Two prominent Seahawks were among NFL players to take Houston Texans owner Bob McNair to task for a comment in an ESPN story published Friday. Seattle plays Houston Sunday at CenturyLink Field.
ESPN published a lengthy and detailed account Friday morning of the NFL owners’ meetings last week that focused on the growing concerns surrounding player protests during the national anthem.
But one quote from Houston Texans owner Bob McNair is getting all the attention.
“We can’t have the inmates running the prison,” McNair is quoted as saying, while also being identified as “a multimillion-dollar (Donald) Trump campaign contributor.”
The Texans play the Seahawks Sunday in Seattle, and suddenly that comment and the reaction of Houston players may overshadow the game itself.
While McNair issued an apology Friday morning saying he regretted using the expression and referred to it as a figure of speech not aimed at his players, the comment drew sharp criticism from NFL players around the league — including several prominent Seahawks.
It also appeared to disturb many Texans with reports emerging Friday afternoon that some Houston players considered walking out of the team’s building and with a report that receiver DeAndre Hopkins skipped practice as an apparent result of McNair’s comment.
Houston left tackle Duane Brown was quoted as saying “it’s a bad situation” and that while the team decided to practice on Friday that it’s not over and players will reconvene later to decide how to proceed.
“When it happened, there’s a thousand emotions going through your mind,” Brown was quoted as saying by ESPN. “Obviously, one of the emotions is to leave the building immediately. [But] we decided to go to work. The situation’s not over. It’s something that we’ll reconvene and talk about again, but we had practice today.”
A few notable Seahawks were among many NFL players who took to social media Friday morning to rebuke McNair’s comment.
“People sayin’ how they really feel,” tweeted Seattle middle linebacker Bobby Wagner.
A couple of tweets from Seahawk cornerback Richard Sherman took more direct aim at McNair.
“I can appreciate ppl being candid. Don’t apologize! You meant what you said. Showing true colors allows ppl to see you for who you are,” read one Sherman tweet followed by “I wish more ppl would do that. So the world could ostracize those who don’t want to see EQUALITY. Otherwise they will continue to hide.”
Seattle offensive lineman Germain Ifedi quote tweeted Wagner adding “#2017.”
And Cliff Avril later Tweeted: “Say how you really feel huh!?!”
While in the short-term there will likely be far greater attention on Sunday’s game, the longer-term implication is that it won’t help sway any players who are skeptical about the league’s intentions in meeting with players to discuss their concerns.
Seattle players have mostly said they think the NFL is dealing in good faith in the meetings they have held with players, though no Seahawks attended last week’s meeting in person.
Michael Bennett, who has continued to sit for the national anthem (joined by the defensive line in solidarity) said Thursday that he thought the NFL was serious in wanting to hear the players’ concerns about the social injustice issues that are spurring the protests.
“Yeah I think so,” Bennett said. “I have talked to (NFL commissioner) Roger (Goodell) a couple times and he has always been very open about being able to have the open dialogue and finding a way for the NFL and the players to continuously do a lot of work. I think the plan forward that a lot of people are talking about is a pretty good plan.”
Receiver Doug Baldwin also said Sunday he met with Goodell in New Jersey over the weekend when the Seahawks were in town to play the Giants and said it was “a good conversation.”
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