Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan calls it a privilege to stand arm-in-arm with players during the U.S. national anthem in London on Sunday.
Khan stood between tight end Marcedes Lewis and linebacker Telvin Smith at Wembley Stadium and then released a statement to express his support for players. Coaches and other team personnel from both teams did the same before the game against the Ravens.
About two dozen players on both teams kneeled, something President Donald Trump has said owners should fire players for.
Ravens and Jaguars players come together in a display of unity before kickoff in London. pic.twitter.com/dy8JDzOBas
“It was a privilege to stand on the sidelines with the Jacksonville Jaguars today for the playing of the U.S. national anthem at Wembley Stadium,” Khan said.
“I met with our team captains prior to the game to express my support for them, all NFL players and the league following the divisive and contentious remarks made by President Trump, and was honoured to be arm in arm with them, their teammates and our coaches during our anthem.”
Teams stay in locker room
Most teams in the early afternoon games locked arms in solidarity. At least three team owners joined their players.
More than 100 players sat or knelt, the form of protest started last season by former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
The Pittsburgh Steelers remained in the locker room as the national anthem played before their game with the Chicago Bears. Coach Mike Tomlin stood by himself on the sideline.
How each team would observe the national anthem emerged as the center of attention on this NFL Sunday in the wake of Trump’s critical remarks toward players who don’t stand for the anthem.
Tomlin had said before the game that Pittsburgh’s players would remain in the locker room and that “we’re not going to let divisive times or divisive individuals affect our agenda.” Tomlin added that the Steelers made this choice “not to be disrespectful to the anthem but to remove ourselves from this circumstance. People shouldn’t have to choose.”
The Tennessee Titans joined Seattle Seahawks in also deciding not to come out for the national anthem.
The Seahawks announced nearly 30 minutes before kickoff that they would not stand for the national anthem because they “will not stand for the injustice that has plagued people of colour in this country.”
The Titans followed 10 minutes later by saying they will remain in the locker room during the national anthem. They posted a statement on their website noting they want to be unified as a team with the players deciding jointly that staying inside was the best course of action.
The team also said their commitment to the military and community is “resolute” and that “the absence of our team for the national anthem shouldn’t be misconstrued as unpatriotic.”
Seattle has been one of the more outspoken teams in professional sports on social issues, led by Michael Bennett, Richard Sherman and Doug Baldwin.
Dolphins players support Kaepernick
A handful of Miami Dolphins players are wearing black T-shirts supporting free agent quarterback Kaepernick during pregame warm-ups.
The shirts have “#IMWITHKAP” written in bold white lettering on the front.
Kaepernick was the first athlete to refuse to stand during the national anthem as a protest. This season, no team has signed him, and some supporters believe NFL owners are avoiding him because of the controversy.
Among the players sporting the shirts before their game against the New York Jets are wide receiver Kenny Stills, running back Jay Ajayi and offensive linemen Laremy Tunsil and Ja’Wuan James.
Stills, also a team captain, posted a photo on Twitter of himself wearing the shirt, along with the post: “In case you didn’t know!”