NFL Nation: Shahid Khan

Jacksonville Jaguars fire GM Gene Smith

December, 31, 2012

The Jacksonville Jaguars announced Monday that they have fired general manager Gene Smith after a woeful 2-14 season, the worst in franchise history.

The team said in a statement that owner Shahid Khan will immediately begin the search for Smith's replacement. Khan called Smith "a good man" and wished him the best.

“I met with Gene Smith this morning to inform him of my decision to go in a new direction and thank him for his dedication to the Jaguars since the inception of the franchise,” Khan said. “I am personally appreciative for his efforts during my first season of ownership in the NFL. Gene is a good man with a long career ahead of him in football, and I know this season was as difficult for him as anyone with our organization. I sincerely wish Gene and his family the very best, today and always.

“Now it is time for the Jacksonville Jaguars to begin a new chapter. We’re not looking back. I’ve made it clear from Day 1 that we pledge nothing less than to deliver the first Super Bowl championship to Jacksonville. Our fans have been remarkably loyal over the years, and they were truly outstanding this past season. We simply must do better for our fans.

“Our organization’s business unit had an extremely impressive year and I anticipate even better days ahead in 2013 and beyond, but we all understand this is a football business above all else. With that, I’m determined to find the right man to lead our football operations, someone who shares my vision, understands the commitment we will demand and is qualified and ready to seize this opportunity. That search begins today.”
Shad Khan is new NFL blood, and still qualifies as a compelling story.

As part of Forbes' look at the values of NFL franchises, Brian Solomon writes this great profile of the Jaguars owner.
FORBES estimates his net worth at $2.5 billion, placing him in the top half of the soon-to-be-released 2012 Forbes 400.

An enormous accomplishment for anyone, it’s an enormous accomplishment for anyone, it’s more like a Mars landing for a middle-class kid from Pakistan who flew into Illinois for an engineering degree at 16 and never left. Khan’s is the kind of only-in-America success story that has filled boats and planes with dreamers for the past 150 years, one that gives a face to an ironclad fact: Skilled, motivated immigrants are proven job creators, not job takers.”

As his wealth grew, Forbes reports, he started monitoring the magazine’s annual list of franchise values to get a sense of affordability.

Khan has a saying about the auto-parts business that seems appropriate for most fields: You don’t have to outrun the bear, just the other guy. He used to carry around a list of 19 competitors until all of them went out of business.

Of course it’s not like that in his new business. No matter how his team does, the other 31 teams vying for the Lombardi Trophy won’t disappear. He’ll have to find another way to win.
When he take a handoff, Maurice Jones-Drew is very good at going in one direction.

When it comes to reasoning out an argument, he runs in circles.

Any time he, or his representative, says anything that elicits some negative reaction, in short order he seems to cover the other side. It’s out of context or we didn’t understand or what he really meant was actually close to the opposite.

It’s really tiresome. And it’s no way to make new bosses miss him.

Jones-Drew wants to be all things to all people. He doesn’t like any segment of fans being upset with him, so he tries to hit every side of an argument to make even one happy and make sure no one is upset with him.

When he was critical of Jay Cutler leaving the 2010 NFC Championship Game with an injury, he retreated after backlash.

Here’s the thing -- don’t cast yourself as an outspoken guy if you’re not willing to take a stance and stick with it.

Now, after having his agent speak out about how he was hurt by Jaguars owner Shahid Khan saying the running back’s absence didn’t move the needle, Adisa Bakari said they were open to a trade. (As if their openness to a trade was the thing that would make it happen.)

It was only a matter of time, I knew, before he’d say he didn’t really mean he wanted to play elsewhere.

And sure enough, within days, came this:

"I'd rather stay here with my team, my family,” he said at a recent appearance in Jacksonville. “I talk to my teammates every day, my kids go to school here, I'm rooted here in Jacksonville with the NFL. I'd love to end my career here in Jacksonville, but part of the business is sometimes you can't do things you want."

Do you want to stay or do you want to go?

He’s a step short of Vince Young when asked if he wanted the Heisman Trophy Reggie Bush had to give back. The first time he said yes. The second time he said no. And the third time he said he didn’t know and it wasn’t up to him.

Yep, that about covers all the bases. And amounts to saying nothing, but creates way more frustration.

Over a couple days Jones-Drew did what he does when he’s in a jam created by stances and comments instead of pursuing defenders: He ran in a circle.
With the Rams bowing out of an opportunity to play multiple games in London, it’s no surprise the Jaguars are stepping in.

The team will announce tomorrow its intention to try to become London’s home team by playing one home game there in four consecutive seasons starting in 2013.

Growing the fan base of the league’s least popular team seems a smart idea, and I hardly think it means the Jaguars would be destined to land completely and permanently in London.

After all, there are a few requirements for that sort of move. League owners have to be willing to endure what an overseas team would mean to the league’s operational logistics. And London has to show it would respond favorably to a full slate of American football games.

I don’t think either is a guarantee.

In the meantime, I don’t think owner Shad Khan will have such a hard time selling his team’s American fan base on this idea.

I’d start by telling fans this: A season ticket package is expensive. It just got smaller and less expensive for the next four seasons. Instead of a 10-game slate, you get nine. (Sorry we can’t fix the preseason rip-off part, that predated our ownership.) Nine is cheaper than 10. You can live without one. And that one is going to help us in the revenue department in a way that should make us a more stable franchise, assuring you at least nine.
Jaguars owner Shad Khan says the only decision to be made about Maurice Jones-Drew has to come from Jones-Drew, and I have trouble finding anything wrong with Khan’s stance.

From Vito Stellino's story in the Florida Times-Union:
"There's no decision here,'' Khan told the Times-Union.

"It's his choice. There's been very little for us to do rather than wait on whatever he might choose to do,” Khan said.

When asked if the Jaguars had made a decision by not giving him a new deal, Khan paused and then said: "There's more than 50 players under contract. There are other people under contract in management, coaches. Does that mean if you do it for one, you do it for everybody? Where do you draw the line?''

The Jaguars will be on the practice field Thursday morning.

Jones-Drew has not offered any indication recently that he’s changed his mind about pressing the team for a new, more lucrative deal. MJD led the league in rushing last season, but has two seasons remaining on what was a generous contract when he signed it.

Jacksonville could open camp not only without its top player, but also its top draft pick: No. 5 overall selection Justin Blackmon, the receiver who recently pleaded guilty to drunk-driving charges in Oklahoma, might be one of the few rookies unsigned as his team gets to work.

In 2010, Blackmon was arrested on a DUI charge in Texas. That was reduced eventually to underage alcohol possession.

The two incidents certainly give the Jaguars cause for concern regarding a major investment in Blackmon, and looking for insurance regarding guaranteed money would be understandable.

While it's hardly ideal to have Jones-Drew and Blackmon miss time, the Jaguars could continue to operate with them as their key national storylines, improving elsewhere while few are paying attention.
AFC Scenarios: East | West | North | South NFC: East | West | North | South

Yes, the start of training camps is two months away, but it’s never too early to consider the coming season. A look at the best-case and worst-case scenarios for the Jaguars in 2012.

Dream scenario (10-6): Mike Mularkey’s offensive scheme does for Blaine Gabbert what it did early on for Matt Ryan in Atlanta. Gabbert silences his stable of critics, playing with a newfound poise and confidence and finding himself in situations where he’s comfortable and can show off the arm that was a big reason he was a top 10 pick.

The second-year quarterback is well-protected as he works his way through progressions and spreads the ball around to a much-improved receiving corps headed by Laurent Robinson and Justin Blackmon. With the passing offense faring far better, Maurice Jones-Drew's hammer hits even harder because his carries are less predictable.

Defensively, the team is healthy all season long in karmic payback for last year’s slew of injuries.

Defensive tackles Tyson Alualu and Terrance Knighton put it all together with middle linebacker Paul Posluszny playing great behind them, and no one can even ponder running up the middle against the Jaguars. Rookie second-rounder Andre Branch provides a serious boost to the pass rush and the linebackers get involved in pressuring the quarterback. When they don’t get a sufficient push, the coverage holds up.

And rookie punter Bryan Anger regularly hits bombs and pins teams deep, semi-justifying his third-round draft status.

Mularkey wins coach of the year as the Jaguars qualify for the playoffs.

Nightmare scenario (4-12): New coaches, a new system and new receivers don’t make for a new Gabbert, and he struggles in his second season much as he did as a rookie. A rough start means the fan base calls for backup Chad Henne, and Mularkey finds himself in a tough spot with a quick quarterback controversy.

Henne eventually gets the call but doesn’t play much better, so the team is over-reliant on the run game. The defense, meanwhile, can’t overcome the lack of a pass rush. It gives up too many passing yards and too many big plays because quarterbacks have time to wait for targets to break open. Then the Jaguars begin to blitz more to amp things up, but pay a price by giving up big plays out of high risk, high-reward situations.

Owner Shahid Khan, used to life as a businessman who wins, says or does something controversial that makes things even messier. The Jaguars actually finish a game worse than they did in Jack Del Rio’s final season, leaving Denver’s defensive coordinator shrugging and people removing some responsibility for 2011 from him.
Shahid Khan appeared close to purchasing the St. Louis Rams, only to have minority owner Stan Kroenke exercise his option to become majority owner.

Khan, who purchased the Jacksonville Jaguars instead, wants to trade ahead of the Rams for a shot at Oklahoma State receiver Justin Blackmon, ESPN's Chris Mortensen reports.

The Rams pick sixth and need a No. 1 receiver. It's unclear whether they're set on selecting Blackmon, but he would be a logical consideration for them -- unless Khan and the Jaguars move up from No. 7 to get Blackmon first.

The draft is minutes away from beginning, so we'll have answers soon.
When Tim Tebow said he was not in position to choose between the Jets and Jaguars when Denver was trading him, it sure seemed like he wasn’t being entirely truthful.

John Elway contradicted him and I concluded that Tebow was being literal and that behind the scenes he was talking to agent Jimmy Sexton who was talking to Elway and the Broncos. Players often fail to realize the degree to which their agent is serving as a power broking middle man and speaking on their behalf, and it was a complicated situation for Tebow. Peter King of reported that Tebow absolutely had a say in where he landed.

The Jaguars could have upped their offer and landed him, but owner Shah Khan didn’t see why to do it when Tebow didn’t want to join them.

Khan talked with Tania Ganguli of the Florida Times-Union.
"That would have been the worst thing for Jacksonville and the worst thing for him. He didn’t want to come, obviously. … Any one of the 53 players we have, have to be committed to Jacksonville, making us be the best team we are. The question was: Did he want to come? And if the decision had been taken out [of his hands] and we got him, that would not be good for him, or for us."

Khan told Ganguli he got a full explanation from Gene Smith about why the Broncos didn’t draft Tebow, and then asked his GM to prepare to make an offer. The owner was in touch with Denver from the moment the Broncos got Peyton Manning, and he said his legal team actually found and investigated the contract language that impacted finances of the deal and prompted some teams to drop off.

As I wrote when Tebow landed with the Jets, he did the Jaguars a favor, as they can now say he didn’t want to come home to Jacksonville.

"It’s well-thought, it’s logical, we’ve offered more money and we have a higher draft pick," Khan said. "It’s up to the player. It’s not up to me. We’ve done everything.

"In a way, this turned out great. If he doesn’t want to come, here we would have blown through a draft pick, blown through money, because cash and salary cap, you’ve blown through all that and we have a player who doesn’t want to be there. From their viewpoint that is a far, far better alternative."

The Jags have done everything. Tebow didn't want them.

Both are true. Both fit neatly in them explaining why he's elsewhere as they move on without him.
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?

[+] EnlargeTim Tebow
Ron Chenoy/US PresswireIt'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.

4) They're not going to be giving up on Blaine Gabbert yet.
Shahid Khan has said he would have drafted Tim Tebow.

He doesn’t intend to tell general manager Gene Smith what to do, and he wouldn’t have drafted Tebow as high as 10th, which is where the Jaguars picked in 2010. But he said the chance to add a guy of Tebow’s magnitude, with the big local tie, is rare and he would have taken it.

So ...

Now that the Denver Broncos are a serious player for Peyton Manning, the presumption is Tebow would be on his way out if Manning was in. And it’s easy to connect the dots and presume Khan would urge his people to deal for Tebow, who surely wouldn’t cost a great deal given the limited market for him.

But no one with the Jaguars has indicated any interest in Tebow right now. No one who covers the Jaguars has reported they’d want him.

A new coaching staff is in place, and it’s looking to fix Blaine Gabbert and find a quality veteran backup to stand behind him.

Where would Tebow fit in that plan?

I don’t think he does.

While Khan said he would have drafted Tebow a couple years ago, he didn’t say he’d pounce on a chance to get him now. He’s got to trust the quarterback brain trust he’s put in place: coach Mike Mularkey, offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski and quarterback coach Greg Olson.

I’m guessing they feel like they’ve got a project in rebuilding Gabbert and don’t need another in Tebow.

The Jaguars have cap money and big needs at receiver and defensive end. That's where Khan should be bold.
The Jaguars won’t be as active in free agency this year as they were last year, according to general manager Gene Smith, writes Tania Ganguli of the Florida Times-Union.

I hope that doesn’t prove to be the case. The team could go a long way toward solving at least two of its three primary issues -- receiver, end, cornerback -- in free agency and it has the money.
Smith: "I think [owner Shahid Khan] understands the philosophy is to build your team through the draft. I think most teams have figured that out. Where you don’t want to be is in pro free agency year in and year out. That’s not our philosophy. It’s to supplement the college draft."

Sure, the philosophy is to build through the draft. But the core players you need on your roster left from the drafts before Smith got control aren’t really around. So now you get those guy in free agency, the way the Jaguars got Paul Posluszny, Clint Session and Dawan Landry last year.

I hope the Jaguars don’t avoid free agency on principle, to prove they are centered on building though the draft. Mario Williams or Robert Mathis or Vincent Jackson or Brandon Carr -- better yet a couple of those guys -- can help transform the Jaguars.

Smith can have the semantics.

Emphasize that free agency is supplemental all you like.

Just so long as you’re not going forward thinking a good draft can do the bulk of the work to get Blaine Gabbert the weapons he needs and to give the Jaguars the special pass-rusher they covet.

Khan’s pushed his chips to the middle for the table and has said he’s all in.

All in means at least a couple big moves in free agency.

AFC South combine primer

February, 23, 2012
INDIANAPOLIS — With the NFL scouting combine under way, a look at some storylines that will develop at Lucas Oil Stadium and the meeting rooms in the Indiana Convention Center.

Hello Mr. Luck: Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck was here briefly during Super Bowl week for a Gatorade promotion. But his podium session Friday will be viewed as the first of many times he will dissect his play at LOS, which everyone expects will become his home stadium when the Colts draft him first overall at the end of April.

[+] EnlargeQuinton Coples
Cliff Welch/Icon SMI Defensive end Quinton Coples cemented his status as an elite draft prospect at the Senior Bowl.
Will the Jaguars fall in love with Quinton Coples? A year ago, virtually every analyst had the Jaguars taking defensive end Ryan Kerrigan in the first round. And that’s what they would have done if they had not jumped up with a trade to take Blaine Gabbert. Now it looks like the team will be paired with North Carolina defensive end Couples. Do the Jags develop the same affection for him that they did for Kerrigan a year ago?

Barron’s health: Mark Barron is recovering from double hernia surgery. Does the lack of field work here and at the Crimson Tide’s pro day affect his draft stock? And can that be a positive thing for the safety-needy Titans, who pick 20th and would have to consider him if he lasted that long? After Barron, the position doesn't offer a great deal in the draft.

Houston’s needs: The Texans are the least likely team in the division to add a significant outsider in free agency, because they have salary-cap issues. Their draft needs could be shaped by what happens with their own pending free agents. If Mario Williams leaves, they’ll need another outside linebacker for their 3-4. If Chris Myers gets away, center becomes an issue. But more than anyone in the division, the Texans should set up to be able to draft the best players they see. Being unpressured by a giant need is always somewhat of a relief.

Learning philosophies: Colts general manager Ryan Grigson and coach Chuck Pagano have been doing a lot of behind-the-scenes work to get their house in order and lay the groundwork for their plans. We should start to learn more about their philosophy and intentions in the coming days. How far can they take a hybrid 3-4 in the first year? What will an offense under a new staff look like? And what kind of players here can make those schemes go?

The influence of Khan: Jacksonville general manager Gene Smith is now preparing for his first draft with a new boss. Shahid Khan has said he’s all in, so the Jaguars could do some significant spending in free agency before the draft arrives. If Smith was lacking in any resources before, such things should not be an issue now.

Webster’s influence: A year ago, Ruston Webster had a big influence over the Titans' draft, and it produced a very good looking class. Now Webster has been promoted to general manager. So this draft won’t only have his fingerprints on it, it’ll have his signature on it. He’s a highly respected personnel man who appears to be a steady, methodical guy who can find productive people who fit what Mike Munchak and his staff want to do.

Phillips’ opinions: In his first year as the Texans' defensive coordinator, Wade Phillips had a big influence on the Texans' draft. End J.J. Watt and outside linebacker Brooks Reed were giant contributors in their rookie seasons. The Texans showed great defensive depth, but can still stock up help at every level of the defense. Can Phillips help general manager Rick Smith and the front office tab a few more top-flight contributors?

Thin spots: Matt Williamson of Scouts Inc. says he sees safety as the thinnest overall position and offensive line as less than stellar. That’s bad for Tennessee and Indianapolis as both teams need help at both spots. That’s good for Houston and Jacksonville, which did good work filling safety spots in 2011 and won’t have a lot of offensive line work, though the Jaguars' pass protection needs to improve.

On the Packers' corporate growth

February, 20, 2012
The Green Bay Press-Gazette focused this weekend on a nuance that probably wouldn't have occurred to fans in other NFL markets: Reconciling the growing commercialization of the league's individual franchises with the Packers' history as a small-town operation.

[+] EnlargeLambeau Field
Jeff Hanisch/US PresswireAs an unusual small-market operation, the Packers face unique challenges in dealing with the commercial growth of the NFL's franchises.
Through interviews over several months, reporters Pete Dougherty and Rob Demovsky documented the Packers' dramatic rise in size and local revenues in recent years. They noted that the franchise has moved away from front-office executives with local ties and noted at least one instance -- a failed attempt to take over the Packers Hall of Fame -- when its business appetite overstepped its bounds in the eyes of many locals. A few thoughts from my end:

  1. Like it or not, the Packers have followed a clear path set around the NFL. Its teams are the most valuable sports franchises in the world, and their values have risen even in an extended economic downturn. They are part of a $9 billion industry, and it's probably unrealistic to think they would resist growth in a free market.
  2. The Packers' biggest source of revenues will always be their share of the NFL's television revenues, a stream that keeps the franchise afloat and has largely replaced the stockholder bailouts that defined its earlier history. The team now uses stock sales for capital improvements, including an in-progress $143 million project at Lambeau Field. I know some of you might think the Packers are taking advantage of fans who want to own stock. But from a national perspective, that beats the hard feelings associated with taxing an entire municipality made up of football and non-football fans alike. Consider it the lesser of evils.
  3. As a midwest transplant, I'm not sure how important it is for the Packers' top executives to have been born or raised in Green Bay or attended school in Wisconsin. Relating with local citizenry requires an open mind, good listening skills and a sense of place -- not necessarily a birth certificate or in-state diploma.
  4. It's true that president/CEO Mark Murphy was identified by a search firm and had no ties to Wisconsin when he was hired. But his arrival reflected a trend that brought the Packers inline with several other franchises. Local ownership/leadership is less prevalent these days. New Jersey native Zygi Wilf owns the Minnesota Vikings, Houston resident Bud Adams owns the Tennessee Titans, St. Louis-based Shahid Khan recently purchased the Jacksonville Jaguars, and New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson is from San Antonio, Texas.
  5. With that said, Packers executives have a complicated set of responsibilities that can't be replicated elsewhere. As revenue officers, they have an obligation to maximize local income. But they must also be careful about how they capitalize on local willingness to contribute, be it through stock sales or tax breaks or other local levies. Further, the Packers' outsized aura relative to the size of the city means every decision the Packers make has a larger local impact than any other NFL franchise.
  6. I was interested to see the rise of Tim Connolly, the former Vikings general manager whom the Press-Gazette paints as the team's second-most powerful business-side executive after Murphy. Connolly is the vice president of sales and marketing, but appears to have wide latitude within the organization. Connolly is a hard-driving businessman who left his mark on the Vikings during a 15-month tenure. Many of the people he hired in 1999 remain with the organization, including vice president of football operations Rob Brzezinski and chief financial officer Steve Poppen. Connolly is the type of hard-charging revenue driver the Packers have probably never employed, but is not uncommon in today's NFL.
  7. Long story short, I think the Press-Gazette project illustrates that the Packers are a uniquely big business in an uncommonly small market. There are no real parallels for them to follow in terms of operation or responsibilities toward two separate entities: Their 31 NFL business partners and their hundreds of thousands of citizen/stockholders.

Jags need new ideas from new president

February, 13, 2012
Shahid Khan has beefed up his team’s front office, naming Mark Lamping team president, reports Tania Ganguli of the Florida Times-Union.

[+] EnlargeMark Lamping
Jeff Zelevansky/Icon SMIMark Lamping, shown here during a 2010 tour of New Meadowlands Stadium, becomes just the second team president in Jaguars history.
Lamping was president of Major League Baseball’s St. Louis Cardinals for 13 years and will take over the non-football side of the Jaguars on Feb. 27. Since 2008 he’s been CEO of MetLife Stadium, home of the Jets and Giants. He's also worked for Anheuser-Busch.

Notes Ganguli: "The Jaguars have only had one other team president in the franchise's history. David Seldin held the position in the early years of the organization. He resigned in late 1997 to take a job with the organization that eventually bought the National Hockey League's New York Islanders, of which he then became president."

It appears to be a good sign for the Jaguars. Adding to the front office isn’t always a good thing. But in Jacksonville, the front office isn’t especially beefy.

Khan now has a top football executive in general manager Gene Smith and a top non-football executive in Lamping. Both will report to Khan in an organizational structure that’s used by many teams with great success.

Khan and Lamping were quoted in a news release that followed Ganguli's report:
Khan: “This is a very important and exciting development in the Rebirth of the Jacksonville Jaguars. Mark will bring to the Jaguars and to the Jacksonville community a mix of sports and brand marketing, stadium management expertise and team front office leadership that is very difficult to find in one person. Mark’s resume speaks for itself and I am very grateful to the Giants and Jets for making it possible for the Jaguars to present Mark with a new challenge and the prospect of success here in Jacksonville.”

Lamping: “The Jacksonville Jaguars have vast potential, and I’m honored that Shad Khan is asking me to play a leadership role in reaching that potential. We have the opportunity to revitalize the franchise and build something special, memorable and hopefully historic for the league, our partners and especially Jaguars fans, who will be central to our mission. My wife Cheryl and I are ready to get started and excited to make Jacksonville our home.”

The Jaguars seek to put new ideas into play while marketing the team and selling tickets. Lamping is sure to bring some of those.

A friend just drew my attention to this story from and a significant line from Jaguars owner Shahid Khan:

"(One hundred) percent I would have (drafted Tim Tebow),” Khan said. “When is the next time Jacksonville is going to have an athlete like Tim Tebow.”

This is a cringe-worthy comment, and the most troublesome word in it is not “Tim or “Tebow.” It’s “I.”

Khan signed off on an extension for Gene Smith, the general manager who’s employed to make personnel decisions. If Khan meant to say he would have pushed for Tebow and seen how Smith responded, allowing for the possibility he’d be talked out of it, that’s one thing.

If he was going to force the issue, that’s bad news

In case that’s the case, someone should sit Khan down and run him through some context, starting with the story of the Titans’ 2006 draft when owner Bud Adams fell in love with Vince Young and gave his team a five-year headache.

Khan’s personal PR guy and whoever he is listening to with the team should quickly advise him to talk about “we” and not “I.” He needs to be conscious of adding, “but Gene will have his say in that” anytime he is answering personnel questions.

(He should also be ready with “but Mike Mularkey is the guy making those decisions” for when he’s asked about lineup issues or clock management.)

Most Jaguars fans understand why the team didn’t take Tebow, tabbing defensive tackle Tyson Alualu No. 10 in the 2010 draft. It would be far easier to make that argument to the smaller local faction and the louder, more detached national analysts that believe the team should have taken the local hero if Blaine Gabbert had played well as a rookie in 2011.

Until Mularkey and his staff have a productive quarterback taking snaps, questions about Tebow will surface. Hopefully they won’t come again from the inside.

UPDATE, 2:54 p.m.: Here's video of another interview Khan did, with Action News Jacksonville, as he made the rounds.



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