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DeAndre Hopkins Opts Out of Texans’ Practice Following Bob McNair’s “Inmates” Comments

And the entire team nearly followed suit

Houston Texan DeAndre Hopkins holds the football Photo by Thomas B. Shea/Getty Images

Houston Texans players contemplated walking out of practice after ESPN reported Friday that owner Bob McNair compared NFL players to prisoners.

“We can’t have the inmates running the prison,” McNair said in a conversation during an NFL owners meeting earlier this month about if players should be allowed to kneel during the national anthem to protest inequality. McNair apologized for the comments in a statement released Friday morning.

Texans star receiver DeAndre Hopkins, whom Houston signed to a five-year, $81 million deal in August, didn’t show up to practice Friday. Head coach Bill O’Brien described it as “a personal day,” but, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Hopkins’s absence was due to McNair’s comments. The Texans who did show up to practice met and nearly walked out of the building en masse before deciding against it. Players were allowed to speak during a 90-minute meeting led by O’Brien, assistant head coach Romeo Crennel, and general manager Rick Smith. Schefter called the situation an “organizational crisis” on ESPN.

Texans offensive tackle Duane Brown called McNair’s comments “disrespectful and ignorant” and “horrible,” saying that they “sickened [him],” but that he was “not surprised by it,” according to a series of tweets from Houston Chronicle reporter Aaron Wilson. Brown added that while the team decided to practice Friday, the players will meet again soon and evaluate the situation further.

This week the Texans are preparing to take on the Seattle Seahawks who, along with the San Francisco 49ers, are among the most outspoken teams in the league on social issues. Multiple Seahawks appeared to criticize McNair on Friday morning, including cornerback Richard Sherman.

Linebacker Bobby Wagner’s tweet elicited a retweet from Houston receiver Deanté Gray. Other Texans players also took to social media after the comments were made.

Criticism didn’t come from only NFL players. Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green called the comments “Donald Sterling-esque” in an Instagram post, referring to the disgraced former Los Angeles Clippers owner, and at practice he spoke to the media about McNair’s comments.

As of Friday afternoon, Schefter reported, all Texans players were expected travel with the team to Seattle on Saturday.