Bill O’Brien is taking a stance: the Houston Texans head coach said that he will kneel with his players this season in their protests against racial injustice.
Talking to the Houston Chronicle’s John McClain, O’Brien confirmed that he supports what players are kneeling for and that he will join his team members in kneeling.
“Yeah, I’ll take a knee — I’m all for it,” O’Brien said. “The players have a right to protest, a right to be heard and a right to be who they are. They’re not taking a knee because they’re against our flag. They’re taking a knee because they haven’t been treated equally in this country for over 400 years.”
O’Brien’s comments are strong and go along with the previously-voiced support of his players.
Reaction to George Floyd’s Death
The murder of George Floyd prompted protests and voices across the country and in the NFL, with many players attending protests or using their social media platforms to amplify those around them.
One Texan is quarterback Deshaun Watson, who took part in a video with other NFL stars to ask the NFL to step up their efforts in regards to racial injustice and to encourage the league to embrace the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement.
O’Brien said that it was more of doing what was right, rather than taking a side.
“It wasn’t a conscious effort,” O’Brien said about the Texans’ response to Floyd’s death. “It wasn’t like we had a conversation together and decided to do it. I think we just said enough is enough, and we’ve got to do what’s right. As an organization, we’re part of the conversation, and we want to do our part.“This is the right thing to do, and I think our players recognize that. We want to support our players and our community. We’re all in this boat together.”
O’Brien on Bob McNair Ownership
Back in 2017, in reaction to players kneeling across the NFL, late Texans owner Bob McNair made a comment in a league owner meeting in response to his players kneeling during a game against the Seattle Seahawks, saying that the “inmates were running the prison.”
The remark received considerable backlash and McNair later apologized, but after his death in 2018, Janice McNair has become the majority owner of the franchise. O’Brien says her, as well as fellow owners Cal and Hannah McNair, have done a good job of embracing current events.
“Janice, Cal and Hannah McNair have done an awesome job of listening and having conversations,” O’Brien said. “I know they believe in trying to find ways to fight racial injustice in this country. They care so much about this city and the people here, and they care deeply about the players.”
“When you think about how big the issue is, if we can help make a little change in Houston, maybe it’ll be like a pebble in the pond that creates a ripple,” said Cal McNair, the team chairman. “What happened to George Floyd brought to life something that’s bigger than football, and you can’t ignore it. We felt like we couldn’t stay silent. We felt like we had to say and do something. We want to help make changes.”
Evan Reier is a sportswriter covering the San Francisco 49ers for Heavy.com and local sports for the Montana Standard in Butte, MT. Follow and reach out to him on Twitter at @evanreier.