As President Donald Trump continues his Twitter attacks on the NFL and its players, doing so as recently as Wednesday evening, commissioner Roger Goodell and team owners have been largely quiet. This week’s meetings in New York, particularly Tuesday’s meeting between owners and players, were productive in terms of starting the lay the groundwork for the league and NFL Players Association members using their collective heft to help create change in areas like prison sentencing reform and bail.
But as of now, there’s no attempt at quid pro quo – that is, the owners will support social justice efforts in exchange for a rule change forcing players to stand during the national anthem before kickoff of games. That’s not enough to appease some of their fellow Americans, mainly Trump, who are demanding that players stand and repeatedly, falsely claiming that the players are disrespecting the military.
On Wednesday, however, Shad Khan, the owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars, wasn’t willing to hold his tongue.
Speaking with USA Today’s Jarrett Bell, Khan said Trump’s repeated attacks on the NFL are a “very personal issue with him.”
Trump pursued ownership of the Buffalo Bills a few years ago, though they were purchased by Terry and Kim Pegula, who had already invested in the city.
“He’s been elected president, where maybe a great goal he had in life to own an NFL team is not very likely,” Khan said. “So to make it tougher, or to hurt the league, it’s very calculated.”
Khan bought the Jaguars in 2011, and is the first minority to own an NFL team. He also is one of several NFL owners to have donated $1 million to Trump’s inauguration fund, which makes his criticism interesting. He said he has “no regret in life” when asked if he regrets donating to Trump, adding, “the ugly, toxic side sours the whole experience.”
As he’s done before, Khan reiterated to Bell that Trump is “a divider, not a uniter.”
Trump has come under fire this week for allegedly telling the widow of Sgt. LaDavid Johnson, who was killed in Niger this month, that Johnson “knew what he was signing up for.”
“It’s so bad,” said Khan, who had seen the news reports. “It’s below the lowest of the lowest expectations. It doesn’t sound rational. It’s bizarre.”
And Khan sees the irony Trump questioning the patriotism of the league and players, while he disrespected the family of a fallen soldier.
“Let’s get real,” Khan said. “The attacks on Muslims, the attacks on minorities, the attacks on Jews. I think the NFL doesn’t even come close to that on the level of being offensive. Here, it’s about money, or messing with — trying to soil a league or a brand that he’s jealous of.”
Last month, in discussing how having one “home” game in London helps his club and how the area around Jacksonville could indirectly benefit from Brexit, Khan told Yahoo Sports’ Eric Adelson that the behavior of Trump and his administration have created “quite a distraction.”
“I think it’s a missed opportunity on a number of fronts, including economy, tax reform, those kinds of things,” Khan says. “That is important because it sets the infrastructure where people decide how to invest, where to invest, and make some long-term commitments. So we kinda missed the last six months of our lives we’ll probably never get back. But I’m hopeful something gets done.”
More NFL on Yahoo Sports