NFL owners met on Oct. 18 and one of the topics on the agenda was whether the league should step in with some kind of mandate involving decorum during the national anthem. ESPN The Magazine revealed one bombshell from Houston Texans owner Bob McNair.
“We can’t have the inmates running the prison,” McNair said when discussing player protests during the national anthem.
While the more commonly-used phrase is “inmates are running the asylum,” the reaction has already been sweeping to this statement.
Within the confines of the piece, ESPN notes one unspecified owner as saying, “The majority of owners understand this is important to the players and want to be supportive, even if they don’t exactly know how to be supportive.”
According to ESPN, NFL executive Troy Vincent said he was offended by McNair’s use of the term “inmates” in referring to players.
“Vincent said that in all his years of playing in the NFL -- during which, he said, he had been called every name in the book, including the N-word -- he never felt like an ‘inmate,’” ESPN reported.
Later, McNair privately spoke to Vincent and apologized, which Vincent reportedly appreciated.
The “inmates running the prison” quote didn’t sit well with at least some Texans players. ESPN reported that about 10 players, including wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, left the Texans practice space. Most returned and other were talked out of protesting by coaching staff, according to an unnamed ESPN source.
"When it happened, there's a thousand emotions going through your mind," left tackle Duane Brown said. "Obviously, one of the emotions is to leave the building immediately. (But) we decided to go to work. The situation’s not over. It’s something that we’ll reconvene and talk about again, but we had practice today.”
Texans coach Bill O’Brien said he stands with the players, and the team will come together when it plays the Seattle Seahawks Sunday.
“I’m 100 percent with these players,” O’Brien said. “I love these players, I love this coaching staff. We will show up in Seattle and play. We will play very hard. Seattle is a great football team with a great coaching staff. But we will be there when the ball is kicked off in Seattle.”
By Friday morning, McNair issued a statement apologizing for his comment.
Statement from Texans Founder, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Robert C. McNair: pic.twitter.com/EXdwKZ4y4x— Texans PR (@TexansPR) October 27, 2017
The Texans issued a further statement from McNair on its Twitter account Saturday.
Statement from Texans Founder, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Robert C. McNair: pic.twitter.com/YqkfnbjeSp— Texans PR (@TexansPR) October 28, 2017