Dear National Media,
Yes, I'm sensitive.
I know you mean it as a pejorative instead of a compliment. You know, many women want a sensitive man by their side. However you're trying to make me look weak.
Guess what? We're all sensitive about something. Maybe it's about your family or about your home town. Maybe it's about your credibility as a journalist. Hey, I don't know what it is for every person but we all have something.
Jacksonville residents have reasons to be sensitive about the Jaguars and talk about their relocation.
The NFL Made Us This Way
Yes, I blame the NFL for making us sensitive to relocation talk.
Back in the summer of 1979, insensitive Colts owner Robert Irsay flew into the old Gator Bowl in a helicopter raising expectations for this city. Colts Fever was born and people believed that the NFL could work here.
A month later, we realized that Irsay was just using the city as leverage.
Five years later, the Saints were for sale and relocation was considered possible. Jacksonville businessmen formed a group and negotiated to buy the team. A handshake deal was in place. But the team was sold to Tom Benson instead.
Jacksonville just drove up the price of the deal.
Jacksonville became a joke as Bud Adams of the Oilers, Bill Bidwell of the Cardinals, and Rankin Smith of the Falcons went into discussions with this city to increase their bargaining power with others. The city was perceived as naïve, as suckers.
Even during the expansion process that brought the team here there was a sense that the NFL did not take this city seriously. Although Jacksonville was one of the five finalists, the city was never considered a front runner for a team.
But a funny thing happened along the way. The other cities involved couldn't get their act together. Carolina and Jacksonville had the best ownership groups and expansion bids. What could the NFL do about this? This isn't what they wanted. They wanted Carolina and an "old city" like Baltimore or St. Louis.
So they awarded one franchise to Charlotte and put the next expansion decision on hold for a month to give the old cities a chance.
In the end, Jacksonville proved to be the best option.
So sorry, NFL.
We Are Jaguars
What do people think about when they think of Jacksonville? The Jaguars. There just isn't anything else that defines our city to the world.
That's not true for almost all of the other NFL cities.
San Fransisco? The Golden Gate Bridge.
New York? The Statue of Liberty.
St. Louis? The Gateway Arch
Do you think New York would be sensitive about talk of relocating the Statue of Liberty to Paris in 8 years? Do you think Chicago would be sensitive about demolishing Wrigley Field? "That's different! That's the city's identity!" you say?
Well, the Jaguars are Jacksonville's identity.
Some NFL cities lack iconic structures but most host at least one other professional sports team. The only exceptions are Green Bay and Jacksonville.
Why don't we relocate the Packers? "They are a heritage team! They are Green Bay! The city would be crushed if they leave!"
I guess some people are sensitive about the Packers.
I'm sensitive about the Jaguars, but that doesn't mean you're not wrong.
You're Still Wrong
You see, being negotiating leverage taught us something about relocating teams. Jacksonville actually negotiated with many of the owners that moved their teams. What did they have in common?
They threatened to relocate.
Before Indianapolis stole the Colts from Baltimore, Irsay flew to Jacksonville and made a lot of noise about being unhappy with the stadium lease.
Before Tennessee stole their team from Houston, Bud Adams talked with Jacksonville and made a lot of noise about being unhappy with the Astrodome.
Relocation always comes down to owners unhappy with the stadium situation. But on Wednesday, Shad Khan stood happily with the entire city leadership and talked about how they all worked together. Gator Bowl Association president Rick Catlett mentioned that this renovation is just the first step in a 5 to 6 year process. Khan is spending his own money on improving the stadium here. Moreover, he routinely makes statements about his commitment to the city.
Have any of the national media naysayers spent time with Khan? Because it really doesn't matter what a sportswriter would do if they owned the team. It only matters what Khan would do.
Some writers took yesterday's news as a statement of Khan's commitment to Jacksonville.
Biggest takeaway from the #Jaguars announcement for stadium improvements: No permanent London home any time soon or ever.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) June 19, 2013
Others took a different view of the situation.
To be clear, cuz Jags fans seem to need help w/this, I'd still consider JAX strong candidate 4 eventual move 2 London.Hit me back around '21— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) June 19, 2013
Who can say who will be right? It's just opinion right? However, this is a sensitive subject for Jaguars fans and discussions on it will elicit a strong response.
Why be so sensitive when a group of fans disagrees with your opinion? Your writing is important to you?
But Goodell Wants a Team in London
I do not doubt that Goodell wants a team in London. But he's wanted a team in Los Angeles for a long time and that hasn't happened. I also know that he wants an 18-game regular season and that's not happening anytime soon, either.
Goodell has made very positive statements toward putting a team in London. What else would you expect him to say? When you try to sell the league to London it wouldn't be wise to say "I really don't see how it's going to work."
To pencil in the Jaguars as the top candidate to move seems like treating Jacksonville as a negotiating chip, just like as happened so many other times in the past 34 years.
The bottom line is that any team that goes to London will have an owner that wants to be there. Next time you report that a team is a prime candidate, cite the evidence that the owner wants to be there.
Without that evidence, you're just guessing.
And people are sensitive about writers who make wild guesses about things they love.