Texans owner Bob McNair’s comments likening NFL players to “inmates” have reportedly upset Houston players to the point that they considered skipping Friday’s practice session en masse.
McNair was quoted in an ESPN piece published Friday morning as saying, “We can’t have the inmates running the prison,” in a meeting about players’ protests. He released a statement later Friday morning apologizing for the comment. Head coach Bill O’Brien notified the players about the comments in their morning meeting “so they would not be blinsdsided,” ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports.
The quote elicited strong reactions from players around the league, including in Houston, where players reportedly had to be convinced to go through their final practice of the week.
A total of roughly 10 players left the building on Friday but most of them returned, ESPN’s Sarah Barshop reports. Those players who had reservations about taking part in practice were convinced to participate by the coaching staff, according to Barshop.
DeAndre Hopkins, Houston’s star receiver, was absent from practice. Head coach Bill O’Brien explained that Hopkins had taken a “personal day” and declined to say whether his absence was tied to what McNair said. Schefter reported, however, that Hopkins decision not to participate “was related to Bob McNair’s comments.”
Though Hopkins was the only player to express his displeasure by staying home, many others made their feelings known on social media and in talking with the press.
Veteran offensive lineman Duane Brown told reporters that he and his teammates gathered earlier in the day and decided to go through with practice, though they will meet again to discuss the topic. Brown added that he was “sickened” by what McNair said but he was “not surprised.”