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National Anthem: Jacksonville Jaguars will all kneel Sunday before stand for song

By Alex Butler
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Jacksonville Jaguars team members crouch down and kneel during the American national anthem in defiance of President Trump remarks in the NFL International Series match against the Baltimore Ravens on September 24 at Wembley Stadium in London, England. Photo by Hugo Philpott/UPI | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/00b67a557917eab151c9a23083cfdffb/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
Jacksonville Jaguars team members crouch down and kneel during the American national anthem in defiance of President Trump remarks in the NFL International Series match against the Baltimore Ravens on September 24 at Wembley Stadium in London, England. Photo by Hugo Philpott/UPI | License Photo

Sept. 30 (UPI) -- The entire Jacksonville Jaguars team will be kneeling Sunday before the national anthem plays, but stand together for the song.

Jacksonville announced the decision in a statement on Saturday night.

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The Jaguars face the New York Jets at 1 p.m. Sunday at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.

Players, coaches and team owners from around the league were kneeling, sitting, standing or locking arms last weekend during the national anthem following comments from President Donald Trump. Trump was speaking at a rally in Alabama when he suggested that NFL owners should fire or suspend players who decide to kneel during the song.

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"The United States flag and our national anthem are both strong sources of inspiration and unity," the Jaguars' statement 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."

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"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."

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"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."

Jaguars owner Shad Khan was the first team owner to take part in the pregame festivities last weekend when he stood and locked arms with his players during the song before the Jaguars beat the Baltimore Ravens 44-7 in London.

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"It was a privilege to stand on the sidelines with the Jacksonville Jaguars today for the playing of the U.S. national anthem at Wembley Stadium," Khan said after the game. "I met with our team captains prior to the game to express my support for them, all NFL players and the league following the divisive and contentious remarks made by President Trump, and was honored to be arm in arm with them, their teammates and our coaches during our anthem."

"Our team and the National Football League reflects our nation, with diversity coming in many forms - race, faith, our views and our goals. We have a lot of work to do, and we can do it, but the comments by the President make it harder. That's why it was important for us, and personally for me, to show the world that even if we may differ at times, we can and should be united in the effort to become better as people and a nation."

Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began the national anthem protests during the 2016 preseason. He sat on the 49ers' bench on Aug. 26 before a game against the Green Bay Packers. He explained that his protests were against police brutality and racial inequality.

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The Dallas Cowboys pulled off a similar move to the Jaguars on Monday Night Football during Week 3. Owner Jerry Jones was on the field with the team as the squad kneeled before the national anthem and stood for the playing of the song.

Several other teams have since announced similar plans to the Jaguars and Cowboys.

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