Addressing the elephant in the room

Texans owner McNair apologizes for inmate comment at NFL meetings

Texans owner

HiHouston Texans owner Bob McNair apologized on Friday for a remark he made last week about “inmates running the prison” if N.F.L. owners allowed players to continue to sit or kneel during the national anthem, but the apology appears to have done little to appease his own players.

McNair made the comment among 11 owners and a dozen players, many of them African-Americans who have demonstrated during the anthem to highlight a lack of attention to racial oppression. The players and owners were seeking common ground on the issue at a meeting at the N.F.L. headquarters in Manhattan.

When discussion turned to whether the league ought to clamp down on the protests, McNair suggested it should, because “we can’t have the inmates running the prison.” The comment was taken as insensitive and demeaning to the players.

“I never meant to offend anyone, and I was not referring to our players,” McNair said in a statement on Friday. “I used a figure of speech that was never intended to be taken literally. I would never characterize our players or our league that way, and I apologize to anyone who was offended by it.”

Some Texans players were not accepting the apology. They considered walking out of practice on Friday, and one player DeAndre Hopkins, did not attend, according to The Houston Chronicle.

Texans offensive tackle Duane Brown called the Texans owner McNair’s comments “disrespectful,” “ignorant,” and “embarrassing.”

“I think it angered a lot of players, including myself,” he told The Chronicle.  “To use an analogy of inmates in a prison, I would say that’s disrespectful.”

The Texans coach, Bill O’Brien, and the team’s general manager, Rick Smith, held a 90-minute meeting with the players later on Friday, according to ESPN. The team’s Twitter account posted a quote from the coach: “O’Brien on Mr. McNair statement: ‘It’s been addressed. I’m 100 percent with these players.’”

Players on other teams took notice of the controversy, particularly Richard Sherman, a cornerback for the Seattle Seahawks, who will play the Texans on Sunday.

On Twitter, Sherman said somewhat mockingly that McNair did not need to apologize. “I can appreciate ppl being candid. Don’t apologize! You meant what you said,” Sherman wrote . “Showing true colors allows ppl to see you for who you are.”

The San Francisco 49ers’ Eric Reid, who has been kneeling through the anthem and who attended last week’s meeting, posted a reply to McNair on Twitter: “Thank God not every inmate is incarcerated by racism and prejudice.”

This was a stupid statement by the Texans owner. However owners have to be frustrated. They are seeing their multi-million dollar teams go down in flames with the protest. McNair’s point is valid, the players are employees. No other employee in the private sector can protest on the job and destroy their employers company. If the players want to walk out, let them. They can find another way to play a game and make millions per year.

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