Yet that fact seems to have gotten lost as NFL players continue to kneel in protest for the National Anthem, which led to President Donald Trump stating the following at a rally in Alabama Friday.
“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out! He’s fired, he is fired.'”
Trump received immediate league-wide backlash for his comments. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said Trump’s comments were, “divisive and showed lack of respect for the NFL,” with many team owners echoing the same sentiments – including from owners who had donated to his campaign.
Shahid Khan, Donald Trump’s Muslim benefactor, is the Jacksonville Jaguars billionaire owner. In an effort to show unity amidst the recent divisive language of Donald Trump, Khan locked arms with his players during the national anthem on Sunday’s game against the Baltimore Ravens.
But Khan donated $1 million to Trump’s inauguration and more than likely voted for him even though he disagrees with Trump’s Muslim travel ban. Now Khan is showing national disagreement with Trump’s divisive demeanor; the same demeanor that was obvious during the general election.
Khan had this to say regarding his pre-game stance with his players:
“It was a privilege to stand on the sidelines with the Jacksonville Jaguars today. I met with our team captains prior to the game to express my support for them, all NFL players, and the league following the divisive and contentious remarks made by President Trump. Our team and the NFL reflects our nation, with diversity coming in many forms – race, faith, our views and our goals. The comments made by the President make it harder. That’s why it was important for us, and personally for me, to show the world that even if we may differ at times, we can and should be united in the effort to become better as people and a nation.”
Other NFL owners also joined the ranks in denouncing Trump’s comments, some of which were: Eagles Owner Jeffrey Lurie, Bills Owners Terry and Kim Pegula, Dolphins Owner Stephen Ross, Packers President Mark Murphy, 49ers CEO Jed York, Broncos President Joe Ellis, Chargers Owner Dean Spanos, Colts Owner Jim Isray and Seahawks President Peter McLoughlin.
The unified front of the league was not enough to stop Trump from tweeting again on Sunday doubling down on his comments tweeting, “NFL owners should fire players who protest! If NFL fans refuse to go to games until players stop disrespecting our Flag & Country, you will see change take place fast. Fire or suspend!”
Trump’s comments prompted more kneeling and sit-downs during the national anthem around the NFL. All but one Pittsburgh Steelers player stayed in the locker room while Coach Mike Tomlin and the coaching staff remained on the field for the national anthem. Alejandro Villanueva remained just outside of the tunnel with his hand over his heart during the anthem. He later confessed that it happened by mistake and apologized to his team.
New England Patriots Owner Robert Kraft also donated $1 million to Trump’s inauguration. But Kraft released a statement condemning Trump’s recent tweets:
“Our players are intelligent, thoughtful and care deeply about our community and I support their right to peacefully affect social change and raise awareness in a manner that they feel is most impactful,” said Kraft.
Khan and Kraft were not the only coaches to stand and lock arms with their players in solidarity.
Dallas Cowboys owner and Trump supporter, Jerry Jones, initially stated that the organization would not be taking part in the anthem protest. According to Jones, the national anthem was not the place to do anything other than honor the flag and everybody that’s given up a little bit for it.”
By midday Monday, the tone in around the Cowboys locker room had changed. The Fort Worth-Star Telegram reported several Cowboys players planned to show solidarity with their colleagues in silent condemnation of Trump’s three-day attack on the NFL and its players.
Before Monday, no Dallas player participated in the anthem protest. It was the hate-filled and divisive rhetoric of the commander-in-chief that spurned the players into action with one Cowboys player telling the newspaper, “We have to do something.” Another player added, “It’s not going to be business as usual. He crossed a line. Something will be done.”
After publicly stating that the Cowboys would not be participating in the protest, Jones, Coach Jason Garrett and other Cowboys staff did take a knee under a sea of boos before the playing of the anthem at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.
They rose to their feet with arms interlocked when the anthem began to play. Their intention according to Charlotte Jones Anderson, Cowboys executive and Jerry Jones’ daughter, was to take a knee “as a statement for equality and as a representation of unity” while separating the “message from the national anthem.”
Colin Kaepernick began the protest last season to bring attention to the number of people killed by police and racism. This season, Kaepernick is without a job. Many claim it is because of his anthem protest last season but owners around the league say otherwise.
But whether you agree with the protests or not, we cannot ignore the fact that police have killed even more people than they did at this time last year, which was a leap year, meaning they had one extra day to skew the average daily rate where it was 3.2 people a day as opposed to 3.3 people as it is today.
And that is the true reason to #TakeAKnee.