Khan: Jaguars perception is no accident
PHOENIX – In his first three years of ownership in the NFL, Jaguars owner Shad Khan has joked on occasion, "It's good to be me!" He clearly enjoys himself when it comes to his team(s) and his expectations of their performance on and off the field.
While not appearing to take himself too seriously, the success of his businesses, including his teams, he takes very seriously. I asked him at the NFL's annual meeting in Phoenix on Tuesday where the time he spends as the Jaguars owner fits into his portfolio of businesses. "I used to have a day job," he deadpanned. "I consider this to be fun."
In February Khan said, "The fans deserve better," referring to the nine wins in his tenure as the Jaguars owner. He qualified that statement by saying, "Not to put any pressure on Blake (Bortles), but we want to win some games."
He didn't appear to put any pressure on General Manager Dave Caldwell or Coach Gus Bradley either, saying in Phoenix, "If you have to apply pressure, you probably have the wrong people in charge," knowing their own expectations would motivate them plenty enough.
So he doesn't have a timetable for getting there, but he's clearly in the loop when it comes to the football side of the organization.
"We targeted six tier-one free agents and signed three," he said when asked about spending money this offseason. "We expect them to make an immediate impact. And we might not be done."
Khan's arrival at the meeting was delayed a few hours as he attended to other business, but he was part of the sub-committee that recommended the league suspend the blackout rule for 2015.
"It's good business for the league," he said, echoing his sentiment for the Jaguars that the best advertising for the team is being seen.
Khan also supports expanding the playoffs and the league's efforts to put a team in Los Angeles.
I mentioned that the Jaguars are no longer named as a team eligible for relocation.
"That's not by accident," Khan noted with a smile. "You can only tell people so much what you're going to do before they stop listening, so our actions have to speak louder than our words." He referenced the proposed changes to the stadium and the Shipyards project as tangible evidence of his commitment to Jacksonville.
"We want to reinvigorate Jacksonville and Jaguars fans and I think we're on our way to doing that. But we have a ways to go."
Khan is also optimistic that the Florida Legislature will approve the allocation of what he called the "rebate" to sports facilities around the state for improvements. "We were second (behind Orlando) with our presentation so I feel good about what we're doing. It's cutting edge. Not just for us, but for the stadium. It's a public facility, so for other events, bowl games, the National Championship it would put us in the forefront."
Khan has committed to put the money up front to get the project going if the state approves the allocation. "Political bodies move in mysterious ways, but I'm optimistic."
Recently, Khan's Shipyards project received a stamp of approval from the Downtown Investment Authority, as a project that would be a positive step forward for downtown Jacksonville. But he noted that, "It's a public process. It's open. They're listening to other people and other ideas. If somebody comes up with something better then I say, ‘God bless."
At the meeting in Dallas three years ago where Khan was approved as the Jaguars new owner, Dallas Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones told me, "Shad will be a significant owner in that room when he takes over the Jaguars."
Clearly Jones was right, as the perception of the Jaguars organization is changing around the league.
"We are best practices when it comes to (the) NFL," Khan said, noting the numerous other teams visiting the Jaguars to see what they're doing with the stadium experience, fan engagement and perhaps most importantly, ticket sales. "Our front office has a level of sophistication that other teams want to see."
And as the owner, Khan is also a fan and has the same expectations as everybody in the stadium.
"We want to win, no question. But you look at the organizations in the league that are consistently in playoff contention, no matter what players they lose or what injuries they have. That's where we want to be."
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