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Jacksonville Jaguars Owner Shad Khan Thinks Trump’s NFL Attacks Are More About Jealousy Than Patriotism

“This is a very personal issue with him.”

Over the past few months, President Donald Trump has been a vocal critic of the NFL. Trump went so far as to tell a crowd in Alabama that owners should fire players who protest inequality by kneeling for the national anthem. “Get that son of a bitch off the field right now, he’s fired. He’s fired!” he said while impersonating an owner. Earlier in the month, in a cheap political stunt, Trump told Vice President Mike Pence to leave an Indianapolis Colts game if players kneeled during the anthem.


One NFL owner thinks Trump’s antics are about a lot more than NFL players kneeling during the national anthem. Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan is saying it has more to do with Trump’s failure to join the exclusive club of NFL owners. “This is a very personal issue with him,” Khan told USA Today Sports on Wednesday after NFL owners meetings were held in New York City.

In 1983, Trump bought the New Jersey Generals of the NFL rival U.S. Football League and then brought fellow owners together the sue the NFL for antitrust violations. His goal was to force a merger between the leagues and to get an NFL team on the cheap. His merger attempt failed, and the league folded soon after. Trump would later consider buying the New England Patriots in 1988, but he couldn’t assume the team’s considerable debt. In 2014, he placed a $1 billion bid for the Buffalo Bills and was outbid by a $1.4 billion offer.


“He’s 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 thinks Trump’s fight against the NFL is simply presidential ax-grinding because there are bigger issues the country is facing right now.

“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,” Khan said. “Here, it’s about money, or messing with — trying to soil a league or a brand that he’s jealous of.”

Khan was one of seven NFL owners who contributed $1 million to Trump’s inaugural fund. When asked if he had any regrets he responded: “I have no regrets in life.” As the owner of an auto parts manufacturing company, Khan was intrigued by some of Trump’s economic ideas, but he appears to have been let down by the president.

“This ugly, toxic side sours the whole experience,” Khan said.

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