Jacksonville Jaguars ended months of uncertainty by handing the team over and starting the rumors as to where they will end up. Wayne Weaver agreed to relinquish the team to Illinois-based businessman Shahid Khan and in the same fell swoop got rid of long-time head coach Jack Del Rio. It sealed the short-term future of the franchise whilst at the same time told us nothing about where the Jags will end up.
The franchise has been in Florida since its inception in 1993 and it looks like it could be heading anywhere from the city that is always reported to be crying out for a franchise, Los Angeles, to as far afield as the home of the Shaguar, London.
Before we even get to those possibilities, there are a few that can be counted out. Alongside Antartica, the Moon and the Amazonian Rainforest comes Sin City. The NFL’s attitude towards a certain pastime that is a branch of the entertainment industry in other parts of the world is all that we need mention. Vegas is one place in the US that enjoys sports betting and the chance of an NFL team landing is preeeetty slim.
Los Angeles is the “cool pick” for anyone that follows the National Football League. The city has hosted three franchises in the past (Chargers, Rams and Raiders) and is one pie the NFL doesn’t have a finger in. Rememeber, they play fewer games in this city than they do on other whole continents. Indications are that this matters little. Former owner, Weaver, turned down an LA-based consortium headed by entertainment tycoon Philip Anschutz, and has what sounds like a gentlemen’s agreement in place with Mr Khan to not stray anywhere near CPT.
Close behind the LA-movement comes the “international” location of Toronto. Buffalo has been playing one game per season there since 2008 and attendances haven’t dipped below 50,000 for any of the regular season games. There’s no question the city could sustain a franchise and the NFL is the only of the big five leagues with no franchise in Canada. As far as international expansion goes there’s one other destination that trumps them all – the spiritual home of the Shaguar.
Under Roger Goodell’s stewardship, the league has pitched up in the centre of the iGaming universe, London, on five occasions. Rumors if a franchise moving over the Atlantic have surfaced in recent years and with international expansion on one of the league’s favorite topics for the future it’s no surprise. Only yesterday, Sports Illustrated’s NFL expert Peter King told ESPN’s Pardon the Interruption that a franchise would definitely move over to Europe in their lifetime Add to this the time difference of only five hours to the East Coast and it’s possible. Logistically it could be a nightmare and there’s no guarantee 80,000+ would turn up eight times a season. By moving to Europe the NFL would have that same branch of the entertainment industry problem they have in Vegas, or is it different over in the UK? Who know’s? The NFL is a curious creature.
Lastly there’s the city in which they currently reside – Jacksonville. The team has a lease at EverBank Field lasting until 2029 and they’d have to demonstrate a loss of money for three consecutive seasons to get out of the Jag Pad and move to the Shag Pad in London. Every week the owners remain quiet will get LA/Toronto/UK excited. Those three may get franchises eventually and whether it will be Jacksonville sounds like coming down to a number of gentlemen’s agreements.