Houston Texans Owner on Anthem Protesters: ‘Can’t Have Inmates Running the Prison’

AP Brandon Wade
AP Photo/Brandon Wade

Houston Texans Owner Bob McNair raised eyebrows at an NFL meeting earlier this month, with an expression he made regarding anthem-protesting players, saying that we “can’t have the inmates running the prison.” McNair has since apologized for the remark.

McNair reportedly made his initial comment during an October 17 NFL owners meeting held at league headquarters in New York, ESPN reported.

The NFL owner made his comment after fellow Texan Jerry Jones, owner of the Dallas Cowboys, said that the anthem protest was killing TV ratings and hurting the NFL’s bottom line.

“See, Jones gets it — 96 percent of Americans are for guys standing,” McNair reportedly said. “We can’t have the inmates running the prison.”

However, Executive Vice President of football Operations, Troy Vincent, bristled at the analogy. According to TMZ, “Vincent reportedly told McNair that he had been called all sorts of terrible slurs during his NFL career — inlcuding the N-word — but never felt like an “inmate.”

ESPN wrote that McNair later approached Vincent and apologized, explaining that he was just using an old saying and didn’t mean to say that players were inmates.

After the ESPN story broke, McNair released a formal apology saying he regrets using the expression, according to TMZ Sports:

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.

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.

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