Jaguars owner Khan on Trump politics, NFL owners, $20 minimum wage – Government News

on Oct13

12 October 2017 | 6:00 pm

NFL team owner Shahid Khan spoke his mind today on his fellow club owners, President Donald Trump and the politics of divisiveness at an executive conference for Crain’s Who’s Who in Chicago Business.

“You’ve got a bunch of 85-year-old guys who don’t think they’re racist, but they are racist,” said Khan, who owns the Jacksonville Jaguars, referring to what it was like trying to become the first non-white owner of an NFL team. After a previous attempt to buy the then-St. Louis Rams, he was able to purchase the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2012. (A spokesman, Jim Woodcock, issued a statement later saying that Khan was relaying what others were telling him back then, not what he personally thought.)

In September, a day after Trump called on NFL players to stand during the playing of the national anthem, Khan linked arms with players before a game as a show of support for their independence. “I had heard from a lot of the players what their feelings were, how offended they were (by Trump’s comments) and what they were going to do and my concern was that they don’t do anything to hurt themselves,” he said. “We wanted to do something as a team, because a team divided against itself cannot stand.”

NFL owners will meet in New York next week to discuss the controversy. Trump has called on the owners to “demand” that their players stand for the anthem.

Opinion: McCaskey should think twice about forcing players to stand for anthem

“You have to give Trump credit, people are confused on the First Amendment versus patriotism, that if you exercise your First Amendment you’re not a patriot, which is crazy… People are confused on it, (Trump) knew he could hit on it and take advantage. I think what we’re seeing is the great divider overcoming the great uniter.”

Khan donated $1 million to Trump’s inauguration last year. In remarks today at the Crain’s event, which included Joyce Foundation’s Ellen Alberding, Illinois Supreme Court Justice Anne Burke, Ingredion’s Ilene Gordon and Quintin Primo III of Capri Investment Group, Khan said he first felt shocked when he heard Trump’s rhetoric toward immigrants and Muslims, being one himself—born in Pakistan, Khan emigrated in 1967 as a 16-year-old to study engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

But once he had the chance to separate his emotions and think about Trump’s political strategy rationally, he said he realized “politics and the Western World will never be the same again” because of Trump. “A lot of the stuff like football (that) Trump does is highly calculated—he looks for issues that you can touch and it will blow people up.”

He cited Trump’s former adviser Steve Bannon, now the executive chairman of far-right website Breitbart News, for figuring out how to appeal and grow his political base. “Steve Bannon or whoever is analyzing the data realizes, ‘How do I get elected?’ I get elected by dividing this person or this group against this group. What are the worst fears, phobias somebody has, how do I tap that button and get them with my people. There’s a lot of predictive behavior here.”

‘GREAT DIVIDER’

When asked whether that strategy is dangerous for the nation’s future, he added: “We saw the corner stores get replaced by department stores get replaced by Walmart and e-commerce. What (Trump) has done is shown leadership as the great divider, not uniter. We are used to being warm and fuzzy and cuddled. Well, it’s a different time.”

Khan, 67, arrived in the U.S. with $500 in his pocket. He built his Urbana-based auto-parts manufacturer, Flex-N-Gate, into a multibillion-dollar company that ranks him among the richest people in the world, with an estimated net worth of $7.1 billion. Forbes put him on its cover in 2012 after he paid $770 million for the Jaguars as “The face of the American Dream.”

Flex-N-Gate is bringing 300 jobs to Chicago’s Far South Side next year to supply Ford’s nearby assembly plant. The company also is making the largest auto-parts industry investment in years in Detroit, in the city’s devastated East Side. “The U.S. automotive industry is strong, and that’s also true here in my beloved state of Illinois,” Khan said earlier this year after announcing his new Chicago factory alongside Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

At Crain’s event today, Khan said he sees well-paying jobs that don’t a require a college degree as key to fighting gun violence in Chicago and Detroit. “The root cause is there aren’t good jobs. We focus on 40-year-old and 50-year-old white guys that are unemployed, (but) these are minority kids in inner cities, and Trump has hit on this. That is a hot button issue for us, our politicians haven’t addressed,” he said. “Unless that is addressed and we create jobs, we’re going to have all this unrest. We talk about all these high-floating ideas, but you gotta get jobs. So NAFTA, getting out of UNESCO if that saves us money we can put it in the inner cities, those are all good things we don’t talk about. The unions all these bought into NAFTA and now a lot of jobs left this country.”

He also said he supports a $20 minimum wage to enable more Americans to lift themselves out of poverty. The other day he said he walked along an assembly line at a Flex-N-Gate facility in Dallas and was thrilled to see two pregnant women operating machinery. The company’s investment in robotics has allowed the factory floor to become more inclusive, he said. “We didn’t have an excuse why a woman couldn’t work on the line or why a small, Hispanic person couldn’t work on the line, and it was really good for us because we were producing the highest-quality parts, paying people well because tech and evolution have taken us there,” he said.

“So whenever you get down to it, (diversity is) good business. And if you haven’t looked at all the candidates, you haven’t found the best candidate, and it shouldn’t be reverse discrimination either. If I can get it out to a simple point: diversity is better business.”

Crain’s coverage of Khan:

Flex-N-Gate’s Shahid Khan rises from dishwasher to Takata suitor
Flex-N-Gate bringing 300 jobs to Chicago’s South Side
Chicago billionaire Shahid Khan shows off his penthouse



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