During at a closed-door meeting earlier this month where NFL owners gathered to discuss players protesting racial inequality during the national anthem, Texans owner Bob McNair referred to NFL players who kneel as “inmates” and saying that “we can’t have them running the prison.”
According to the Huffington Post, McNair voiced his opposition to the protest, saying of the protesting players, “We can’t have the inmates running the prison.”
McNair’s comments stunned some in the room, ESPN reports, with Patriots owner Robert Kraft delicately moving the conversation forward afterward.
Troy Vincent, a retired NFL player who now works as an executive for the league, told those in the meeting he’d been called all manner of slurs when he was a player, but he never felt like an “inmate.”
Representatives for the Texans and McNair didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment, but the team did release a statement in which McNair said his comments were “a figure of a speech,” according to HuffPost.