Texans Owner Bob McNair drew a lot of criticism last year, in part, for trying to stem the tide of ratings-killing anthem protests that dominated the headlines.
Yet, despite that criticism, the man who brought football back to Houston still wants no part of politics on his football field.
Speaking to reporters at the NFL Owners meetings in Orlando, McNair said, “I think we all need to respect our flag and respect our country. I think we’ll figure out a way to make sure that we do that. We’ll have discussions about it.”
NFL owners are expected to have discussions over anthem policy at this week’s meetings, however, no votes are expected until the next round of meetings in May.
Giants Owner John Mara said on Sunday, “I don’t know if it’ll be a vote or just a new policy coming out. I think we can’t go much beyond the May meeting before coming up with some sort of resolution to that.”
According to the Washington Post, “The current policy, outlined in the NFL’s game operations manual that is sent to teams, says that players are required to be on the sideline for the anthem. It says that players should stand for the anthem but does not require it.
“We have a policy manual now that says they must be on the sideline and they should stand and hold the helmet in their left hand,” McNair said of the policy. “I interpret that to mean that’s what they should be doing.”
When asked whether the league’s anthem policy should be changed to state that players “must” stand, as opposed to “should” stand, McNair said, “The union argues well, if you really meant it, you’d say must.”
The Texans owner continued:
I don’t know. I don’t know that that is what needs to be changed. We’re going to deal with it in such a way, I think, that people will understand that we want everybody to respect our country, respect our flag. And our playing fields, that’s not the place for political statements. That’s not the place for religious statements. That’s the place for football. And that’s what I think we need to be doing.
Addressing the criticism of the protests by NFL fans, and President Trump, McNair said: “It’s a matter of concern. We’ve tried to deal with it. We’ve talked to players and we hear what they said. I can just say in Houston we’ve been doing a number of things and we’ll continue doing a number of things in the community. That didn’t influence us. We were doing it before the anthem issue even came up. But there are fans that are upset about it. Fans are our customers.
“As I’ve said, you could replace all the owners and the league would go on. You could replace all the players and the league would go on. The quality of play wouldn’t be as good. But you can’t replace the fans. If you don’t have the fans, you’re dead. So we’ve got to pay attention to them and make sure that they know we respect the flag. We respect our service people. We love our country. I mean, this is where we’ve all had our opportunity.”
Follow Dylan Gwinn on Twitter @themightygwinn