September 24, 2017 has been a day of immense consequence for the National Football League. Across the nation, an unprecedented number of players, coaches, and even owners have stood—or kneeled—in solidarity in the face of an avalanche of invective from the President of the United States. Donald Trump has demonstrated himself to be perhaps the one human capable of making the NFL look like a sympathetic character in our national story. The president set out to demonize a group of primarily black athletes exercising their First Amendment rights to protest, silently, during a ceremony celebrating American values because they do not think America is living up to those values. It seems his attempt to isolate and marginalize them has only grown their movement.
Sunday’s protests kicked off during a game between the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Baltimore Ravens in London. More than two dozen players from both teams knelt during the anthem, Yahoo! News reports, and many more locked arms together on the sideline. But it wasn’t just the players: They were joined by Ravens coach Jim Harbaugh and, even more consequentially, Jaguars owner Shad Khan.
It’s unusual for owners to involve themselves in any on-field matters, much less something of this political significance. But Khan called it “a privilege.”
“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, and was honored to be arm in arm with them, their teammates and our coaches during our anthem,” he added. Khan was one in a chorus of owners voicing their support, according to The New York Times:
Even Patriots owner Robert Kraft, a well known friend of Trump’s, had sharp criticism for the president’s rhetoric.
“I am deeply disappointed by the tone of the comments made by the President on Friday,” Kraft said in a statement. “I am proud to be associated with so many players who make such tremendous contributions in positively impacting our communities. Their efforts, both on and off the field, help bring people together and make our community stronger. There is no greater unifier in this country than sports, and unfortunately, nothing more divisive than politics.”
Read more at Esquire.