Houston Texans owner Bob McNair has released an apology following controversial comments he reportedly made during a meeting with NFL owners and players.
On Oct. 17, 11 NFL owners and 13 players met at league headquarters in New York City. The anthem protests were the impetus for the meeting. But what resulted wasn't a mandate that players have to stand for the anthem but that the league and the NFLPA would work together on how to move forward, according to an exhaustive story from Seth Wickersham and Don Van Natta Jr. of ESPN the Magazine.
"Respecting the flag" was important optically but so too was addressing players' concerns about social inequality, which was the reason Colin Kaepernick protested during the anthem for the first time in August 2016.
For two days after the 24 owners and players convened, all the NFL owners met to discuss, among other things, what to do about sagging ratings, which was directly related to fans' anger at the anthem protests.
On Day 2 of the meetings, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones told his colleagues that they needed to seriously consider the impact the anthem issue was having on the league's bottom line, and to some in the room Jones was building towards an mandate that would require players to stand during the anthem, similar to NBA's rule.
According to Wickersham and Van Natta, as Jones made his case, Redskins owner Dan Snyder said, "See, Jones gets it -- 96 percent of Americans are for guys standing," a remark some dismissed as an overstatement. Texans owner and Trump supporter Bob McNair spoke next, and he had many of the same concerns as Jones.
"We can't have the inmates running the prison," McNair reportedly said, referring to the players.
After the owners had spoken, NFL executive and former NFL player Troy Vincent stood up. He was offended by McNair's "inmates" comments. And according to Wickersham and Van Natta, "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 pulled Vincent aside to apologize -- saying he felt horrible and this his words weren't to be taken literally. Vincent reportedly appreciated McNair's apology.
The Houston Texans also posted an apology to the team's Facebook page on Friday: