JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Doug Marrone is full of baloney.
Actually, it’s bologna.
A heaping mound of it, too.
Marrone has had a lifelong love affair with the deli meat that has carried on through his days as an offensive lineman at Syracuse, his time as a head coach at his alma mater and the Buffalo Bills, and now as the Jacksonville Jaguars’ head coach. A bologna and cheese sandwich -- regular or fried -- is his go-to postgame meal.
As well as any other time he gets a hankering.
“It reminds me of when I was young, and I do truly enjoy it,” Marrone said. “If someone said I was going to be executed and what my last meal was, I’m going to have a bologna and cheese sandwich.”
Like many kids, Marrone ate bologna and cheese sandwiches when he was growing up in the Bronx. Unlike most kids, however, Marrone never outgrew them. Through high school and college, Marrone stuck with bologna and cheese despite getting razzed by teammates.
“When I was in college at Syracuse, I remember people saying, ‘My God! How can you eat bologna?’” Marrone said. “And I always like bologna because bologna, you never have to throw it out. In other words, if it’s in the refrigerator and you get a little film on it, then you just fry it and it tastes just as good.”
Marrone is particular about the construction of his sandwich: white bread, spicy mustard and yellow American cheese. The deli bologna is sliced thin, not the prepackaged stuff sold in grocery stores, though he has eaten that as well.
“I’m not like a two- or three-slice bologna guy,” Marrone said. “I’m like a half a pound of bologna, you know what I’m saying? And a half a pound of cheese guy.”
That’s partly why he makes the sandwich himself. He knows he’d get shorted if his wife Helen made it.
“I don’t let anyone make that sandwich for me,” Marrone said. “When I was growing up, my grandmother would make it for me before I’d go to school, but that was it. After that, I took control of it because I don’t trust anyone.
"I just love it. I love it. I bet you I can be the bologna-eating champion of the world. I bet you I've eaten more bologna than anyone in this world." Doug Marrone
“Everyone would try to put less bologna on it. I want to put it out there.”
And he wants to settle into his chair with a glass of milk and his sandwich. By himself.
“I don’t like people talking to me when I eat,” Marrone said. “I’m not a sharer. I don’t share food, you know what I’m saying? I always tell people, if you [want] to share, you’ve got to order your own. That’s just how it is. That’s the truth.”
Marrone’s bologna obsession came to light after the Jaguars’ overtime victory over the Los Angeles Chargers at EverBank Field on Nov. 12. He was describing how exhausted he was after watching Blake Bortles throw two interceptions in the final two minutes and yet still managing to win, and said he was going to go home, listen to some music and eat a bologna and cheese sandwich.
That’s his postgame routine, win or lose, home or road.
“It’s not like a reward for winning,” Marrone said. “It’s more of like, when people say, ‘What are you going to do?’ ‘I’m going to go home and this is what I’m going to do,’ and I just tell people the truth. So if someone asks me [what he is going to do] after a loss, I would probably say the same things. I would go home and eat this sandwich, except I’m not going to talk to anybody. I’ll be miserable, and then I’ll eat it and I’ll feel good, and then once I digest it, I’ll feel s---ty again. When we win, after I eat it, I’m already on to the next game.”
“I just love it. I love it. I bet you I can be the bologna-eating champion of the world. I bet you I’ve eaten more bologna than anyone in this world.”
Maybe in total weight, but not in terms of speed. According to recordsetter.com, Sergio Simms set a record in July by eating a bologna and cheese sandwich in 16.35 seconds. Don Lerman, who has the reputation of having the fastest hands in competitive eating, ate 2.76 pounds of bologna in six minutes in May 2006. That’s according to Major League Eating, the body that oversees all competitive eating contests.
There also is an annual bologna festival in Lebanon, Pennsylvania, and naturally there’s a contest to eat the most bologna sandwiches in five minutes. Kevin “The Abyss” Ambs won the title -- and $250 -- in 2016 by eating 15.25 sandwiches.
Marrone’s players don’t consider their coach's postgame sandwich habit odd. Guard A.J. Cann said he takes an Epsom salt bath after every game, for example, and linebacker Myles Jack said he doesn’t eat anything on game days. They don’t deviate from their routines, so why should Marrone?
“People have got different rituals that they do,” Jack said. “I’ve seen guys do all kinds of stuff in this locker room before games. Some guys like to get in the steam room. Whatever you got to do.
“I hope it’s Oscar Mayer, though. Bottom line.”
Bologna and cheese after a grueling game is what Marrone has to do.
“That’s what’s perfect for me,” he said. “It’s simple. It’s satisfying. I truly enjoy it. I do. I can eat it every day -- breakfast, lunch and dinner.”
That’s no baloney.