Houston Texans owner on anthem protest: 'Can't have inmates running prison'

HOUSTON, Texas -- In an ESPN The Magazine report describing this month's meetings between NFL owners and players over the widespread national anthem protest, Houston Texans owner Bob McNair was described as making an upsetting remark during an owners' only summit on the controversy.

In a discussion over the business-related backlash of players' protests, McNair was quoted as saying, "We can't have the inmates running the prison."

LINK: ESPN The Magazine describes NFL meetings over anthem protest

The expression was made as owners attempted to deal with the protests while being sensitive to their players' grievances.

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In the report, McNair, who has gone on record as a million-dollar contributor to President Trump's campaign, immediately drew offense for the remark by NFL Executive Vice President of Football Operations Troy Vincent, who played in the league.

"Vincent said that in all his years of playing in the NFL [...] he never felt like an 'inmate,'" the report stated.

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The same report also described McNair taking Vincent aside from the meeting to apologize, saying that he felt horrible and that his words weren't meant to be taken literally.

In response, McNair offered regret for his words in a statement Friday:

The article posed McNair and influential Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones on one end of a spectrum of owners dealing with the protests. ESPN described both owners dealing with backlash over a controversy that remained unresolved and couldn't be ignored.

Jones was reported as instituting a no-stand, no-play policy to his players.

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