The NFL's Jacksonville Jaguars have issued an apology for their team's national anthem protest in London, England's Wembley Stadium.
During the "Star-Spangled Banner," the Jaguars players and team owner Shad Khan locked arms with one another or knelt along the sideline. Though they knelt for the playing of America's anthem, players stood for England's "God Save the Queen."
Jaguars President Mark Lamping sent a letter to the director of military affairs and veterans in Jacksonville saying the team was "remiss in not fully comprehending the effect of the national anthem demonstration on foreign soil has had on the men and women who have or continue to serve our country." The letter was forwarded to Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry on Monday and available via his public email.
In the letter, Lamping also stated that the demonstration was an "oversight" and that the team did not intend to disrespect military servicemen and women, the flag, and the nation.
While it may not have been the Jaguars' intent to be disrespectful, it is confusing that they would not understand that's how their demonstration would be perceived. Not to mention, it took three weeks for the Jaguars to issue the apology. Since the national anthem protests began last season with then-San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, NFL fans and the general public have been vocal in saying the protests are seen as disrespectful and unpatriotic, regardless of how noble the political message the players are trying to articulate may be.
Jacksonville's Mayor, Lenny Curry, was not pleased with the protest and did not hold back on his thoughts the day after the game.
I stand and cover my heart for the pledge and the anthem. I think it’s stupid to do otherwise. The U.S. Constitution protects the right for a lot of people to do a lot of stupid things. I am a Constitutional Conservative, so I respect the wisdom of our Founders.
The apology from the Jaguars players and owners is a step in the right direction. However, as Matt noted earlier, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, after meeting with NFL players and owners, has stated he would like to see athletes stand for the anthem but they will not be forced to do so. Leah also addressed the protest of a professional hockey player for the Tampa Bay Lightning. Following the player's protest, the Tampa Bay Police Department gave him an experience he will never forget.
The more athletes understand how people perceive their protests, and the more they understand what those who serve our country go through to keep this country safe, the more the country can overcome barriers and work together to solve the issues they care about.