Texans chairman and CEO Cal McNair used an anti-Asian remark to describe COVID-19 at an event in May, according to Bally Sports' Michael Silver.
At the Houston Texans Foundation Charity Golf Classic at River Oaks Country Club over the summer, McNair used a microphone to speak to over 100 guests.
“I’m sorry that we couldn’t get together last year, because of the China Virus,” McNair said, several anonymous witnesses told Bally Sports.
The remark was in reference to the tournament's cancellation the previous year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Referring to the COVID-19 pandemic as the "China virus" was popularized by former U.S. president Donald Trump. McNair's father and former Texans owner, Bob McNair, who died in 2018, donated to Trump's 2016 presidential campaign.
Describing COVID-19 as the "China virus" can be linked to a rise in hate crimes against Asian Americans. McNair's comment was reportedly not well-received by those in attendance except by his wife, Hannah.
“Everyone gasped,” one witness told Bally Sports. "Especially the people directly across from him. He and Hannah seemed to think it was hilarious. It was dead silent.”
McNair acknowledged the report and apologized for his remark via a Texans spokesperson on Tuesday.
“My comments at the event last May included an inappropriate choice of words,” McNair said in the statement. “I immediately apologized to people who approached me then and I apologize again now. I know how important it is to choose my words carefully. I would never want to offend anyone.”
McNair's father also found himself at the center of controversy in 2017 when players were kneeling during the national anthem to protest racial inequality. At an NFL owners meeting, ESPN reported that he said owners "can’t have the inmates running the prison." He later apologized.
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