Asher Grodman has been a Jaguars fan since the team opened in 1995. The actor and producer best known for his role in the CBS hit comedy “Ghosts” was born in New York, but became a Jaguars fan because his father was a fan of the Detroit Lions, and jokingly said that Grodman needed to find a new team to root for.
Since then, Grodman has been through the ups and downs of being a Jaguars fan, but with a Duval rising potentially on the horizon, there is finally some real excitement around the franchise. Grodman predicted the Jaguars making the playoffs last season despite being 4-7 at the time, and now got to play a hand in the Jaguars’ schedule release, centered around the writing of the Jaguars 2023 “script.”
SB Nation was able to talk to Grodman over the phone about the process behind the schedule release video, and what it means for Grodman to be a part of the Jaguars’ 2023 lore.
2023 Schedule Release— Jacksonville Jaguars (@Jaguars) May 12, 2023
You can’t write this stuff... or can you?@Dream_Finders | #DUUUVAL pic.twitter.com/UKDuwtpfBB
JP Acosta (JA): How did this idea for the for the video come to be? What did the pitching process look like?
Asher Grodman (AG): You know I got really lucky because I’ve been a fan my whole life and the Jags reached out to me once ‘Ghosts’ really hit. I’ve never been shy about my fandom so they found me and brought me into the family and I got to know people in the organization and players. I was down at the Players Championship [golf tournament in Florida] at Sawgrass and some of the people in the office started pitching me this idea of like, we want to do something with the NFL being scripted and it was this idea of rolling around like having the players audition for the new season.
I was like, “Okay”, I kind of thought about it. And I went back to them and said, listen, if this is something you guys really want to pursue, I think the angle that actually would work better is bringing audiences into the Jacksonville Jaguars’ writers room. And then the thing that I gave them was, you know, in order to find the comedy and this is if the NFL is scripted, if that is true, what is also true? Well, that means that [Jaguars owner] Shad Khan is the head of the studio, and the coaches are actors. The players are actors, and it means that there’s a transition that you go through of playing football in college and now you have to learn how to pretend to play football in the NFL. And so that kind of busted everything open. We had a little bit of a kind of a little writer’s room of our own and some ideas got thrown around and then I went away and just wrote the script and came back and pitched it and everyone liked it. My goal in this was, I have met these players. They are so cool, and so much fun. And I have met (head coach) Doug (Pederson), who is so cool and so much fun. And I know that Shad is so cool and so much fun. I want people to fall in love with this team the way that I have. So how do I set these guys up? How do I set the audience up to get a window into these guys? And the way I did that was making myself the idiot who could be the glue that strings everything together in the narrative, so that’s how we proceeded.
So we shot this thing and then I because I was gonna wear so many hats, I wanted to make sure that I had someone there who kind of was able to keep an eye on on the overall production. So I brought in my directing mentor Trent O’Donnell, who is like our primary director on ghosts and was a big part of New Girl for very long time. And he’s just a genius. So I would help him direct the players when I was off camera, and then when I was in there he was directing me.
JA: What was it like working with the Jaguars’ social media team?
AG: I kept saying at the beginning of every meeting ‘I don’t want to step on anyone’s toes, so please, you know, only if this is unanimous, you know, but really it was the ball’s in your court.’ I got lucky that everyone really loved the idea and then became so supportive. VP of Media over there Everett Sullivan is a genius. He was our DP (Director of Photography), he ran A cam for us. Devin Carvajal does a lot of graphics for the Jaguars, we worked together on finding the Doug Oklahoma graphic. It probably took me four hours to find a photo of Doug without a hat or visor on. When we saw that I said ‘this is gonna be on a t-shirt.’
What’s so great about the Jaguars is that the office is very connected. There’s a lot of synergy there, right? So Everett can go and bounce around and then pitch this to different players and pitch it to different departments and everyone was like, oh my god, this sounds fun. That sounds cool and Everett told me that everyone who he pitched it to is like 100 percent I want to be there. So we got everyone we wanted the only one we didn’t was Fred Taylor, but that was more just a scheduling thing.
JA: So how cool was it to get the players involved and getting them to kind of be actors who are playing football players instead of football players who are actually playing football?
AG: Yeah. Oh my god. Well, first of all, like for a kid, and whenever I’m doing anything with the Jaguars, I’m immediately reverted back to my 8-year-old self, and so I will refer to him as a kid. For a kid who grew up a Jaguars fan to become an actor. And have aspirations to direct and write, and then get to write and direct and act in a thing with the Jaguars. It’s like, I don’t know what I’m gonna do with the rest of my life. It was so much fun.
JA: One of the parts that made me smile the most was getting John Henderson. I just laughed so hard because that was a that was a perfect moment to use there.
AG: See this is merging my two worlds. If they’re all actors, I knew I wanted to have a method actor joke and it was no question that it was going to be Big John and he he’s just got maybe the greatest smile and laugh on the planet. So being able to highlight him was so much fun.
JA: So which current Jaguar player or coach, do you think would be the best actor?
AG: Oh, man. That’s really hard. There’s a lot, I’m gonna have to name multiple names. First of all, I mean, Doug was so good. And I have to say like, I don’t think the Jaguars have ever had a coach with who’s so open, he is such a great guy. So that is a huge testament to Doug Pederson and he came in and he’s never acted. He’s just like, I’m gonna play let’s see what happens. And it’s so cool and courageous. I was blown away by Doug Pederson.
I will tell you all the stuff with [Jaguars WR] Zay Jones is improvised and that is a huge testament to Zay. I didn’t write it for specific players, I wrote a bunch of different bits and I was like, we’ll see who we get. If he says yes, then I’ll assign people different roles. So when we got Zay, I hadn’t met Zay yet but what I’ve heard about him is he’s a really thoughtful guy, a really smart guy. All that was in the script was it’s been about a player coming to me and saying, what’s my motivation in this scene? So I gave that to Zay and Zay kind of walked away and thought about it for a second, and he was like, maybe like, if we’re like sitting in the grass and I’m just like, sitting there alone. And I was like, alright, let’s just try something and we walked out. We wanted to get onto the center field and the grounds crew kept turning on the sprinkler and kicking us off so we went over to the side. And we started improvising, I think all I gave him was the line ‘if I’m Zay Jones playing Zay Jones, who am I?’ I think I gave him that, he might’ve come up with that. There were a few little directions I gave him but so much of what happened between this was improv because he’s so smart and so thoughtful and was just able to play with me.
I think [Jaguars CB] Tyson Campbell has an amazing few scenes in this. He’s so good. And [Jaguars QB] Trevor [Lawrence], Trevor is awesome. We have 30 minutes with Trevor, which is remarkable considering like he is a busy dude. He’s got the weight of the world and his shoulders and he handles it so well. And we got four scenes out of that. And it’s great how he doesn’t speak the whole film and then at the end he he comes in and brings the hammer down. So yeah, and [Jaguars WR] Jamal [Agnew], Jamal has a line, see I’m just in love with all these guys, they’re amazing. Jamal has a line after he does the block on Tyson and he goes “ah I did it again Tys!” Just so great. That’s not in the script, he just came up with it. The special teams guys, [long snapper] Ross Mastick, brought in so much fun stuff. And then Shad, I gave a Shad a few jokes and I thought ‘oh you know I gotta get these in fast’, and Shad was like ‘no, come on. Let’s do this. This is fine. But let’s let’s give it the time it deserves’. So I’m indebted to a lot of these guys.
JA: One of my favorite parts was Andrew Wingard playing Trevor Lawrence.
AG: Oh my god. It was so much fun. We shot all the players in one day, and then we brought Dewey in the next day, because he was like “I’ll do whatever, I don’t care. Let’s go.” And we put him in Trevor’s uniform. Which was so funny. The sweat bit, he’s got such a personality. He was fantastic.
JA: Yeah, I didn’t even think about that until seeing it. I’m like, oh my god like I could see this happening. Like, I guess it makes so much sense.
AG: I wrote that bit for Dewey, and my only reservation was that his hair’s a lot longer than Trevor’s. I was like alright, what are you gonna do? We got to hide his hair like like tuck it under his helmet, and then he walked in and just gotten a haircut. I was like, Oh, this is perfect. This is I don’t have to do anything else. Yeah, just all fit.
JA: So my last question for you is, as a fan, how’s it feel now that you’re kind of a part of this? You’re now a part of this schedule. You’re a part of the schedule reveal that millions of people probably have seen already.
AG: I did an interview with someone else, because like I didn’t get paid, I wasn’t looking for money. It was like why did you do this for free? And I was like if your favorite team comes to you and says, Would you mind writing, directing, producing and acting in our schedule released video alongside players? If you said no to that I think you’re a moron. That’s one of the coolest things that you could ever do. I’ve been an unemployed actor for two decades, just struggling and it’s been a brutal ride. I have this television show that I’m on that I’m so fortunate for, ‘Ghosts’, which is like the highest rated comedy in America, all of these great things and yet I kind of think that this is the thing I’m most proud of. Because it’s just such a cool like mixing of a world and featuring these guys and everyone in the organization.