Over the last two years, many Jacksonville Jaguars fans have wondered what life would be like if their team had drafted Tim Tebow. Now they know they're not alone.
In a recent interview with Jacksonville radio station WOKV, new Jaguars owner Shahid Khan said he sometimes wonders the same thing.
Furthermore, Khan, who bought the team from former owner Wayne Weaver for a reported 760 million in January, went as far as to say that he would have taken Tebow, a Jacksonville native, in the 2010 draft.
"100 percent I would have," Khan said. "Absolutely."
According to Florida Times-Union reporter Gene Frenette, Khan said that the team would not have used the No. 10 pick which was used to select Cal defensive tackle Tyson Alualu to take Tebow. Rather, the Jaguars would have traded for a later pick in the first round to select him, instead.
And what a difference it could have made for a team that is regularly discussed as a franchise ripe for relocation.
Sagging attendance and a fair-weather fan base have plagued the Jaguars in recent years, and over the last few seasons, Jacksonville has struggled to avoid local TV blackouts. The team has even reportedly purchased thousands of ticket to its own games just to keep their games on TV.
Even after tarping over nearly 10,000 seats in 2006, the Jaguars still struggled to get fans in the ones that remained. But selling tickets has never been a problem when Tebow and the Broncos came to town.
"The first Jaguars game I came to was in (2010), we played Denver here," Khan told WOKV. "There were a lot more Tebow jerseys in the Jaguars stands than the teal jerseys for any player, let's face it. You hate to get into 2020 hindsight and finger pointing, but certainly (we would have taken Tebow) if I had anything to do with it. We probably won't have a chance like that again."
In addition to his seat-filling prowess, Tebow is also a local legend. He played his high school football at nearby Nease and rose to national prominence as a Heisman Trophy winner for the Florida Gators who won two national championships while Tebow was in town.
With that in mind, keeping Tebow in North Florida only seemed logical to Khan.
"When is the next time Jacksonville is going to have an athlete like Tim Tebow?" Khan said. "Coming from being raised in Illinois, I couldn't see Red Grange playing for anybody other than the Bears or Dick Butkus playing for anybody other than the Bears. I don't want to get into 2020 hindsight, and God help us, the draft record has not been the best with the Jaguars."
Instead, the Jaguars passed on the Florida prodigy, and the Broncos selected Tebow with the 25th pick of the first round. After sitting out the better part of his rookie season, Tebow started the final three games of 2010.
Then Tebow led the Broncos to a 7-4 record over the final 11 games of the 2011 regular season, earning them a spot in the AFC playoffs, where Tebow knocked off Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers in a 29-23 overtime thriller in the first round.
Would Tebow have brought that same success to Jacksonville, a franchise that has gone 13-19, fired a head coach and had laughably bad quarterback play over the last two years? Maybe. Maybe not.
But Khan sure wishes he could have found out."There comes a time when emotion trumps rationality," Khan said. "And this, if I was an owner, would be one of those moments for me."