One does not simply leave the cabana-bolstered bowels of EverBank Stadium. Not now. Not once the owner and his adopted city invested so much in its upkeep. Not only did Khan invest $20 million (a pittance of his reported $3.8 billion net worth) in making EverBank the place to be, but the city footed $43 million of the bill. That public money came with a contract: the lease binds the Jaguars to the stadium through 2030. And there’s no easy way out.
Richard Dole-USA TODAY SportsRick Dole
TWO | AFC South of Scotland?
NFL geography has never made since. Already, Indianapolis plays in the AFC South, while Cincinnati, about 100 miles southeast, plays in the North. But putting an AFC South team in London would be borderline obscene. Barring a total division redesign, this AFC “South” team would become the northernmost team …by a lot. The Seattle Seahawks, current holders of the title, sit at a latitude of 47.6 degrees; London is at 51.5, or in layman’s terms, about 269 miles further north.
Phil Sears-USA TODAY SportsPhil Sears
THREE | Mission Impossible
The travel logistics surrounding a London team remain to be resolved. A recent piece from the MMQB explored the inherent issues. The takeaway: teams that take the trip to London start planning some 8 months ahead of time. They send their equipment by boat. They subject their ritualized body clocks to time changes ranging from five to eight hours. So what happens if the Jaguars make the playoffs and there is only one week to plan? What happens in late-season division games when there is no bye week with which a team can recover? No one knows.
Getty ImagesRonald Martinez
FOUR | A Jaguar cannot survive in Great Britain
These Jaguars struggle enough in the north Florida sun. There is no precedent in nature of them living further north, and as the NFL has recently fallen prey to criticism for their handling of humanitarian issues, they should be forward-thinking on animal rights. As Panthera points out, only the rare jaguar has ventured even as far north as the U.S. They feel at home in Latin and South America. So while a Rio de Janeiro Jaguar might have a fighting chance in football, a London Jaguar is a farce. It’s like pretending there’s a big jazz scene in Utah or something.
Charlie CrowhurstCharlie Crowhurst
FIVE | EPL ownership does not equal Euro-bias
We get it. Khan owns Fulham FC, an English Premier League soccer team in London. Clearly, business would be easier if his two teams were next-door neighbors instead of international properties. But precedent exists here, and in those cases, no one has made a move. Sometimes, rich guys like to have assets all over the place. Take the Glazer brothers. They own the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, as well as Manchester United, one of the most prolific and popular soccer properties in the world. Yet no one suggests that the Bucs will make the move. Same with the Fenway Sports Group, which owns the Boston Red Sox and Liverpool F.C. Owners own. It’s what they do.
Kim Klement-USA TODAY SportsKim Klement
SIX | Khan isn’t King in England
Despite the fact that the guy makes more money than Donald Trump but asked Jacksonville to pay 2/3 of the stadium costs, Khan is a popular figure stateside. This Given Sunday ranked him as the no. 1 owner in terms of likeability. In England, it’s a different story. Khan’s first season heading Fulham caused a lot of friction; he cycled through three managers and 39 players (the most ever used in EPL) in a single season; his team got relegated for the first time in 13 years, falling out of the EPL; one reporter said his first year was defined by “diabolical decisions.” It’s gotten so bad that locals are wondering if their team is cursed by a Michael Jackson statue. So why would the man with the mustache leave the place that loves him?
Melina Vastola-USA TODAY SportsMelina Vastola
SEVEN| Here, Big Ben is always on the schedule
The Jaguars don’t exactly thrive against Big Ben Roethlisberger. For his career, Roethlisberger is 4-2 against the Jags, completing over 60 percent of his passes, with 10 touchdowns to just 3 interceptions. As recently as October 5, he beat Jacksonville with a cool 26 completions, 273 yards, and 1 TD – a win so routine it felt like (awful pun alert:)…clockwork. Therefore, the Jags probably shouldn’t play in a place where Big Ben is always ticking. It’s one thing to try and take down Pittsburg. It’s another thing to take down Parliament.
Getty ImagesRob Foldy
EIGHT | The Fog in February? No thanks
If the Jaguars ever want to play host to the Super Bowl again, they should stay at home. For one, the NFL would likely face backlash for taking The Game away from its American base, especially if that meant an early start time for time zone reasons. Second, February is not exactly the best month to visit London. The average temperature there that time of year is 40 degrees (Jacksonville: 67 degrees); they AVERAGE 12 days of the month below freezing. MetLife might have opened the door to cold-weather sites, but come on, people walking around the Super Bowl city shouldn’t have to trade bikinis for parkas.
David Manning-USA TODAY SportsDavid Manning
NINE | The NFL wants this to work
With all due respect to the Jaguars, they aren’t exactly NFL’s biggest brand. The people at Harris Poll recently announced that Jacksonville boasted, for the fifth straight year, the league’s least popular team. Matt Reevy of Wall St. Cheat Sheet says that they depreciate tickets in other cities by over 20 percent. Why would the NFL expect that to change in London? At least in America, the Jaguars have a 20-year base, Mark Brunell highlights, and a media that doesn’t see Khan as a menace.
Rob Foldy-USA TODAY SportsRob Foldy-USA TODAY Sports
TEN | London football fans don’t just like the Jaguars
Londoners that partake in American football already have their allegiances. Even if the Jaguars have established a base by placing two full-time employees in London, the fan bases are split –in terms of teams AND interest. Sports Business Journal took a deep dive on the topic, and one sentence summed up the biggest problem the Jags would face: “Avid U.K. American football adherents root for existing teams.” At the games in London, all 32 jerseys can be found in the crowd. And even among those already converted NFL fans, only 28 percent consider themselves “very interested” in the sport. Why would the Jaguars take the risk of being even less popular in London than they are in America?
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY SportsKirby Lee
ELEVEN | You can’t erase 20 years
Lastly, a tug at your heart: there is history here. The thrilling ’99 win over the Broncos. Another team winning the Super Bowl in their home stadium. David Garrard’s game-saving run against the Steelers. That day Blaine Gabbert left and Jag Fan Twitter exploded. The Hail Mary. The Pigeon. Florida-boy Fred Taylor’s 11,000+ yards. It all means something to someone. What history do the Jags have in London? Well, it started with a 42-10 loss to the 49ers –a team named for the pioneering souls who knew the frontier was westward, not across the pond.