For Pete's Sake

Texans players considered boycott after owner’s ‘inmates’ comment

Houston Texans owner Bob McNair.
Houston Texans owner Bob McNair. The Associated Press

An ESPN story on NFL meetings earlier this month showed how divisive the protests during the national anthem have been, even among the 32 owners.

NFL players took part in the first of the two-day meetings in New York, but things got heated when the owners met among themselves on the second day. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, Washington’s Daniel Snyder and the Texans’ Bob McNair were among those who favored making the players stand.

McNair then made a statement that “stunned some in the room,” ESPN reported.

“We can’t have the inmates running the prison,” McNair said, according to ESPN.

NFL executive vice president of football operations Troy Vincent was at the meeting and told the owners he was offended by the inmates comment.

From the ESPN story:

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.”

Later, McNair apologized to Vincent, “saying that he felt horrible and that his words weren’t meant to be taken literally, which Vincent appreciated.”

On Friday morning, McNair offered an apology through the Texas public relations Twitter account:

“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 player or our league that way and I apologize to anyone who was offended by it.”

However, on Friday afternoon the Texans players said they were upset by the comment. Offensive tackle Duane Brown said the players considered not practicing, Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle reported.

“It’s horrible. It’s frustrating,” Brown told Wilson.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that Houston receiver DeAndre Hopkins’ absence from practice was related to McNair’s comment.

Pete Grathoff: 816-234-4330, @pgrathoff