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NFL Annual Meeting: Khan says relocation silence no accident


PHOENIX – Much about the Jaguars' direction pleases Shad Khan.

That includes not only an on-field direction focused on long-term competitiveness, but in-game experience, a pending increased online presence and continued growth in the Jacksonville area and London.

Those have been Jaguars-related topics at the 2015 NFL Annual Meeting, but Khan – entering his fourth full year as the team's owner – said what is equally and perhaps more significant is a conversation in which the Jaguars aren't involved.

The possibility of one or two teams – most notably the St. Louis Rams, Oakland Raiders and San Diego Chargers – relocating to Los Angeles has been perhaps the most-discussed topic this week at the Arizona Biltmore. It's a topic that once – even two or three years ago – would have included the Jaguars.

This week, that's very much not the case.

"I find that interesting, and it's no accident," Khan said Tuesday. "Our mission and what really makes sense is engaging Jacksonville, coming up with a regional approach – and of course, the London aspect … I think that's where the future really lies for us."

Khan added of the Jaguars not being discussed with Los Angeles, "Eventually, that's what happens. Finally, people see what you're doing and actions are speaking louder than words. You have to go about your business and the talk catches up with reality."

Khan, as he has done on several occasions recently, said a presence in London remains a key part of the franchise's future – and a positive for the team and for the city.

The Jaguars have played a home game at Wembley Stadium in London each of the past two seasons, and will play another in each of the next two seasons. The games have had a significant positive impact on the team's local revenue.

"It's been very good for us, and also for money, which is coming back to Jacksonville," Khan said. "I would like for us to continue to go. It's been a great experience. It really prepares us for where we need to be in the future as a team."

While NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell this week mentioned the possibility of games in other European locations, Khan said the Jaguars' focus remains on London.

"For us, we are doing London because we want to have a compelling proposition for our corporate partners," Khan said. "We have to have a much sharper focus. Where we want to develop fans is in Jacksonville and London."

The league on Monday announced that the Jaguars' 2015 game at Wembley – October 25 against the Buffalo Bills – will be distributed over a digital platform worldwide in addition to being carried on over-the-air television stations in Jacksonville and Buffalo.

It will mark the first time the NFL will use a distributor other than a television network for a national game.

"That exposure means a lot to the Jaguars and Jacksonville," Khan said. "I'm hoping it will be free for people watching it and we get the exposure and create new fans."

Khan also reiterated on Tuesday what President Mark Lamping said Monday, that the team's perception around the NFL has improved in three seasons since taking over as owner in January 2012. The team finished in the Top 4 in eight categories in the NFL's 2014 Voice of the Fan survey.

"The shift is not just verbal or casual," Khan said. "We are the best practice in the league on a number of different areas. I think that's really good news for all the hard work the Jaguars' team has done. We've learned from the other 31 clubs and certainly now it's fun to have them come and see what we're doing better."

Khan added while the Jaguars' total of seven victories over the past two seasons must improve, he feels no need to state that repeatedly in a public forum, adding that General Manager David Caldwell and Head Coach Gus Bradley – each entering their third seasons – understand the urgency.

"You have to win, but if you have to restate or 'put pressure,' then I think you have the wrong people," Khan said. "You have to measure and measurement here is easy – wins and losses – but which direction and how sustainable it is also very important.

"Personality-wise, that's not who I am, which is to be threatening or constantly harassing about something which is obvious."

Also on Tuesday:

*Khan said he remains optimistic the Florida state legislature will approve funding to help renovate the club seat area at EverBank Field. Lamping on Monday said Khan is committed to funding the project so long as there is a mechanism for a portion to be reimbursed over a 15-year period from a portion of the sales tax generated by EverBank. The sales tax rebate must be approved by the state legislature, with Florida's Joint Legislative Budget Commission last month moving funding decisions for several stadiums around the state to the regular legislative session. Khan said while the improvements benefit the Jaguars, they also benefit EverBank and Jacksonville in efforts to procure premium events in the stadium. "What we want to do is the right and responsible thing," Khan said. "Politicians and politics work in mysterious ways. I think we're optimistic. This is a rebate of a sales tax being used to improve the facilities that are going to create more sales tax for the long term, so I'm optimistic." …

*Khan said he liked the team's recent approach in free agency, the Jaguars' first foray into "Tier One" free agency in his tenure. "What Dave did wasn't impulsive," Khan said. "I think it has been something that has been planned over the last several months. It's almost like getting ready for the Olympics. The starting gun goes off and you need to be prepared to make the most of it." …

*Khan addressed the team's recent Shipyards proposal, which would significantly alter the makeup of downtown Jacksonville, saying, "The most important thing we've done is to get the dialogue started with a vision and with the ability to do. If there's a better proposal, money or otherwise, God Bless. We want to do the best thing for Jacksonville. If not, I think we have something very viable that will really move the needle." …

*Khan addressed Lamping's five-year contract extension, which was signed last week. "Mark's done a great job," Khan said. "He's brought a level of competency, energy and sophistication that has been very helpful to the Jaguars and that is part of the reason we're looked upon as an innovative front office. Mark's had a lot to do with it." …

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