Texans kneel

Protesters voice anger at Texans’ owner, side with player concerns

Three buses of protesters stood across the street from NRG Stadium on Sunday and called for Texans owner Bob McNair to step down – or to at least make good on his commitment of making meaningful progress toward social issues that prompted NFL players to protest during the national anthem.

“Bob McNair has embarrassed himself. Bob McNair has embarrassed his organization,” said community activist Deric Muhammad. “Bob McNair has embarrassed this city …. We want to encourage Mr. McNair to do the right thing. Step down as the head of this organization, and maybe the organization can start anew.”

McNair came under fire last month for saying “we can’t have the inmates running the prison” during a closed-door NFL meeting that included a discussion of player protests. McNair apologized, saying he was not referring to the athletes, but some remain angry.

The protesters who gathered Sunday chanted “McNair don’t care” and “We stand with (Colin) Kaepernick” during a press conference held across the street from NRG where the Texans were playing the Arizona Cardinals. Protest attendees included members of the Texas Organizing Project, rapper K-Rino and state Rep. Ron Reynolds, D-Missouri City.

“Mr. McNair, will we hear from you that you support these NFL players in their right to protest?” asked Missouri City councilman-elect Jeffrey L. Boney. “We need to hear from you.”

In line with what the players were protesting, the demonstrators Sunday took a stand against police brutality and other justice system inequalities toward people of color.

The Texans said they made it “abundantly clear” that McNair was referring to the league office and its employees, not the players, when that statement was made.
“Bob McNair’s many contributions to the community have been well documented,” the team said in a statement on Sunday. “The Texans will continue to support our players commitment to the city through our year-round efforts to make a difference.”

The protesters on Sunday also showed solidarity with Kaepernick, who many believe is being blackballed by the NFL for being the first player to protest during the national anthem.

Kaepernick’s experience has changed the football habits of Kathy Blueford-Daniels. The self-proclaimed football junkie was going to buy Texans season tickets for her husband, as she had done in the past, but decided against it after Kaepernick began his protests and didn’t receive support from NFL leaders. She stopped watching football this year, and she now wears the No. 7 jersey for Kaepernick.

Blueford-Daniels is waiting for management to openly embrace players’ right to protest. Then she’ll return to the sport she loves. “As an avid football fan, I would watch again,” she said. “I can’t wait to watch again.”

She also emphasized that player protests aren’t disrespecting members of the military. Blueford-Daniels’ nephew died while serving as a member of the military. She supports both the military and the right to protest.

Pastor E.A. Deckard of Green House International Church, in north Houston near I-45 North and Greens Road, brought a group of high school and junior high school students to the protest. He wanted them to experience standing up for social justice.

“So as they get older, they won’t sit on the sideline and complain,” he said. “They’ll engage in their community.”

The press conference was followed by a short march. Participants carried signs reading “Can you see us now?” “Rally for justice” and “Team Kaepernick.” They finished by taking a knee in the right lane of Kirby Drive.

This story originally appeared 11/19/2017 in the Houston Chronicle.