Trump’s Alabama remarks suggested owners should fire players who kneel or raise a fist during the anthem.
“This is a very personal issue with him,” said Jacksonville Jaguars owner and Pakistani-born American billionaire Shahid Khan. He called Trump “a divider, not a uniter” and noted Trump’s failed 2014 bid to purchase the Pegula’s Buffalo Bills.
Khan says Trump is “jealous” of the NFL and trying to soil its image in “personal” attacks in an interview with USA Today.
“He has 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, who purchased the Jaguars in 2011 for $760 million, linked arms with players during the US anthem in September in the days after Trump first spoke out against NFL players kneeling in protest during the anthem, calling for them to be fired.
Trump has accused players of insulting the flag, the nation and its soldiers by kneeling for the anthem while players have steadfastly denied any such motives.
The football players who have knelt or locked arms, say their protest — which was started by then 49er quarterback Colin Kaepernick — were not against the flag, the anthem or the military but wanted to express their displeasure at the racial injustices and unequal treatment of minorities by some police departments.
Three weeks after Trump’s comments that sparked protests by every NFL team, the kneeling has died off but many teams still have players who kneel during the playing of the national anthem.
Khan, who contributed $1 million to pay for Trump’s inauguration, said the NFL issue is not so bad when compared to the ethnic, racist and religious insults and remarks Trump has uttered since starting his presidential campaign through Charlottseville and Muslim travel ban.
“Let’s get real,” Khan told USA Today. “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.”