Wednesday, March 21, 2012
Tebow wouldn't have lifted Jags' tarps
By Paul Kuharsky
He’s a hometown hero and he played for the nearby Gators in college, where he was part of two national championships and won the Heisman Trophy.
I understand the reason so many predicted Tim Tebow would land in Jacksonville, but he’s now a New York Jet, and that’s a good thing for the Jaguars.
Please, please, please, even in hindsight, can we cease the exaggerations about the effect that Tebow would have had on the tarps at EverBank Stadium?
It's unlikely that adding Tim Tebow to the roster would have brought in an extra 10,000 or more fans to EverBank Stadium.
The Jaguars didn’t have an easy time selling all the seats they needed to get blackouts lifted last season, coming down to the wire and relying on corporate help. They would have had to sell those seats first.
Then we were talking about roughly 10,000 additional seats.
The single biggest failure in the thinking for the city of Jacksonville as it gutted and rebuilt the Gator Bowl into an NFL stadium in order to land the Jaguars was to make it big. That was to accommodate the annual Georgia-Florida football game. The "World’s Largest Cocktail Party" draws well from two big college fan bases. They use all their seats and add some for that.
But even with tarps, EverBank Field holds 67,164. That’s more than Soldier Field.
No matter who’s on their roster, is it reasonable for the small-market Jaguars, with their minimal history, to expect to fill a stadium bigger than the one the Bears have in Chicago?
Tebow is certainly popular in Jacksonville.
But did we really think they were going to have a tarp-lifting ceremony if they traded for him? His presence was going to sell 10,000 tickets?
We realize that not everyone who lives in Florida is a Florida fan, right? A share of those people are Miami and Florida State devotees. A share are relocated Northerners without any college devotion.
I don’t think Tebow would have helped sell anything close to 10,000 tickets, and none of the people I talked to in North Florida thought so either.
So let’s relax with that exaggeration.
And let’s remember that a tarp-lifting ceremony would have come with the very real possibility of a Tebow failure leading to a quieter, tarp-replacement ceremony.
That second event would have been as much a franchise killer as anything.
A few more thoughts on Tebow and Jacksonville, even in light of it being a dead issue:
1) If Tebow landed in Jacksonville, it would have been a force by owner Shad Khan and against the will of general manager Gene Smith and coach Mike Mularkey.
He wouldn’t have come in as the starter, he’d have come in as a third-stringer who could have run some special packages.
2) If the Jaguars wanted to make a splash, they should have gone out and gotten defensive end Mario Williams or receiver Vincent Jackson. You know, guys who would play right from the start and address major positions of need.
3) Mularkey’s first term as a head coach in Buffalo ended, in part, because he wound up without the control he had been told he would have.
It would have been terrible if mere months after he was hired in Jacksonville Khan made him feel the same way again.