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Alualu not a popular pick, but Jaguars GM 'doesn't give a damn'

MJD
Shutdown Corner

A lot of Jaguars fans wanted their team to draft the most popular and well-known college football player, perhaps ever.

What they ended up getting was the first-round selection most likely to elicit a response of "Who?"

The "who" in question is Tyson Alualu(notes), a defensive end out of Cal, and now the newest Jacksonville Jaguar. The guy they didn't get was, of course, Tim Tebow(notes), the all-conquering savior who grew up in Jacksonville, but will now be working his magic in Denver.

Were Jaguars fans disappointed? Well, you can see for yourself with this video of the Jaguars' official 2010 draft party from Jacksonville.com.

There's nothing quite like that moment where you've gotten yourself so excited for one particular thing, then it doesn't come, and you literally have no idea what to say or do with yourself.

Anyway, the day after, the reaction is about what you'd expect. Fans are mad. Columnists are mad. The Jaguars' move from Jacksonville to Los Angeles is now a done deal.

What does Jaguars general manager Gene Smith think of the reaction? Peter King talked to him Thursday night. Take it away, Mean Gene.

"This is not a popularity contest,'' Smith said. "I don't give a damn about perception."

Bam. Tell 'em, Gene.

"I care about picking the right player for our team. My attitude is, 'You can outsmart people some of the time, but you can outwork them all of the time.' If you can't trust your ability to judge players after all the work you put in on them, you shouldn't be in this business.''

Gene is absolutely right, and he should not give a damn what fans and/or the media think. He doesn't owe anyone anything, other than to draft the player he believes is best qualified to help the Jaguars win. If he believes that's Alualu, then it's his job to take Alualu. If he believes it isn't Tebow, it's his job to let Tebow go elsewhere.

Building a strong local fanbase is not accomplished by drafting the popular local hero. Maybe that provides a short-term boost, but you build a fanbase by fielding a perennial winner of which the city can be proud. You do that by drafting players that can help you win.

Now, time will tell if Alualu or Tebow are better suited for that job. On Thursday, though, Gene Smith made the best decision he could make to help the Jacksonville Jaguars win football games, not sell jerseys. That's the decision he was obligated to make.

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