Thursday 26 April 2018

NFL London: Jacksonville Jaguars' Wembley win overshadowed by growing protests against President Trump

LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 24: Jacksonville Jaguars Owner Shahid Kahn links arms with his team as some players take a knee during the National Anthem during the NFL match between the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Baltimore Ravens at Wembley Stadium on September 24, 2017 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Mitchell Gunn/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 24: Jacksonville Jaguars Owner Shahid Kahn links arms with his team as some players take a knee during the National Anthem during the NFL match between the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Baltimore Ravens at Wembley Stadium on September 24, 2017 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Mitchell Gunn/Getty Images)

Ed Malyon & Ben Burrows

London's team, the Jacksonville Jaguars, found there is no place like their adopted home as they dismantled a lacklustre Baltimore Ravens side 43-7 at Wembley on Sunday.

And yet the on-field fireworks were overshadowed - as they were across America - by protests for equality that grew even stronger amid President Trump's claims that NFL players who kneel for the national anthem should be fired by team owners.

At Wembley both teams linked arms and even Jags owner Shahid Khan, a donor to Trump's campaign, joined in to show just how much the tide is turning against the president.

Trump fired off a number of tweets this weekend, pausing only to threaten nuclear war with North Korea, that doubled down on his inflammatory remarks at a rally in Alabama where he referred to protesting stars as "sons of bitches."

The player most likely to be fired at Wembley was not one of those kneeling for the anthem but Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco, who was swamped by the Jaguars' exciting young defense. He didn't even complete his first pass until deep into the second quarter in a game that will raise questions over his fitness after a back injury.

In a rare successful offensive outing, Blake Bortles managed to not kill the Jags with his usual turnovers and he was supported by an effective rushing attack.

The game was over as a spectacle early in the second half on an afternoon when it rarely felt like the spectacle. Trump's comments enraged players across the league and most teams protested in their own way.

In Chicago, the Ravens' divisional rivals the Pittsburgh Steelers didn't even go out on the field for the anthem prior to their game with the Bears.

Perhaps more significant than that was Tom Brady, perhaps the greatest player to ever play the game and a friend and supporter of Trump, joining his teammates in locking arms during the anthem before the New England Patriots’ game against the Houston Texans.

Brady has yet to address Trump’s recent criticisms in public, but joined his teammates of whom several took a knee.

Independent News Service

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