On Saturday, The Houston Chronicle reported that the Texans “aren’t interested” in signing free agents who have knelt during the national anthem to protest social injustice.
The report cited two agents who said that there was “no directive” from the organization to avoid those players, but that it was “considered to be understood” that the team was not interested in players who had protested or appeared likely to do so.
On Monday, the Texans responded.
In response to inaccurate reports regarding potential free agent signings… pic.twitter.com/CvI67Y91Uo
— Amy Palcic (@amypalcic) March 6, 2018
“Categorically false and without merit.”
That’s firm language from an organization with extra sensitivity around race relations and last season’s prolonged controversy over players using pregame renditions of the anthem as a platform to protest social inequality.
In October, Texans owner Bob McNair was reported to have spoken against player protests during a meeting between owners and players to address the issue of kneeling.
“We can’t have the inmates running the prison,” McNair reportedly said during the meeting.
The meeting was a response to particularly tense times for the league that saw President Donald Trump attacking the NFL on Twitter and sponsors worried over player protests.
For protesting players and their supporters, the social issues they were raising awareness for and their right to speak their minds trumped any political or sponsor backlash.
McNair’s prison rhetoric added fuel to the flames and prompted an apology on Twitter.
— Mark Berman (@MarkBermanFox26) October 27, 2017
The context of McNair’s recent history combined with the Chronicle report required a direct response from the team.
However much of Saturday’s report is accurate, the Texans certainly don’t want to leave reports from a paper of record that they are happy shunning talent away from their team unchallenged.
And hopefully they’re not OK with the perception that management might be racist.