At noon today, Wayne Weaver, the majority owner, chairman, and CEO of the Jacksonville Jaguars NFL franchise, announced that he was selling the team to Shahid Khan, an Illinois businessman. The agreement was signed this morning, but is still pending final approval from the league and other owners.
Wayne Weaver has spent the last few years squashing constant speculation that he would move the team to California, insisting he was dedicated to keeping the Jaguars at home in Jacksonville. This afternoon he said he feels certain that Khan has adopted that same dedication to the city. He called Khan “an American success story” and a man of integrity. The transition should be smooth for Jaguars management and staff, too—Khan plans to stick with the organization’s current personnel teams. He’s also planning to buy a house in Jacksonville. All good signs for the future of professional football on the First Coast of Florida.
Khan released a statement not long after Weaver’s press conference, saying:
I will responsibly and enthusiastically serve the NFL, the Jacksonville Jaguars and their great fans, and I will be fully committed to delivering Jacksonville its first Super Bowl championship. This is a franchise with tons of potential, playing in a community that is passionate about football and loves to win. I can’t think of a better place to be.
The news, though, came as a shock to fans. Wayne Weaver is Jaguars football. He brought the franchise to Jacksonville, and he has put together a consistently competitive football team for sixteen years. He’s not just the owner of a football team, either—he’s a local businessman who has developed quality, lasting relationships and partnerships with entrepreneurs and other small business owners all over northeast Florida. Since 1993, when the NFL awarded Jacksonville its franchise, Weaver has played a key role in the rejuvenation and exponential growth of downtown Jacksonville.
Wayne and his wife, Delores, have also been dedicated community philanthropists. They have donated nearly $55 million to local charities through the Weaver Family Foundation and the Jaguars Foundation over the last eighteen years. Every single home game you can actually see the impact the Weavers have on the youth of this community. The Honor Rows program awards free tickets (and a yellow T-shirt) to over 4,000 deserving children every season. They earn their seats by setting and achieving realistic “goals for personal and academic achievement, physical fitness and volunteer service.” At the end of the first quarter, the entire stadium takes a moment to recognize their accomplishments by waving to the enthralled kids wearing yellow shirts in the north end zone. It’s always uplifting, and it’s only one example.
But Wayne is seventy-seven years old (he wouldn’t reveal Delores’s age) and said he is ready to retire and spend more time with his family. He has done a lot for this city, and it is sad to see him step down, but comforting to know that he has turned the franchise over to someone he trusts. And luckily, the Weavers are retiring in Jacksonville!
Thank you for everything, Wayne.