Last October, at the height of the debate over NFL players protesting our national anthem, Houston Texans owner Bob McNair made headlines when ESPN reported that he compared the player’s protests to “inmates running the prison” during a meeting with team owners, executives and league officials.
Shortly after his comment began to make headlines across the nation, McNair issued this apology:
“I regret that I used that expression. I never meant to offend anyone and I was not referring to our players. 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.”
But McNair now regrets issuing that apology, telling the Wall Street Journal on Thursday that he had “nothing to apologize for.”
“The main thing I regret is apologizing. … I really didn’t have anything to apologize for,” McNair said.
The Texans owner went on to tell the Journal that his “inmates” analogy wasn’t intended to be a reference to the league’s players, but NFL executives who McNair feels have more power than the owners.
“We were talking about a number of things, but we were also washing some of our dirty linen, which you do internally,” McNair continued. “You can’t do that publicly. That’s what I was addressing: The relationship of owners and the league office.”
After ESPN inaccurately characterized McNair’s comments, Houston Texans offensive lineman, Duane Brown, was one of the only players to speak out publicly against the team’s owner.
Brown, who raised his fist during the national anthem prior to a 2016 game in order to “protest” what he claimed was racial inequality and oppression, took aim at McNair’s comments:
“I think it was ignorant. I think it was embarrassing. I think it angered a lot of players, including myself. We put our bodies and minds on the line every time we step on that field, and to use an analogy of inmates in prison, that’s disrespectful. That’s how I feel about it.”
The Texans offensive lineman also went on to claim McNair used a team meeting to blast Barack Obama’s victory in the 2008 Presidential campaign.
“He came to talk to the team,” Brown said. “He was visibly upset about it. He said, ‘I know a lot of y’all are happy right now, but it’s not the outcome that some of us were looking for.’ That was very shocking to me.”
McNair denies any such meeting ever occurred.
“I don’t go into meetings and express views like that,” McNair said. “I never said that. He has no problem saying things that are not true.”
According to a nationwide survey conducted in November, some 60 percent of Americans disagreed with the NFL’s handling of the national anthem protests.
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