The Jaguars are no longer the NFL's newest team…that title belongs to the Texans. But they are the UK's newest team and with that in mind here are a few key dates for budding UK Jaguars fans to know as they grow in their knowledge and fandom.
1. The Franchise becomes reality on November 30, 1993
The NFL awarded its 30th franchise to J. Wayne Weaver and the City of Jacksonville at the Owners' meetings in Chicago, Illinois. The decision surprised many who believed that returning professional football to St. Louis or Baltimore was a no-brainer. The owners though were impressed with Weaver and an innovative approach they believed would take a small market's passion for football and build something in an up and coming city.
2. Tom Coughlin is hired to build the football team on February 21, 1994
Wayne Weaver made the decision to use the Bill Parcell's model to build his football team when he hired one of Parcell's lieutenants. Weaver hired Boston College Head Coach Tom Coughlin and gave him control over both the football team and the personnel department. Coughlin's relentless work ethic and demanding style were enticing to Weaver who had 18 months to field a team. The move paid off when Coughlin delivered a trip to the AFC Championship Game in the team's second season.
3. Tony Boselli is the Jaguars first ever draft pick on April 22, 1995
Tom Coughlin used the second overall pick of the 1995 NFL Draft and the Jaguars first ever draft pick on USC offensive tackle Tony Boselli. It was a critical move for Coughlin who had traded with the Green Bay Packers for quarterback Mark Brunell the day before and believed in the span of 24 hours he had two key components for his teams' future. Boselli would play seven seasons in Jacksonville and redefine the position of left tackle with his size and athleticism. He would earn five Pro Bowl nominations and in 2006 was the first player enshrined in the Pride of the Jaguars at EverBank Field.
4. The Jaguars host the Houston Oilers in their very first game September 3, 1995
A crowd of more than 70,000 filled Jacksonville's new stadium, which didn't yet have a name, when the Jaguars hosted the Houston Oilers in Week 1 of 1995. Boyz II Men sang the National Anthem from a stage in the middle of a flag shaped like the United States and F-18's flew overhead. The pomp and circumstance turned out to be better than the 10-3 loss to the Oilers in which the Jaguars looked very much like an expansion team but the NFL had arrived in northeast Florida and that was enough for that day.
5. The Jaguars beat the Oilers 17-16 in Houston for their first victory on October 1, 1995
The Jaguars were unsurprisingly 0-4 when they arrived at the Astrodome in Houston for a rematch with the Houston Oilers in October of 1995. The Jaguars jumped out to a 10-0 lead in the first quarter but then fell behind as Houston scored 16 unanswered points to go on top 17-16. Things changed in late in the fourth quarter when defensive end Jeff Lageman stripped the ball from running back Rodney Thomas which set up a game winning touchdown pass from Mark Brunell to Desmond Howard with just over a minute to play. Suddenly a rivalry was born between the Oilers and Jaguars that would continue forward when Oilers became the Titans and moved to Nashville, Tennessee.
6. Morten's Miss puts the Jaguars in the Playoffs on December 22, 1996
The Jaguars thought it was over. A miraculous mid-season turnaround from 4-7 to 8-7 with the chance to make the playoffs in just their second season, all they had to do was beat the lowly Atlanta Falcons. But with just seconds to play Morten Anderson was lined up to kick a 31-yard field goal, he had made 59 consecutive from less than 40 yards, and the playoffs looked lost. The stadium was absolutely silent as Morten's foot connected with the ball but seconds later the ball sailed wide sending the stadium into pandemonium and the Jaguars into the playoffs for the first time ever. They would become the first visiting team to win a post-season game at Buffalo's Rich Stadium in the Wild Card Game the next week and pull off one of the biggest upsets in NFL playoff history when they beat John Elway and the Broncos in Denver in the Divisional round.
7. Wayne Weaver makes a coaching change in January 2003
The Jaguars embarked on a new era in January of 2003 when Wayne Weaver fired the coach who built his team and took them to the playoffs three times in their first five seasons including two trips to the AFC Championship Game. The franchise had fallen into disrepair after three consecutive losing seasons and a salary cap situation that had robbed it of its best players. Weaver selected Carolina Panthers defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio who in one year in Carolina had helped engineer a unit that would go from worst to first in league standings. It was a clean slate for the francise headed into its ninth season in the NFL. 8. Wayne Weaver sells the Jaguars to Shad Khan on November 29, 2011
Media members thought they were summoned to EverBank Field on November 29, 2011 to learn that Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio had been dismissed before his fourth consecutive losing season was complete. They also were told at that gathering that Wayne Weaver had reached an agreement with businessman Shad Khan to sell his NFL franchise. Persistent speculation and rumors put the Jaguars on the market and likely to relocate for years but few knew the sale was imminent. It marked the end of an era for the man whose efforts to bring the NFL to northeast Florida created a renaissance for the Bold New City of the South and began a new era with Khan who pledged the Jaguars would remain in Jacksonville but reach beyond its borders to grow the franchise.
9. The Jaguars Announce their London Endeavor on August 21, 2012
Shad Khan announced the Jaguars would begin 'fishing in a pond where there are no fisherman" on August 21, 2012. With NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in attendance in Jacksonville Khan explained how the Jaguars would build their brand in the UK to support their brand in Jacksonville and not to relocate as many expected. The Jaguars made the commitment to play four games in four consecutive seasons and immediately opened an office in the UK and began sending players, cheerleaders and mascot Jaxon de Ville to London to help build a fan base.
10. Shad Khan hires Dave Caldwell and Gus Bradley to build his franchise
Khan moved quickly to replace his football leadership after a 2-14 campaign in his first season as the Jaguars owner. He hired Atlanta Falcons assistant General Manager Dave Caldwell on January 8, 2013 and together they hired Gus Bradley on January 17, 2013. Caldwell brought a resume that included building winners in Carolina, Indianapolis and Atlanta plus his time with three-time NFL Executive of the Year Bill Polian. Bradley's high energy, positive approach to football connected with Caldwell in their first meeting and both men knew that it was essential to have that philosophy when embarking on building the Jaguars from the bottom up.
11. The Jaguars play the San Francisco 49ers at Wembley Stadium on October 27, 2013
The Jaguars were winless before and after they played the 49ers at Wembley Stadium in London on October 27, 2013. While the game was less than successful in it's outcome the week in the UK turned out brilliantly for Khan's NFL franchise. Events at the Tower of London and Trafalgar Square provided the chance for Jaguars and NFL fans in the UK to connect with the team and meetings with the UnionJax fan club proved to the Jaguars that their London Endeavor was going to be a smashing success.
This article is presented by VisitFlorida.com.