The London Jaguars.
That has a funny ring to it. But as far as the NFL is concerned, it symbolizes the continued effort to expand the league’s influence beyond the United States.
In a joint announcement Tuesday, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and new Jaguars team owner Shad Khan revealed plans for the team to play one home game at London’s Wembley Stadium for four years starting in 2013.
The move is in keeping with Khan’s stated intention to increase his team’s global brand.
“The Jaguars and the entire Jacksonville community will be a centerpiece in the NFL’s efforts over these four seasons, and that’s a very exciting and rewarding development for all of us,” Khan wrote in an e-mail to season ticket holders. “My ambition is to make the Jaguars one of the signature franchises in the NFL and to see Jacksonville realize its full potential as a destination for commerce, tourism and living.”
The Jaguars will replace the St. Louis Rams, who bailed on their deal to play in London in 2013 and 2014, citing the need to focus on the team’s own stadium lease negotiations.
Plagued by poor attendance and television blackouts under former owner Wayne Weaver, Khan has Jacksonville looking to elevate itself from the cellar of the NFL franchise totem pole.
The team had all but one regular season home game blacked out in 2009, only three years after Weaver installed massive tarps that reduced the stadium seating capacity by nearly 10,000. But with the help of grassroots campaigns and ticket sale extensions from the NFL, the team has not had a home game blacked out in each of the last two seasons.
Now it’s time for the Brits to get on board the Blaine Gabbert bandwagon... or something like that.