Jacksonville Jaguars President Mark Lamping apologized to local military officials for multiple players’ decision to kneel during the national anthem in London while playing the Baltimore Ravens in September.
Lamping sent a letter to Bill Spann, the director of military affairs and veterans department in Jacksonville, saying that the organization didn’t take into account the backlash they would face following the decision.
While several players on the team knelt during the national anthem, the entire team stood and linked arms while “God Save The Queen” played.
Spann forwarded the letter to Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry on Monday, and it was available via his public email.
“It bears repeating that we were in remiss in not fully comprehending the effect of the national anthem demonstration occurring on foreign soil has had on the men and women who have or continue to serve our country,” Lamping wrote in the letter.
“Similarly, we today can better appreciate how standing for ‘God Save The Queen’ may have been viewed negatively by our armed forces here in Jacksonville and beyond,” Lamping continued. “As covered during our conversation on Thursday, this was an oversight and certainly not intended to send a message that would disparage you, our flag or our nation. The notion never entered the minds of our players or anyone affiliated with the Jacksonville Jaguars, but today we can understand how the events in London on September 24 could have been viewed or misinterpreted. We owe you an apology and hope you will accept it.”
Mayor Curry, an avid Jaguars fan, said that players have the right to kneel during the national anthem, but doing so is “stupid.”
“I stand and cover my heart for the pledge and the anthem,” Curry said in a statement, just days after the protest. “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.”
NFL owners are meeting this week in New York, and anthem protests will be a key topic of discussion.
Jacksonville, Florida, is home a number of military facilities, including Naval Air Station Jacksonville.
The letter comes weeks after President Donald Trump said that players who kneel during the national anthem should be fired.
The kneeling during the national anthem in protest began last year, when football player Colin Kaepernick took a knee to protest what he believes to be problems in America, namely police brutality and black inequality. Kaepernick was not signed by an NFL team this year.
Last month, President Trump called on players to stand and show respect to the anthem and flag. Trump referred to a player who kneels as “a son of a b–ch,” and said they should be fired. Many players have since kneeled during the national anthem during football games.
The comments that drew the ire of the NFL players came during a stump speech in Alabama that Trump gave at the end of September.
Trump said: “We are proud of our country. We respect our flag… Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘get that son of a b–ch off the field right now. He is fired. He’s fired!'”
“That’s a total disrespect of our heritage. That’s a total disrespect of everything we stand for,” Trump said, adding that while we have many freedoms, it’s still “totally disrespectful.”
If a fan sees a player take a knee, the fan should “leave the stadium… Pick up and leave,” Trump had also said, adding that fans wouldn’t be missing out.