Trump Attacked The NFL Because He's Jealous, Says Jaguars Owner

President Donald Trump’s attack on the NFL is down to a long held jealousy he has for the league after failing to buy the Buffalo Bills in 2014, the Jacksonville Jaguars owner says.

Shahid Khan, a self-made billionaire who immigrated to the United States from Pakistan, bought the Jaguars in 2011 for $760 million. He believes that Trump’s criticism of the NFL over the past month—for players protesting during the national anthem—is down to bitterness.

“This is a very personal issue with him,” Khan told USA Today. “He’s been elected president, where maybe a great goal he had in life to own an NFL team is not very likely. So to make it tougher, or to hurt the league, it’s very calculated.”

In September 2015, Trump was among a cast of suitors to buy the franchise, which eventually went to Terry Pegula. “I bid a billion dollars, all cash on the table,” Trump told Sports Illustrated in September 2015. “He [Pegula] bought it for a billion-two, I believe, although they say it was a billion-four. I think he got it for a billion‑two.”

Related: Trump’s not giving up on his fight with the NFL just yet

President Donald Trump President Donald Trump at the White House, Washington, DC, October 17. Chip Somodevilla/Getty

Trump’s favorite form of communication, his Twitter account, showed how the snub had hurt him. “Even though I refused to pay a ridiculous price for the Buffalo Bills, I would have produced a winner,” Trump wrote. “Now that won’t happen.”

Trump's assault on the league began last month at a rally in Alabama. It came after players started kneeling during the national anthem as a protest against the social inequality and treatment of black people across the country—begun by former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick during the 2016 preseason.

“Wouldn't you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, 'Get that son of a bitch off the field right now! Out! He's fired'?” Trump said. The words backfired, though, as an increasing number of players, owners and coaching staff supported the protest—Khan linked arms with his players during the national anthem at Wembley Stadium in London the following day. 

The only franchise owner to acquiesce Trump was Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, who said: “If there’s anything that is disrespectful to the flag, then we will not play.”

But Khan believes there is a deeper reason for the president’s criticism. “Let’s get real," he said. “The attacks on Muslims, the attacks on minorities, the attacks on Jews. I think the NFL doesn’t even come close to that on the level of being offensive. Here, it’s about money, or messing with—trying to soil a league or a brand that he’s jealous of.”

But Trump, evidently, won’t give up. On Wednesday, he responded to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell’s words that the NFL would not force players to stand via social media. “The NFL has decided that it will not force players to stand for the playing of our National Anthem,” he wrote on Twitter. “Total disrespect for our great country!”

Jacksonville Jaguars Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shahid Khan, center, at Wembley Stadium, London, September 24. Reuters/Paul Childs