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Jaguars apologize to local military for anthem demonstration
By MARK LONG
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) The Jacksonville Jaguars have apologized to local military leaders for demonstrating during the national anthem in London last month.
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.
Most of the Jaguars, including owner Shad Khan, locked arms during the anthem on Sept. 24. About a dozen players took a knee during the playing of "The Star-Spangled Banner" at Wembley Stadium. Similar demonstrations happened across the NFL as players, coaches and executives responded to President Donald Trump's suggestion that teams should punish players making any sort of statements of protests during the national anthem.
The Jaguars demonstrated in unity as a team and then stood for "God Save The Queen."
"This was an oversight and certainly not intended to send a message that would disparage you, our flag or our nation," Lamping wrote to Bill Spann, director of Jacksonville's military affairs and veterans department.
NFL owners are meeting this week in New York, where the national anthem will be a key topic of discussion.
Lamping's letter was dated Oct. 6, and it is unclear why it was forwarded to the mayor Monday. Lamping wrote it on behalf of Khan and Tom Coughlin, the team's executive vice president of football operations.
"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," Lamping wrote. "We owe you an apology and hope you will accept it."
Some fans in Jacksonville, a city that hosts a major Navy base and tends to lean Republican, expressed anger on social media sites and vowed never to attend another Jaguars game. Others praised Khan for siding with his players.
The day after the game in London, Curry called it stupid not to stand for the anthem even though such acts are protected by the U.S. Constitution.
"I stand and cover my heart for the pledge and the anthem," Curry said in a statement. "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 Jaguars announced they distributed 56,232 tickets for their home game against the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday, a 27-17 loss that was the franchise's ninth in its last 10 games at EverBank Field. It was the team's fewest number of tickets distributed for a Jaguars home game since 2009.
Officials insisted the decrease had more to do with the team's losing ways in recent years - the Jaguars have won 20 of 86 games since 2011 - than the anthem demonstration.
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Updated October 17, 2017