Mike Tiscione was 8 years old when he decided to pick his favorite team. Tiscione, who grew up in Albany, didn’t like the Buffalo Bills or the Jets and Giants.
It was 1995 and Tiscione had his pick of the Carolina Panthers or the Jacksonville Jaguars, two expansion teams that began play that season.
Tiscione based his decision on color.
“Honestly, I thought the helmets were pretty cool,” he said of why he picked the Jaguars. “The teal was cool.”
Tiscione, 30, is being rewarded for his fandom of the Jaguars with the team just one victory away from their first Super Bowl appearance. Tiscione’s support is not just from watching the games on TV. He has attended 40 games, where he’s seen only 10 wins. Such hardships pushed Tiscione to create a twitter account, @Bortlesfacts in 2014 of his favorite player, quarterback Blake Bortles.
“It started in the offseason [of 2014] and he was getting a lot of flack from people,” Tiscione said. “That team was terrible; had Gus Bradley as head coach. Not really a fair shake and getting compared to Blaine Gabbert, who we had for three years. He was terrible and that’s why it started.”
@Bortlesfacts had a small following, just mainly diehard fans like Tiscione and his buddy Matt Clyne.
Butafter a story in The Wall Street Journal on Tiscione and with the Jaguars playing in Sunday’s AFC title game against the Patriots, the account has over 81,000 followers.
This week, ESPN went to Tiscione’s house, interviewing him in his man cave filled with Jaguars posters, pictures and jerseys to do a story on the criticism Bortles has faced this season.
“I was shocked,” Tiscione said when ESPN asked about doing a story. “They said they’re interviewing about Blake getting disrespected and interviewing players and I present the facts.”
One such fact from the twitter account had Super Bowl losses: Tom Brady 2. Blake Bortles 0. It was retweeted more than 2,000 times and liked by 7,700 twitter users.
Tiscione, who mans the posts when he’s not doing his day job as a social media manager for an internet marketing company in Clifton Park, N.Y., wrote on twitter that Bortles had beaten six Pro Bowl quarterbacks this season. It was liked 6,800 times.
And don’t think NFL teams haven’t noticed. Tiscione tweeted something the Tennessee Titans didn’t like. The Titans reached out to Tiscione several times asking him to take down a post. He refused at first but after further discussions he eventually did.
What makes the twitter account worth it for Tiscione is that Bortles has acknowledged it.
“I haven’t seen it but I’ve heard some of [the posts] are pretty funny,” Bortles said this week. “I’m sure they’re all pretty funny. It’s awesome. I appreciate it.”
Tiscione has met Bortles a few times, the first at the NFL Draft, when it was held in New York.
And Tiscione isn’t just some fan who sits in Albany watching his Jaguars on the NFL Sunday ticket. He attended the Jaguars’ 23-20 overtime loss to the Jets at MetLife Stadium this season and has memories of a 17-hour drive to Jacksonville to watch Gabbert lose to the Detroit Lions in 2012. As for the AFC title game, Tiscione is hoping for a free ticket, but if he doesn’t get one and the Jags reach the Super Bowl, a long road trip awaits.
“Super Bowl, that’s a whole different beast,” he said. “I know Minneapolis is maybe 15 hours. He’s got us one win away from the Super Bowl. I couldn’t believe it. I knew they would beat Buffalo [in the wild-card game] because Buffalo didn’t deserve to be there and they beat the Steelers easily and it’s hard to beat them twice. I’m pretty sure they will win on Sunday, too.”