Shahid Khan, the owner of the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars, said what we’ve all been thinking ever since President Donald Trump and the NFL cracked down on the “Take A Knee” protests: NFL team owners are racist.
While speaking at an executive conference in Chicago, Khan, the only non-white, Muslim owner in the NFL, spoke about the difficulties he faced in attempting to purchase an NFL franchise.
“You’ve got a bunch of 85-year-old guys who don’t think they’re racist, but they are racist,” Khan stated.
Later, his spokesperson clarified the comments as opinions being relayed to Khan by what “others were telling him back then, not what he personally thought.”
Khan went on to focus on Trump, calling the president the “great divider,” most likely in reference to Trump’s comments on the NFL protests.
It’s true; the issue has proven to be divisive. After Colin Kaepernick launched the “Take A Knee” protest, inciting NFL players to kneel during the national anthem as a means to protest police violence against people of color in the United States, there was an immediate national reaction.
Trump has only made the movement more controversial after calling any NFL player who kneels during the national anthem “a son of a b****” for enacting his first amendment rights.
“You have to give Trump credit, people are confused on the First Amendment versus patriotism, that if you exercise your First Amendment you’re not a patriot, which is crazy… People are confused on it, [Trump] knew he could hit on it and take advantage,” Khan remarked.
“A lot of the stuff like football [that] Trump does is highly calculated – he looks for issues that you can touch and it will blow people up,” Khan said before shifting to former White House strategist Steve Bannon.
“Steve Bannon or whoever is analyzing the data realizes, ‘How do I get elected?’ I get elected by dividing this person or this group against this group’” Khan said. “What are the worst fears, phobias somebody has, how do I tap that button and get them with my people. There’s a lot of predictive behavior here.”
Despite numerous other issues of national concern that Trump should be focused on, the president is seemingly obsessed with this NFL issue. That’s because he is using that phobia Khan refers to — the inherent racism that springs up when black men protest a symbol of America — to his own advantage.
However, that doesn’t explain why NFL owners are also against this protest. The owners, largely supporters of Trump themselves, are ignoring the plight of the black community in the United States, a community that has supported the NFL and other professional sports for generations.
According to VICE, “African-American males are only six percent of the United States population, but comprise nearly 70 percent of the players in the National Football League.”
By denying the First Amendment right to protest to athletes who are marginalized in the larger national community, they make their positions very clear. They are diminishing the suffering and hate black men endure in this country every day.
Khan’s words mean a lot in the NFL sphere, but Khan still gave Trump $1 million for his presidential inauguration. If change is to be expected in the athletic arena, it will need to follow a strong stance against Trump’s racist, divisive actions.
Banner/Thumbnail Credit: REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz