Texans tackle Duane Brown was upset when he saw owner Bob McNair’s remark that “[w]e can’t have the inmates running the prison.” But Brown wasn’t surprised, because it wasn’t the first time Brown believed he had witnessed McNair making curious word choices on matters of significant sensitivity and potential controversy.
During a Saturday morning phone interview with PFT (which preceded the meeting between McNair and the team), Brown recalled an occasion during his rookie year of 2008, when Barack Obama was elected the nation’s first African-American president.
“He came to talk to the team,” Brown said regarding the owner. “He was visibly upset about it. He said, ‘I know a lot of y’all are happy right now, but it’s not the outcome that some of us were looking for.’ That was very shocking to me.”
Brown added that McNair also addressed the team after the scandal that forced Donald Sterling to sell the L.A. Clippers, when racist remarks Sterling made in private became very public.
“The message was more to be careful who you have private conversations with, because things that you think are confidential can spread like wildfire,” Brown said. “In my mind, it would probably have been better if he said ‘don’t be a racist’ instead of ‘be a racist in private and make sure it doesn’t get out.'”
Brown’s reference to Sterling comes at a time when some league insiders are wondering whether McNair ultimately may have to sell the Texans. I asked Brown if he thinks it would ever come to that.
“I’m not sure, man,” Brown said. “In the climate we’re in right now, I’m not sure what could happen.”
It’s unclear where Brown’s relationship with the Texans and McNair will go from here. Previously, however, the Brown-McNair relationship wasn’t great, apart from the player’s holdout.
“I protested [during the national anthem] last year, and there was no backing of my character as a man as a leader or a player,” Brown said. “There was nothing said by [McNair] or the organization to back me at all. They just kind of sent me to the wolves.”
Brown said that, after the protest, McNair “didn’t have anything to say to me.”
The Texans had no comment on the quotes attributed by Brown to McNair.
Although Brown can (and will) be accused of having an axe to grind because of a lengthy holdout that resulted not in a new contract but in Brown showing up this week under the terms of his prior deal, he publicly said nothing about his situation while he was away from the team, and he did nothing to agitate for a trade or a release. There were no shirtless driveway situps, no “next question” press conferences, no inflammatory comments about the quarterback situation or anything else relating to the team.
While Brown suddenly has become very vocal with his criticism of McNair, it happened in direct response to the publication of McNair’s words, which upset plenty of other players. Indeed, as Brown stayed on Friday, two of his teammates (DeAndre Hopkins and D'Onta Foreman) left.