Rev. Jesse Jackson had some strong words for National Football League owners in the wake of Houston Texans owner Bob McNair’s “inmates” comments.
“We can’t have the inmates running the prison,” McNair said during an October meeting with team owners while discussing the national anthem protests.
Jackson told the Houston Chronicle that McNair’s choice of words revealed he and other team owners have a “plantation mentality.”
Because of the comments, Jackson also said he wants the minutes of the meetings to be public:
“They really should make the minutes of that meeting public. I understand there were some other things said that were just as bad from other owners. They have kind of a plantation mentality. The players are objectified in some sense. Mr. McNair is a product of the South. They act like he’s a victim or misunderstood, but those players have made him a wealthy man.”
Jackson added that there should be sanctions against the Texans owner, saying, “Other owners heard him talk that way, and they shouldn’t condone that kind of talk.”
During a recent appearance on Fox Sports’s “Undisputed,” Jackson compared the players to slaves who picked cotton.
“In many ways, it is oppression,” he said. “To go from picking cotton balls to picking footballs and basketballs without freedom is not very much progress — it’s just a lateral move.”
McNair later apologized for the words he used, saying:
I regret that I used that expression. I never meant to offend anyone and I was not referring to our players. I used a figure of speech that was never intended to be taken literally. I would never characterize our players or our league that way and I apologize to anyone who was offended by it.
But the damage was already done. When the Texans played the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday after McNair’s comments became public, all but 10 of the players took a knee during the national anthem.