|The coaching staff was one of the reasons Tebow chose the Jets over the Jaguars? (AP)|
Shortly after the Jets traded for Tim Tebow, Jaguars owner Shahid Khan released a statement on the team's website explaining that while he was interested in acquiring the former Heisman Trophy winner, who grew up in Jacksonville and played football at the University of Florida, ultimately, he "was very satisfied with the outcome." Khan added that developing 2011 first-rounder Blaine Gabbert is "central to our goal of returning the Jaguars to elite status in the NFL ... we're looking ahead with zero regrets."
From the time the Broncos acquired Peyton Manning until Tebow was shipped to New York, there was speculation that Tebow -- and not Denver -- was making the decision on where he'd play next. On Monday, the Florida Times-Union's Tania Ganguli confirmed as much at the NFL's annual league meetings.
"That would have been the worst thing for Jacksonville and the worst thing for him," Khan told Ganguli of the possibility of sending the Broncos a third-round pick for Tebow even after it was clear he didn't want to go to Jacksonville. Denver instead received a fourth- and sixth-rounder from the Jets and sent Tebow and a seventh-rounder back east.
"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," Khan continued. "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."
Tebow has been on Khan's radar since he agreed to by the Jags in November 2011. General manager Gene Smith, meanwhile, didn't think Tebow was worth pursuing in 2010 and apparently those feelings hadn't softened in the years since. Still, Khan asked Smith why the team passed on Tebow when he came out of college. According to Tanguli, "Smith showed him all of his research and explained the move. Smith told him he felt like there were better choices in the position the Jaguars were in that year (10th overall)."
Jacksonville ended up with defensive lineman Tyson Alualu.
Undeterred, Khan told Smith to be prepared to go after Tebow should he become available this offseason.
"He's special to Jacksonville," Khan said. "Preparing for the possibility, if it happens, you want to be ready. These aren't decisions you make impulsively. … This was kind of an unhealed wound over time."
One problem: Tebow wasn't interested.
In general, that's hardly noteworthy; players choose one team over another for any number of reasons -- geography, personnel, coaches, chances to win a title. But why would Tebow elect to go to a dysfunctional organization in the sport's biggest media market instead of playing in his hometown among some of his most ardent fans?
Tebow official response: he was more comfortable with the Jets coaches, but that can't be the primary reason?
“Frankly, I thought he would be picking Jacksonville because of the chance to play in his hometown,” Khan said. “But this is a free country, and he has the right. I would be disappointed if he was in [Jacksonville] but didn't want to be here. …
"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."
Added bonus: Khan and the Jags won't be the target of any Merril Hoge anti-Tebow diatribes next season. Hoge, a former NFL player who now serves as an analyst for ESPN, has long been critical of Tebow, NFL quarterback. Over the weekend, Hoge was apoplectic that the Jets would make such a trade.
“I don't understand it all,” he said. “He's so overrated. I've never seen someone so overrated. ...
“It's a flash-in-the-pan vision. It's like, ‘Let's see if we can it done this year with all these gimmicks.' That's what they'll end up being: a gimmick offense. At the end of the day, what are you going to do if Sanchez gets hurt or he throws a couple of pick-sixes? Change the entire offense like the Broncos because you can't run the pro-style system [with Tebow]?”
So consider yourself lucky, Shad. Tebow may have done you a favor.
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