The Two Faces of Shad Khan

Illustration for article titled The Two Faces of Shad Khan

Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan, wrote an op-ed on the team’s site today urging readers not to “waste” this cultural moment to be active. He wrote about racism in America, his own lived experience as a Muslim immigrant, and his desire to “level the playing field” across the nation.


On its surface, this is a fine piece. His 800-word take on the killing of George Floyd and the demonstrations that have ensued has separated him from other NFL owners. In the op-ed, he calls out racist and systemic issues people of color face in the country and encourages everyone to use their voice for change.

But despite seeming socially aware, Khan is one of the many NFL owners who has publicly supported Donald Trump.

Khan gave $1 million to Trump’s inaugural committee and has routinely praised the Trump economy before it collapsed during a pandemic.

My colleague, Chuck Modiano recently wrote about the NFL and its fake concern about racial justice. But Khan’s concern does not strike me as fake, he clearly put some thought into his column. But his words conflict with past actions and statements.

In his op-ed, Khan wrote, “We cannot attack the virus of racism with indifference or periodic attention. We cannot expect an easy cure or give up when the quest becomes inconvenient or uncomfortable.”

But it was Khan’s indifference toward racism that led the billionaire owner to support Trump’s inaugural committee.


Khan donated his million before Trump before took office, but at a time when we knew who Trump was. He had already been the leader of the racist Obama “birther” conspiracy movement, he called for the death penalty for the Central Park Five, his company had been sued for racial bias in violating the fair housing act... I could go on.

But since inauguration day, Khan’s support for Trump has turned.

In 2017, Khan spoke out against Trump’s travel ban. And when Trump called NFL players “sons of bitches” for peacefully protesting before games, Khan understood the players’ frustration and let them respond.


Khan has also invested in The Black News Channel, locked arms with Jaguar players during the anthem, and called Trump a “great divider.”


But just two years after Khan stood in solidarity with his players, he called himself a “big fan” of Trump’s economic policies.

The paradox of this billionaire and the folks who call themselves “socially liberal and fiscally conservative” is actually quite easy to understand. Their choice usually comes down to the dollar.


I applaud Khan for at least stringing together a few paragraphs at a time when most sports teams release tone-deaf statements.

But Khan can’t have it both ways. Eventually, he will have to pick a side. Today, it seems like he is on the right one.


But come November, what will he be a bigger fan of? The Trump economy or social justice?