JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The Jacksonville Jaguars plan to take a knee before the national anthem is played prior to their game at the New York Jets on Sunday.
Players say in a statement that "every one of us" will "kneel to pray for change, progress and equality for everyone who calls the United States their home."
The Jaguars (2-1) were criticized locally last week after about a dozen players knelt during the national anthem in London. Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry even said "it’s stupid" not to stand and honour the American flag during the pledge of allegiance and the anthem.
"I think it’s stupid to do otherwise," Curry said a day after the 44-7 victory over Baltimore. "The U.S. Constitution protects the right for a lot of people to do a lot of stupid things."
The Jaguars responded Saturday night.
"The United States flag and our national anthem are both strong sources of inspiration and unity," players said. "Our respect for both is sincere. Given recent events and remarks, however, we felt it was time last weekend to shine a light on the serious issues of inequality and social injustice that exist in our country.
"We want to make it clear that we never intended in any way to show disrespect toward the U.S. military community, first responders, our flag or our national anthem. 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, Florida.
"We are a very diverse group, much like our country as a whole. 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 honour, and we are committed to furthering the conversation and taking action to effect positive change."