Spokesman Review (Spokane, WA)
That changed Sunday at CenturyLink Field. Before Houston lost 41-38 to the Seahawks, the Texans linked arms during the national anthem, and more than three quarters of the team took a knee, with 10 players standing.
"I support my players 100 percent. I love my players," Texans coach Bill O'Brien said when asked to comment on what his team did during the anthem.
This response comes two days after news emerged that, during an NFL owners meeting to address player protests during the national anthem, Texans owner Bob McNair commented "we can't have the inmates running the prison."
"What he said, a lot of the players felt was wrong," said cornerback Marcus Williams, who had four tackles and intercepted Russell Wilson late in the fourth quarter. "But at the end of the day, we've got to come out and play the game. What happens off the field, we try to keep it there, and when it's time to play, we gotta come out and make plays."
McNair has since issued two public apologies and he also addressed the issue with his team on Saturday. McNair did not make the trip to Seattle for the game.
But Texans tackle Duane Brown said Sunday evening that the meeting with McNair went "not too well."
Still, Brown said the Texans went into Sunday entirely focused on the game.
"It was a lot of emotions running for our team, but just a huge sense of unity we all felt coming out here and playing for each other," Brown said. "And that was that. Once kickoff started, we tried to block out any other distractions we may have had."
McNair's comment drew rebukes from numerous NFL players around the league, including the more outspoken Seahawks like Richard Sherman and Bobby Wagner, and many news outlets reported Friday that multiple Texans players had considered boycotting practice. Only two - receiver DeAndre Hopkins and running back D'Onta Foreman - ended up doing so.
Hopkins finished as the Texans' leading receiver against Seattle, with eight catches for 224 yards and a touchdown. But he declined to discussed the reasons why he skipped practice on Friday.
"I play football for a living. I don't get into political things," Hopkins said.
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