The Jacksonville Jaguars will stand during the national anthem on Sunday before they play against the New York Jets, but not before kneeling in prayer prior to the performance of the song, according to a statement released Saturday.
The team released the following statement Saturday evening:
“The United States flag and our national anthem are both strong sources of inspiration and unity. 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 towards 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 honor, and we are committed to furthering the conversation and taking action to effect positive change.”
“In that spirit, 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.”
A message from the players: pic.twitter.com/2jhU8TGzcr— Jacksonville Jaguars (@Jaguars) September 30, 2017
The Jaguars locked armed on Sunday, Sept. 24, during the national anthem prior to defeating the Baltimore Ravens 44-7. Several players kneeled with their arms locked. The gesture came 24 hours after President made caustic remarks toward the NFL and players who wish to kneel during the anthem.
The response from Jaguars fans has been polarizing. Many have shown their support for the Jags, but numerous people have shared their displeasure in the team for using the national anthem as a platform for protest.
"Everybody has their own individual reasoning for doing what they want to do," tight end Marcedes Lewis said.
"Whether they want to kneel or stand up. My dad is a Purple Heart [recipient] and I grew up in the inner city, so I see it from both sides. I think this going to be an ongoing conversation. You can't make everyone happy, but everybody should be able to do what they want to do and that's it."
Jaguars Beat Writer Mike Kaye contributed to this report.