ST. AUGUSTINE – This event matters to Blake Bortles a lot.
So, while the Jaguars' quarterback did talk football Monday at the Blake Bortles Foundation Charity Golf Tournament, he talked just as much about his foundation and its meaning.
First, the football:
Yes, Bortles said, the excitement felt around the team throughout its recent organized team activities and minicamp remains. And after an AFC South title last season and an ensuing run to the AFC Championship game, the excitement is high.
"From what we did last year, the expectations have changed a little bit," Bortles said Monday at the King & Bear Golf Course at the World Golf Village. "Within the locker room, they (expectations) were definitely different last year and I think they're only going to continue to change and grow and get higher.
"I'm looking forward to it. I think it's going to be a good challenge and it will be a good year."
Bortles, entering his fifth season as the Jaguars' starter, also talked about the importance of teammates such as newly-signed unrestricted free agent guard Andrew Norwell participating in the weekend's event. Norwell signed from the Carolina Panthers in mid-March.
"It's awesome," Bortles said. "To have a guy like Norwell, who just got to Jacksonville – and was just a big signee – it's pretty awesome and I'm very thankful for his support."
The event, along with a concert Sunday, serves as a main fundraising platform for the Blake Bortles Foundation, which supports two areas of need in the Jacksonville and Oviedo, Fla. communities: children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities – and first responders.
"It was easy for us to figure out who to give money to, and it was a challenge to figure out how to raise it," Bortles said. "Just growing up it was, 'If I ever get the opportunity to give back and have any philanthropic influence at all it was going to be in those two areas.' Those are two areas that are very dear to my heart and two things I care a lot about.
"There are a lot of guys who do a lot of really good work within the community here in Jacksonville as well as back home wherever they might be from. It's kind of a brotherhood thing. We all help each other out and go to each other's camps and golf tournaments.
"Everybody has a different passion and care. You want to support those guys as much as you can."