PHILADELPHIA -- Houston Texans owner Bob McNair's comment will not stop players from trying to work with the NFL to bring about social change, Philadelphia Eagles safety and player coalition leader Malcolm Jenkins said Friday.
McNair issued a public apology Friday following an ESPN The Magazine report that quoted McNair as saying, "We can't have the inmates running the prison," during last week's owners meeting in reference to ongoing player demonstrations during the national anthem.
"From a player's perspective, I think we've done a great job of trying to work in a collaborative manner with the league to really come up with solutions, to move forward and create some real change, and I don't see that changing," Jenkins said. "Obviously his comments will represent him, but from a player's standpoint, we're focused on our goals, we feel like we still have an opportunity to move forward with whoever is interested in doing that, and so hopefully we can get that same type of commitment from those in league leadership.
"That's our goal. It's not to appease one another, it's not to change someone's personal opinion, it's just to get some actual work done and change done. That's what our focus is going to be. Obviously you have quite a few different comments come from different owners, but I feel like players have been very, very diligent in making sure that our message has been one that we want to continue to push forward, that we want to continue to collaborate and move forward. So hopefully we can get to that point."
Some Texans players considered staging a walkout Friday due to McNair's comment, a source told ESPN's Sarah Barshop. Sources told ESPN's Adam Schefter that wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins' absence from practice was directly related to McNair's comment. Running back D'Onta Foreman also did not practice over the comment, sources told Barshop.
Players around the league reacted strongly to McNair's comment.
The NFL Players Association said in a statement to ESPN's The Six: "Our men are working Americans like anyone else. No one has the right to define them as anything less than a person. That is what this has always been about."
That's how they really feel huh??? 🤦🏿♂️ These words out this man's mouth are infuriating to me and the rest of my brothers in this League https://t.co/o1oQXb5Liz— Brian Orakpo (@rak98) October 27, 2017
Remember we only hold our players(I meant prisoners) to a higher standard then the ones in charge!! https://t.co/F0gEWy6JSd— Rishard Matthews (@_RMatthews) October 27, 2017
Lucky to have an appreciative & supportive owner of her employers!!— Rishard Matthews (@_RMatthews) October 27, 2017
He gotta go https://t.co/hzpsCDe9wb— Reggie Bush (@ReggieBush) October 27, 2017
Nahhh Bob McNair didn't say that...nah y'all tripping. He couldn't have. Nope he didn't. Did that wake some of y'all up now?— Damon Harrison (@BigDame900) October 27, 2017
The ESPN The Magazine report shed light on the differing opinions within the ownership group. For example, Eagles chairman and CEO Jeffrey Lurie spoke in support of the players' right to kneel during the anthem, while Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones appeared to be "trying to build momentum for an anthem mandate resolution." According to the report, McNair and Jones say they have been "fielding an avalanche of complaints from outraged fans" in Texas over the protests.
"You have the same issue with players. I mean, we've got players from all over with different opinions, but we've been able to keep that message the same on our end. Unfortunately, that hasn't been reciprocated," Jenkins said. "For us, we'll stay the course. We understand that there's a lot of personalities, a lot of different opinions in this, but that's the nature of what we're trying to get accomplished, is to try to work together and bring people together from different backgrounds and different mindsets to actually move forward to some change in our communities. Hopefully, all those who are interested in being involved get involved and move forward."
NFL owners and players met in New York last week to discuss ways they might be able to work together on these issues. While no resolution came out of it, some left feeling optimistic that collaboration was possible. The players are hoping to hold another meeting with the owners next week.
"We're waiting for some information from the league. We're waiting for a couple things. But we'd like to have a meeting next week," Jenkins said. "But that's kind of depending on the league."
ESPN's Brady Henderson contributed to this report.