HOUSTON - Bob McNair, owner of the Houston Texans, apologized Friday for his remark at last week’s NFL owners meeting about players protesting the national anthem.
According to ESPN, McNair said, “We can’t have the inmates running the prison,” when the group was talking about ways to address the recent protests by some players during the playing of the national anthem.
"That statement stunned the room,” ESPN’s Seth Wickersham and Don Van Natta Jr. reported.
On Friday, the Texans tweeted a statement from McNair, who expressed remorse for the statement.
“I regret that I used that expression,” McNair said. “I never meant to offend anyone and I was not referring to our players.”
McNair said he never intended for the “figure of speech” to be taken literally.
ESPN reported that only nine owners were in favor of requiring players to stand during the anthem.
Texans Head Coach Bill O'Brien briefly discussed McNair in his press conference Friday.
O'Brien said he is "100 percent with his players, our coaching staff is 100 percent behind these players."
Duane Brown’s wife Devi Brown sounded off on Twitter about McNair’s comments.
My husband has put his BODY & MIND on the line for your team for 10 YRS & to you he is an “inmate”. You owe these players RESPECT & support https://t.co/RJWqgBb2NE — DEVI BROWN (@DeviBrown) October 27, 2017
The NAACP responded to McNair's comments in a press conference Friday.
“When the owner of a major athletic team, the Houston Texans. Today, can characterize black athletes in the NFL as prisoners, especially when you’re talking about African Americans, and you know how repulsive crime is to us. To use that as the inmates running the institution—characterizing black athletes as inmates is deplorable,” said James Douglas, president of Houston’s NAACP.
“His apology is not accepted. Saying, ‘I didn’t know anyone would be upset by what I said,’ is even worse because it shouldn’t matter whether anyone had be upset. What he said was improper,” Douglas said.
Commissioner Rodney Ellis stood alongside the NAACP, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, and Congressman Al Green among other leaders.
“NFL players are protesting inequality in our country, and when someone responds by calling them ‘inmates’ in a ‘prison,’ he not only shows why protests are needed, he shows that he hasn’t even thought about the meaning behind the protests,” Ellis said.
“I’m so grateful that the NAACP and my fellow congressmen and woman are willing to speak out about this issue. These players are protesting because there are racial inequalities in this country. They were there before they got their hands on the ball and unfortunately some of them may still be there when their hands are no longer on the ball.”
The leaders said that McFair should have been more mindful about what he said. They said the comments should make McNair ineligible to have his statue erected outside NRG stadium. They also invited McNair to a community forum Monday Oct. 30 at the Community of Faith Church at 7 p.m. at 1024 Pinemont.
Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee called on corporate America and leaders to speak out in support.
“We need to engage in real hard discussions to rise above the perceptions that we have of each other. We need to end racial conflict. There needs to be outreach. There needs to be a solution. We have to work together,” Lee said.
“We’re standing here but people are in pain and our community is in pain. So the real question we ask today … is, ‘Who will be standing with us?’ Where is corporate Houston—corporate America? Because there are many occasions and incidences where they rush to be seen and heard. But when the question of race comes…where are those who will rush towards us? But when we make a comment that involves our pain and race -- when race is the issue -- we are ‘race baiting. We have ‘nothing else to say but race.’…Where is Houston with its wonderful diversity and the powers that sit around tables in corporate Houston to recognize that they can speak on that pain?”
Watch the full press conference:
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