JACKSONVILLE – One year in, Mark Lamping said he has learned a lot.
Mostly, in his first-year as the Jaguars' president, Lamping said he has learned that as much as the team wants to succeed for its fans and the people of the Northeast Florida, those same people support the franchise on a notable level.
"The depth of the football fan base is unbelievable," Lamping said Wednesday morning in an interview with jaguars.com to mark his one-year anniversary with the team.
"The knowledge of the fans, the unanimous consent that everyone wants the Jaguars to be successful… there are very few people in this region that I've come across who wish the Jaguars anything but the best. Our fans performed at an exceptionally high level this past season.
"Unfortunately, the team didn't match that level. But I think we're on a path to success and a good thing about the NFL is things can happen in a hurry."
Lamping, who officially began his tenure as Jaguars president one year ago today – February 27, 2012 – on Wednesday discussed a variety of topics with jaguars.com, including his thoughts on the past year, goals for the year to come, the proposed video boards and the upcoming series in London.
Here's Part 1 of Lamping's conversation with jagaurs.com, with Part 2 scheduled to run Thursday morning:
Question: Long year? Short year? Or both?
A. It's actually flown by. I can't believe it has been a year, but anytime you go through the type of season we have, it just seems like it can't get over soon enough, but all in all, it has been a wonderful year. It's a great place. We couldn't be happier that we're living here and we're making progress.
Q. When you took over as president, you said obviously there was work to be done. Do you feel the franchise has made progress?
A. We have. We still have a long, long, long way to go, but I think we've done some things as it relates to the infrastructure of the organization. I think we have a much better understanding of what we need to do, where we need to go. I feel very good about the fact that we have a better understanding of exactly what out our fans want. Obviously, our fans want a winner and that's No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 on any to-do list, but there are other things that need to happen. I think we've connected with our fans. Now, what we have to do is to deliver on those things that we've identified that our fans want and at the same time, put a better product on the field.
Q. You've mentioned several times this offseason that an objective for the franchise is transparency. Why is that so important?
A. There are so many unknowns about the franchise. I think in the past there has been a question of, 'What's happening with the franchise? Why are the Jaguars doing what they're doing as it relates to playing a game in London?' This is the fans' team. This team is Jacksonville's. They support us financially. Our fans support us emotionally. They have such a huge stake in what we do here. They should understand what our challenges are. If we're going to making moves to make this an even stronger franchise, it's great that our fans have an understanding as to not only what we're doing, but why we're doing what we're doing.
Q. And educating along those lines can be a challenge…
A. It can be. But I've never dealt with anyone, whether it's here in Jacksonville, or up in New York or in my many, many years in St. Louis where people aren't interested in what the franchise is doing. Our fans take great interest in what we're doing. To spend the time to share with them why we're doing some of the things we're doing, fans perceive that as the organization respecting the role they play.
Q. Biggest challenge of the year ahead?*
A. We're always changing. The industry is changing. You can't assume that, 'Hey, look, we've moved some things around this year. We've brought some new people in. We've given existing people more authority and responsibility. We've put systems in to connect better with our fans. Now, we can just sit back and see how it goes.' That's not the way it works when you play in the National Football League. We need to get better each and every day and that's where the focus should be. We fill the stadium by selling one ticket at a time. We're optimistic about what the future can hold, but it remains to be seen. I'm much more confident in terms of where we're headed when it comes to the on-field product and I think our fans will be pleased.
Q. If we're sitting here a year from now, how do want to look back on Year Two? Outside of on the field, what's your objective, and what would make a successful second year?
A. If we did a fan survey a year from now and we asked our fans to say one thing about the Jaguars, and their response was, 'The Jaguars do not take my support as a fan for granted. They value that I'm a very important part of what that organization is all about, and they respect me enough to ensure that I understand where the franchise has been, but more importantly where it's going and how we're trying to get to where we need to be.'