JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan has admittedly been a laughingstock at various points in his life.
Nobody’s laughing about his football team now, though.
The Jaguars have been one of the worst franchises in the NFL over the past decade and especially since Khan purchased the team in November 2011, but Sunday’s 45-7 victory put them back into the playoffs for the first time since 2007.
“I’ve been through life when I was a laughingstock, whatever business I was in — auto parts, what have you — and then you have to stay with it, and success comes,” Khan said moments after exiting a jubilant locker room. “It’s a story of perseverance.”
That is certainly the case for Khan and the Jaguars. They were 17-63 in Khan’s first five seasons as the owner — including 2-14 in his inaugural season — and the franchise never won more than five games in a season. Khan hired coach Gus Bradley in 2013 and stuck with him longer than most would have expected, finally firing him on Dec. 18, 2016, following the team’s ninth consecutive loss.
That eventually led Khan to bring former Jaguars coach Tom Coughlin back into the organization as the vice president of football operations and promote Doug Marrone from interim head coach to the permanent position. They have guided the team to a 10-4 record this season, which is only four fewer victories than Bradley had in nearly full four seasons, and a berth in the postseason.
“What a feeling,” Khan said. “It’s unbelievable. To win it and win it the way we did today [is] mind-blowing. … I’m always an optimistic guy and certainly whatever I was hoping for, it’s that and more. I think it’s been a long time coming, and I’m so grateful to be here and have the city support us.”
Khan’s next goal is securing a home playoff game for the first time since 1999, which is the last time the Jaguars advanced to the AFC Championship game.
“It’s been a challenge, but it’s so wonderful now to see a young team kind of come through with the veteran leadership, which gives us sustainability and hope for the future,” Khan said.