Ex-Texans owner Bob McNair said "we can’t have the inmates running the prison," during an NFL executives meeting in 2017.
Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins told GQ that he nearly sat out a Texans' game in 2017 due to comments from late owner Bob McNair.
McNair was caught on an audio recording in 2017 saying, "we can't have the inmates running the prison" when discussing those who were kneeling during the national anthem. Hopkins was upset with McNair's comments and nearly skipped Houston's Week 8 game against the Seahawks in protest.
"It feels like I'm a slave again. Getting ran over. Listen to the master, go to work," Hopkins told GQ's Cam Wolf. "It's hard for people to understand what that means, when your family was slaves. You can't relate to something like that if your great-uncle's not telling you stories about their parents or their grandparents and what they went through. Not even too long ago, people couldn't even drink out of the same water faucet. Not even 100 years ago.”
Hopkins did miss Houston's practice before the Week 8 matchup in October 2017, but he did suit up at Seattle. The All-Pro receiver noted the reception he received from the Seahawks fan pregame in Tuesday's interview.
"When we kneeled in Seattle, you know what they did? They didn't even boo, bro," Hopkins said. "I was like, ‘Damn, I love Seattle. They understand what we go through."
McNair founded the Texans in 2002 and served as their owner for 17 seasons. He died in November 2018 at 81.
Hopkins has been one the NFL's most productive receivers since entering the NFL in 2013. He has tallied over 1,000 yards receiving in four of six NFL seasons, and he logged double-digit touchdowns in 2015, 2017 and 2018.