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Asian American NFL Owners Speak Out on Trump, the Flag and the Knee

Kim and Terry Pegula
Kim and Terry Pegula, owners of the Buffalo Bills.

Views from the Edge

The two Asian American owners of NFL franchises have voiced their opposition to Donald Trump’s comments about football players, team owners and the professional football league.


NFL owners Kim Pegula and Shahid Khan chose to allow their players the freedom to continue expressing their views when the national anthem is played prior to the games.


Kim Pegula, a businesswoman who with her husband Terry Pegula, own the Buffalo Bills, issued a statement that focused on the comments Trump made at an Alabama political rally:


“Several of us met tonight – players, coaches, staff, and ownership. Our goal was to provide open dialogue and communication. We listened to one another. We believe it’s the best way to work through any issue we are facing – on and off the field.


“President Trump’s remarks were divisive and disrespectful to the entire NFL community, but we tried to use them as an opportunity to further unify our team and our organization.


“Our players have the freedom to express themselves in a respectful and thoughtful manner and we all agreed that our sole message is to provide and to promote an environment that is focused on love and equality.”


Kim Pegula was a Korean orphan when she was adopted by Ralph and Marilyn Kerr in 1974. She grew up in a suburb of Rochester, N.Y. and is President and CEO of Pegula Sports and Entertainment, which also owns the Buffalo Sabres.


The Pegulas outbid Trump in his attempt to become the Bills’ owner paying $1.4 billion in cash for the NFL franchise.

Trump’s Alabama remarks suggested owners should fire players who kneel or raise a fist during the anthem.


“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,” Trump said. “He’s FIRED!’ You know, some owner is gonna do that. He’s gonna say, ‘That guy disrespects our flag; he’s fired.’ And that owner, they don’t know it. They don’t know it. They’re friends of mine, many of them. They don’t know it. They’ll be the most popular person, for a week. They’ll be the most popular person in this country.”


Shahid Khan
Shahid Khan, center, joined his team the weekend after Donald Trump’s comments.

“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.”

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  1. RE: Asian American NFL Owners speak out on Trump, the flag and the knee: So glad that some in the NFL support this important issue of freedom of speech and standing united against racism. After all, most of the players are African American and we should all be grateful for their skills and fight for their own freedom from fear of being racially profiled. Like all of us should be free of.

  2. RE: Asian American NFL Owner Speak out on Trump, the Flag and the Knee: The author is right. Earlier remarks were based upon bigotry and racism. In the NFL case he’s just being a jealous asshole.

  3. RE: Asian American NFL owners speak out on Trump, the Flag and the Knee: No contest (pun intended). Let me see, football or my country. The NFL surrendered the use of its show, its brand and its popularity to a handful of employees who use it to sully the flag and anthem ceremony. For most of us, it’s much like a TV sitcom where brats whine about being disrespected by a few bigots. This was the big game and the NFL lost. Millions of customers no longer like commercial football or even the actors who besmirched it. I’ll start watching again if the owners dump the stars who don’t like my country.


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