At the fan forum today, NFL Commissioner answered a wide range of questions from selected fans at the Landmark Hotel’s Grand Ballroom. Goodell did a double take when he entered the room as 90% of the 150 or so invited fans in attendance were in some NFL team jersey.
“People would be surprised by the passion and the knowledge these fans have,” Goodell told me in a short interview when the forum was over. “Their questions are so good they could be members of the media,” he added with a smile.
When asked if there would be a franchise in London or LA first, Goodell laughed and said, “I’ve heard that before. I’d like to see one in both. We won’t go back to LA until it’s right. We’re still exploring what’s right for London with our International Series. You’re showing that you’re interested by selling out these games. That’s why we’ll have a third game here next year.”
He dismissed playing a Super Bowl in London, explaining that the NFL’s championship game will always be played in one of the league’s franchise cities.
I asked Goodell about Khan’s commitment to 4 games in London, and if that has made a difference in the attitude in the UK toward the International Series. “I like it because Shad is doing it for all the right reasons,” the commissioner said. “He’s doing it for the Jaguars, he’s doing it for his community, he’s doing it for the NFL. He’s trying to promote the game over here and that’s a great thing for us.
This game puts Jacksonville and the Jaguars on the global stage. They’ll be on TV a lot more here in the UK because they’ve committed to 4 games.
Talking to several UK Jaguars fans after the appearance by Goodell that included for Jaguars Lineman Tony Boselli and NFL Hall of Famer Joe Montana, they used the word “we” in describing the Jaguars fortunes as in “I hope we get better and we will.”
When one fans asked what “marquee” team the league might pair with the Jaguars in 2015 after the 49ers and the Cowboys will provide the opposition this year and next, Goodell said that’s the goal, to always send “marquee” franchises to participate in the London game. Boselli added, “If things go the way we hope, by 2015 the Jaguars will be the marquee team playing here as the home team.”
Clearly Goodell is a big Khan fan and would like to see Jacksonville flourish as a franchise: He was the league’s biggest proponent of putting a team in Jacksonville during the expansion process 20 years ago. With the Jaguars committing to 4 years as the home team in London, Goodell says he’s seen an increase in the fan interest and awareness in this game. It means more for the Jaguars and Jacksonville than just this week on the schedule.
“Shad’s a great owner. He’s enthusiastic about everything. We’re lucky to have him. It’s not just the game that’s going to make the difference here. We have an overall mission to present them as the home team and in that way the game will grow.”