptions. These few are the ones that stick out to me.
He threw an interception against the Chiefs…off of another players’ helmet. I remember exactly where I was when I saw this play. Sitting at home, finished up some homework from high school calculus. Saw him doink the ball off a Chief helmet, into another Chiefs’ players hands, and fell to my knees.
He also threw an interception off another player’s foot, a play I will never forget:
He truly was capable of pulling off the impossible, only in a bad way.
— JP Acosta
The Good Place
Okay, I know this might seem like a bit of a cop out — but my fondness for Blake Bortles extends only as far as his place as a punchline in The Good Place.
From randomly screaming “BORTLES!” to extolling the virtues at every turn, Jason Mendoza is one of the greatest characters in TV history. Bortles was the perfect quarterback for him to worship. Eternal, misplaced optimism, blended with being overhyped and under-delivering. Jason’s character just wouldn’t have hit the same if the Jags were good during the show’s run, or if Bortles was a standout passer on a terrible team.
I will forever be grateful to Blake Bortles for not being a great QB, because it gave us one of the most incredible recurring laughs in one of my favorite shows of all time.
Thank you, Blake Bortles. I will remember you forever in a way other failed QBs won’t be a blip on my radar.
— James Dator