Key Words: NFL owner suggests peers may struggle with complex racial issues for a straightforward reason

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Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shahid Khan reportedly suggested Thursday at a Crain’s Chicago Business conference that his fellow NFL owners may be ignoring a difficult truth. And it’s one that could hamstring the professional football league’s capacity to get to grips with its simmering national-anthem controversy:

‘You’ve got a bunch of 85-year-old guys who don’t think they’re racist, but they are racist.’

Shahid Khan

Khan, 67 and a native of Lahore, Pakistan, became in 2012 the first nonwhite owner of an NFL team, after a previous attempt to purchase the St. Louis Rams failed.

Crain’s reported that a Khan representative sought to clarify the remark as referring to what Khan was told by observers about the situation he faced while battling to break the ownership color barrier.

Khan, who also owns the English soccer club Fulham FC and made his fortune with the Illinois-based automotive manufacturer Flex-N-Gate, lamented that some fans have come to believe that supporting the players’ First Amendment right to protest during the anthem is inconsistent with patriotism — “which is crazy” — and that President Trump, to whose inaugural committee Khan was a $1 million donor, has been taking advantage of that situation. “I think what we’re seeing,” Khan reportedly said at the Chicago event, “is the great divider overcoming the great uniter.”

Khan joined Jacksonville players on the sideline before a Sept. 24 game played in London, linking arms during the national anthem in a show of solidarity.

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