It became clear that the Jacksonville Jaguars felt a circus atmosphere was not worth the risk when it came to acquiring local, fan-favorite Tim Tebow. Just how close the Jaguars came to landing a trade with the Denver Broncos for Tebow may never be known. The team is usually tight-lipped about such negotiations and for the time being, no one is offering what it was the team was ready to give up, be it cash or draft picks, to acquire the Jacksonville native.
Tebow was a success in Jacksonville in leading local high school Nease to a state championship. The respect and admiration for him grew in leaps and bounds when he went on to capture the Heisman Trophy as a sophomore and lead the Florida Gators to a pair of national championships.
It needs to be noted that Jacksonville has always been known as the Gators' second home, much more so than Florida State or any of the smaller, local colleges in town. With a huge backing of Gators fans and Tebow's success at Florida, there naturally was a strong faction wanting him to play with the Jaguars.
That's why Jaguars owner Shahid Khan told general manager Gene Smith to explore the possibility of bringing Tebow to his hometown once the Peyton Manning signing with Denver was finalized. Not that there was any room at the quarterback position for Jacksonville.
Last year's first-round pick, Blaine Gabbert, didn't perform as well as either he or the Jaguars would have liked, but there were a number of reasons behind that. Questionable coaching, the lack of offseason training due to the NFL lockout, absolutely no quality receivers on the 2011 Jaguars roster and a less-than-supportive offensive line, all led to questions whether Gabbert was the right man for the Jaguars to have taken with the No. 10 overall pick a year ago. Add in the Jaguars already having a capable backup in Luke McCown and then signing Chad Henne, last year's starting quarterback for the Miami Dolphins, it left little room for a fourth quarterback.
Still, Khan wanted Smith to explore the possibility if Tebow could be obtained for a fair price. In the end, Khan was satisfied that Smith put forth a solid effort to bring Tebow to Jacksonville.
"Earlier this week I asked Gene Smith and his staff to explore the potential of acquiring Tim Tebow," Khan said Wednesday night after the Jets had finalized the deal for Tebow. "I think we have a duty to consider all avenues of acquiring Tim Tebow. I think we have a duty to consider all avenues of improving the Jaguars on and off the field, especially given the unique circumstances involving the player.
"I appreciate the high level of due diligence Gene and his staff dedicated to this matter, even as late as this evening and I am very satisfied with the outcome. Our commitment to developing Blaine Gabbert was, and still is, central to our goal of returning the Jaguars to elite status in the NFL."
It marked the third time that the Jaguars failed to secure Tebow. They passed on him in the draft a two years ago and then failed to secure him twice on Wednesday, the first when the Jets agreed to a deal for him and then a second time when the deal fell apart and the Jaguars and other interested parties were provided another opportunity to land Tebow.
Had Jacksonville made the deal with the Broncos, it would have created an even bigger cult-like following in town for Tebow.
As for the fans' reaction, the first time Gabbert threw an interception or didn't play well, the clamor to insert Tebow in the starting lineup would have exploded. In the end, the Jaguars may have felt they would be better off than to endure such an atmosphere.
Tebow Decision Was All About Gabbert
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