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London Calling

by Robb Reel

I can almost guarantee that I am the only sportswriter outside of North Florida and St. Louis who is discussing the Jaguars today.  Already the NFL's worst team, the Jags went to St. Louis and are headed home without any wins on the season or their starting QB.  That may actually be a relief for Blaine Gabbert as the Mizzou alum has looked rather like the cake after a 1-year-old's birthday party while under center.

It all started off so promising.  Sure, a 4-12 record in the inaugural season didn't look great, especially with the fellow-expansion Carolina Panthers amassing a relatively gaudy 7-9 mark in 1995.  However, both teams had crested the win mark for wins in a franchise's maiden voyage [Cincinnati won 3 in 1968].  The sophomore season was even better as Mark Brunell had a Pro-Bowl campaign, leading the Jaguars to a winning record, a first-ever playoff berth and the AFC Championship game in New England.  There were seasons of double-digit wins, sellouts and sunshine.  All seemed smooth sailing ahead.

The short version thereafter is:

Bad salary-cap management
Bad personnel decisions -- not the least of which was trading a first-round AND a second-round pick to acquire the skittish Gabbert
Bad play
Bad attendance

As success and interest in pro football waned tin North Florida, the NFL's plans for global domination grew.  There are two places the league desperately wants to have a permanent fixture where it currently does not: Los Angeles and London.  The key in franchise movement -- or non-movement -- is always leverage.  With the futures of the Minnesota Vikings and New Orleans Saints seemingly secure in their respective cities, there are two open spots for one terrible team.  The NFL coerced convinced the Jaguars to play one "home game" at London's Wembley Stadium for each of four seasons, beginning in 2013.

I would venture that, soon enough, this team will play all of its home games there.

Maybe they'll begin a storied rivalry with the Toronto Bills.

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