Expansion Jaguars nearly plucked respected NFL insider from ESPN

• The Jaguars wanted to hire the original insider as their VP of personnel when they were an expansion team.
Jul 29, 1995; Canton, OH, USA; FILE PHOTO; Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Steve Beuerlein (7) and
Jul 29, 1995; Canton, OH, USA; FILE PHOTO; Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Steve Beuerlein (7) and / Michael C. Hebert-USA TODAY Sports

The Jacksonville Jaguars had their inaugural season in 1995 but spent the previous years making sure things were running smoothly. Among the many moves they made before playing their first game ever was hiring Michael Huyghue as their vice president of player personnel. But Huyghue wasn't the Jags' first choice for their position. If they had had it their way, they would've pried insider Chris Mortensen away from ESPN.

Zak Keefer of The Athletic recently did a profile on Mortensen, who passed early in 2024. Keefer unveiled that Jags had hired Mortensen as their VP of personnel but he ultimately backed down because his wife, Micki, didn't want to relocate to Jacksonville.

In the end, Huyghue served as the VP of personnel until 2021. During his tenure, the Jaguars made the playoffs four times and reached the AFC Championship twice. It's hard to tell what kind of success Mortensen would've enjoyed in Jacksonville, but it's fair to say that things might have played out differently.

Mortensen was the original insider, joining ESPN in 1991. He routinely appeared in shows such as NFL Countdown and NFL Game Day. Mortensen was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2016. He left ESPN in 2023 due to health problems.

Chris Mortensen would've been huge for the Jaguars

If there's one thing former Jaguars owner Wayne Weaver had going for him is that he had an eye for talent. If he didn't think Chris Mortensen could help the franchise, he wouldn't have hired him. Granted, Tom Coughlin was the defacto general manager but Mortensen's presence and football knowledge would've been a positive in Jacksonville.

Looking back, it's fair to wonder how things would've turned out if Mortensen had joined the Jags. Former TV personalities and analysts don't have a great track record when they join NFL front offices. Matt Miller was a good broadcaster but he was pretty bad general manager. Under his watch, the Detroit Lions became the first team ever to go 0-16.

Mike Mayock wasn't nearly as bad when he joined the Oakland/then Las Vegas Raiders as their general manager. However, his 2019 and 2020 draft classes were among the worst the Silver & Black have had in recent years. Maybe the exception to the rule is John Lynch, a former player who had no executive background but was hired by the San Francisco 49ers general manager in 2017.

It's true that head coach Kyle Shannahan has a big say in personnel decisions but the Niners seem pleased with Lynch's performance so far. In fact, they gave him a contract extension in 2023. It helps that San Francisco has appeared in the Super Bowl twice in the past five years.

Perhaps Mortensen would've had as much success as Lynch has had. Maybe he would've flopped like Miller or Mayock but all eyes would most definitely have been on him if he had become the VP of the Jaguars in 1994.

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