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Jacksonville Jaguars President Mark Lamping (left) talked about leadership Wednesday evening with the Jacksonville Community Council Inc. Forward young professionals. He is seated next to forum co-chair Jonathan Hanson.
Photo by Karen Brune Mathis
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Jaguars’ Lamping: ‘Not discouraged at all’

by Karen Brune Mathis, Managing Editor

Jacksonville Jaguars President Mark Lamping said Wednesday business is good, although “we’d be doing better” with more success on the field.

Nonetheless, Lamping said he is not discouraged by the team’s 1-6 record this season.

“I’m not discouraged at all,” Lamping said during a brief interview after a presentation to a Jacksonville Community Council Inc. Forward forum.

“There is no one in our organization that is discouraged,” he said.

He said fans continue to support the team.

“Our fans remain united that they want the Jaguars to be successful,” he said.

Lamping said situations can adjust quickly in the National Football League. The Jaguars have nine games yet to play in the 16-game regular season.

“Things can change in a heartbeat,” Lamping said. The Jaguars play at home Sunday, taking on the Detroit Lions at 1 p.m. at EverBank Field.

Lamping also remarked about the flurry of rumors Wednesday morning that the Jaguars were interested in Tim Tebow, the University of Florida star quarterback now in a backup role with the New York Jets.

“There’s nothing to that,” Lamping said.

As Daily Record news partner WJXT Channel 4 reported, several major media outlets debunked a report from Action News in Jacksonville that the Jaguars have had trade talks with Tebow. The report came as the NFL’s 4 p.m. trade deadline looms today.

Channel 4 also reported there were several Tebow sightings Tuesday night in Jacksonville, his hometown. The Jets have a bye this week.

Channel 4 recapped that the Jaguars battled the Jets for Tebow when he was on the trading block from Denver earlier this year and that Tebow chose the Jets, according to reports.

The Jaguars subsequently said they were committed to developing second-year quarterback Blaine Gabbert.

Channel 4 said Tebow was part of two national championship teams at the University of Florida, and many have speculated the Jaguars would sell more tickets with the “hometown hero” on the sidelines.

The team has not had a TV blackout since 2009.

Lamping is the first president of the Jaguars in 15 years. New Jaguars owner Shad Khan, who bought the team in January from original owners Wayne and Delores Barr Weaver and their partners, named Lamping president Feb. 13 and he started work Feb. 27.

Lamping’s professional career includes experience as CEO of New Meadowlands Stadium Co., where he ran MetLife Stadium. The company is the joint venture between the NFL New York Giants and the New York Jets to develop and operate the New Jersey stadium.

Lamping, a St. Louis native, also served as president of Major League Baseball’s St. Louis Cardinals.

He is one of the few sports executives to have received both a Super Bowl ring and World Series Championship ring. He earned his World Series ring as president of the Cardinals following their 2006 championship season and the Super Bowl ring from the Giants’ 2012 Super Bowl victory.

Lamping joined General Manager Gene Smith and new head coach Mike Mularkey in setting the direction of the Jaguars, but said in interviews that he was responsible for the business operations of the team, while Smith is responsible for the on-field progress.

In an interview in March with the Daily Record, Lamping said he and Smith “are basically peers.”

“Gene has responsibility for all the football and I have responsibility for all the business and we both report to Shad,” he said.

Lamping has said since his arrival that the organization is focused on developing and serving the fan base.

“We’re focused on providing our fans everything we possibly can to continue to earn their support,” he said in the March interview.

He was asked how that would be done.

“First, we have to make sure we’re all going in the same direction throughout the organization. Then, spend a lot more time listening to our fans than talking to our fans and be flexible enough and creative enough to give our fans what they want as opposed to giving them what we have available to sell,” he said.

He spoke to the JCCI Forward group of young professionals as part of its series exploring “Shifting Gears: Building a Roadmap for Leadership in the 21st Century.”

It was the seventh meeting of the nine-week series, held at the Community First Credit Union along Lee Street in La Villa.

Lamping’s topic was “Watching for Speed Bumps, Challenges to leadership Shifts” and his focus was on addressing barriers and how to overcome them.

Lamping spoke highly about Jacksonville and said any problems it faces aren’t that much different than in other communities.

He talked about coming into the Jaguars organization as one of its first new leaders since the franchise was awarded in 1993 and started playing in 1995. The last president was David Seldin, who left in 1997.

Lamping said he’s learned the first step in taking on a new leadership role, based on experience.

“Realize what you don’t know and then go to work on learning what you don’t know,” he said.

He emphasized the team’s focus on serving the fan base and earning its support rather than expecting the fans to support the team as an obligation.

“It’s not the community’s obligation to support the local football team,” he said. Rather, the team must earn it.

“We have the responsibility to recognize we take a lot out of the community,” he said, and the organization has the responsibility to “put a lot back into the community.”

“We take that very seriously,” he said.

kmathis@baileypub.com

@MathisKb

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