HOUSTON — The chairman and chief executive of the Houston Texans has apologized after a report said he declared “we can’t have the inmates running the prison” during a meeting of NFL owners over what to do about players who kneel in protest during the national anthem.
The comment was mentioned in an ESPN The Magazine story on two recent days of meetings among owners, players and others to discuss the protests that have drawn the ire of President Donald Trump. Players, following the lead of former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, say they kneel to protest social injustices, particularly against African-Americans. Trump has sharply criticized the protests and even called on NFL owners to fire players.
In his statement released Friday, McNair says he regretted using the expression and said he was “not referring to our players.”
“I used a figure of speech that was never intended to be taken literally,” McNair said. “I would never characterize our players or our league that way and I apologize to anyone who was offended by it.”
The meetings earlier this month did not result in a policy change that would require players to stand for the anthem.
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