They say a good organization starts at the top, and that could not be truer for the Jacksonville Jaguars and their owner Shad Khan.
“Did he just say Jacksonville is a good organization?” some of you may be asking yourselves.
I would say they’re a drastically improved one, and behind Shad Khan’s leadership, they may even wind up a great one.
Much like the head coach, another important leadership position within a franchise, a good owner has the power to make their team significantly worse or significantly better. And as with head coach, personalities on either end of the scale usually get plenty of media attention — and the public perception of them usually matches the public perception of their team.
Let’s look at a few notables — the Steinbrenner family, Paul Allen, Jerry Jones, Robert Kraft — all of these preside over incredibly successful franchises, and the latter three control NFL teams. And now, for comparison’s sake, the bad ones — James Dolan, Dean Spanos, Frank McCourt, Jeffrey Loria. These individuals all rule(d) over flailing franchises.
It’s not hard to draw some parallels here. Obviously, any owner whose team is going well could masquerade as a good, competent owner. But Allen, Jones, Kraft, and the Steinbrenners have all been highly active in their team’s success.
Likewise, Dolan, Spanos, McCourt, and Loria all forced their franchise’s fortunes to go in reverse through cheapness, dishonesty, selfishness, mismanagement, scheming, and even criminality.
It may not be a rule, but it’s certainly a trend — good owners breed good franchises.
So what is Khan? And how do the team’s (mis)fortunes relate to him?
Forbes recently released its annual “top 50 most valuable sports teams” for 2017. The Jaguars finished in 42nd, valued at $1.95 billion, sandwiched between the New York Mets and Arsenal FC. That is impressive in itself, given the Mets’ gigantic market, and Arsenal’s gigantic sport.
However, perhaps more impressive is the fact that, of all 50 teams listed, Jacksonville’s franchise appreciation of 32% in the previous fiscal year is in the top 10 — specifically 8th overall. That kind of growth puts the franchise alongside the Golden State Warriors (who just won another NBA title), the Minnesota Vikings (who just moved into a new stadium), and the Oakland Raiders (who announced a 2020 move to Las Vegas).
And they finished above Chelsea FC — the Premier League champions, based in the massive market of London.
That is some pretty impressive growth, especially for a team whose biggest claim to date over the past year has been playing another match in Arsenal and Chelsea’s stomping ground.
When Khan bought the team in 2012, it was valued at $770 million, and was a perennial loser. For years, he resisted the urge to move the team to a different city, which would’ve seen an instantaneous growth of his hip pocket.
He instead chose to double down in Jacksonville, renovating the stadium, bringing fans back to the football, and even putting money into the city itself. He has embraced Jacksonville, and now the city is embracing him. Khan is improving both the team’s fortunes, and his return on investment, by not just backing the Jaguars, to succeed, but by backing the Jacksonville Jaguars to do so.
This season, the team in which he has both financially and emotionally bought into over the past five years, may finally show him the same on-field love.
Or at least we can only hope.