Texans Kneel During Anthem After Owner’s “Inmates” Comments, As NFL Viewership Slides

Most players on the Houston Texans team knelt during the national anthem ahead of the team’s Sunday game with the Seattle Seahawks, following controversial comments made by the team’s owner, Bob McNair.

The protest came after Texans owner Bob McNair apologized for comparing players protesting during the anthem to “inmates running the prison.”

“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,” McNair said, according to ESPN, which reported on Friday that McNair said “we can’t have the inmates running the prison,” in reference to players protesting police brutality during the national anthem.  McNair also reportedly told Houston players he wasn’t referring to them in his remarks.

The Texans’ protest comes as some players continue to protest during the anthem, more than a month after Trump launched a twitter attack on demonstrating players.

On Sunday, several San Francisco 49ers players knelt during the anthem on Sunday, two Philadelphia Eagles players reportedly raised their fists, according to The Associated Press, while nearly all players on the Minnesota Vikings and Cleveland Browns linked arms during the anthem as well. 

Also on Sunday, Rev. Jesse Jackson called for NFL players to escalate their “kneeling” protests in the face of criticism from President Trump and league owners.

“The players should escalate their nonviolent protests,” the civil rights leader told The Houston Chronicle on Sunday. “Donald Trump called them ‘sons of bitches.’ (Colin) Kaepernick is not degrading the flag. He’s kneeling to pray, which is in our best tradition. If we had not knelt and prayed nonviolently, where would we be today as a society?”

In the interview, Jackson decided to escalate the controversy and said NFL owners have a “plantation mentality” and believes there should be sanctions against McNair for his comments. Jackson reached out to McNair and Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, but hasn’t heard back from either, he told the Chronicle.

“The players are objectified in a sense,” Jackson said. “Mr. McNair is a product of the South. They act like he’s a victim or misunderstood, but those players have made him a wealthy man.”

Jackson did not elaborate how NFL players should escalate their protests.

Meanwhile, according to Nielsen Ratings, NFL viewership has posted a steep decline in recent weeks since the kneeling scandal erupted, which also led several advertisers to pull their funding from the NFL broadcasts.  NFL games averaged 15.1 million viewers through Week 7, according to Nielsen data obtained by Sporting News. That’s down 5.1% from 15.87 million viewers during the same period last season and off 18.7% from 18.35 million viewers during the same period in 2015.

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