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How Michigan legend Jon Jansen accidentally led a parade in Buckeye country

Chris Balas07/29/22
Article written by:On3 imageChris Balas

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Former Michigan players Jason Avant and Jack Miller have joined the football broadcast team. Photo by James Black/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Former Michigan All-American and NFL offensive tackle Jon Jansen has already earned the reputation as one of the most “Michigan men” ever. U-M’s new radio color commentator for play-by-play man Doug Karsch has been one of the program’s biggest fans and advocates since he left, and he remains so today. 

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Another example of just how much he bleeds maize and blue was on display last weekend. Jansen, driving back with his family from a trip down south, had his GPS take him through Ohio, in the heart of Buckeye country. As if that weren’t bad enough, there was a hold up ahead of him on his route.

“I’m so irritated by being in this state. I’m just irritated. I can’t wait to get out of it,” he recalled on 97.1 The Ticket recently. “And then I look up and see all these fire truck lights, police lights. I’m thinking, ‘oh no … there’s an accident. They’ve closed it down. We’re going to have to take another road to get along. It’s going to take us even longer.’”

But it wasn’t an accident. In fact, it was the start of a parade. Bands and floats were readying to go down Main Street, and folks were lined three and four deep — several, no doubt, wearing their OSU gear. 

The police were preparing to close the barricades to traffic when Jansen and his wife approached the parade from the south, she with most of the family in front of him, Jansen with his daughter in the front seat. 

What happened next is what his friends and family would call “the most Jon Jansen moment ever.”

“We enter from the south, and the high school is on the left where they’re all gathering,” Jansen recalled. “You can hear the band playing. You see the police and fire trucks. I don’t even know what the parade was for … doesn’t matter. They’re just about to barricade it. The light turns green, and we proceed …”

And just happen to be the last two cars to make it through. 

Only Jansen’s, though, slowed to a crawl. 

“My wife calls me and says, ‘are you going to do it?’ I said, ‘hell yeah I’m going to do it!’” Jansen recalled. “I’ve got my daughter in the passenger seat, all four windows down, and here comes ‘The Victors.’ I’m blaring ‘The Victors,’ leading the parade, and I’m going as slow as possible. 

“[My daughter] is covering up in a blanket. She’s doing the Doug Karsch. I’ve done this in Columbus, and Doug was scared as hell. He thought he was going to die. My daughter did the same thing, she was so embarrassed. But they’re three or four deep, the whole length of the town on both sides. I’ve got the windows down, I’m blaring ‘The Victors,’ got the fist pump going outside …”

The only thing missing was the Michigan band. 

Instead, the local high school bands, floats, etc. started to follow while the former No. 77 accidentally became the Grand Marshal of a parade in the heart of Buckeye country.

“And I’m getting the number one salute pretty much the whole way,” Jansen recalled with a laugh. “There were a few beer cans that may have been thrown at the truck. And I’m loving every damn minute of it. It was awesome.”

Just the latest chapter in the book of Jon Jansen’s still-growing legend.