PHOENIX, Ariz. – The words weren't really as much new as they were notable.
But goodness, were Shad Khan's words notable.
Khan on Monday afternoon sat in a secluded alcove at the 2017 NFL Annual Meetings at the Arizona Biltmore. He discussed a variety of team-and league-related issues, but what the Jaguars' owner said at the very beginning of the conversation stood out.
This was shortly after the week's major news broke: the announcement that the NFL had approved the move of the Oakland Raiders to Las Vegas, meaning the NFL will have three teams in new cities in the coming seasons.
While that news buzzed around the pristineness that is the Biltmore, Khan sat quietly away from the fray. Came the question (paraphrased):
"Is it notable that we have a third team announcing relocation, and that Jacksonville and the Jaguars are rarely if ever mentioned in the conversation?"
Came the answer:
"I think the right [phrase] is, 'Actions speak louder than words,''' Khan said.
It's true that Khan has discussed this topic before, and it's just as true that he also has used the phrase "Actions speak louder than words" before when discussing it. But the phrase seemed particularly pertinent Monday.
"Five years ago, when I was introduced [as owner], the key point I had was, 'We're going to do everything to make football be viable in Jacksonville," Khan said. "We've been trying to do that. There is a lot that has happened, but from Day One… it's what you do that's important."
Khan is now in his sixth NFL Annual Meeting as the Jaguars' owner, and it's not really right to say he seems more comfortable as an owner than before. He never, after all, has seemed particularly uncomfortable. But he without question now is firmly established in league circles, serving as chairman of the NFL's Business Ventures Committee as well as serving on the NFL Network, Health and Safety and Finance Committees.
It's also worth noting as we discuss Khan's thoughts on actions, words and what it all means to Jacksonville how his fellow owners perceive what's going on in Jacksonville – and how that perception ties into people in and around the league realizing at long last that the Jaguars and Jacksonville remain – and will remain – one.
While the list of on-field Jaguars goings on is well-known to Jaguars fans – the video boards, pool decks, US Assure Clubs, the game-changing Daily's Place Amphitheater that will be functional as of Memorial Day – Khan's fellow owners don't follow the progress on a day-by-day or year-by-year basis as closely. When they are updated – up close and personal on their game-day visits to Jacksonville – the impact is real.
"I'll tell you: just about every team owner who has been there … they come in and they can't believe it's the same stadium," Khan said. "We have a pretty good stadium. I've been to most of them and I think we stand up very well. We want to move the needle and keep it going.
"The league understands [the progress made in Jacksonville] and more importantly, the visiting owners understand. Some of them … it's kind of a shock to their system: 'Is this the same? I don't remember approving anything. When did this happen?'"
Khan said the change in the north end zone perhaps symbolizes the transformation. Whereas five years ago there were tarps there now is a renovated pool/cabana deck that symbolizes the Jaguars, Jacksonville and EverBank Field.
"It's part of really our brand now," Khan said.
Khan's thoughts on Jacksonville are far from the only notable Jaguars news from these 2017 NFL meetings. Jaguars Executive Tom Coughlin on Monday talked extensively about liking the progress made with the roster in his three months on the job, and how much more work remains. General Manager David Caldwell talked on Monday, too, of the preparations that remain for next month's draft – and that yes, he as always would be open to a first-round trade.
Tuesday will be newsy, too, with Doug Marrone speaking at his first AFC Coaches Breakfast since taking over as head coach in early January.
But perhaps none of that news is quite as notable as Khan's thoughts on Jacksonville and the Jaguars. He has said often that what's good for Jacksonville is good for the Jaguars and more importantly, his actions continue to drown out his words. Over and over again. Day after day. Year after game-changing, perception-changing year.
And because that's true, Khan can sit quietly on days such as Monday knowing that his actions continue to make Jacksonville and the Jaguars very much not the news of the day.