Khan wants Jaguars to develop international presence

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The NFL's newest owner has a long-term vision for the small-market Jacksonville Jaguars.

And it includes a broad-based audience.

Shahid Khan wants the team to expand its fan base, even if it means playing overseas.

Khan, born in Pakistan, visited Jacksonville on Friday for the first time since buying the franchise for $760 million. He spoke to coaches, front-office personnel and just about everyone else in the football facility, and got a big kick out of the team mascot donning an oversized mustache in honor of the new owner.

Khan said all the right things: He reaffirmed his commitment to keeping the team in Jacksonville; talked about bringing a championship to the city; and even asked employees for input on how to improve the long-term viability of the franchise.

But the most interesting aspect of his introductory news conference was his desire to create an international fan base.

"The NFL is going to be developing an international fan base. Why shouldn't it be the Jaguars?" Khan said. "In all honesty, internationally, they don't know the difference between the Jaguars and the Steelers."

Khan said the reason outgoing owner Wayne Weaver had been reluctant to play in London was because of "moveophobia," the fear that fans would take it as a sign the franchise was in jeopardy of relocating. Khan is so confident things will work in Jacksonville that he has no concerns about playing overseas.

"I'm very open," he said. "I think it would serve Jacksonville well to play a game or two overseas, to get the name Jacksonville out. If you look at some of the international premier league teams, they have a huge fan following overseas in the Middle East, India, Pakistan, Malaysia, etc.

"I think the NFL, in the long run, will probably be doing something like that. Why shouldn't we be one of the flag carriers?"

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press

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