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Those First Jaguars: Frase's tale


Joshua Frase was born on Feb. 2, 1995, two weeks before the Jaguars chose Paul Frase in the ninth round of the expansion draft.

"I told him I would have to spend some time at home during the offseason, and he said he understood, just give me all you've got when you're here," Frase recalled of his first conversation with coach Tom Coughlin.

Josh's birth defect wasn't officially diagnosed until late April of '95, but Paul and Allison Frase knew at birth that Josh had a serious health problem. Through the whole '95 season, Josh's life was at risk, leaving his father to weigh his roles as father and football player.

"It was a time for me to reflect on my career and decide whether I could play or not. All of a sudden, I found myself inactive and thinking about my family and my son," Frase recalls of the '95 season.

Josh was born with congenital myopathy, a rare and crippling disease that restricts the development of the back and neck. At the time Josh was born, there were only 55 known cases of congenital myopathy in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom.

"Early on, there was a 50 percent chance to make it to his second birthday," Frase said.

This past Feb., Josh celebrated his sixth birthday with a trip to Disneyworld, though his world is still a life or death struggle that requires 18 hours of nursing a day. "When Josh is healthy, he does very well," Frase said.

On the night of Nov. 19, 1995, following the Jaguars' one-point loss in Tampa Bay, the nine-month-old was close to death. Meanwhile, his father was at the Tampa airport, where the Jaguars' charter flight was forced to return after experiencing engine failure during take-off.

The Jaguars tried to get Frase a commercial flight back to Jacksonville, but there were none. Frase was forced to make the four-hour bus trip from Tampa with the Jaguars team. Fortunately, when he arrived home, Josh's condition had stabilized.

"I never had a personal issue that distracted me from concentrating on my football career. That was the first time I had something tearing at me more than fighting and scratching to make the football team. It took away from my job," said Frase, a reserve defensive end and long-snapper, who had been with the Jets for seven seasons prior to joining the Jaguars.

He was inactive for seven games in '95, but was forced into a starting role for the final five games of the season, after starting defensive end Jeff Lageman was injured in Tampa.

Frase weighed father vs. football player and decided he needed to play as long as possible. "We felt very strongly about using the NFL to build awareness (of Josh's disease), and we raised a lot of money. We were also very fortunate to have the NFL insurance," said Frase, who played one more season with the Jaguars, then with the Packers in '97 before finishing his career with the Ravens in '98. Now, he's back in Jacksonville, where he owns a home construction company, Tuscany Homes of North Florida.

"He's brought a lot of joy to our lives," Frase said of his son.

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