When Jake Tolander bought a No. 68 James Daniels Bears jersey last year, he never dreamed that Daniels himself would wear it during one of the most important moments of the offensive lineman’s life.
But that’s exactly what happened this past weekend when fate—with an assist from social media—brought the two men together.
Daniels wanted to wear his Bears jersey under his gown when he graduated from the University of Iowa on Saturday. But he hadn’t brought one with him from Halas Hall, so he asked his Twitter followers if anyone in Iowa City had one of his jerseys he could borrow for the ceremony.
An avid fan of the Bears and Iowa Hawkeyes, Tolander responded via direct message and arranged to bring the size XXL jersey to Daniels. Tolander and his girlfriend, Lydia Neeley, met up with Daniels and watched proudly as the Bears’ 2018 second-round draft pick wore it during the graduation ceremony.
“I never thought that would happen, but it was really cool,” said Tolander, a 27-year-old Iowa City resident. “When we brought it to him, he was extremely nice. It was awesome.”
After the ceremony, Daniels autographed the jersey and gave it back to Tolander, who now has not only a prized keepsake but a great story to tell.
“I’m a huge Hawkeyes fan and a really big Bears fan too,” said Tolander, who bought the jersey shortly after Daniels was drafted. “So it was pretty awesome.”
The gesture by Tolander was appreciated by Daniels, who grinned and raised his arms as he walked across the stage to receive his diploma.
“I got applause,” Daniels said. “Everybody stood up. It was fun. It was cool.”
The Bears offensive lineman earned a degree in health and human physiology with a 3.24 grade point average.
“It’s really big,” Daniels said. “Being a college graduate is something that’s very important to me. Both my parents are college graduates. My older brother is a college graduate. Education is something that lasts forever, so it was very nice to get that done.”