Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry may assert that National Anthem protests are “stupid,” but Jaguars owner Shad Khan — a key political ally of Curry’s — feels differently.
Curry, who the Florida Times-Union reports flew to London with the Jacksonville Jaguars, had a bird’s eye view of that team protesting the National Anthem … and Shad Khan’s role in that protest.
Sports Illustrated offered the most comprehensive read yet into Khan’s thoughts Sunday, as numerous Jaguars kneeled during the anthem … with Khan supporting them all the way.
Khan offered support before the protest, said defender Telvin Smith: “It was [a] sigh of relief when the owner comes in and says: ‘We’re with you. Whatever you want to do, let’s do it.”
After the protest, Khan told Smith that he was “going to remember this for the rest of my life.”
Khan, who dropped $1 million on President Donald Trump‘s Inauguration, has clearly become more comfortable with the concept of buyer’s remorse of late.
“I supported him in the campaign because I loved his economic policies and I thought, you know, politicians do a lot of stuff to get elected,” Khan said.
Khan — like many reporters — expected a pivot “to the middle.” No dice.
“But I was appalled, right after his inauguration, how things started out,” Khan said, “being more divisive and really being more polarizing on religion and immigration.”
Khan, a Muslim of Pakistani origin, chose not to kneel — but rejects attempts to censure that behavior, he told SI.
“There shouldn’t be any way to punish, ostracize, or in any way make them feel bad,” Khan said.
“We all need to send a thank you card to President Trump,” he added. “He’s united us all in a very powerful way.”
In recent years, Jacksonville taxpayers have authorized $88 million of city-funded capital improvements to the Jaguars’ stadium: $43 million for the world’s biggest scoreboard, and half of a $90 million buy in that secured a new amphitheater, a covered practice field, and club seat improvements.
Khan has been a frequent supporter of Curry, beginning months after the Mayor’s election.
In July, Curry flew with Khan on a three-city tour, investigating economic development ideas in three cities’ stadium districts. Curry’s political committee, Build Something That Lasts, paid for that trip.
It remains to be seen whether this anthem schism will affect that dynamic in any meaningful way.