A slew of Houston Texans players took the knee on Sunday, but this time, the national anthem was not the target of their protest. The show of solidarity was meant to push back against owner Bob McNair, who sparked a raging controversy after he referred to NFL players as “inmates.”
All but about ten players kneeled and linked arms during the national anthem before Sunday’s game against the Seahawks. McNair made the questionable remark at a meeting of NFL owners earlier this month dedicated to addressing the frequent players’ protests of the national anthem.
“We can’t have inmates running the prison,” he said according to ESPN.
The comment nearly caused Texans players to collectively skip practice on Friday and reportedly led to a discussion as to whether the team should remove the Texans logo from their helmets for Sunday’s game.
“I think it was ignorant,” Texans offensive lineman Duane Brown told ESPN. “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.”
On Friday, McNair apologized for his comments and tried to explain what he actually meant, claiming his words had been misinterpreted by the players.
“I was not referring to our players when I made a very regretful comment during the owners meeting last week,” he said. “I was referring to the relationship between the league office and team owners and how they have been making significant strategic decisions affecting our league without adequate input from ownership over the past few years.”