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NFL Annual Meeting: "Teamwork at every level…"

Shad Khan, owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars, leaves the NFL owners meeting in New York, Wednesday, Oct. 27, 2021. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)
Shad Khan, owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars, leaves the NFL owners meeting in New York, Wednesday, Oct. 27, 2021. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)

PALM BEACH, Fla. – There's a lot of new around the Jaguars these days.

New head coach. New decision-making structure. The new can be seen around TIAA Bank Field, too – with ground recently broken for the team's state-of-the-art sports performance center.

Jaguars owner Shad Khan, speaking at the 2022 NFL Annual Meeting this week, said he likes those things – and that he feels the impact of those elements on team culture entering a decidedly new era.

"What I see is the teamwork at every level," Khan said.

Khan, entering his second decade as the Jaguars' owner, spoke to during this week's meetings – which are being held at The Breakers Palm Beach. He covered multiple topics, including the news earlier this offseason that former Jaguars left tackle Tony Boselli will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Boselli, the first player inducted into the Pride of the Jaguars, will become the first former Jaguars player enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He will be enshrined Saturday, August 6, with the Jaguars to play the Las Vegas Raiders in the Hall of Fame Game two days earlier.

"It sounds surreal; obviously I'm delighted it's happening," Khan said. "I'm really looking forward to that and looking forward to playing the Hall of Fame Game. I think we enjoy it and once it's done it's, 'Who's the second Jaguars player going into the Hall of Fame?'

“We have some really worthy candidates and I think our focus in September will turn to, ‘We need to be represented. We have players who had Hall of Fame careers and they need to be in it.’’’ Jaguars Owner, Shad Kahn

Khan, too, discussed the Jaguars' new football structure.

Khan on February 6 hired Doug Pederson as the franchise's seventh head coach. Pederson, the head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles from 2016-2020, coached the Eagles to a Super Bowl title following the 2017 season. He became the fifth head coach in Khan's 11 seasons as owner, replacing Urban Meyer – dismissed by Khan 13 games into his lone season as coach last season.

"We're here at the owners' meetings; I've been to a few of these now," Khan said with a laugh. "One of the side benefits is you meet a lot of people from the 31 clubs. I had met Doug before, socially. I had chatted with him. I knew about him from his staff and his owners.

"When Doug was available – and this is a little-known fact – we kept in touch with him and he was the first one we interviewed [during this offseason's head-coach hiring process]. This was, 'OK, we're looking at him as a possible Jaguars head coach – how will he help us, how would he connect with the city and really his command of the total game.'"

Khan said he has seen a connectivity and human connection under Pederson and General Manager Trent Baalke, with an emphasis on "How are we going to win football games?"

"That is basically shaping how our player development is going to be and how our player acquisition is going to be," Khan said. "It is literally a lot of open discussion on where our weaknesses are, where our opponents' weaknesses might be and where the strengths are – and how do we develop that and turn it into a winning program?"

The Jaguars in Baalke's and Pederson's first offseason together were one of the NFL's most-active teams at the recent start of the 2022 NFL League year, signing eight unrestricted free agents: wide receivers Christian Kirk and Zay Jones, linebacker Foye Oluokun, defensive tackle Foley Fatukasi, offensive guard Brandon Scherff, cornerback Darious Williams, tight end Evan Engram and cornerback Xavier Crawford.

"I'm very happy to do that, and I'm delighted to do that if it's going to help us win," Khan said. "We want the city of Jacksonville to have a winner. I just want to be persuaded, 'These are the players who are going to help us … how do they fit in?'

"Then, we're going to pay them whatever is competitive. I believe we had a very good young team; we still do. What we're doing with writing these checks was really supplementing them and making them better."

Khan, too, addressed the football performance center – which will house team offices, weight training and medical facilities and an equipment room. It also is expected to feature an indoor practice field, two outdoor natural-grass fields with about 2,300 bleacher seats, concession facilities and a team store.

"We're ready for it, and it's something we really need," Khan said. "This was really driven by the players as much as anything else. We committed to it over a year ago that we were going to do it and have a benchmark, state-of-the-art facility that was going to help our players be the best they can be."

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