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Jaguars players support Shad Khan’s international vision

Posted Aug 21, 2012

Jaguars WR Mike Thomas on London games: “Khan has a vision of what he wants us to be."

The trip overseas is at least a year away.

But with the announcement that the Jaguars will play a regular-season road game at historic Wembley Stadium in London in each of the next four seasons, the topic was very much on the players’ minds Tuesday.

So, even as teammates gathered around televisions to watch teammates play the newly released Madden 13 game with representatives of EA Sports on hand to film the whole thing, as big a topic for Jaguars players Tuesday afternoon was the idea of heading overseas in a year.

A trip five time zones away? In the middle of the regular season?

And doing it four consecutive years?

It’s unusual, yes. But players said it’s the way it is – and more than that, under the leadership of new owner Shad Khan, it’s the new Jaguars Way.

“I just think Khan has a vision of what he wants us to be, and what he wants the organization to stand for,” veteran wide receiver Mike Thomas said shortly before Khan and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s formal announcement Tuesday afternoon.

“We’re getting a glimpse of the direction he wants to go. I don’t think you can put a limit on it. That’s exciting for us. I’m looking forward to it.”

Khan has said he wants to not only grow the Jaguars locally and regionally, but to expand the Jaguars as a brand on an international level. The NFL has had teams play in London during the regular season in recent years, but the Jaguars are the first team to commit to it on a multi-year basis.

“I know Shad since he’s been here has tried to get people to recognize what’s going on here in this town,” Jaguars head coach Mike Mularkey said. “Obviously, going overseas, that’s making a statement.”

Mularkey added, “I think all of our guys are honored to get the chance to go over there and play a game. We are totally going to abide by what Shad would like to do.”

Mularkey, who accompanied the Miami Dolphins on a trip to Wembley in 2007, said he would be in favor of traveling to London at least a few days before the game to allow players to physically get accustomed to the time change.

“I didn’t feel like anybody’s body had adapted,” Mularkey said.

Jaguars cornerback Rashean Mathis said it remained to be seen the effect of traveling overseas once a year for an extended period.

“But like I said, the advertisements and promotion, is great,” Mathis said. “Other than that, I can’t speak much, but the overall thought process . . . it’s great for the game.”

Goodell in a press release said the four-year commitment and the ongoing games in London helps the NFL’s goal of further expanding the game overseas.

“Football is the greatest sport in the states, so for fans in other areas that don’t get to watch it first-hand, it’s good for them to experience it and see what we all brag about,” Mathis said. “The more people watching it, the better for our sport.”

Jaguars players said while playing in London will be unique, it will still very much a football game above all else.

“It’s like a dream come true to be able to play in that stadium,” Jaguars kicker Josh Scobee said. “I’m hoping we go for a few days, because you can get jet-lagged, but I’m pretty excited about it, to be able to experience a country that I haven’t been to. This will be cool to get over there and experience the city and be able to play in a legendary stadium.

“We’ll treat it like any other business trip, and I’ll try to relay it to the younger guys.”

Said Thomas, “It will be exciting and it will be fun, but I think more so it will take its course as a business trip rather than a vacation. As far as spreading the brand, I think Khan is doing a great job.

“What team wouldn’t want to take a trip like that?”

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