Midnight in Jacksonville. A low moon hangs over the St. Johns River, glaring off the waters surface and casting a faint white light on Everbank Field, home of the Jacksonville Jaguars.
It’s quiet. The City of Jacksonville bustles in the background, but here, sound seems to disappear into a vacuum of despair. The 0-7 Jaguars have managed to score 11 points in three games there.
On Sunday, it’ll sit dormant, despite the Jags playing a “home” game. The Jacksonville Jaguars will take on the San Francisco 49ers in London at Wemblay Stadium as the NFL continues it’s long standing initiative to grow the game globally by showcasing the sport across the pond.
And with rumors running rampant that the NFL hopes to expand to London in the very near future (with the logistics of scheduling being the largest chink in the NFL’s globalization), there are several franchises that make for appealing draws. However, the Jacksonville Jaguars seem destined to find themselves elsewhere inside of the next several seasons, given the difficulties they’ve had drawing and the struggles they’ve had on the field.
Even if the Jaguars don’t end up in London–and let’s be honest, with Shad Khan already owning the Fulham Football Club of the English Premier League and Jacksonville playing in the Borough of Brent this Sunday, London is a VERY real possibility–it still seems likely that the Jaguars find themselves in some other town soon, and these are five distinct possibilities.
No. 5: Birmingham, Alabama
The fervor for football in the Deep South runs… well… deep. And, if you take a gander at the SEC’s TV rating, you’ll notice that Birmingham is home to some of the most passionate football fanatics in the country. It’s not a huge market, but there’s little doubt that an NFL team in Birmingham could fill a sizable stadium, provided they found the funding. The Birmingham Jaguars (the name might have to go) might be the one thing that unites a state that’s been divided by Auburn and Alabama for the last century.
No. 4: Portland, Oregon
It’s the third largest television market without an NFL franchise, and Orlando and Sacramento both have some logistical problems that would probably preclude them from having a team. However, Portland would give the National Football League a team in every state on the Pacific coast, and the town’s passion for the Trailblazers have made it a contender for another major sports franchise. And, if you’re Shad Khan and you’re looking to wash the taste of Jacksonville out of your mouth, what better way to do it than move across the country?
Ya, we hear you, London.
No. 3: San Antonio, Texas
Texas already has the Dallas Cowboys and the Houston Texans, and competing in the same state as the Miami Dolphins and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have been a large part of the Jacksonville Jaguars demise. However, Texas is the unofficial capitol of the football world, and neither Texas franchise has had any trouble drawing fans. The San Antonio Jaguars would fill the seats, and could allow the NFL to try to continue to grow their interest with the Latino demographic.
No. 2: Los Angeles, California
It’s been nearly 20 years now since the Oakland Raiders and the St. Louis Rams hightailed it out of LA in favor of their new named destinations, and the clamor in Los Angeles for an NFL franchise has been great. There are a lot of awfully deep pockets in the entertainment industry who see the entertainment dynamo the National Football League has become, and they’re doing everything they can to make the state-of-the-art downtown stadium the city has been dreaming of a reality. Factor in the endless amounts of cross-promotional opportunities when you combine football and Hollywood, and Los Angeles is as hungry for an NFL franchise as anybody. The Jacksonville Jaguars could be wheels up for LA soon.
No. 1: London, England
For all the reasons we’ve already mentioned in the opening, London seems like the most likely destination for the Jacksonville Jaguars, should they decide to move out of the Sunshine State. The Jaguars will be playing one home game per year in London over the next four seasons, and Roger Goodell has hinted at the idea of them playing a pair of games in London soon. The writing is on the wall, and if the NFL can find a way to make a team in London work, the Jacksonville Jaguars have to be the odds on favorite.
On Sunday, Everbank Field sits dormant while the Jacksonville Jaguars play the role of hosts in London, which beckons the question…
How long until Everbank goes silent for good?