On Sunday, over dozens of National Football League (NFL) and staff members took or knee or locked arms ahead of a game between the Ravens and the Jaguars to protest comments made by U.S. President Donald Trump, and among them, was the only non-white, Muslim team owner in the league.
Shahid Khan, who purchased the Jacksonville Jaguars for $770 million in 2012, was pictured linking arms with tight end Mercedes Lewis and linebacker Telvin Smith in opposition to comments made by Trump.
The president suggested in a speech Friday night, followed by several tweets, that NFL players who kneel during the national anthem in protest should face consequences. After facing backlash from several parties, including NFL executives, owners and on social media, Trump doubled down.
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Khan, 67, was born in Pakistan and immigrated to the United States to study engineering at the University of Illinois when he was in his late teens. The owner and CEO of automotive parts manufacturer Flex-N-Gate started working at the company as an engineering director while still attending University but later left to start his own venture, Bumper Works.
It wasn’t long before he bought Flex-N-Gate from his former employer and brought his own company into the fold. The self-made billionaire now has a net worth of $8.7 billion and employs over 13,000 people.
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Khan is one of seven NFL team owners to donate to the inauguration celebration for Donald Trump. Months before taking a stance in opposition to Trump, the Jaguars owner donated $1 million to the real-estate titan’s inauguration, and while several other team executives have released official statements condemning the president’s comments, Khan remained silent until Sunday morning’s game.
The Associated Press reports that Khan met with his players ahead of the game to let them know he was behind them, and called the president’s comments divisive and contentious.
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“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 later told the Associated Press.
“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,” he continued.
While Khan hasn’t made it a habit to get political, this isn’t the first time he’s expressed concern with the actions of the current president. This past February, the New York Times reports that Khan clearly took a stand against Trump’s controversial travel ban and was pleased when a Seattle judge temporarily blocked the executive order.
Khan told the Times during the Super Bowl that “the bedrock of this country are immigration and really a great separation between church and state.
“Even for the country, it’s not good,” he added, explaining that he thought the order could deny entry to some of “the tens of thousands of people who can contribute to the making of America,” Khan continued.
Donald Trump said during a recent speech in Alabama that NFL players who chose to kneel during the national anthem in a form of protest should be penalized for their actions. Former second-string quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, Colin Kaepernick was the first of several NFL players to take a knee as the national anthem played before games to protest unjust killings of black men by police.