Jacksonville Jaguars vs Dallas Cowboys: Former quarterback Mark Brunell would be 'surprised' to see Jaguars make permanent London move

Jaguars legend does not believe Shad Khan wants to move from Florida

Click to follow
The Independent Online

This week marks the third and final time in the 2014 season that the NFL descends upon London and Wembley stadium. The struggling Jacksonville Jaguars have made their way back across the Atlantic to play in what will be their home away from home for a second time.

Jacksonville’s recurring appearances in London, along with a flagging fan base at home, has sparked questions as to whether the Jaguars will cease to be based in Florida, and make a permanent move to London.

The franchise, signed on for at least one more game in the capital in 2015, may seem the most obvious option for British relocation but one former player is unconvinced by the idea.

Mark Brunell, a three-time Pro Bowler who played nine seasons in Jacksonville and won a Super Bowl with the New Orleans Saints, told The Independent he can’t see the Jaguars wanting to relocate.

“If you are outside of Jacksonville, it might be something that would make sense but being in this community and being a part of, to a degree, this organisation, I honestly would be surprised if the Jaguars went elsewhere” he said.

“There was a time that many thought that was a possibility, but living here in Jacksonville, our owner Shad Khan has made a huge commitment to the city of Jacksonville, with our stadium renovations, and has said often that he’s committed to the Jaguars staying in Jacksonville.”

The 44-year-old added: “I think [the Jaguars] are entrenched in this community and are committed to staying here a long time.”

With average Jaguars attendance figures consistently in the bottom half of the league, rarely topping 65,000 a game, a Wembley move, where NFL games are consistently filled by over 80,000, provides an enticing option for an owner already invested in the UK with Fulham FC.

Now an ESPN analyst, Brunell holds Jaguars team records for passing yards (25,698), completions (2,184) and touchdowns (144). His run in the team from 1995-2002 was the most successful in Jacksonville's 20-year history, as the team made the play-offs four successive seasons from 1996-1999, reaching the AFC Championship twice; the Jaguars have recorded just two winning seasons since he left.

Brunell is the most successful quarterback in Jacksonville's history

Brunell did, however, believe that a London franchise of some kind was feasible.

“It’s certainly a real possibility”, he said. “I know there are a lot of logistical issues with that and I’m sure that can be worked out at some point, but it seems like it is something the fans in the UK would embrace, and that they would enjoy.”

Developing the game at a grassroots level was also something Brunell believed was important for the growth of American football in the UK.

“For [the sport] to really take hold and for that passion and enthusiasm for American football, it really does need to start at the grassroots level. I don’t know how much is being played over there at this time but to get the young people engaged not only watching the sport but playing the sport only helps that and adds to that enthusiasm for American football.

“That would be exciting to see that grow, to see the young people in the UK playing not only in youth football leagues but in schools and universities, I think that would take an already very passionate fan base and really make that grow.”

Extensive coverage of NCAA College Football season is available on ESPNPlayer.com. The sports streaming service features live and on demand coverage of more than 500 regular season games as well as the first ever College Football Playoffs and more than 30 end of season Bowl Games online, on iPad and on Samsung and LG Smart TVs.