Bob McNair envisions the Texans & their fanbase as a real-life "Pleasantville". Houston is much more beautiful than that.
*This article is just one man's point of view and the hope is to open intellectual dialogue instead of increasing the divide. My only goal is to help to continue the momentum towards unity, understanding and acceptance in greater Houston. Reports nationally are that Houston is not only the most diverse city in America but also, it's the model of what the United States will look like by the year 2050. We can all play a part in the molding of the blueprint of America for the years to come or continue to segregate thru the ignorance of our past. FULL DISCLOSURE: This article is written by a white, Christian, straight male. So, we're not all the devil (tongue-firmly-in-cheek)*
Bob McNair in his latest comments backed a fellow white, billionaire, former owner, who has to sell his franchise after being accused of sexual assault by three different women, while also being accused of calling a scout on the team by a racial slur. Those weren't the only comments from the Houston Texans owner that garnered attention, McNair doubled down on his stance about players protesting.
Let's dive deep into some of Bob McNair's comments over the years:
Duane Brown in an interview with PFT: Brown talked about Bob McNair addressing the team back in 2008, when he was a rookie. He goes on to say that McNair was addressing the team following Barack Obama being elected president. Brown told PFT that McNair was visually shaken (his opinion) as he told the team "I know a lot of y'all are happy right now but it's not the outcome that some of us were looking for."
Brown also mentioned that after he protested during the anthem, the Texans never backed him on his character as a man. He said it felt like they "sent me to the wolves". I've personally only heard great things about Duane Brown from the Texans before he protested for equality. Protest equality? It's not lost on me that Bob McNair continously planted seeds with his comments in which he said "I think we all need to respect or flag and respect our country". This was in regards to the players protest for equality. His word choice purposely devalues what NFL players sacrifice for...and yes, I believe it's fair to call it a sacrifice for an individual who trains his entire life to make it to the top 1% of professional athletes and then he takes a stand for something bigger than him, while knowing it could cost him his career. A protest which started after Colin Kaepernick was seen sitting on the bench, alone during the National Anthem. When asked why he was sitting he said, "I'm not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color."
I believe Kaepernick erred here, as he did with the Fidel Castro shirt and the pig socks. In this moment he allowed those who would oppose him, with louder, more influential voices (at the time) to have an anchor to cling to, a reason to not acknowledge the police bruatlity, a talking point louder than the bigger issue, the more important issue, the issue that is actually life and death.
I tell my kids to not get caught up in the wrapping paper and overlook the gift, in life. Kaepernick and his missteps are the wrapping paper that you may dislike but what he's protesting for, equality for all, that's the gift..what's more American than that? I love America, I love the flag, but I choose humanity over symbolism. Isn't what the flag stands for more important than the flag? Kaepernick is aggressive, he's unapologetic, he's this generation's Malcolm X. In their generation, Malcolm needed Martin. Martin Luther King Jr. was more about unity and knew he had to go about receiving even more humility for the good of an equal world. One where everyone was the same. Malcolm wasn't waiting for one more second and felt that his people had suffer enough humility to last many lifetimes over. The country needed Martin and as much as he rubbed a lot of us the wrong way, the country needed Malcolm, too. Kaepernick needs a Martin, not someone to overshadow him or take up his place, someone to march parallel with but on the road not taken by Kaepernick. If this is what you need to open up and hear the message, if you truly care, then check out what Doug Baldwin has to say, or Chris Long or Cecil Shorts III. Where Kaepernick is about his people and people of all color and there's a need for that, these other individuals are a little more poetic, a little more reserved, a little more...Martin.
After the nation caught wind of Kaepernick sitting during the anthem, he met with the press a few days later. There's an entire statement, but the meat of it to me, that somehow got 1% of the attention of the protest, is when Kaepernick said this;
"It's something that can unify this team. It's something that can unify this country. If we have these real conversations that are uncomfortable for a lot of people. If we have these conversations, there's a better understanding of where both sides are coming from."
He went on to say,
"I have great respect for the men and women that have fought for this country. I have family, I have friends that have gone and fought for this country. And they fight for freedom, they fight for the people, they fight for liberty and justice, for everyone. That’s not happening. People are dying in vain because this country isn’t holding their end of the bargain up, as far as giving freedom and justice, liberty to everybody. That’s something that’s not happening. I’ve seen videos, I’ve seen circumstances where men and women that have been in the military have come back and been treated unjustly by the country they fought for, and have been murdered by the country they fought for, on our land. That’s not right.".
Colin Kaepernick viewed it as a beginning to something, one of the first steps. He soon showed his willingness to adapt the way the message was sent by meeting with a former Green Beret, named Nate Boyer, who also played college football at the University of Texas before signing with the Seattle Seahawks as a long snapper. Boyer met with Kaepernick and in the meeting they came up with a more appropriate way to protest that would still show respect to the troops, the country and the flag. Here's what Kaepernick had to say after that meeting:
"We were talking to [Boyer] about how can we get the message back on track and not take away from the military, not take away from fighting for our country, but keep the focus on what the issues really are. And as we talked about it, we came up with taking a knee. Because there are issues that still need to be addressed and it was also a way to show more respect to the men and women who fight for this country."
Nate Boyer even penned a piece, so to speak. Boyer, like most Americans, just wants peace and he calls the situation out to a "T".
The hate in our country drowned out any life of a reasonable discussion on this subject. Here locally, the Houston Texans owner just seems to show up every couple of months to drop a few 1,000 gallons of gas onto the situation.
The same man that in his most recent comments called Jerry Richardson, former owner of the Carolina Panthers, "an outstanding person", is the same man that wouldn't back the character of one of his employees that rose a fist in support of what Colin Kaepernick and others around the NFL were doing to bring awareness. He stood for the anthem but this, too, didn't fit the ever moving criteria for proper flag respect. Yet, these same patriotic Americans take no issue with the NFL charging the military for years for the right to market the anthem in hopes of boosting enlistment. That seems patriotic, monetizing the symbolism. There's also an unspoken rule that if you're watching the game at home, you don't have to stand, take your hat off, etc to respect the flag and/or song to prove patriotism. It's not hard to tell what this is really about. Are the people upset with the anthem, really upset at the sitting, kneeling, standing with fist...what meets the criteria in which you finally become more outraged about the deaths and racism that is obviously still so apparent in the American culture.
Do you honestly not find it odd that McNair would back a man without hesitation that has been accused of asking female employees if he could personally shave their legs? How about this outstanding man, Jerry Richardson having reached confidential settlements with a former black employee for directing a racial slur at him. Well, nothing new for complaints like that surrounding the outstanding Richardson, cause see, dating all the way back to 1993 he was having legal issues where race was involved. In the 1990's Richardson became the CEO of Flagstar Inc. During his time as CEO the company was hit with multiple racial bias lawsuits brought by the Justice Department. Flagstar Inc settled with black customers in the amount of $54 million. Richardson personally was mentioned in another lawsuit in 1994 in which a former employee said Richardson was disgruntled with her for hiring too many black employees or in the words of her accusal, "was filled with monkeys". While with the Panthers, there are reports from black players that Richardson would ask them to not wear dreadlocks and even asked one player to rub sunblock on his face. Just last year Panthers players came out and said that Richardson indicated that players addressing social issues would be subject to punishment. Maybe McNair meant that Richardson was outstanding in the many ways he allegedly sexual assualted numerous employees. His reported go-to method was to use his southern gentleman charm by opening the door for the lady and then insisting on buckling her seatbelt for her. On the way out, each buckle was accompanied by a hand casually rubbing across the ladies breast. Outstanding! But, Duane Brown put a fist up, Unamerican. Sexually assaulting women and paying them off with non-disclosure agreements...presidential.
Quick question: Does anybody find it odd that the NFL approved Jerry Richardson as a team owner despite knowing that he had all of these lawsuits going on, all concerning racism. Easy to see how a league with 31 white owners that approved a new white owner with a history of racism charges would have a current open lawsuit against them for collusion by a black employee or should I say former employee, after not being able to find work despite posting a 4/1 - TD/INT ratio with a busted group of receivers.
McNair has already brought notoriety to Houston with his beauty of a statement, "you can't let the inmates run the prison". After the backlash on his statement he said that he never intended the comment to be in reference to his players and instead it was meant as an analogy between the league office and team owners. He said he felt that the league office had been making significant decisions without the input of the owners. So, in McNair's analogy he's saying that the NFL league offices are the inmates and that the NFL owners are the wardens that are suppose to oversee the operations. Everyone is entitled to their opinions here, but really? At the same time that the biggest issue on the table is black players protesting during the NFL games, McNair fumbles an expression about the inmates running the prison (asylum)?
Bob McNair did share his thoughts on the reports on Jerry Richardson. He said that Richardson "didn't mean to offend anybody". The man with multiple sexual settlements and racism settlements, didn't mean to offend? How did Duane Brown not get this same support for doing what he thought was right but the man that may be a racist and allegedly makes a routine of harassing females gets an "outstanding" and "didn't mean to offend"?
Bob McNair was also deposed on the Colin Kaepernick collusion case. At some point this ruling could shine more of a light on what was done in the dark.
Like Bob McNair, I spent most of my young life in the Carolinas and we both got to Houston as soon as possible. McNair reportedly moved to Houston soon after graduating the University of South Carolina. I came to Houston knowing one person in the entire city, when I was only 19 years old. Growing up in Effingham, SC, I would tell my parents and anyone else who would listen that it felt like the rural areas were three decades behind the times on race relations. It fell on deaf ears as did most of my early life ramblings. I moved to Houston for diversity and opportunity. Houston celebrates our diversity. Houston welcomes that diversity. Unfortunately, despite being in Houston for almost 60 years, the Texans owner didn't adapt to the city's most beautiful appeal, it's love for our diversity. McNair has grown financially over the years but sadly it appears as if he never grew past the ignorance that was passed down to him in the foothills of North Carolina in the late 1930s-1950s. I imagine that McNair, if he was being honest, would tell you that in a perfect world, Houston would be "Pleasantville". A city that is beautiful in all of it's differences until your "color" becomes apparent. Then you either get back in line like the "good" ones or you're blackballed.
Here's the problem, Bob, "Pleasantville" was never beautiful, it was a mirage hiding racism and the shutting down of freedom of speech. Gladly, Houston is the anti-Pleasantville. The city that we're blessed to live in is the most beautiful city in the world. That's because of the people, the culture, the knowledge. We're stronger united. If the national reports are right and the way Houston is built now as far as diversity, is actually what America will look like in 2050, then why not treat Houston as the blueprint. We can only concern ourselves with what's in our reach. Other cities will hopefully follow suit but we have to worry about Houston. As a nation we overcame 9/11 and the days to follow were some of the most beautiful that this country had ever seen. Race didn't matter, we were Americans, we had each others back. After Hurricane Harvey, the days to follow were some of the most beautiful that this city had ever seen. Why do we save the beauty for the struggle? At our core, we're all good people, we all just want a fair, enjoyable life in which our kids our safe. Here in Houston we watch city after city across the country rip it's streets apart after a huge sports victory. When the Astros won the championship, you didn't see the looting here. We're already leading the way in how a city of every background of race, religion, sexuality, etc, can live with the understanding of pride in where we call home.
Bob McNair is a dark cloud over the city of Houston. He's in a position of authority with a large soap box. He reflects Houston. The image he reflects and his divisive words do not reflect our city. His hypocrisy has become apparent and can't be tolerated. It's time for Bob McNair to sell the Houston Texans to someone who better represents the city in which the team is named after.
Bob McNair, you don't have to go home, but you need to get the hell out of here.
*I reached out to the Texans and asked if Bob McNair had any comment on his latest thoughts. They simply replied, "No" *