A couple of things I was thinking about as NFL free agency approaches . . .
No general manager in the NFL has more money to spend, more needs to fill and more support from his owner than Caldwell. So it comes down to Caldwell’s ability to evaluate talent, judge character and close deals.
On one hand, Caldwell is in a great spot. On the other, the pressure on the young GM is greater than he’s ever felt.
So what should he do? He should identify the best player and go after him. Then the next best player . . . then the next . . . and then, etc.
Let’s be honest: At what position couldn’t the Jaguars use an upgrade?
They’re 9-39 over the last three seasons for a reason. While they may have greater needs in some areas than others, they need better players to become a better team.
The question now is: Can Caldwell find them and sign them?
What did he do with his rookie money, for example? Did he invest it? Did he spend it wisely and live within his means? Or did buy the most expensive cars he could find; drape his body in diamonds; overspend on an oceanfront condo, etc.?
Free agency is hitting the big lotto for many players. Can they handle the wealth?
For the successful free agents, their careers remain their top priority, not their lifestyle.
Knowing how a young man handled his first taste of financial freedom is an excellent gauge to knowing how he’ll handle financial independence and the rest of his playing career.
The Jaguars have had more misses than hits in their NFL franchise history except when it comes to ownership. They couldn’t have had two better owners than Wayne Weaver and Shan Khan.
There would be no Jaguars without Weaver. He not only was the deep-pocketed guy needed to put Jacksonville’s bid for a franchise over the top in ‘93, he was the right fit with the other team owners. He was immediately accepted into the group and had clout from day one. Weaver the man, in fact, was chosen by the owners more than the city.
He also knew when it was time to turn the team over to someone else and he knew who that man was. In Khan, Weaver found the man who had the money, the vision and the get-up-and-go to assure that the franchise would remain in Jacksonville.
It was clear to everyone, including Weaver, that it was time for Weaver to step aside after 17 years. The league finances had gotten out of control to Weaver’s way of thinking. His family wasn’t interested in keeping the franchise. His last great act as Jaguars owner was to find someone who was dedicated to keeping the franchise in Jacksonville, not simply the highest bidder.
The tall Southern conservative couldn’t have found anyone more different from himself than Khan, a small, self-made billionaire from Pakistan with the flair of a showman.
Khan looked at Jacksonville and saw the great potential for growth, not one of the smallest markets in the NFL. In just three years he has made a big impact on Jacksonville and . . . well, we haven’t seen anything yet. Everyone needs to check out his vision for the vacated shipyards that he unveiled Tuesday.
Weaver and Khan have little in common other than being the perfect owners for an NFL franchise in Jacksonville.
As Jeff Gordon prepares for this week’s Daytona 500 in his final year as a fulltime driver on the NASCAR circuit I hope he gets the kind reception on his farewell tour that he deserves.
Although the fans have been nicer to him in recent years, Gordon has been viewed as a villain much of his career. He entered NASCAR seen by many as a wimpy little Yankee boy with the high-pitched voice who had the audacity to not only challenge Dale Earnhardt but beat him on a regular basic.
While he didn’t look and sound like the typical stock car racer, on the track he has been every bit the bulldog Earnhardt was; just as cunning as Tony Stewart; and about as skilled behind the wheel as anyone who ever crawled in a race car.
Where he ranks with his 92 victories and four championships is subjective, but wherever you rank him it has to be very close to the top.
How fitting would it be for Gordon to win what may be his final Daytona 500? It would put him in even more rarified air to win his fourth Daytona 500. Only Richard Petty (7) and Cale Yarbrough (4) have won NASCAR’s signature race more often.
Gordon’s farewell tour already has gotten off to a good start with him winning the pole for Sunday’s race. It sure is amazing how often things work out so well for NASCAR, isn’t it?
Based on NASCAR’s track record – you know, Petty winning his 200th race on July the 4th in front of President Reagan, Dale Junior winning the first race at Daytona after his dad’s death, etc. -- I’m picking Gordon to win this year’s race.