Jarvis Shares His Experiences as Die-Hard Buckeyes Football Follower -
The first time I saw Dan Jarvis was while watching the 2015 College Football Playoff National Championship game. He was in the front row of AT&T Stadium in Arlington,Texas, wearing spiked scarlet and gray shoulder pads overtop an Ohio State (OSU) Buckeyes #33 football jersey. An ESPN camera honed in on Dan, who was also holding a sign heckling the Southeastern Conference (SEC) for failing to land a team in the game. Instantly, I knew I liked the guy. When I later found out he is from Wheelersburg, Ohio, the hunt was on to track him down for this story.
I’ve written for various publications for nearly a decade and have interviewed some colorful souls, but this guy immediately forced himself to the top of my list of interesting characters. When talking about sports, especially the Buckeyes, he’s a delightfully giddy teenager trapped in a 54-year-old body. I’ve never laughed so hard nor been so surprised by responses than I was during this interview. After five minutes of talking to Dan, who is a cousin to former OSU running back Champ Henson, I found everything he said hilarious….even if he wasn’t attempting to be funny.
Let’s start with the sign, which read: “Front row seats-$3,000, Airfare-$600, Motel-$500, SEC watching on television – Priceless!” Dan’s wife Mindy is from Louisiana. Her entire family is made up of rabid LSU (Louisiana State University) fans. So, when they saw Dan on ESPN bashing their conference in his attention-grabbing Buckeye garb, angry texts and emails were fired Mindy’s way. “She thinks I’m crazy,” Dan laughed, offering what was likely Mindy’s excuse to her enraged family members. “They rub (so-called SEC dominance) in my face every year at Thanksgiving, but this year I get some payback.”
Considering what he told me next, I believe the payback will be delivered in shock-and-awe form. Dan said he knew by the time he was 10 years old, thanks to his father’s love of the Buckeyes, that he hated “the team up north.” So, when Dan’s namesake, Dan Jarvis, Jr, rebelled and began rooting for Michigan his freshman year in high school, drastic measures were taken. “I built him a room out back,” Dan said, with no hint of remorse, “and I painted it scarlet and gray.” Dan and his son have a great relationship, except during a four-month stretch at the end of every year. “We hate each other during football season,” Dan laughed, noting the Buckeyes have beaten the Wolverines 12 of the last 14 contests. “Every year he has hope. I’m not allowed to call him on Saturdays.”
Dan, a 1978 Minford High School grad, and his travelling buddy Gary Worst embrace creativity. When stud linebacker A.J. Hawk roamed the field at Ohio Stadium (2002-2005), the duo would dress as “Bruce Banner and The Incredible Hawk” at home and away games. Worst is nearly a foot taller than Dan. “We painted Gary green,” Dan chimed. When James Laurinaitis emerged as a freshman linebacker in ’05, an animal was born just beyond the sidelines. Dan was a fan of Laurinaitis’ father, Joe, a popular WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) wrestler whose moniker as a member of the Road Warriors was Animal. James Laurinaitis, #33, soon became Dan’s favorite Buckeye, so a costume change was in order. He started attending Ohio State home and road games in the spiked shoulder pad getup he still wears today, earning him the nickname Little Animal. “I love away games the most,” he said, acknowledging his love of stirring up opposing fan bases. “Most people love it,” he added. “I’ve taken pictures with thousands of people from other teams.” He’s also had various pictures of himself posted in USA Today, Sports Illustrated, Fox Sports, and numerous other publications.
A private contractor for AT&T, Dan frequently travels from his home in Wheelersburg to his work sites in St. Louis. As fate would have it, his favorite Buckeye, Laurinaitis, was drafted by the St. Louis Rams in 2009. Dan began attending Rams games wearing a Laurinaitis Rams jersey underneath his familiar spiked shoulder pads. His presence soon endeared “Little Animal” to the organization, culminating in Dan’s image being printed on the team’s 2011 opening game tickets. He was granted the opportunity to meet his hero, as well as being honored for his dedication at one of the team’s halftime ceremonies.
The self-proclaimed Mark May and SEC hater nearly blew a gasket in my brain when he said, “My wife is a pastor. We were called to start a ministry in St. Louis and help the homeless.” What? This guy is a Christian? Sure enough. He and Mindy help feed struggling souls and find them housing. He’s even hired a few homeless people to work on his crews.
I’d tell you other interesting things about Dan, like the time he met Ryan Seacrest or the fact that his youngest granddaughter is named Scarlet, but I’m out of space. Oh, and there’s the YouTube video of St. Louis Cardinals mascot Fred Bird accosting Dan, who was dressed head-to-toe in Cincinnati Reds gear at Busch Stadium. “I’ve had some crazy stuff happen,” he told me, an obvious understatement. Now, my goal is to someday go to a Buckeye game with Dan Jarvis. If I make it out alive, I’ll make sure I give you all the details!
Photos compliments Dan Jarvis