A report from ESPN’s Seth Wickersham and Don Van Natta Jr. recounting the events from inside recent meetings between NFL players, NFL Owners and commissioner Roger Goodell along with owners only meetings focused on the polarizing issue of players kneeling during the National Anthem has Houston Texans Owner Bob McNair facing criticism over a comment he reportedly said.
During the second day of meetings, McNair commented after Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones gave an empowered speech trying to push for a mandate from owners to make players stand during the anthem.
“We can’t have the inmates running the prison,” McNair said during a speech at the meeting where he spoke about the concerns for the business of the NFL stemming from the protests.
According to the report, Troy Vincent, former NFL player, and league executive was offended by the comment. McNair pulled Vincent aside after the meeting and apologized for any offense.
McNair issued a similar statement Friday after the report came out on ESPN.com.
“I regret that I used that expression,” McNair said in the statement released. “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.”
The Houston Texans have not had a player kneel during the National Anthem since the protest to raise awareness for inequality among races in America began with Colin Kaepernick last season. Last year Duane Brown raised a fist during the anthem and this season the Texans players linked arms to show solidarity.