You have got to admire Jaguars owner Shahid Khan. The guy is a self-made man who dominates a room simply by walking in. His moustache adds more to his piercing gaze and sense of solemnity than it does humor and when he looks at you and tells you to do something, you do it. At least that’s the way I feel and I don’t even work for the guy. So when Shad Khan tells Maurice Jones-Drew to get on the train because it is leaving the station, MJD should take heed.
There is a battle going on between the creator of billions of dollars of wealth and a running back whose window may be closing in the coming seasons. That battle will be played out on the national stage even if the final outcome (a Khan victory) is already written on the wall. This situation is a fly compared to the other things that Khan has to worry about – largely the marketing of the Jaguars to Jacksonville, Florida, the greater Nation, and (now) London. It’s about making the Jaguars the hottest ticket in the league and to be honest, I think that Khan is the man to do that.
Maurice Jones-Drew may as well be Maurice Jones-Who? to Khan.
So when Khan says that the MJD situation doesn’t even move the needle for his stress, he means it. Even if Rashad Jennings and the rest of the stable of running backs (10+ yards per carry is pretty nice, Keith Toston!) weren’t putting up huge numbers, there’s no way that Khan moves from his position. He knows he has a marketable product, even with MJD holding out. All press is good press, is it not?
MJD is giving Khan what he wants whether he returns to the team or not: exposure.
Before Blaine Gabbert was showing that this offseason was more than just baby steps, MJD was garnering headlines for the Jaguars. The star was the main draw, the primary focus, and the premier attraction for the least popular team in the league. He single-handedly took a transitional situation for a 5-11 team and put it at the forefront of every NFL fan’s mind. The MJD trade for Mike Wallace thought was disseminated well before MJD asked for a trade. Just the contemplation of Jones-Drew in another uniform makes national headlines for the Jaguars (and the Jets apparently). Just MJD sitting out was enough for the Jaguars to become a lighting rod of criticism, resentment, attention, and discussion. Can you imagine if they start to win in the regular season without him?
Khan has thought about it, and I guarantee that he doesn’t care if they win without him or not. Either way his level of stress is unaffected by MJD and more affected by which direction the team is taking…and right now the team is trending upward. MJD brings a 44% chance of winning when he’s carrying the ball – for a man that built an empire he wants a much greater chance of success. Jones-Drew is well known for his ability to put the team on his shoulders, much like Atlas (seriously, it’s a thing), but Khan doesn’t care. Besides, why use one person when players like Jennings, Daryl Smith, Blaine Gabbert, Justin Blackmon, and Tyson Alualu all seem perfectly capable of lifting the load together.
This isn’t about star power. This isn’t about performance. This is about marketing the Jaguars. And thus far, Shahid Khan has played it perfectly. With MJD, the Jags have a superstar. Without MJD, the Jags have a superstar making headlines anyway. For all Khan cares, MJD can rot away at home while wasting his final money making years and being fined by the team. Jones-Drew doesn’t have to be with the team for the team to make money (and headlines) without him.
Slowly the fans level of stress over the lack of MJD will be at an all-time low. And when that happens, no amount of trade talks will cause their needle to waver either.
- Luke N. Sims
You can also find me on Twitter @LukeNSims
Topics: Blaine Gabbert, Daryl Smith, Jacksonville Jaguars, Jaguars London, Justin Blackmon, Keith Toston, London Olympics, Maurice Jones-drew, Maurice Jones-Drew Contract, Maurice Jones-Drew Holdout, Maurice Jones-Drew Trade, NFL London, NFL Preseason, Rashad Jennings, Shahid Khan, Tyson Alualu