Jaguars sponsor sues to have name removed from 'clown game'
By MARK LONG
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) The title sponsor for Jacksonville's season finale against Indianapolis is suing the Jaguars in hopes of having its name disassociated from the game during which disgruntled fans are planning to dress as clowns to protest team owner Shad Khan's decision to retain general manager Trent Baalke.
RoofClaim.com, a roofing company based in Georgia that does business in Florida, is seeking to avoid "its brand being emphasized as the primary sponsor of the clown game," according to a complaint filed Thursday in circuit court in Jacksonville.
The company is demanding a jury trial and seeking damages in excess of $30,000. It also wants temporary and permanent injunctive relief from the Jaguars using the RoofClaim brand.
A Jaguars spokesman called the lawsuit "baseless and without merit," said Friday that the team "will exhaustively protect our interests in this matter at every turn."
According to the sponsorship agreement attached to the lawsuit, the company signed a four-year deal in August that started at $600,000 annually and increased about $18,000 every year thereafter. The deal includes a provision that would allow RoofClaim to terminate the agreement if Urban Meyer was no longer the team's coach between the end of his third season (2023) and March, 1, 2024.
RoofClaim said it attempted to end its affiliation with the Jaguars the day after Meyer was fired Dec. 15, ending one of the worst coaching tenures in NFL history. The lawsuit says the Jaguars refused and insisted the partnership continue.
The deal guarantees the company a single-game spotlight in each of the four seasons, but the suit argues the Jaguars breached terms of the agreement.
The team "utterly failed to provide the sponsorship benefits outlined in the agreement," the lawsuit alleges, adding that the Jags breached the deal "by exposing RoofClaim.com's brand to a toxic marketing environment that will cause irreparable harm."
Jacksonville's finale will feature a "Klown out" in the stands. Hundreds, if not thousands, of fans are planning to wear clown attire - red noses, colorful wigs, face paint - in hopes of persuading Khan to fire Baalke, whose draft picks have been underwhelming and his free-agent acquisitions less than impactful.
"I understand from a fan's perspective," rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence said earlier this week. "Would I do that personally? No, I wouldn't do that. But fans feel how they feel and it's hard. Like I said, this year's been disappointing for all of us. We wanted to win a lot more games, so I get the frustration."
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Updated January 7, 2022