And Another Thing - Bob McNair Edition
Word leaked earlier today that Texans Owner Bob McNair used the phrase “inmates running the prison” in an owners meeting before being confronted by league executive, and former player, Troy Vincent. This story seems to keep growing and there are a number of facets surrounding it worth discussing.
The Phrase - McNair could almost be excused for the relatively popular turn of phrase “inmates running the asylum.” This new phrase that I hadn’t heard until today sounds a bit more unsympathetic than nonchalant. Why an NFL owner whose business interests have been interrupted with racial strife and injustice over the last few months would not be more sensitive is strange and suggests that perhaps McNair spoke his true feeling in, what he thought, was a closed door situation.
The Confrontation - Kudos to Troy Vincent for calling McNair out in that meeting to begin with. Vincent has been unpopular amongst players since his failed coup to oust Gene Upshaw from the NFLPA some years back. The NFL gave him a lifeline in hiring him and it is notable that he would risk being viewed as unappreciative by those same owners. The reports also mentioned that a quick but tense exchange followed between Jerry Jones and VIncent where Jones claimed that the owners built the league and will be the ones to fix any issues. This will certainly haunt the owners, as much as McNair’s statements, in the future.
The Leak - Honestly, leaks from an NFL owners meeting that paint the league in a bad light are extremely rare. That either a highly ranked league employee or another owner would speak out regarding this incident is telling. The league certainly hasn’t projected a consistent message in the last few months and this might be the latest example of a fracture among older more conservative owners and some of the newer ones.
The Fallout Houston Edition - Houston’s players were about to boycott practice today. That’s a huge deal. McNair’s apology was clearly not taken as sincere by the players in Houston, as DeAndre Hopkins took a personal day in protest, and the other players were cajoled into staying by the coaches. It’ll be tough for Houston moving forward to attract quality free agents if McNair doesn’t fix this issue.
The Fallout League Wide Edition - So far only the Seahawk players have been asked about the comments by the press but twitter is ablaze with the reaction from players across the league. This is going to make it harder for the players to trust that the NFL cares about their message. It’s tough to see how the league can save face without punishing mcNair.
The Way Forward - If you are the NFL the answer is clearly find the person responsible for the leak and ruin them. McNair made a weak apology that has been derided by most people publicly. Roger Goodell will now have to mend yet another chasm between the league and the players, and then the Owners will have to extend his contract.
And Another Thing
The bigger issue is that the owners clearly don’t care about or value the struggles of their players. News flash, they also probably don’t care about or value the struggles of the other workers whose effort made them billionaires to begin with. News flash #2, very few billionaires seem to understand or care about the struggles of their employees. This issue isn’t going away. Not with an NFL owner backed blowhard in the White House, not while people like Michael Bennet have to worry about being assaulted by police because they are publicly black, not while there is labor unrest on the horizon. The league needs to get its house in order before it can hope to force the players to do anything. As of now the players are speaking with one voice while the owners appear to be fracturing. Historically, in the NFL, that’s as rare as a leak from an NFL owners meeting.