JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan said President Donald Trump is dividing the country with his comments and actions about NFL players' protests of racial inequality during the playing of the national anthem before games.
Khan's comments -- which were made Thursday during an executive conference in Chicago for Crain's Who's Who in Chicago Business -- are a precursor to what will be discussed this coming week in New York when NFL owners and representatives of the players' union meet regarding the national anthem protests as part of the owners' meetings.
"You have to give Trump credit, people are confused on the First Amendment versus patriotism, that if you exercise your First Amendment you're not a patriot, which is crazy," Khan said during the conference. "... People are confused on it. [Trump] knew he could hit on it and take advantage. I think what we're seeing is the great divider overcoming the great uniter."
Khan also said that what Trump has done with the national anthem protests is in keeping with his political strategy of aggressively pitting one side against the other.
"A lot of the stuff like football [that] Trump does is highly calculated," Khan said. "He looks for issues that you can touch and it will blow people up."
Khan is one of seven NFL owners who donated $1 million to Trump's inaugural committee. Another is Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, who said last week that any player that does not stand for the anthem will not play. Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross also told the team that players will be expected to stand during the national anthem.
Trump's comments during a Sept. 23 Alabama political rally that NFL owners should fire players that do not stand for the anthem angered players across the league. The Jaguars were playing the first game after those comments (a 9:30 a.m. ET kickoff against Baltimore from London) and Khan linked arms with his players before the game. Several Jaguars players knelt during the anthem but Khan did not.