A day after issuing a public apology, Houston Texans owner and University of South Carolina alum Bob McNair met with his players.
McNair met with Texans players Saturday morning, after his comments referring to NFL players as “inmates” became public, according to multiple reports.
In ESPN’s report, 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.
“I know they were upset,” McNair said to the Houston Chronicle Saturday. “I wanted to answer their questions. I told them if I had it to do over again I wouldn’t use that expression.”
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.
McNair issued an apology on Friday, after the “inmates” comment went public.
The 1958 USC grad issued another public statement Saturday after meeting with players.
“As I said yesterday, I was not referring to our players when I made a very regretful comment during the owners meetings last week. I was referring to the relationship between the league office and team owners and how they have been making significant strategic decisions affecting our league without adequate input from ownership over the past few years,” McNair said in a news release.
“I am truly sorry to the players for how this has impacted them and the perception that it has created of me which could not be further from the truth. Our focus going forward, personally and as an organization, will be towards making meaningful progress regarding the social issues that mean so much to our players and our community.”
Texans receiver and former Clemson Tiger DeAndre Hopkins walked out of the team’s practice facility and skipped training in protest of McNair’s comment.
Hopkins, a fifth-year receiver who is tied for the league lead in touchdown receptions, was one of 10 Texans players to leave practice, according to an ESPN report.
“I let them know that No. 1, the last thing I want to be is a distraction to the team,” McNair told Houston’s Fox 26 on Saturday. “If any of the players were offended by what was reported, I’m sorry about that, and I apologized to them for that. We need to just work together going forward.”
That might have also been an attempt to prevent Hopkins and other players from boycotting Sunday’s game against the Seattle Seahawks.
A Texans offensive starter told ESPN that the team will meet Saturday night “to discuss a demonstration.” The player also said that he expects everyone on the team to travel Saturday to Seattle.
Texans offensive tackle Duane Brown said McNair has a track record of commenting on racially-sensitive issues.
In addition to Hopkins, several prominent Clemson and South Carolina alums are on the Texans’ roster. Former Gamecocks include Jadeveon Clowney, Jonathan Joseph and Bruce Ellington.
Houston’s offense is led by former Tigers quarterback Deshaun Watson, while D.J. Reader, Carlos Watkins and Marcus Gilchrist are also on the Texans.
In spite of the current controversy, McNair has remained a supporter of South Carolina academics and athletics. In January, McNair made a $5 million commitment to the construction of the new football operations center. Prior to that gift, McNair had given $28 million to the academic side of the university.
“Janice and I have been privileged to support great initiatives in higher education and athletics,” McNair said in January. “We are again honored to join with other Gamecock supporters in supporting the new football operations center at the University of South Carolina. We hope all fellow Gamecocks will join us in taking part in this extraordinary project.”
McNair earned a psychology degree from USC in 1958. Following his days at South Carolina, he founded Cogen Technologies, one of the largest privately held energy companies in the world. He sold Cogen before founding the Texans in 1999, and maintains ownership of a private investment company.