Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Khan Prepared Extensively for GM Interviews; He Encouraged Caldwell to Talk to Other Teams to Be Sure about Job

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Khan Prepared Extensively for GM Interviews; He Encouraged Caldwell to Talk to Other Teams to Be Sure about Job

Article excerpt

Byline: Vito Stellino

Jaguars owner Shad Khan didn't wait until he fired Gene Smith the day after the regular season to start his search for a new general manager.

The nine-day process ended Tuesday when David Caldwell was hired as the new general manager, but Khan spent a lot more than nine days preparing for his search.

Khan said waiting to begin the search until after firing Smith was "like trying to train for the Olympics when the starting gun is going off. It's a little too late. So there's only two outcomes. You're going to retain or you're going to make a change and you have to be ready for both.''

Khan said he talked to about 100 people, including former Colts general manager Bill Polian, who gave Caldwell his start in pro football with Carolina and then brought him to Indianapolis. Polian gave him a solid recommendation.

Khan said of Polian, "The guy is a winner. He's an institution, a Hall of Famer. I spent quite a bit of time talking to him.''

With the Jaguars struggling on their way to a 2-14 season, Khan said he made the decision to fire Smith toward the end of the year.

He quickly identified Caldwell, the Atlanta Falcons' director of player personnel, as a top candidate to replace Smith.

"A number of people ... kept coming back to him,'' Khan said. "Who are some of the rising stars in the NFL? We want to identify them before they're recognized as stars. I think David is a star today, but there were a number of different metrics that kept coming back to him.''

The day after the regular season ended, five teams fired their general manager. Khan knew other teams would pursue Caldwell, but wasn't overly concerned.

"Frankly, with all due modesty, I think I did my homework better,'' he said. "People came to that conclusion a week later after they had talked to a lot of people.''

Khan said he had a specific game plan on what to do after firing Smith. Not by day, but by hour.

"Like what I was going to do at 7 o'clock, 8 o'clock, 8:30, 9 and you plan,'' he said. "That's how I plan every day.''

By 4 p.m., on the day he fired Smith, he was in Atlanta talking to Caldwell. …

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