By Alfie Crow | Guest Editor

The Jacksonville Jaguars have gone through a metamorphosis the past two years or so, since Illinois-businessman Shad Khan purchased the franchise from original owner, Wayne Weaver. At the time the Jaguars were purchased, there was a cloud hanging overhead with uncertainty about the team’s future, both on the field and in the city of Jacksonville.

The first season under Khan was tenuous, as the team retained former general manager, Gene Smith, and hired Mike Mularkey as their head coach, both of which were monumental flops. The season ended as the worst season in franchise history, and it was clear the Jaguars had hit rock bottom in just the first year of ownership under Khan.

Despite that, there seemed to be a positive feel among the Jaguars fanbase, not necessarily because of what was going to come on the field in 2013, but because of how the new ownership was handling things. Under Weaver, it had become stale, and in hindsight, it’s now obvious he was sitting on his hands and preparing for a sale. The team was drafting poorly, the performances on the field were continuously getting worse and the franchise seemed to have a hands-off mentality around the city and had become stagnant. Even when Touchdown Jacksonville! became a thing again, which in turn sparked Team Teal and laid the groundwork for the Bold City Brigade to take over, Weaver told most people not to bother because it was a lost cause. He’d seemingly given up on the Jaguars making a resurgence and the idea of resting on his laurels from the franchise’s early success finally was crashing down.

Khan poured $10 million of his own money into revamping the locker room and weight room so it’s one of the best ones in the league.

The Jaguars were in the “Dark Ages” as many fans called it, and it was much more dire than a lot of fans knew at the time. But Shad Khan’s decision to buy the team, make himself visible and accessible to not only the fanbase, but all of Jacksonville, and his willingness to dig into his own pocket to enhance the stadium and the franchise are a clear indication the team is headed in the right direction.

While the football team struggled on the field in 2013, Khan and the powers-to-be at EverBank Field kept things positive publicly, announcing the addition of the world’s largest scoreboards to EverBank Field, which should be completed by the time you read this. Not only did Khan add something to make EverBank Field an attraction, and a bit unique with the massive scoreboards, he went the extra step to set EverBank apart from the rest by adding swimming pools to the north end zone area, making them a private cabana section on game days.

Gus Bradley

The vision Shad Khan has shown for not only the future of the Jacksonville Jaguars, but for Jacksonville as a city, is one of the many reasons there is so much hope among many Jaguars fans.

Think about how things have changed in just a few seasons with Khan at the helm.

The Jaguars locker room and weight room are one of the best in the NFL. They have waterfalls next to the hot and cold tubs, because why not? Khan poured $10 million of his own money into revamping the locker room and weight room so it’s one of the best ones in the league.

The possibility of blackouts are a complete afterthought now. The once painful reminder and often national punchline has been eliminated from the Jacksonville vocabulary. Five years ago, the Jaguars had all but one of their home games blacked out for the season. They haven’t had a blackout since and haven’t even discussed it as a possibility for the past two seasons, even opening up more room for some home games by removing tarps. The franchise even declined to use the NFL’s new blackout threshold policy rule, which would allow teams to sell just 85 percent of the general seating to escape a blackout, rather than the standard 100 percent.

The vision Shad Khan has shown for not only the future of the Jacksonville Jaguars, but for Jacksonville as a city, is one of the many reasons there is so much hope among many Jaguars fans.

Khan promised to one day remove the tarps covering nearly 10,000 seats, which he constantly refers to as a black eye. With some creative stadium improvements and renovations, he’s managed to do just that, though not completely. With the addition of the cabanas to the north end zone, the Jaguars permanently removed 9,500 seats from the stadium. The tarps in total covered up just over 9,600 seats. For the 2014 season, there will be just two sections tarped off in the entire stadium – both corners of the west upper deck.

Now there is talk of the Jaguars purchasing and developing the vacant Shipyards property and turning into an entertainment hub, with potentially a boardwalk to connect with the sports complex downtown, making it an actual hub of people at any given time, rather than just on game days.

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In just two short years, the Jaguars are already one of the best organizations in the NFL off the field. But on the field, it appears they’re heading in the right direction, too, if everything goes according to plan. Khan hired Dave Caldwell as general manager, who’s highly respected in the league. Caldwell, in turn, hired Gus Bradley as head coach. Bradley seems to capture everyone’s heart and confidence when he speaks, even those in the national media who generally rag on the Jaguars routinely. Whatever Bradley is made of, it should be bottled and sold as an energy drink because it’s addictive and it permeates through the players.

The team won only four games last season, but it felt like they were pushing for the playoffs toward the end because of how Bradley’s attitude infected the roster. The team added talent in the 2014 offseason in both free agency and the draft, including drafting what will hopefully be the team’s franchise quarterback in Blake Bortles with the No. 3 overall pick.

The Jaguars may not make the playoffs again in 2014, but right now, that doesn’t seem like a big deal and that’s because of Shad Khan. It’s because of how Khan has injected life into a dead franchise and what seemed to be a dead fanbase. He gets it, and that’s one of the reasons the future’s so bright for the Jaguars.