Last train out of Jacksonville

A word of advice to would-be word-smiths out there: analogizing your business concern to a ‘train’ that is leaving the ‘station’ only works if you are — metaphorically — going anywhere.


The Jacksonville Jaguars are going nowhere. Fast. Particularly without Maurice Jones-Drew.


Jags owner Shad Khan supposedly told a local rag, “Train is leaving the station. Run, get on it,” in reference to MJD’s refusal to attend training camp.


Khan saw this team play football before he bought it, right?


Jeff Darlington has drunk the proverbial Kool-Aid.  Darlington’s trip to Jacksonville convinced him that Shad Khan is taking the Jaguars in a new direction, and Jones-Drew is going to wish he was headed in that very same direction.


As evidence of this proposition, Darlington cites the flashy new games that Jacksonville committed to playing in London over the next four years, as Darlington says, “to expand the organization’s profile.”  That makes sense. After all, Khan is breaking crazy, exciting, promising new ground with this London thing!


No, no he’s freaking not. See, NFL teams have been playing games in London for the last five years, and it barely moves the needle with fantasy football nerds who forget to set their lineup on time, let alone with fans of the teams likely to buy tickets…or merchandise….  Whatever the annual Cowboys’ game is to Turkey Day, the annual London game is exact opposite to whatever day it falls on.  No. One. Cares. A team that plays in London returns from it’s two-week, six-time-zone road trip and has to slap its fans out of their baseball-induced-coma to remind fans that they exist — all four of them, in Jacksonville’s case.


One key factor in all of this is the large body of water between London and the locations where all other NFL games and viewership take place. Which speaks to Darlington’s notion of expanding the Jags’ profile.  Is the idea that a country of soccer hooligans, who (quite reasonably) could not find Jacksonville on a map, will identify with a terrible football team enough to actually spend money to watch future bad performances on a consistent basis? I’m no MBA, but that seems like a bad business model.


(By the way, when Darlington (a professional writer) uses a professional writer’s tool (the metaphor) to portray the Jaguars’ profile as “expanding,” is it meant to conjure up a really, really fat Jaguar, that just can’t stop eating?  Like Davie Hogan in the pie-eating contest in ‘Stand By Me’? And does this metaphorically humongous jungle cat, much like his pie-eating human counterpart, set of a barf-o-rah– okay, before this gets gross, lets just say that the more commonly used metaphor is to “increase” an organization’s profile.)


The Bills have been playing at least one home game a year in Toronto for five years now, which interestingly doesn’t face the oceanic problem that London does. I’m not sure the Bills’ efforts have panned out quite as well as expected.  It seems like a challenging plan, to say the least.


Plus — and this part will become clearer once the hooplah over MJD’s holdout has subsided — the Jaguars are awful.  Blaine Gabbert is terrible. Their receivers are terrible. Their running game may put up decent numbers, but it’s bound to take a huge hit with the NFL’s rushing leader out of the lineup. The Jaguars will not score any points, and with Gabbert’s penchant for turnovers, they will probably induce more cringes than anything. Do you know who watches awful football teams play football? Hardly anyone in Jacksonville, that’s for damn sure, and certainly no one in the rest of the country.


Let’s play a little thought experiment: close your eyes and think of one reason not named Maurice Jones-Drew you would intentionally stop doing any other life activity to turn on the television and watch a Jacksonville Jaguars football game.  The amount of time it takes you correlates inversely to the number of wins Jacksonville will accumulate this year without MJD.  I’m at a projected -427 wins.


So, before another writer (since the NFL shares revenue fairly equitably among teams, including its weak sisters like the Jags, the League does have an incentive to generate interest in this terrible franchise, by the way) claims that Shad Khan is putting the breaks to MJD with his train analogy, could they just take a minute to think: is the non-MJD version of this team really headed anywhere besides contraction?


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