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An American Dream come true


IRVING, Texas – Shahid Khan's American Dream came true Wednesday.

Khan, whose intentions to purchase the Jaguars were announced late last month, was approved as the franchise's new owner by the NFL's 32 owners Wednesday at a league meeting at the Four Seasons Resort and Club in Dallas.

Khan purchased the franchise from Wayne Weaver, the Jaguars' majority owner since the team's 1993 inception.

Shortly after the vote, Khan addressed the media with a wide smile – and with the following message to Jaguars fans:

"Here I am, reporting for duty and ready to serve the fans and let the fun begin."

Khan called the day "a realization of a lifelong American dream" and said a priority as owner is developing a relationship with Jaguars fans.

"I just want to share with you that I'm totally committed to Jacksonville," he said. "I'll be spending, obviously, most of my time relating to the fans and developing the relationship with the fans and really the rebirth of the franchise in Jacksonville, where we will win on and off the field."

Khan added that taking control of the team also is "a really a sobering time, too. With this, there is responsibility and there is accountability. But it's a very exciting time."

 "This is a partnership, really, with the fans," he said. "They have to come and support the team but I am committed obviously to the rebirth and reinvigoration and doing whatever it takes to put a winner on the field."

The owners approved the sale unanimously, 32-0.

Khan, Owner and Chief Executive Officer of Flex-N-Gate, signed an agreement to purchase the Jaguars on November 29. The NFL's Finance Committee approved the agreement last week. The final papers are expected to be signed January 4, with Khan taking control of operations on that date.

 "We're excited about the Khan family coming in and continuing the legacy we started in Jacksonville for the last 18 years," Weaver said.

Weaver early in the day reiterated what he had said upon announcing the sale – that Khan is committed to keeping the team in Jacksonville.

"He's going to be great for the Jacksonville market," Weaver said. "We're lucky to have him in Jacksonville. "

Khan became the first minority owner in the NFL.

"It's a very positive step for the league," New York Giants Owner John Mara said. "It's almost 2012. It's about time."

Added Houston Texans Owner Bob McNair with a laugh, "He's the first one we'd had with a handlebar mustaches, I believe."

Khan, who said his NFL dream began in the basement of the Beta Theta Pi house at the University of Illinois, said of becoming the first minority owner, "It was going to happen sooner or later."

"I think this is a very significant milestone and certainly, I feel this is the finest sports league in the world," he said. "To be associated with that is obviously very humbling. Having said that, accountability to the fans starts right now. Now, it's all going to be about performance on and off the field."

Khan said he was drawn to the NFL for years – "like a moth to a flame."

Dallas Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones praised Weaver's 18 years as owner, and said he handled his exit "the right way" by bringing Khan into the league.

"He didn't in any way let Jacksonville down or let the NFL down with his effort to do the right thing relative to the future of ownership in the NFL and in Jacksonville," Jones said.

Jones called Khan one of the most financially qualified owners in the league and lauded his "commitment, his passion and his skill."

"You must admit it takes some skill to come from where he came from to be where is today," Jones said. "You add that to your ownership group and you feel like you've gotten better. We've really added to our viability in ownership.

"That's important from my standpoint. I'm a long-term player and the more people we have sitting around those tables in there who wanted it real bad and who paid a high price to get in – and who have a vision of how to grow and grow the pie – the better the NFL will be.

"Mr. Khan's one of those guys. Wayne was one of those guys."

While Weaver shared ownership with minority partners, Khan will have sole ownership of the franchise.

Khan said he first met Weaver about five years ago. At the time, he was in the process of trying to meet owners and understand what the NFL "was all about" in terms of the economics of the NFL and how deals were structured.

"He was one of the people I really visited," Khan said.

Khan, 60, a native of Pakistan and a graduate Illinois, began working for Flex-N-Gate in 1970. He left the company in 1978, then purchased it in 1980, after which it has "enjoyed impressive growth under his active ownership and guidance."

"He's an honorable man," McNair said. "He's hard-working. He's made it on his own and he has a great appreciation for our country and our values.  I think football in many ways is a reflection of our society. How your team performs and how you behave does have some impact on our community. I think he'll be a good owner in that regard and he appreciates what we have."

Weaver, in announcing the move, called Khan "an American story," and reiterated that Wednesday.

"He's The Great American Story," Weaver said.

Flex-N-Gate group now employs more than 12,450 employees in 48 states, with annual sales of $3 billion.

"I have heard nothing but good things about him," Mara said. "He's an honorable guy. He's a good businessman and he's committed to building a winning team. It sounds like he's going to be a great partner for the rest of the clubs.

"He has a unique set of skills and talents and he's obviously a self-made man. You have to be impressed by that and I think he's going to be a great addition to the league."

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