Texans head coach Bill O'Brien said Friday that he will join his players if they do in fact peacefully protest racial injustice and police brutality by kneeling during the national anthem this season.
"Yeah, I'll take a knee—I'm all for it," O'Brien said, according to the Houston Chronicle's John McClain. "The players have a right to protest, a right to be heard and a right to be who they are. They are not taking a knee because they're against our flag. They're taking a knee because they haven't been treated equally in this country for over 400 years."
O'Brien was reportedly "emotional" and "sad" following the recent killing of George Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man who died on May 25 after being violently apprehended by a Minneapolis police officer.
Texans safety Michael Thomas said that O'Brien also had an encouraging conversation with the team about the issue.
"The tone has changed. I wasn't expecting Bill O'Brien to be that thorough and spot-on," Thomas said, per the Houston Chronicle's Aaron Wilson. "I don't know if I could have said it better. As a young African-American man, it's very encouraging."
O'Brien, defensive end J.J. Watt and a number of other Texans players and team employees also attended a memorial service for Floyd held in Houston earlier this week.
Watt previously called Floyd’s killing “disgusting” and said he doesn’t see how anyone could defend it.
O'Brien said Friday that the Texans' response "wasn't a conscious effort."
"It wasn't like we had a conversation together and decided to do it," he said. "I think we just said enough is enough, and we've got to do what's right. As an organization, we're part of the conversation and we want to do our part."