JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Wayne Weaver's exit strategy regarding the Jacksonville Jaguars only needs approval from the NFL to be complete.
Weaver announced this afternoon that he has signed a deal to sell the team to businessman Shahid Khan.
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How did he enter the picture in Jacksonville? Khan was last in NFL news in 2010, when he launched a failed bid to purchase the St. Louis Rams. Weaver said today he's known Khan for several years,and repeatedly said he feels comfortable with Khan owning the team.
"This is going to be a team that's going to be in Jacksonville many years into the future," Weaver said, addressing long-standing rumors of the team moving out of the city. Weaver acknowledged that there is no formal agreement requiring Khan to keep the team in Jacksonville, though.
"You get to know someone," he said. "There's not a doubt in my mind that this team is going to be in Jacksonville."
Khan has released a statement today expressing gratitude and speaking about Jacksonville.
"I am honored to have recently signed an agreement with Wayne Weaver and his partners to purchase the Jacksonville Jaguars," Khan said. "I have known Wayne for some time and have long admired his spirit, which nearly 20 years ago - against all odds - helped make the Jaguars and the National Football League a reality for Jacksonville and North Florida. Wayne's legacy will be lasting, and I will always be grateful for Wayne's trust and confidence in my commitment to the Jaguars, the NFL and the people of the Jacksonville community.
"Owning a team in the National Football League has long been my personal and professional goal," he added. "Becoming the owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars would be a dream come true for me and my family but, above all, would be a privilege. To that end, I would like to thank Commissioner Roger Goodell and members of his team for their counsel and guidance throughout my efforts over the past several years.
"I am now looking forward to the review process in accordance with league policy. If the proposed transaction is approved in the weeks ahead, 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."
He was not in town for the announcement, but Weaver said he expects him to be here for the upcoming Monday night game.
Khan was born in Pakistan and moved to Illinois in 1967 for college, according to information provided by the Jaguars.
Khan worked for Flex-n-Gate while earning an engineering degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and left the company in 1978 to open his own business manufacturing new bumper systems. That operation began as a "single-person, one garage, one press operation," the Jaguars release indicates, and grew into the company that produces what continues to be the "industry design standard."
In 1980, he purchased Flex-n-Gate, which today employs more than 10,000 people around the world. The major auto manufacturers all do business with the Flex-n-Gate group.
Khan and his wife, Ann, are supporters of the University of Illinois, donating $10 million to fund the university's Center on Health, Aging, and Disability this year. They also funded the Shahid and Ann Khan Outdoor Tennis Complex at the university.
Khan was also recognized by Illinois' governor this year with the Order of Lincoln Award for his contributions to the "betterment of humanity."
Our sister station KSDK in St. Louis noted a lawsuit from the Internal Revenue Service accusing Khan and his wife of "improperly sheltering $250 million in income between 1999 and 2003," which reduced their taxes by $85 million.
In 2009, Khan gave an interview to the News-Gazette in Champaign in which he said he had done nothing wrong, but paid $68 million to settle the dispute. "There isn't a hint of a criminal issue here," he told the paper, adding that he initiated litigation to get that money back.
The News-Gazette reported in 2010 that lawsuits were proceeding against Khan's financial advisers he said misled him.
Weaver said Khan plans to purchase a home in the Jacksonville area and spend time here, though he doesn't expect Khan to have as much day-to-day control of the team as he has since 1993.
According to Collier County property records, in May of this year Khan and his wife purchased a $6,625,000 condo in Naples, Fla.
The deal between Weaver and Khan must be approved by the NFL and the owners, but Weaver said there should be no problems and he expects the deal to close on January 4. Until then, he will still control the team, he said.
Shahid and Ann have two children, Tony and Shanna.
First Coast News