The Jacksonville Jaguars were widely criticized for joining the national anthem player protest under a very special occasion — they were playing abroad in London. Now they're apologizing to the military for what many took as an insult.
What happened at their London game?
In September, the Jaguars played the Baltimore Ravens in London. Before the national anthem played, the players took a knee in unison to show their unity. As the national anthem played, the team stood, but a few players went on one knee.
And when "God Save the Queen" played for England, the players stood.
They had released a statement beforehand to explain their actions:
“We want to make it clear that we never intended in any way to show disrespect towards the U.S. military community, first responders, our flag, or our national anthem," the statement read. "We love and respect everyone who serves and has made sacrifices for the United States in the past, today and the future. That is especially true in our hometown of Jacksonville.
“We are a very diverse group, much like our country as a whole," it continued. "So we may not see eye to eye on everything, but we will be a team undivided. We will play to win and represent Jacksonville with honor, and we are committed to furthering the conversation and taking action to effect positive change.
“In that spirit," they added, "the Jacksonville Jaguars – every one of us – prior to the national anthem on Sunday will kneel to pray for change, progress and equality for everyone who calls the United States their home. We hope others will pray along with us. We are all in this together.
“The Jacksonville Jaguars will then stand together, as a team, tomorrow and going forward, to honor our flag and our national anthem," they concluded.
What was the response?
Many took it as a slight that players kneeled for the national anthem while on foreign soil, but stood for another country's anthem afterward.
Jaguars President Mark Lamping sent a letter to the director of military affairs and veterans in Jacksonville apologizing for the appearance of an insult to the military.
Lamping said 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.
"This was an oversight and certainly not intended to send a message that would disparage you, our flag or our nation,” he added.
"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 continued.
"We owe you an apology and hope you will accept it," he concluded.
The Jaguars went on to obliterate the Baltimore Ravens 44-7.