HOUSTON (AP) — Houston Texans owner Bob McNair has released a second apology and is attempting to explain his comments, a day after a report revealed that he said "we can't have the inmates running the prison" during a meeting of NFL owners about players who protest by kneeling during the national anthem.
McNair, who first apologized in a statement on Friday, released a second statement regarding his comments on Saturday.
He says he wasn't referring to the players in what he calls a "very regretful comment." Instead he says he was "referring 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."
He then apologized to NFL players saying: "I am truly sorry to the players for how this has impacted them and the perception that it has created of me which could not be further from the truth. Our focus going forward, personally and as an organization, will be towards making meaningful progress regarding the social issues that mean so much to our players and our community."
The comment was published in an ESPN The Magazine story about two recent days of meetings among owners, players and others to discuss the protests that have drawn the ire of President Donald Trump. Players, following the lead of former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, say they kneel to protest social injustices, particularly against African-Americans. Trump has sharply criticized the protests and even called on NFL owners to fire players.
The meetings earlier this month did not result in a policy change that would require players to stand for the anthem. Owners and players are expected to meet again next week to discuss initiatives.