Bob McNair has ruffled some feathers and it might be time or him to go. The Houston Texans owner has made too many off the wall comments. He is damaging this organization and this city. More importantly, he is alienating an entire group of people and an entire culture.
Houston Texans owner, Bob McNair, was, and maybe still is, revered by the majority of native Houstonians. He brought the NFL back to Houston just three years after the Oilers left for Tennessee. The Texans made their NFL debut in 2002, Bob McNair was a legend sure to go down in the Houston history books.
The early years were not great, in fact they were quite horrid. However, they still attracted large crowds due to the fact that professional football was back in Houston. Under McNair’s eye, this organization has blossomed into a good, young team. A team that has the potential to contend for a championship in the next few years.
However, within the past year perception of McNair is rapidly changing. Let’s review.
Back in October, the NFL was rife with controversy. Players were either kneeling, raising fists, or locking arms in unison. They were protesting violence against African Americans, predominantly by police. Many viewed the act of kneeling as an affront to the American flag and to those who defend it. However, many players stated that this couldn’t be further from the truth. Colin Kaepernick, infamous for starting this movement, transitioned from sitting on the bench to kneeling. He stated that this move was actually an attempt to show more respect to military veterans.
The NFL owners had a meeting to address the controversy. Among the attendees of the meeting was NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. Cowboys owner, Jerry Jones led events with a passionate speech covering the topic. Following Jones went the Houston Texans owner. This is where McNair’s infamous quote comes in to play. “We can’t have the inmates running the prison.”
I’ll admit, I tried to rationalize the comment in my head. I tried to make the comments seem better than they were. However, the more thought I put into it, the worse it got. This comment is derogatory and demeaning. Equating these players to inmates for simply expressing their voice is asinine. Some statements, whether in jest or seriousness, never need to escape anyone’s mouth. This is one of those statements. And apparently, this is a pattern of behavior that has persisted for decade behind closed doors.
The fall out.
There was a swift and immediate fall out after the comments were made public. Members of the media immediately struck out against McNair. NFL players were commenting left and right. However, the largest reaction came from underneath his own roof.
Duane Brown essentially represented the Houston Texans’ players in a statement. Apparently, the team was planning on a mass walkout following the comments. Texans’ coaches and executives had to persuade the team to stay. Brown was traded shortly after, one can only assume this was the final straw. However, this did not stop one of the Texans’ best players and leaders, DeAndre Hopkins for skipping practice. Hopkins returned the following day.
The recantation and subsequent back track.
A week after the statement, McNair issued an apology and recanted his comments.
"“I regret that I used that expression. I never meant to offend anyone and I was not referring to our players,” McNair wrote in a statement released by the Texans. “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."
Great. I was pleased with the apology. I believed it was an expression that was used in jest. It seemed clear that McNair was genuinely apologetic and wished to move past the comment. Honestly, after he issued the apology it didn’t take me long to forget and move past this.
Unfortunately, my forgetfulness did not last long. McNair did not manage to stay out the spotlight for long. In March, McNair defended Panthers’ owner Jerry Richardson. Richardson who is currently selling the team amidst sexual misconduct allegations. No matter if guilty or innocent, to me, defending someone with these allegations is not a wise move. McNair was under fired again. This time: no apology, no recantation.
However, this time McNair did not stay out of the spotlight for long. Earlier this week, McNair voiced to the Wall Street Journal that he regrets apologizing. McNair said, “The main thing I regret is apologizing. I really didn’t have anything to apologize for.” This comes a less than month after NFL agents reported that the Texans’ weren’t interested in signing players who protested.
Here’s what might need to happen.
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McNair claims that the comment paints him in too negative of a light. He revealed to the Journal that he is actually very philanthropic, contributing over $500 million over the course of his life. This, apparently, included funeral costs for the 2015 Charleston shooting victims. These victims were nine African Americans who were brutally murdered by one Caucasian male.
This is great, I’m glad McNair did this. However, right and wrong during one’s life isn’t simply adding and subtracting. It’s not just about the good out weighing the bad. What’s concerning about the comments he made and the following recantation is the attitude behind the words, not the words themselves.
McNair turned 80 in December. He’s getting old, I’m sure the majority of y’all have seen this before. As people age, the tongue becomes more loose. People make comments that are offensive, regardless of intent. Maybe, just maybe, it’s time for McNair to go.
You won’t hear me arguing for the McNairs to sell the Houston Texans. But, I think McNair needs to step down as CEO and head of the organization. McNair needs to step far out of the spotlight.
Our society is rife with controversy and the last thing it needs is another rich, old, white male minimizing the injustice others face. It might be time for Bob McNair’s tenure as Houston Texans CEO to end. Who knows, it could be time for the organization to be sold, but I don’t think so. For me, it’s time for Cal McNair to step up.