Will Jacksonville Jaguars Fans Have to Worry About the Team Relocating?
What would happen if Jacksonville lost the Jaguars?
Based on a letter sent to team owner Shad Khan last week about the franchise being in default with the city, fans, the team and the NFL had better hope it does not find out.
In an article written by Timothy J. Gibbons in the Florida Times-Union Friday, the city, mayor Alvin Brown and Khan have been working to smooth things over regarding a letter sent by general counsel last week.
The article states that Brown knew about the letter the city sent to the Jaguars last week saying they defaulted on their contract before it was sent—but he wasn't expecting the response it got from Khan.
An article written in the Thursday edition of the Times-Union, which first talked about the conflict between the two sides, Khan said he was, "shocked," "perplexed" and "at a loss."
The letter was withdrawn because legal counsel was not aware of the addendum to the agreement between the NFL franchise and the city over what organization the team wanted to run its facility on a day-to-day basis.
Because of the tone of the letter, the fan base, which had already been on the fence in such a small media market, may wonder if Khan will move the team when the Jaguars’ contract with the city expires in three years.
Right now, Jacksonville is home to a minor league baseball team (Double-A Florida Marlins), an ABA championship basketball team and an Arena Football League team which won the league title—along with the Jaguars.
It is safe to say the impact of the team leaving for whatever reason would be detrimental not only to the team, but the state of Florida, Jacksonville and possibly the NFL.
The Jaguars have called Jacksonville home since they joined the league in 1995 and have been to two AFC Championship Games in that time frame.
According to a column written by Gene Frenette of the Florida Times-Union, "It takes almost an act of Congress to move an NFL team in this mega-revenue age."
Brown also said in the article written by Gibbons, “The Jaguars are an important part of the fabric that makes up our great city.” This was written in an email to fans.
In terms of football operations, this may be nothing new. There are two sides to running an NFL franchise.
First, the day-to-day aspects of running the business of football, where plans with city leaders, community officials and business and industry may clash from time to time.
Then there is the planning, drafting and producing of a team that is expected to go out and try and win the Lombardi Trophy. The two are stellar opposites, but need each other to be a cohesive unit.
And when it really matters—which is every day that a team like the Jaguars is in the city of Jacksonville—the support of the community, its leaders and its fan base are crucial to its stability.
Khan bought the team last season from Wayne Weaver in a firestorm event that saw Weaver fire head coach Jack Del Rio, sign general manager Gene Smith to a three-year contract extension and make the announcement of the sale of the team all in the same day. Since then, Khan has been the hands-on owner who promised to make a splash with this team. He tried to acquire hometown hero Tim Tebow from the Broncos, but lost out to the Jets in the 11th hour.
Khan hired a new coach, Mike Mularkey, to help with the stagnant offense that ranked last in the NFL last season despite having the league’s leading rusher in Maurice Jones-Drew. It was the hope of management that Mularkey’s tutelage of Matt Ryan in Atlanta would be a step in the right direction to make Blaine Gabbert a better-than-average quarterback after a dismal rookie season.
And in the NFL draft this year, the team moved up two spaces to draft All-American wide receiver Justin Blackmon and took speed rusher Andre Branch in the second round.
These things alone prove this is a team that is stating it wants to win now.
But problems with the city, if they were to come up again (and they will), could be a sign of discord in the ranks between Jacksonville and the Jaguars. Could it mean that Khan would move the franchise?
Khan has seemingly been committed to Jacksonville since the day he was approved by the NFL for ownership in January 4 of this year. And judging by the way he has handled the team, as a business, he wants a winning organization in the team’s current town.
Jacksonville is one of those towns that need the NFL. The economic loss from a “potential” move (which has not been discussed) could hurt the city and the community many times over.
While the team is in transition and will need time to grow and develop, the cupboard is not totally bare.
Along with Blackmon and Jones-Drew on offense, the Jaguars boast a top-six defense in the NFL and could be stronger this season as 10 of 11 starters return. Gabbert will have every opportunity to be better and the weapons at the receiving slots are better than they have been since the days of Jimmy Smith and Keenan McCardell.
Everything is in place, but time is needed. And while it would appear Khan is willing to take that time, the city and its push to resolve issues that are unrelated to on the field issues could leave a bad taste in his mouth. This happens all the time, like I have said before. But when a team is rebuilding, the slightest idea of discourse could send fans in to a panic.
And that is something the Jaguars do not need to deal with from a media standpoint.
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