One of the Houston Texans’ best players was a no-show at practice Friday after a remark by Texans owner Bob McNair at the Oct. 18 NFL owners’ meeting was reported by ESPN’s Outside the Lines.
“We can’t have the inmates running the prison,” McNair reportedly said during a discussion about player protests during the national anthem.
McNair has since apologized for the comment, but Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins took “a personal day” after hearing about what McNair said.
Hopkins wasn’t the only Texans player upset by McNair’s statement, and Texans left tackle Duane Brown said other players contemplated a walkout.
“This is how you view us?: ‘You’re an inmate. We can’t let you get out of line. We can’t let you speak for yourself,’” Brown told the Houston Chronicle. “It sickened me,” he said.
“I regret that I used that expression,” McNair said in a statement. “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 and our league that way and I apologize to anyone who was offended by it.”
It doesn’t take much
McNair’s remark is a variation, perhaps unintentional, of the common phrase about "inmates running the asylum," often used to describe organizations in chaos due to a lack of leadership control.
This incident goes to show that relations between players and owners are so volatile at this point, it takes almost nothing to nearly derail what has been a positive week of progress for the league and the players.
Texans head coach Bill O’Brien said Hopkins will return to the team and play Sunday.
“He’s fine,” O’Brien said. “He took a personal day today. … We will show up in Seattle and play, and we will play very hard.
“Like I said at the beginning, I support them 100 percent.”