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What Does Gregory's Failed Drug Test Mean for Jags?

Mar 27, 2015 -- 11:56am

By: David Levin (@davidlevin71)

When Randy Gregory learned that he tested positive for marijuana after a drug test at the NFL Combine last month, it came as a shock to him. In a story on ESPN.com, Gregory revealed that he had failed the test and learned about the news about two weeks ago. While the story referred to the news as a “punch-in-the-gut” kind of conversation the former Nebraska star had with his father over the phone, I am not sure why this kind of news would be so surprising for the potential NFL star. After all, he committed the offense.

Gregory has taken responsibility for his actions, saying all the right things and admitting he has no one to blame but himself for the failed test, but this incident proves once again that players who are in the league or those who are coming into the league, cannot fool the system. So what is a player with all kinds of potential doing smoking weed before one of the biggest days in his life? Obviously making a bad decision.

In this case, that decision could cost him millions of dollars and draft positioning. It’s the same thing that cost Warren Sapp a chance to be drafted higher and rumors that speculated about Louis Oliver failing drug tests led him to becoming a late first round pick of the Miami Dolphins. For Gregory, it will be a hard lesson learned if this kind of incident knocks him out of the top 10 of the NFL Draft next month. And should the Jaguars move down the Draft order, picking up more picks along the way, does Gregory remain on their radar and become a potential steal?

Albert Breer of NFL.com said it best when he tweeted that players knew about the drug tests months before the Combine and still some could not pass it.

Still, some players just cannot seem to figure it out. I’m not condemning nor condoning – just stating the facts.

The Jaguars have their own issues that stem from Justin Blackmon and his suspension and other players who have had issues in the past with the NFL’s substance abuse policy like Ace Sanders, JT Thomas when he was here. Do the Jaguars want to draft a player who could present an issue down the road? The words coming out of Gregory’s mouth make it sound like he wants to prove he can put this behind him.

"I blame myself," Gregory said. "And I know it sounds cliché, but there's really no one else I can blame."

As we all know, actions speak louder than words.

What happens if other players the Jaguars and other teams in the top present off-field issues before they are drafted? Do they take a tumble? Does the league just accept this behavior as the “norm” of today and change the perception that these are not choir boys coming into the league? Then the league has another huge problem on its hands, much like the domestic violence issues it has been dealing with as of late.

Testing positive for marijuana, no matter where it may be legal across the country puts up a red flag immediately and a team like the Jaguars should be wary of drafting a player who already has a strike against him – no matter how talented he may be.

Will Jags Make a Late Free Agency Move?

Mar 25, 2015 -- 10:18am

by: David Levin (@davidlevin71)

While the Jaguars appear to still be in the hunt for potential free agents, it looks like the team is taking a “wait and see approach.” That might be the best way this team can add more talent without potentially overpaying for the current crop of players who are still on the market.

Team general manager Dave Caldwell spoke at the NFL Owner’s Meeting in Arizona on Monday, outlining how this team still had work to accomplish, but was not done with its research of players. There are still a number of names out there who have not signed with teams, most notably Greg Jennings, the wide receiver who has been with both the Green Bay Packers and the Minnesota Vikings. A move to Jacksonville would bolster the passing game and provide a veteran presence the team needs. Jacksonville has other needs as well, but it appears the media and the fans are fixated on finding someone else to join the trio of second-year players we have at the position.

“There always is a chance players could get cut between now and the draft,” Caldwell said. “And after the draft, there will be a group of players who get cut, too. We’ll continue to go on and wherever we can get better we’ll try to get better.”

The Jaguars are no stranger to signing free agents late in the game, as Sen’Derrick Marks was a late signee two seasons ago. Could the team find another gem like the team’s leader in sacks last season? It is a possibility.

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer had a story covering who was left in the free agent pool and which players would be a reasonable catch for teams still trying to sign players. While there are some veterans who may fit Jacksonville’s needs, age and blue print may keep them away from Florida. Personally, I still think we need depth on the interior of the offensive line and Justin Blalock, a guard who played in Atlanta, would be a nice pickup. Others the article singled out were Michael Crabtree, who was picked one spot behind Eugene Monroe in the 2009 NFL Draft, and Dashon Goldson, a safety from Tampa Bay, and Jennings.

Just so you know, former Jaguars players Dawan Landry, CJ Mosely and Red Bryant all made this list as well. There is no shortage of talent, but teams like the Jaguars must show patience in letting players fall into their laps – much like Marks did.

The next 36 days should be some of the most excited and patient days for this team and its fan base. The NFL Draft will present all kinds of excitement that continues to build with each passing day. Who knows which players may be released in the coming weeks to free up cap space and who might find themselves looking for work before or after the selection process. In the meantime, Jacksonville will sit back and patiently wait. And above all, hope it can make a splash at the end of the free agency period as it did in the beginning. 

Mark Lamping Impacting Jacksonville

Mar 20, 2015 -- 8:44am

By: David Levin (@davidlevin71)

If you want a ringing endorsement of Mark Lamping, maybe you should ask my mother. After meeting the Jaguars team president last year at a “Scotch and Cigar” event, she was impressed with his vision for the team and city. If Lamping was able to win her over, considering the fact she is a “newbie” in terms of a football fan, he had to have done something right.

Lamping has been doing things right since he was hired by team owner Shad Khan, proving the success of the team is not just driven in the efforts of Dave Caldwell and Gus Bradley. Lamping was given a well-deserved five-year contract extension yesterday, which can only mean good things for both the franchise and the city it plays in.

With every NFL team, there is a business side and a football side to operations. Caldwell and Bradley make sure roster moves are made to improve the product on the field. The success in the community and the growth of the Jaguars as a business falls at the feet of Lamping and others who have made an impact here in Jacksonville since Khan’s when he bought the team Jan 4, 2012.

For Lamping’s and Khan’s efforts, our city benefits where it counts – with the almighty dollar.

Per a press release from the Jaguars, “Mark has impressively served the Jaguars and, by extension, the National Football League since I introduced him as our new team president in early 2012,” Khan said.  “Our business performance over the past three years has been remarkable under Mark, and his commitment to the Jacksonville community has been nothing short of spectacular.  From growing our brand regionally and internationally, to seeing through our emphasis on improving the game day experience at EverBank Field and much more, Mark has done it all.  We’re all very fortunate to have Mark Lamping as our Jaguars team president today and for many more years to come.”

As president, Lamping oversees all business operations for the Jaguars. Since arriving in Jacksonville he has directed a restructuring of the Jaguars front office, along with multiple initiatives designed to engage with fans, increase ticket sales, strengthen relationships with governmental and civic interests, and grow local, regional and international business opportunities aligned with the interests of the Jaguars.

While blogs like these are subjective at times and opinionated, it is not a stretch to say the impact of Lamping’s work is more dramatic and has been as profound as when the team first began operation 21 years ago. That trend should only get better with the vision of change at the Shipyards, with EverBank Field and with Khan willing to spend money to make this city a destination not just a stop on an NFL schedule.

In the early part of this season, it is already proven the team is moving forward in both areas of operation. There is no competition for one side to be better than the other. The overseas attention the Jaguars get from playing in London is a major coup and as it was outlined by Khan, it may continue once the initial deal with the NFL is complete. If Lamping’s job is to help the team make money, the Jaguars trip to London, regardless of two straight losses, has to be seen as a win. It is those things that make Lamping’s extension one of the strongest moves the Jaguars have made in the early part of 2015.

MARK LAMPING RECEIVES FIVE-YEAR CONTRACT EXTENSION AS PRESIDENT OF JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS

Mar 18, 2015 -- 1:02pm

JACKSONVILLE, Fla., March 18, 2015 – Shad Khan, owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars, today announced a five-year contract extension for Jaguars team president Mark Lamping.

 

“Mark has impressively served the Jaguars and, by extension, the National Football League since I introduced him as our new team president in early 2012,” Khan said. “Our business performance over the past three years has been remarkable under Mark, and his commitment to the Jacksonville community has been nothing short of spectacular. From growing our brand regionally and internationally, to seeing through our emphasis on improving the game day experience at EverBank Field and much more, Mark has done it all. We’re all very fortunate to have Mark Lamping as our Jaguars team president today and for many more years to come.”

 

As president, Lamping oversees all business operations for the Jaguars. Since arriving in Jacksonville he has directed a restructuring of the Jaguars front office, along with multiple initiatives designed to engage with fans, increase ticket sales, strengthen relationships with governmental and civic interests, and grow local, regional and international business opportunities aligned with the interests of the Jaguars.

 

Improving the in-game experience for fans at EverBank Field has been a focus for Lamping, and the results of that effort became evident in 2014 when the Jaguars ranked in the top four of all eight categories in the NFL’s Voice of the Fan Survey. The Jaguars ranked No. 1 in arrival experience, in-game entertainment, in-game enhancements and technology, and exiting the stadium; second in safety and security, game day staff and food; and fourth in merchandise.

 

“I was honored when Shad named me as team president in February of 2012 and today I am flattered and humbled that he has entrusted me with continuing our work to build the Jaguars into one of the great franchises in all of sports,” Lamping said. “My wife, Cheryl, and I are also extremely proud to call Jacksonville our home. We are grateful to Shad for this opportunity and to everyone in Jacksonville for joining us on this journey.”

 

Lamping serves on the NFL Stadium Security and Fan Behavior Committee and was named in 2013 as a non-executive board member of Fulham Football Club in London. Away from the Jaguars and Fulham, Lamping serves on the boards of directors of the American Heart Association, Florida Forum, Jacksonville Civic Council, Jacksonville University Public Policy Institute, Jacksonville Sports Council, JAXUSA Chamber of Commerce and Ronald McDonald House Charities of Jacksonville, Inc.

Chris Borland's Confusing Decision

Mar 18, 2015 -- 11:04am

By: David Levin (@davidlevin71)

I cannot say that I blame San Francisco 49ers linebacker Chris Borland for stepping aside from football for fear of future permanent injury. It takes a real man to admit he has had enough. However, if you look at the situation, there is an argument to be made here regarding when an athlete should walk away from the sport and what is the right reason to hang up his helmet.

After one year in the NFL, Borland (per ESPN.com) “Said he made his decision after consulting with family members, concussion researchers, friends and current and former teammates, as well as studying what is known about the relationship between football and neurodegenerative disease.

"I just honestly want to do what's best for my health," Borland told "Outside the Lines." "From what I've researched and what I've experienced, I don't think it's worth the risk.

That’s great. Glad to hear that he made the decision based on research and what he learned. But there is another part of this story that immediately sent up a red flag for me with this case of retirement. Borland played one season in the NFL and made money last season, a lot of money that helped secure his future. Some of that money may or may not be able to be recouped by the 49ers. Borland was scheduled to make $540,000 this season, and said there was no chance he would change his mind. The third-round draft pick, who starred at the University of Wisconsin, said he has had two diagnosed concussions: one while playing soccer in the eighth grade, the other while playing football as a sophomore in high school.

People in the media, fans and myself are going to question him coming to the NFL, then bolting after pocketing cash. I’m not accusing him of doing just that, but it happened to be the first thing I thought of when I heard about the news. I am sure there are others who thought the same thing as this was a strong topic on XL Primetime on Tuesday.

Players today are not like players 15 or 20 years ago. Contracts pay these athletes mega dollars in guaranteed contracts to suffer car-wreck injuries at high speeds. They are paid handsomely to put their bodies and lives on the lines each game, each practice. But it would appear odd to me, as it was brought up, that someone who was as articulate as Borland in his reasons for leaving the game knew more in his rookie season as he did in his senior year in college.

To me, it makes no sense. Yes, injuries to the Junior Seau’s of the world are tragic. Earl Campbell is a destroyed man because of the game. Emmitt Smith and Brett Favre has talked about how they notice health issues now that they are away from the game. But remember these case studies of heroes from the past have been documented for years.

Borland has probably know this and for that reason, the athlete of today will always be questioned If he walks away in the prime of his career with a load of cash already earned. I’m not saying it’s fair, but with the entitlement some of the these athletes think they have, it’s no wonder we are questioning a move like this, regardless if it is honorable, makes sense and looks like it might be the right thing to do.

Unfortunately, Borland will always be questioned because it looks like he took the money and ran.

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