Bill O’Brien made it clear in an emotional speech that he felt he “had to do more” in the wake of George Floyd’s murder. According to this excellent piece by John McClain, O’Brien’s pledge to increase his activism in combating racial inequality will include taking a knee before Texans games this season.
“Yeah, I’ll take a knee — I’m all for it,” O’Brien said about players kneeling. “The players have a right to protest, a right to be heard and a right to be who they are. They’re not taking a knee because they’re against our flag. They’re taking a knee because they haven’t been treated equally in this country for over 400 years.”
O’Brien wasn’t done.
“I’ve always felt strongly about racial injustice because I was brought up that way,” O’Brien said. “I believe very strongly that white people have to stand with black people in our country.
“Black lives matter. Police brutality is part of it, obviously, but this is so much deeper than that. There are 800,000 policemen and policewomen in this country, and so many of them are trying to do what’s right for their community.
“It’s like what was said at George Floyd’s funeral: It’s about humanity coming together and treating each other as equals.”
Nor is the head coach of your Houston Texans the only member of management who’s speaking up.
“When you think about how big the issue is, if we can help make a little change in Houston, maybe it’ll be like a pebble in the pond that creates a ripple,” said Cal McNair, the team chairman. “What happened to George Floyd brought to life something that’s bigger than football, and you can’t ignore it. We felt like we couldn’t stay silent. We felt like we had to say and do something. We want to help make changes.
“This is the right thing to do, and I think our players recognize that. We want to support our players and our community. We’re all in this boat together.”
“We have to listen to our players and our community because they’re hurting,” Cal McNair said. “Listening is the key to learning, and learning is the key to change.”
The chairman of the Texans took things a step further, encouraging citizens to vote to force change.
“Reverend Lawson had some profound things to say, including one thing in particular, that in order for real change to happen, we have to vote and then hold our officials accountable,” Cal McNair said. “If they don’t do what we want them to do, we have to vote for someone else.
“It’s our responsibility to do that, and that’s how real change is going to happen, so vote and help make a difference.”
Cal McNair’s vocal participation on the subject is particularly noteworthy, given some of the gaffes made by ownership in the past. I don’t say that to insult the memory of Bob McNair; it would be wrong to imply the elder McNair, who undoubtedly gave back to the community in many positive ways (including but not limited to paying for the funerals of the victims of the Mother Emanuel Church shooting), was some sort of irredeemable villain. It’s simply refreshing to see the people who comprise the highest level of leadership at NRG Park making such a public commitment to lead in Houston and beyond.