Houston Texans owner Bob McNair has caused a controversy over remarks that “we can’t have inmates running the prison” in reference to NFL players deciding whether to kneel during the national anthem.
McNair apologized, saying “I used a figure of speech that was never intended to be taken literally. I would never characterize our players or our league that way and I apologize to anyone who was offended by it.”
His comments upset his team, to the point where they considered walking out of practice today. Star wide received DeAndre Hopkins did miss practice, with reports that he walked out over what McNair said.
Draymond Green, a star with the NBA’s Golden State Warriors, said today that the NFL should fine McNair, and he made his point in a very smart way.
“I wouldn't personally want to play for somebody who views me an as inmate. Because I haven't done anything in my life to be an inmate. To be an inmate, you're either in hospital or in prison. I'm not in a hospital and I'm for damn sure not in prison. Then you say, some people commented on my [Instagram] post that, 'Hey, it's a figure of speech.'
Agree or disagree, figure of speeches aren't OK in 2017. If I come out and give a figure of speech on anything -- whether that's race, whether that's sexual orientation -- whatever that is, if I give a figure of speech in 2017, I'm going to get ridiculed by any group that's formed to protect one's group. I'm going to be fined by the NBA. I'm going to be looked at ridiculously by the community. So why is that OK?
Green is 100% correct in his comments about figures of speech. It had long been an excuse offered by those who used gay slurs, saying it was just “locker room talk,” the sports culture and that “boys will be boys.” No one in pro sports would accept such a rationalization in 2017 and any player uttering a gay slur will be fined.
Since the vast majority of players kneeling are black and 70% of the NFL’s players are black, it’s obvious that McNair’s inmate comment have a racial tinge. McNair should do more than apologize to “who was offended,” though I highly doubt that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell will fine him. McNair should talk to actual inmates and hear their stories — and donate to prison reform causes — before equating his employees with people in prison.