Houston Texans owner Bob McNair reportedly caused a stir at the recent NFL ownership meetings, referring to players kneeling during the national anthem by saying "We can't have the inmates running the prison."
The comments came during an owners-only meeting, although former player and Executive VP of football operations Troy Vincent was there and took offense to McNair's comments, reportedly setting off a heated debate.
According to the reports, McNair later apologized to Vincent.
The Texans released a statement regarding the comments on Friday:
“I regret that I used that expression. I never meant to offend anyone and I was not referring to our players,” McNair said. “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.”
While "inmates running the asylum" is a commonly used phrase, and McNair had some expectation of privacy considering where he said it, the phrase was at best a very poor choice of words considering what a hot-button topic this has been.
And McNair did apologize, but he also said he would never characterize the players or the league that way. But who else could he have been referring to?
McNair is a decent man, and I believe there was no malice intended. He has been a very supportive, engaging and open owner. But considering the divisiveness of the issue, and how it has caused problems even among the players, McNair should have been much more careful in his choice of words. We will see if it blows over or if it becomes an issue that causes probems down the road, but McNair should have known better.
This column first appeared on SportsMap.