JACKSONVILLE – Shad Khan's cats just got a lot cooler.
Their clothes darned sure did on Tuesday, anyway. And if it was easy to see the excitement and pride in the Jaguars' owner Tuesday at EverBank Field, it was just as easy to understand the reason.
This day? This ceremony?
These new Jaguars uniforms unveiled Tuesday?
They're about a new look, a new vision, a new era for a franchise. Specifically, they're about Khan's vision for the future of the organization. You couldn't be around EverBank Field Tuesday without knowing that.
And the man responsible for that vision? Yes, he was happy with the outcome. Yes, he was happy with the Jaguars' new look.
Yes, as far as Khan was concerned, this was a very, very good day.
"It's new, it's edgy – it's awe-inspiring for me," Khan said shortly after the unveiling, which took place at 1:45 Tuesday in the West Touchdown Club at EverBank Field.
There's more to Tuesday's story than Khan, of course. There are the details of the uniforms that can be found here. There's how the uniforms shape to the players, how they're state of the art and how they're designed to help performance on the field.
Then there's the symbolic and physical heart of the uniform – the "Jags" badge with the new logo facing the heart. The badge itself and the placement . . . it's all a tribute to the military community in Jacksonville, something the Jaguars have long considered the heart of the franchise and a concept that has been at the heart of the franchise's rebranding.
Here's something important to know about that badge:
It's Khan's favorite part of the uniform, and if there is a part of the new look that he feels sums the whole thing up – his feeling about the city, the team's place in the community and the military's role in it all – that badge is it.
"I love that," Khan said of the badge.
Shortly after the press conference, Khan spoke of the badge's simplicity. When it comes to sports teams, he likes the idea of a simple patch, something with which fans can identify. The badge, he said, is certainly that.
"The military, whether retired or active, is really the backbone of the community," Khan said. "What would represent that better than having a badge? The badge on the heart says everything about the Jaguars and Jacksonville."
Khan credited Senior Vice President of Fan Engagement Hussain Naqi and President Mark Lamping with the badge, and Naqi later said the badge itself – and its symbolic place on the jersey – was really a collaborative effort, the result of a lot of minds working a lot of hours and looking at a lot of prototypes.
"We couldn't be more thrilled," Naqi said.
Whoever gets credit, what Todd Van Horne will tell you the end result of the uniform couldn't have been achieved without Khan. No way. No how.
Van Horne, NIKE Vice President and Creative Director for Football, helped run Tuesday's presentation. Khan, he said, was integral to the process from the start, and his eye for design and willingness and desire to create something state of the art was critical.
But Van Horne said what was also critical to the process was Khan's story, and the story of Jacksonville. Khan's story of achieving the American dream through innovation is well known.
"This uniform tells a story of that innovation," Van Horne said.
As for Khan, his focus on Tuesday wasn't as much on his story as on the new sleek, modern uniforms that he called "a piece of art." The design, he said, speaks not only to the town's military tradition, but to its youth.
At the same time, Khan said the design symbolizes what's going on around the franchise. He has talked often this offseason of this time, these few months, being a time in which a foundation is being built. During that time, he has spoken often of the team's leadership trio – President Mark Lamping, General Manager David Caldwell, Head Coach Gus Bradley.
After 14 months as owner, Khan clearly is more comfortable in his role, more comfortable with the direction of the franchise.
"It's a new generation, a new direction." Khan said. "I'm looking forward to it."
The new look, he said, is more than a symbol. It was in a very real sense, a necessary move. That's why the uniform is a bold departure, and he said that's absolutely why the helmet underwent a significant redesign, too.
The new helmet, certainly, will draw the most attention. It's a radical look, black in the front and sweeping/fading to gold in the back. Van Horne said it represents a Jaguars pouncing on its prey from the shadows. Khan put it more simply, saying that two-toned helmets are the future, and that it was necessary for the Jaguars' new helmet be about that.
"We have to be forward thinking – this is a new franchise, with a new beginning," he said.
Forward thinking, of course, means change, and with change will come resistance, at least in some circles. That's the nature of people and the nature of public opinion. There was resistance when the team unveiled its new logo earlier this offseason, and there will be resistance here, too.
Khan gets that, but what's certain is that the bigger picture was a need for a new beginning, a new era, a new foundation and a new generation.
Just as certain was that Khan on Tuesday liked what he saw. During the press conference, the room went silent. On the video screen in the West Touchdown Club a NIKE-produced video sexily, boldly displayed the new uniforms. When the video ended, applause filled the room.
Khan, microphone in hand, walked back on stage.
"Wow," he said, smiling.
When Khan introduced the new logo earlier this offseason, his money quote was easy to identify: "Now, that's a cool cat." On Tuesday, more was introduced than a cat. An entire new look, one symbolic of a franchise's relationship was a city was rolled out, and the guess here is that soon enough, most fans will think the look is pretty cool, too.
One thing for certain on Tuesday was that Khan darned sure liked it.
"The results," he said, "are nothing short of spectacular."
And it all came to light on a very, very good day at EverBank Field.