JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The question most assuredly did not catch Jaguars rookie tight end D.J. Tialavea by surprise.
Has anyone ever told you that you look a lot like Mark Sanchez?
Tialavea laughed. That’s not the first time he's heard that.
It’s not shocking considering that the former Utah State player bears a striking resemblance to the former New York Jets and current Philadelphia Eagles quarterback. Actually, he’s darn near a dead-ringer.
In fact, he caused a bit of a stir in Chicago earlier this year when he was in town to get treatment for his broken foot, which cost him the final eight games of his senior season at Utah State.
"I go eat at this diner every day and people would be like, ‘Mark Sanchez! They trading you to the Bears?’" Tialavea said. "I’d be like, ‘I’m not Mark.’
"Everywhere I would go they would think I was Mark Sanchez visiting the Bears."
The interesting part of that story was the fact that nobody was upset at the thought of Sanchez coming to the Midwest. There wasn’t a single butt-fumble reference, Tialavea said.
"Everybody was excited," he said. "It happened three different times and everybody was excited. They wanted Mark Sanchez to the Bears."
Tialavea is used to that kind of attention, though. It’s been happening for a while. When he had longer hair people thought he looked like actor Jason Momoa, who played Khal Drogo in HBO’s Game of Thrones and also starred as Conan the Barbarian in the 2011 remake.
He also has been told he looks like Roman Reigns, a WWE wrestler whose real name is Leati Joseph Anoa’i.
"People would think I was them all the time," Tialavea said. "I’d be like, ‘Just a normal kid; a regular dude.’"
Give Tialavea credit for being a good guy, too. Not once did he try and capitalize on the cases of mistaken identity.
Right now Tialavea just wants to be told he look like an NFL tight end. The 6-foot-4, 260-pound Tialavea caught 30 passes for 198 yards and five touchdowns during his career at Utah State and signed with the Jaguars as an undrafted free agent. With Marcedes Lewis and Clay Harbor pretty much locks to make the roster, Tialavea is fighting with fellow undrafted rookies Marcel Jensen and Reggie Jordan and first-year player Brandon Barden to be the third tight end.
He can’t escape the stares, though. It happened last week when he was eating breakfast in the team hotel before heading over to EverBank Field for one of the OTAs.
"Some lady kept looking at me weird," he said. "And I was like, ‘Man, people have a staring problem.’ And I guess she went up to my buddy and was like, "That’s an actor, right?’ She thought I was some famous actor."
Nope, just Mark Sanchez.