While hanging out in the basement of his fraternity house, he began his American dream of owning an NFL team.
After building a multibillion-dollar company, Khan started working toward spending some of his fortune on fulfilling that college fantasy. He reached out to owners such as Wayne Weaver of the Jacksonville Jaguars to learn the business from the inside, and for them to get to know him.
Khan’s dream-turned-plan crossed the goal line Wednesday. He joined the fraternity of NFL owners as his purchase of the Jaguars from Weaver was unanimously approved by the other owners.
The deal is for an estimated $760 million. The ownership transfer will be complete Jan. 4.
“What I want to share with the Jacksonville fans is: Here I am, reporting for duty and ready to serve the fans. Let the fun begin,” Khan said with a smile that never left his face during a 20-minute news conference.
The 61-year-old Khan is the league’s first minority owner. But that’s not the only reason he stands out among his 31 peers. There’s also the prominent mustache he’s fancied since 1972, a trademark that he joked enables him to leap tall buildings and “do things I didn’t know I could do.”
Then again, what he’s done to get to this point is pretty remarkable.
Upon graduating from college in 1971, Khan went to work at Flex-N-Gate as an engineering manager. He left in 1978 to start his own company, Bumper Works, and two years later bought his former employer.
Now his privately held company is a major manufacturer of bumper systems for pickup trucks and sport utility vehicles built in North America. Revenue last year topped $3 billion, and Khan is believed to be a billionaire himself.
He tried buying the St. Louis Rams last year, coming close enough that the league had done its homework on him. That helped speed along this sale.
The deal was announced in late November and the league’s finance committee formally approved his bid last week. When the agenda item came up Wednesday, there wasn’t a single question or dissenting vote.
“I think that’s a good sign,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said. “It’s certainly an endorsement of his ownership.”
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones called the Jaguars sale bittersweet because the league is bidding farewell to Weaver. However, Jones praised Khan for his “commitment, his passion and his skill.”
“(Weaver) was a real asset to the league, but he did it right and he really brought a very qualified person to the table in Mr. Khan,” Jones said. “It takes some skill to come from where he came from to be where he is today. You add that to your (NFL) ownership group, and we’ve gotten better. … The more people we can have sitting around those tables in there that have wanted it real bad, that have a paid a high price to get in, and have a vision of how to grow the pie, the better the NFL will be. ”
To Jacksonville fans, the biggest questions are his commitment to keeping the team in their city and to turning around a franchise that’s struggling in the standings. He made it clear that he’s passionate about both.
“This is a partnership, really, with the fans,” Khan said. “I am committed obviously to the rebirth, the reinvigoration, doing whatever it takes to put a winner on the field to make Wayne and the other Jacksonvillians proud.”
He will be in Jacksonville this weekend to start meeting with fans and sponsors. He and Weaver also will discuss the process of hiring a new coach; Weaver fired Jack Del Rio on Nov. 29, the same day he announced the deal with Khan.
The Jaguars were chosen as an expansion team in 1993 and began playing in 1995. They were a win away from the in their second season, and have made the playoffs five times since, as recently as 2007. They also have hosted a Super Bowl.
“It’s been a great 18 years,” Weaver said. “But it was the right time. … I really feel great about handing over the stewardship to Shahid and to finishing the job of bringing a championship to Jacksonville. … I’m leaving it in good hands.”
In other news from Wednesday’s meetings: