JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Jacksonville Jaguars president Mark Lamping has apologized to the city of Jacksonville's director of military affairs chief and local military representatives for not fully understanding the potential impact of several players' decision to kneel during the national anthem before their Sept. 24 game against the Baltimore Ravens in London.
In a letter dated Oct. 6 and sent to Bill Spann, the city's director of military affairs and veterans department and local military representatives, Lamping said the organization did not fully consider the furor that would result from those actions, especially given that the entire team stood for "God Save the Queen."
Owner Shad Khan, executive vice president of football operations Tom Coughlin and Lamping hosted Spann and several local military representatives at a meeting at EverBank Field on Oct. 5. They discussed what happened in London, and Lamping wrote the letter the next day and sent it to Spann and the military reps that attended the meeting. Spann forwarded his copy of the letter to Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry on Monday afternoon.
"It bears repeating that we were 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. "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. 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."
Jacksonville has a heavy military presence, and the city is home to Naval Air Station Mayport and Naval Air Station Jacksonville. In addition, Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay is located roughly 40 miles north of Jacksonville on the outskirts of St. Marys, Georgia.
Curry, who flew to London on the team's charter and attended the game at Wembley Stadium, released a statement two days after the Sept. 24 game that called the players' decision to knee during the anthem "stupid." Curry said that the players have the right not to stand during the anthem, but he believes they should.
"I stand and cover my heart for the pledge and the anthem," Curry's statement read. "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."
Curry is a Jaguars fan who has attended numerous practices since his election in 2015. During Hurricane Irma, Curry wore a Jaguars hat for appearances on national television broadcasts and interviews.
There are apparently no hard feelings between Curry and the Jaguars because Curry attended the Jaguars' game in Pittsburgh on Oct. 8 and watched the game from Khan's box.
The Jaguars' actions in London were in response to President Donald Trump's comments during a political rally in Huntsville, Alabama, on Sept. 22. Trump said players who do not stand for the national anthem should be fired.
Jaguars players linked arms for the playing of the national anthem, and Jalen Ramsey, A.J. Bouye, Calais Campbell, Malik Jackson, Tashaun Gipson, Yannick Ngakoue and Dante Fowler were among those who took a knee. The players who did kneel for the national anthem stood for "God Save the Queen."
Khan said last week during an executive conference for Crain's "Who's Who in Chicago Business" that President 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.
"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 and the rest of the NFL owners are meeting Tuesday and Wednesday in New York along with representatives of the players' union and will discuss the protests during the national anthem and whether the league will implement a rule mandating that all players stand.
WTLV-TV in Jacksonville first reported the Jaguars' apology.