The players' decision to kneel comes two days after Texans owner Bob McNair apologized for a remark he made at the Fall League Meeting earlier this month. In a story published by ESPN on Friday, McNair was quoted as telling fellow owners and NFL executives that "we can't have the inmates running the prison," when talking about the impact of players not standing during the national anthem was having on league business concerns.
McNair publicly apologized on Friday and Saturday.
"As I said yesterday, I was not referring to our players when I made a very regretful comment during the owners meetings last week," McNair said in a statement released Saturday. "I 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."
Texans players considered not practicing Friday after learning of McNair's comment until meeting with coach Bill O'Brien, GM Rick Smith and assistant head coach Romeo Crennel, a source present told NFL Network's James Palmer. The meeting went 90 minutes and players were free to speak their minds. All decided to stay for practice, minus DeAndre Hopkins.
A source informed of the situation told NFL Network's Michael Silver that Hopkins will not be fined for taking a "personal" day on Friday.
When asked about McNair's comments, Hopkins said: "The Seahawks, they played a good game. They beat us. I play football for a living."
The NFL emerged from the Fall League Meeting with no mandate to force players to stand for the national anthem. Owners and players reached a consensus to support programs which address and combat social inequality.
NFL owners and players are scheduled to meet again Tuesday to discuss how the two sides can work together to make further progress on social issues.