JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Jaguars have apologized for their mascot using the Ebola epidemic to mock the Pittsburgh Steelers' Terrible Towels during Sunday's game between the teams at EverBank Field on Sunday afternoon.
Jaxson de Ville held up a handwritten sign during the fourth quarter of the game that read "TOWELS CARRY EBOLA" while carrying a yellow Terrible Towel in his right hand. Jaguars president Mark Lamping said the team had no prior knowledge of the sign and is handling the matter internally.
"Improvisation and humor have both been key elements to the character of Jaxson de Ville, especially when he performs at home games," Lamping said. "On Sunday, the person who has played Jaxson de Ville over the past 20 seasons made an extremely poor decision in that regard.
"The team was unaware of this inappropriate sign, which was hand-made by Jaxson during the fourth quarter of yesterday's game, until after it had been displayed. We are handling the matter internally and taking it very seriously. We extend our sincerest apologies to anyone who was offended."
Curtis Dvorak has been playing de Ville since the mascot's inception in 1996. The picture of the mascot holding the sign went viral and drew the ire of many on social media Sunday night.
Ebola is a viral disease that is highly infectious and spread by contact with bodily fluids. It has a mortality rate of nearly 90 percent. According to the World Health Organization Ebola response roadmap update from Friday, there have been nearly 8,000 probable, confirmed or suspected cases of the disease in the African nations of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
There has been one confirmed case of Ebola in the United States, in Dallas.