By John P. Lopez
Where the truth resides no longer matters.
The national perception of Bob McNair has become real. Worse, it is something that a number of NFL agents in sewing-circle whispers believe has reached the point where McNair would rather blackball certain social injustice warriors than sign them.
You know, just like Colin Kaepernick charges the entire league did to him.
Of course, if the Texans are deliberately avoiding certain players, it directly affects their product on the field, to say nothing of the McNair family’s lasting NFL legacy.
But beyond the Texans-related impact, most significantly McNair suddenly is the face of a league-wide mess.
For an organization that prides itself on projecting high moral standards and impeccable character, never in its history have the Texans looked more the polar opposite.
Hence, no longer can McNair afford to hide behind carefully worded press releases and hope-it-goes-away in silence.
The Texans owner is in the midst of a modern-day twist on a revered scene from the fictional cinematic classic, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.
When confronted with the real story about who heroically sent Liberty Valance to his ultimate demise, the gruff romantic of a local publisher barked, “When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.”
In this case, the real story hardly matters anymore. Legend is, Bob McNair is a racist. Worse, he may have just become the face most will associate with Kaepenick’s collusion case against the NFL.
True or not, in this case, the ugly legend of Bob McNair is fast becoming fact.
There have been too many questionable decisions and comments by McNair and the Texans for the exclusionary reputation not to affect how players and public view the organization.
To name a few:
* McNair’s “inmates running the prison” lament.
* The decisive way the club handled the outspoken Duane Brown’s holdout.
* DeAndre Hopkins and others walking out of practice over McNair’s comments.
* McNair being one of a handful of owners deposed in Kaepenick’s collusion case.
* Former players like Arian Foster all but calling McNair racist.
And now this.
“Word is,” according to the Houston Chronicle, NFL agents believe McNair will not allow the signings of players who protested social injustices by kneeling for the anthem.
While, “word is” may not be verifiable, the narrative is set.
The only possible way to deflect backlash is McNair facing this head-on. He must speak to it directly and, more than anything, find tangible ways to convince key players he has alienated that he supports their rights and social stances.
Unless, of course, he doesn’t.
McNair and the Texans were so outraged over the latest block of disparaging news that they issued a press release.
That was not enough.
What a complex web the Texans Way has woven over the years and now the breadth of it goes far beyond NRG Stadium. Since the club’s inception they have talked about “character” and players who are the “right fit.”
But has that been a euphemism for conformists? McNair’s kind of guys and all that it entails?
As much as Monday’s press release categorically denied excluding players who took a stand, and said the claim was, “without merit,” the words likely fell flat to many.
The league’s players and agents need to see McNair address this. They need to hear the words come from his mouth. He needs to be sincere and honest.
And he needs to be sure every word is true.
Because McNair’s words will affect much more than just Texans free agency and a family’s legacy
Kaepernick’s attorneys will be taking notes.