Trying to tamp down a billowing controversy, the Houston Texans owner Bob McNair on Saturday apologized for the second straight day for a comment he made at a recent meeting with fellow N.F.L. owners that was widely interpreted as demeaning to players.
McNair sought to clarify that a remark he had made about “inmates running the prison” was in reference not to players who continue to sit or kneel during the national anthem, but to the “relationship between the league office and team owners and how they have been making significant strategic decisions affecting our league without adequate input from ownership over the past few years.”
The N.F.L. has not commented on McNair’s latest remarks.
McNair’s original comments, which were published in an ESPN article on Friday, prompted players on the Texans to consider walking out of practice. Two players skipped practice, including wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins.
Coach Bill O’Brien said on Friday that he backed his players, and on Saturday, McNair met with the players before they left for Seattle to play the Seahawks on Sunday. According to ESPN, the team will meet Saturday night to consider some form of a demonstration before the game on Sunday.
Players across the N.F.L. have reacted strongly to McNair’s “inmates” remark, some of them suggesting they would never play for the Texans.
The conflict came at a critical time for the N.F.L., which has been in talks with players to address some of the concerns that led them to abstain from standing for the anthem, including racial injustice and, more specifically, the treatment of African-Americans by the police and the criminal justice system.
A handful of owners and players have met in recent weeks to see if the league can help support the players in their causes. Under withering criticism from President Trump and from many fans, the owners are also eager for the players to consistently stand during the anthem.
The players and owners may meet again Monday or Tuesday, but there has been confusion about the location, the agenda and whether Colin Kaepernick, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback who last season started the practice of not standing for the anthem, will attend.
Kaepernick’s lawyer said Saturday that Kaepernick had not received an invitation to the meeting.
“It’s obvious that Colin is being invoked for purposes other than playing football,” the lawyer, Mark Geragos, said in an interview. “Everyone seems to have an agenda other than putting Colin on the football field.”
Officials at the N.F.L. said it was up to the players to invite him. Earlier this week the players union, which is helping coordinate the meeting, did not appear to be sure it would take place and had not firmed up a guest list.
On Saturday, Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Malcolm Jenkins, who has been active in the talks, invited McNair, Commissioner Roger Goodell and Kaepernick to meet in Philadelphia, according to ESPN.
Eric Reid, a safety on the 49ers who knelt with Kaepernick during the anthem last season, and has also participated in talks with the league, was also confused by Jenkins’s invitation because he, too, was unaware of any meeting in Philadelphia.
“I’m not sure why a press release was sent out saying there’s a meeting when there’s no confirmation the N.F.L. would attend the meeting,” Reid said. “There needs to be better communication.”
Kaepernick’s attendance would be noteworthy. Now a free agent, he has been unable to secure a new contract from another team. This month, he filed a grievance in which he claimed the owners had colluded to keep him out of the league.
Published at Sun, 29 Oct 2017 03:29:53 +0000