Not only did the organization fire Jack Del Rio, the Rasputin of NFL head coaches who was finally lopped after nine up and down (mostly down) years, but the Jaguars announced shortly thereafter that owner Wayne Weaver had sold the team to Illinois businessman Shahid Khan. It was an unfortunate turn of events for Vikings fans.
The Jaguars have been one of the few teams in the NFL to struggle financially during the biggest revenue bubble in league history, rarely selling out home games and resorting to the practice of covering entire sections of empty seats with similarly colored tarps. One thing Vikings fans could hold out hope for was that, when Los Angeles starts turning up the heat to get a franchise, there was always Jacksonville.
The Jaguars have never been a team that has caught the imagination of fans because, for the most part, they've been marginal for so long their games rarely run nationally. When they do get a rare visit into the national spotlight, the games are usually yawners like the defense-dominated, offense-inept Monday game with Baltimore in Week 7 and the anticipated snoozer next Monday vs. San Diego.
They were an ideal franchise to move to Los Angeles. The team peaked in its second year and, while it made a run in the middle of the last decade, they've been routinely picking in the top dozen or so on draft weekend for a reason. However, while it was obvious Weaver wasn't raking in money hand over fist like many of his fellow owners, it wasn't as clear how imminent the sale of the team was.
As the push to bring the NFL back to L.A. has gained steam over the last couple years, the three teams most mentioned as potential movers were, in no particular order, Minnesota, Jacksonville and San Diego. Each had their strong points for relocation. Jacksonville is a blemish on the money-rich NFL – the poor cousin of Jerry Jones and Daniel Snyder. The Vikings are finding it difficult to land a stadium deal and their lease is up at the end of the year. The Chargers could move up the coast and not lose their entire fan base. It would keep the Chargers in California and would be the least disruptive to the geographic equality achieved in the last realignment. Having the Los Angeles Chargers in the AFC West makes a lot more scheduling sense than the Los Angeles Vikings in the NFC North or the L.A. Jaguars in the AFC South.
While the sale could grease the wheels to an eventual move – unless the Jaguars would play a couple of years somewhere like the L.A. Coliseum, Khan could be a franchise caretaker able to sell in two or three years and make a Red McCombs type profit from his ownership of the Vikings.
However, speaking to the local media following the announcement, Weaver claimed the sale of the franchise won't impact the Jags remaining in Jacksonville. Although it was explained that nothing specifically was in writing, Weaver said his understanding was that Khan promised he wouldn't move the team and his "integrity" didn't require written verification.
Whether or not the Khan regime is a long-term tenure or something shorter in duration, it was seem that, temporarily anyway, the Jaguars are out of play for being relocated – if, of course, Weaver is correct in his assessment of Khan's integrity.
And then there were two.
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.