An engineer by trade, Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shahid Kahn is an inherent problem solver, landing himself a massive puzzle in 2012 after buying one of the NFL's most minor market franchises. Fortunately, Kahn may have found solutions to his plight in the draft's first round, coming in a larger form than a collegiate star tandem.
Jacksonville's restrictions as a lower-tier media market come in a variety, with fan base numbers frequently topping the list. Kahn pegged this as a setback earlier in his ownership days, snatching advantage of an untapped market across the Atlantic that could offer more support alone than the entirety of Florida.
NFL teams nationwide have participated in league events in London since 2007's inaugural outing, with the Green Bay Packers the only club not checking London's list to play in Wembley Stadium, a venue Kahn himself almost purchased in 2018. As a result, despite 31 participants, Jacksonville has a vice grip on the lead for games played there with seven, while 15 teams have only played one time at Wembley.
Kahn's purchase of English side Fulham FC one year after becoming the Jaguars' owner has also helped his recruitment of Jaguars fans abroad, and unintentional or not, 2021's first-round class added unfathomed support in Clemson, S.C.
Jacksonville had been preparing for Trevor Lawrence-mania for months, with city mayor Lenny Curry lighting up Acosta Bridge orange and purple in anticipation of the long-awaited arrival; to some, the often misidentified franchise savior.
Travis Etienne only certified Kahn and first-year head coach Urban Meyer's belief in Dabo Swinney's program and what it can produce professionally, as the minority argued against Etienne's selection in favor of other positional needs.
Nonetheless, Tiger fever has hit Jacksonville hard. The converse has happened in Upstate, S.C. Teal, and black sightings are everywhere from the forever Tiger faithful in the exact nature of Deshaun Watson, as the alternate red Houston Texans outfit was a staple almost anywhere near Tigertown.
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It's noted that the football faithful pledging their loyalty to the virtual symbol for half of the Palmetto State with the Tiger Paw have their own NFL team's a majority of the time. For the Jaguars, though, this presents an opportunity for the collegiate lifer without a pro dedication that follows Clemson, who will surely tune in to see how their Tigers play Week One against the likely Watson-deprived Texans.
"This time, I got it right," Kahn said during the two Tigers' introductory press conferences, with a broad smile underneath his signature mustache.
"We now have the opportunity to go with winners and let them build."
Not only has Kahn gotten off to a blistering start in building his fans internationally, but he now brings in Jaguars personnel Meyer, Etienne, and Lawrence, who he all was referring to above. Each brings thousands of eyes to Jacksonville from Ohio and South Carolina.
In a small market, diversifying is the key to success, and not only has Kahn done that internationally, but he now offers even more potential fans as Clemson loyalists across the country are sure to be glued to the two who brought them a championship. Barring ultra-poor performances, some will likely come back every week after that and tune in.
After almost eight years, football in Jacksonville now has more hope than it's had for the long game in all of Kahn's ownership years on the field and off of it. Even when competing for the AFC Championship, quarterback Blake Bortles never felt like the answer. Trevor Lawrence has felt that way since the moment he took over for Kelly Bryant in 2018.
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