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In January 2017 when the Jaguars took a knee in London and the city went crazy-mad over it, a well-known politician reached out to me. He was trying to understand why Shad Khan would do that. He was confused because he’s also a businessman and he thought the customer should be king! He’s old school like that.

We talked about it and scratched our heads. I told him I was going to do some research. I just had to find out why a strong businessman like Shad Khan would be so defiant and allow the players aka highly paid employees to tell him what to do instead of running his business for the benefit of the customer.

I googled and read whatever I could find about the reasons the NFL would allow the kneeling. It took me down a rabbit hole BUT in that hole — I found a fascinating article written by a sports writer for the Green Bay Packers. The article was published in April 2016. It was a recap of the NFL Annual Meeting in Boca Raton, Florida. The League’s five-year strategic plan was the focus of the meeting and was known as Vision 2020: The NFL’s Strategic Plan. (Hint: 2020 is now here.)

In the article a question was asked by a reader named Ethan. He asked:

“If the international games get popular enough, would the league consider scheduling international games for all teams and requiring each team to give up a home game every year or two? And would the current agreements allow the league to do that?”

And here’s the answer to Ethan’s question:

“Ethan, as I mentioned above, growing the game internationally is a top priority for the League. With the number of international games increasing (four this year), it is challenging to find enough teams willing to give up home games. The League can require teams that are playing in temporary stadiums (i.e. the Rams), or who host a Super Bowl to play international games, but it still is difficult. I anticipate that we will continue to see increases in the number of games played internationally. The NFL is behind other professional sports in the popularity of the game internationally, and this presents a great opportunity for the League in the future.”

Imagine my “surprise” today when breaking news appeared announcing the Jaguars are now going to play 2 home games in London instead of one. They will only play 6 games in Jacksonville. SIX.

The NFL had a plan all along — and — we have been strung along.

We are on the verge any day now to cut a deal with Shad Khan for Lot J — which could go as high as $700 million including Phase 2. The city is looking at nearly $250 Million as our share with the deal but…who knows how that will end. It’s always higher than they initially state. Always.

Oh and let’s not forget we are also tearing down the Hart Bridge ramps to make room for the Lot J development.

So here we are facing a deal decision with an NFL owner who has always known the plan to spend more time internationally. Shad Khan has stepped to the plate to help achieve that vision and now we understand why Shad never bought a home here nor planted roots in our community. He never got to know his customer base because he lives in London — or over the pond as some say.

Shad Khan has just made a really great business decision for him and the NFL — and — a bad decision for those who support the team here.

What now Jacksonville? Should we continue to negotiate Lot J deal? Should we believe the Jags statement that playing more games in London would be beneficial for Lot J development? That’s the spin and they think we believe it.

I have to give it to the NFL — they are tracking to a successful outcome of achieving Vision 2020. I work with many CEOs who build plans and some see it to fruition and others struggle to make it happen. The leadership at the NFL stayed focused on what they wanted to accomplish. They have planned well, implemented with excellence and made a ton of money. They deserve a Wink for that.

They deserve a Stink for sticking it to us with their snubbing of our American values and the misuse of our goodwill and our money. (And don’t get me started on their Super Bowl half time show. That’s another story for another day! Hypocrites at the NFL will be the subject line!)

If you would like to learn more about the NFL’s Vision 2020 you can read the article here: Vision 2020: The NFL’s Strategic Plan

By the way — After I finished my research, I called the politician back and told him what I had uncovered and why Shad Khan didn’t care about what we thought. I told him about Vision 2020. He said, “Well that makes sense now. It’s a business decision and Jacksonville money will help them achieve their Vision. Too bad their supporters don’t know what the long term plan is.”

You do now, friends. You do now.

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Billie Tucker Volpe Founder of Eye on Jacksonville and Leadership Consultant to CEOs/Executives

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