New York Jets chairman Christopher Johnson said that he will pay the fines for players on his team who protest during the national anthem, telling Newsday that he never wants “to put restrictions on the speech of our players,” just hours after the NFL announced a new policy penalizing players who do so.
“Do I prefer that they stand? Of course. But I understand if they felt the need to protest,” Johnson said.
“There are some big, complicated issues that we’re all struggling with, and our players are on the front lines,” he continued. “I don’t want to come down on them like a ton of bricks, and I won’t.”
He added that if the team is fined over the protests, “that’s just something I’ll have to bear.”
The Hill added:
The Jets are owned by Johnson’s brother, Woody Johnson, who has been on leave since he was appointed by President Trump to serve as the U.S. ambassador to Britain. Christopher Johnson is serving as acting owner of the team.
Newsday noted that no Jets players knelt in protest during the anthem in the last NFL season.
Christopher Johnson stood on the field and linked arms with Jets players during the national anthem last year after Trump attacked players for kneeling during the anthem.
“It was an honor and a privilege to stand arm-in-arm unified with our players during today’s National Anthem,” Johnson said in a statement at the time. “We are very proud of our players and their strong commitment to work in our community to make a positive, constructive, and unifying impact.”