Houston Texans owner and University of South Carolina alum Bob McNair has a questionable history of racially insensitive comments, according to one of his players.
During an interview with Pro Football Talk, Texans tackle Duane Brown pointed out two instances from the past where McNair made potentially controversial comments on racially-sensitive issues.
McNair is currently under fire after his comments referring to NFL players as “inmates” became public, according to multiple reports.
McNair said “we can’t have the inmates running the prison” during a meeting of NFL owners about players who protest by kneeling during the national anthem, according to an ESPN report.
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On Friday, Brown said “he’s not surprised by,” McNair’s “inmates” comment.
Although McNair has issued two public apologies, Brown said the owner has a track record of making comments on racial issues that might not be popular or well received.
Brown recalled one comment McNair made following the 2008 election of former President Barack Obama. He also pointed to another McNair comment in 2014, when former Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling was banned from the NBA for making racist comments.
“He came to talk to the team,” Brown told profootballtalk.nbcsports.com about McNair, following Obama’s first election. “He was visibly upset about it. He said, ‘I know a lot of y’all are happy right now, but it’s not the outcome that some of us were looking for.’ That was very shocking to me.”
After the Sterling scandal, Brown said McNair addressed the team again.
“The message was more to be careful who you have private conversations with, because things that you think are confidential can spread like wildfire,” Brown said to profootballtalk.nbcsports.com. “In my mind, it would probably have been better if he said ‘don’t be a racist’ instead of ‘be a racist in private and make sure it doesn’t get out.’ ”
Friday, in response to the “inmates” comment, Brown told reporters he was “sickened” by McNair’s words.
“I think the comments were disrespectful, I think it was ignorant, I think it was embarrassing,” Brown said. “I think it angered a lot of players, including myself. We put our bodies and minds every time we step on the field. To use an analogy of inmates in a prison, I would say they’re disrespectful.”
The Texans had no comment on the quotes attributed by Brown to McNair, according to profootballtalk.nbcsports.com.
It would be fair to characterize Brown’s relationship with McNair as uneasy.
Brown returned to the team Monday after his season-long holdout over a contract dispute. The three-time Pro Bowl selection missed six games while holding out for a new deal from the Texans, which he did not receive.
Brown was also one of the NFL players to protest during the playing of the national anthem last season, raising a fist at the end of its playing before one game last season. Brown was the only Texans player to protest in 2016.
He told profootballtalk.nbcsports.com that, after the protest, McNair “didn’t have anything to say to me.”
In 2016, McNair donated $4.5 million to Trump and out of all of the NFL owners McNair was the biggest donor to Trump, according to texasmonthly.com.
Several prominent former South Carolina and Clemson players are on the Texans’ roster. Former Gamecocks include Jadeveon Clowney, Jonathan Joseph and Bruce Ellington, while Houston’s offense is led by former Tigers Deshaun Watson and Deandre Hopkins. Fellow Clemson alums D.J. Reader, Carlos Watkins and Marcus Gilchrist are also on the Texans.