Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Khan Winning Big in Game of PR; Jags' Owner Steamrolling Jones-Drew, Observers Believe

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Khan Winning Big in Game of PR; Jags' Owner Steamrolling Jones-Drew, Observers Believe

Article excerpt

Byline: Matt Soergel

He's a mighty-mite dynamo, the face of a team that badly needed one. MoJo. MJD. Jones-Freakin'-Drew.

But there's a new face in town, an extravagantly mustachioed one that's romancing London and "60 Minutes" while offering such quotable nuggets as: "The train is leaving the station. Run. Get on it."

With that, the new face, Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan, is clearly winning the public relations battle with holdout running back Maurice Jones-Drew, say some PR professionals and sports management professors in the city.

His blunt, colorful comments are one reason why.

"I think Khan is very well positioned, the way he's framed it," said John Finotti of Tucker/Hall, a public relations firm. "He [Jones-Drew] is losing the PR battle that has been taken over by Khan. It's almost like a boxing match, with the other guy not responding."

The response from Jones-Drew's agent about how the player wants to be with a team that respects him was weak, said Kristi Sweeney, who teaches sports finance at the University of North Florida. Khan and his train talk, meanwhile? That's a winner.

"His comment was not only colorful and candid, but to-the-point, in words that any professional athlete could clearly understand," she said.

Those words, and others from Khan, are having an effect, especially as the holdout drags out, said Maria Coppola of Coppola Public Relations.

"I think the regular fan has begun to move away from Maurice on this issue," she said.

Keep in mind that if Jones-Drew comes back in time for the first game and squirts through a few behemoth Vikings for 20 yards and a touchdown, all is forgiven.

"We're great forgetters," says Jags fan Luis Lopez.

He's an admirer of what Khan's done and a fan of Jones-Drew as well. But he's losing sympathy with the running back.

"I think the overall view right now is that people are starting to feel he's an overgrown child," Lopez said.

The holdout has been a hot topic in Sweeney's sports-finance classes since school began this week. …

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