Just as playersâ national anthem demonstrations were, for the most part, giving way to pure football matters, an NFL ownerâs ugly comment raised the ire of his players, who, after an emotional weekend in which they considered their options, responded with the majority taking a knee in protest during the national anthem.
Bob McNair, the Texansâ nearly 80-year-old owner,Â triggered an emotional weekend that culminated in the team-wide protest, with most linking arms and kneeling. Previously, Texans players had chosen to stand, partly out of respect for the owner. But after meeting and rejecting options like removing the decals from their helmet and remaining in the locker room for the anthem, they came to the sideline, many took a knee and linked arms before the game against the Seahawks at CenturyLink Field.
Texans’ sideline in Seattle. pic.twitter.com/TCOGMyweaR
â Greg Bishop (@GregBishopSI) October 29, 2017
McNair triggered this with his comment,Â reported in an ESPN exposeÂ of the recent players-owners meeting over the anthem, about âinmates running the prison.â Some players considered a walkout and about 10, including wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, left the facility Friday. Although most were talked into returning by coaches, Hopkinsâs absence was directly related to McNairâs comment.
McNair has sought to clean up his mess, offering yet another statement Saturday after meeting with players. However, his apology to players did ânot go over well,â the NFL Networkâs Ian Rapoport reports.Â McNairâs effort at damage control included a statement in which he said:
âAs I said yesterday, I was not referring to our players when I made a very regretful comment during the owners meetings last week. I was referring to the relationship between the league office and team owners and how they have been making significant strategic decisions affecting our league without adequate input from ownership over the past few years.
âI am truly sorry to the players for how this has impacted them and the perception that it has created of me which could not be further from the truth. Our focus going forward, personally and as an organization, will be towards making meaningful progress regarding the social issues that mean so much to our players and our community.â
McNairâs inflammatory comment came during the Oct. 17 meeting in New York in which players and owners sought to find a way to take their anthem demonstrations into community action after their message about social injustice and police brutality was lost in tweets and comments by President Trump and others.
The ESPN story showed how divided owners are on the topic of the anthem and, during that meeting, McNairÂ reportedly said, âWe canât have the inmates running the prison,â and Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder was quoted as saying that â96 percent of Americans are for guys standing.â Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has said that players for his team will be benched if they do not stand.
McNairâs commentsÂ reminded a number of athletes of Donald Sterling, who was forced to sell the Los Angeles Clippers because of racist comments a few years ago. Richard Sherman of the Seahawks believes players would boycott if they had guaranteed contracts.Â âI appreciate when people like that show who theyÂ really are,â Sherman said of McNairâs comments.Â âMore people in the world have to be that kind and that open about how they really feel so you can identify them â and make sure you stay away from those kind of people, and keep those people out of power.
âBut, you know, of course they have to sit back and apologize, because itâs politically correct to apologize. But eventually you have to take people for their word and for who they are. For most players, even when once we apologize they still take what we said and judge us by it. So you should do the same with him.â
Against that backdrop, owners and players had planned to meet again this week and on Saturday night invited NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and McNair to join them Monday in Philadelphia.Â âMany players have been deeply troubled by the disturbing comments made by Texansâ owner Bob McNair,â the players said in a statement. âIt is ironic that such a quote would emerge in the midst of an ongoing struggle to highlight injustices suffered by people of color, including our nationâs deeply flawed approach to criminal justice and inhumane treatment of imprisoned people.âÂ However, the meeting reportedly was postponed to a later dateÂ Sunday afternoon.
This was text to me by Russell Okung on behalf of the Players Coalition. They are inviting Mcnair, Kaepernick & Goodell to Monday meeting. pic.twitter.com/NO0aCzXnap
â Josina Anderson (@JosinaAnderson) October 28, 2017
As far as anthem protests go, the San Francisco 49ers continue to lead the way, with seven active or inactive players taking a knee. For the Philadelphia Eagles, Malcolm Jenkins and Rodney McLeod raised a fist, with teammate Chris Long standing with them in support.
Elsewhere in the NFL, 21 teams began the day a .500-or-better record, which meant the weekâs slate of games featured no matchup in which both teams had a winning record.
In New Orleans, Bears tight end Zach Miller suffered insult and injury on the same play. He hauled in a 25-yard touchdown pass from Mitchell Trubisky, but his leg bent in a gruesome way as he came down and he was taken off on a cart. (You can see the injury here, weâre not including the image because itâs actually nauseating.) As he was leaving, review showed that the ball had hit the ground and the touchdown was nullified. (Pity the officials who had to look at the injury over and over.)
The Saints improved to 5-2 with a 20-12 victory and Drew Brees joined Brett Favre and Peyton Manning as the only NFL passers with more than 6,000 completions. Brees completed 23 of 28 passes on the day for 299 yards.
Drew Brees joins Brett Favre & Peyton Manning as the only QBs in NFL history to complete 6,000+ career passes pic.twitter.com/94LIyZXiXA
â NFL Research (@NFLResearch) October 29, 2017
With their quarterback once again making more headlines for his petulance than his playmaking, the Carolina Panthers snapped a two-game losing streak with a 17-3 victory over Tampa Bay. Cam Newton, who earlier this month apologized to a female reporter and last week skipped media availability, walked off the podium Wednesday after getting a question he didnât care to answer from a different reporter. On Sunday, though, he completed 18 of 32 passes for 154 yards and a touchdown as the Panthers improved to 5-3.
The Falcons, who failed to convince anyone that the Patriots donât still remain in their heads after last weekâs loss in a regular season rematch of Super Bowl LI, got past the New York Jets, 25-20, on a wet MetLife field. The victory ended a three-game losing streak and put the Falcons back above .500. The loss is the Jetsâ third in a row.
In New England, Patriots came away with a 21-13 victory over the Los Angeles Chargers and take a 6-2 record into their bye week, snapping the Chargersâ three-game winning streak and dropping them to 3-5. Tom Brady passed for 333 yards and a touchdown; Philip Rivers passed for 212 and a touchdown.
We all know what happens next!
â NFL Canada (@NFLCanada) October 29, 2017
Pity Travis Benjamin, who had one of the worst punt returns youâre likely to see.
Travis Benjamin just had one of the worst punt returns in NFL history. pic.twitter.com/T3HY87U6R1
â CBS Sports (@CBSSports) October 29, 2017
The Bills kept pace with the Patriots in the AFC East, moving to 5-2 with a 34-14 victory over the 3-5 Oakland Raiders. In Cincinnati, the 3-4 Bengals eked out a 25-24 victory over the 2-6 Indianapolis Colts.
The NFLâs best team, at least at the moment, continued to be the Philadelphia Eagles, who topped winless San Francisco 33-10. Carson Wentz passed for 211 yards in that game.
The day began with a business-as-usual game from the Cleveland Browns, who flew to London and lost 33-16 to the Minnesota Vikings. Although the winless Browns led 13-12 at the half, the Vikings had no trouble after that, with Case Keenum completing 27 of 43 passes for 288 yards and two touchdowns (with one interception). The Brownsâ DeShone Kizer completed 18 of 34 passes for 179 yards.
In the other late afternoon game (see Houston-Seattle above), the Dallas Cowboys play the Washington Redskins with both teams at 3-3 in the NFC and hoping to remain in the chase with the Eagles (who play the winless 49ers in Philly) at 6-1. The Redskins have injuries at a number of key positions (see below); the Cowboys have running back Ezekiel Elliott, which may be key with a forecast that calls for a rainy andÂ coolÂ afternoon in Landover, Md.
Sunday nightâs game promises a little more competitive matchup than last weekâs New England-Atlanta affair, with 5-2 Pittsburgh playing Detroit, trying to end a two-game losing streak and make noise in the NFC North. The Steelers have been a soap opera this season â imagine how much Coach Mike Tomlin loves that.
Wide receiver Martavis Bryant will not play after a week in which he repeated a trade request on social media, a decision that ended with him on the scout team pretending to be a Lions receiver for the defense during practice.Â âHe just has to earn his way back,â fellow wide receiver Antonio Brown said. âObviously, we need him. We know what heâs capable of. Weâre going to need him down the stretch. He made a mistake, and heâll learn from it.â
On Monday night, the 3-3 Denver Broncos play the 5-2 Chiefs in Kansas City in an important NFC West game.
In other newsâ¦
A Martellus Bennett bombshell: The Packers tight end writes on Instagram that heâs âpretty sureâ this will be his last NFL season. (Read more.)
No review really needed: Game officials are supposed to eject players for hits like the one Kiko Alonso delivered on Joe Flacco. (Read more.)
Itâs Barr vs. Rodgers II: Anthony Barr hits Aaron Rodgers again, saying âthis guy got yâall fooled,â in what is now a he said-he said over just what happened when the Packers quarterbackâs collarbone broke two weeks ago. (Read more.)
NFL worries: Mark Cuban predicted an NFL âimplosionâ because of greed. Now, he sees it âaccelerating.â (Read more.)
What to make of the Redskins? Itâs still too early to write off the Redskins or to declare them playoff-worthy. (Read more.)
Donât crown âem just yet: The Seahawks arenât ready to cede the NFC West to the Rams. (Read more.)
Still in Beast Mode: Marshawn Lynch spent part of his suspension putting a big hit on a high school player. (Read more.)
Week 8 byes: The Cardinals, Packers, Jaguars, Rams, Giants and Titans are off.
Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly has cleared the concussion protocol and, although he was still listed as questionable Friday, he is expected to play after practicing all week. Kuechly was injured in the Oct. 12 loss to the Eagles and missed last weekâs game.
The Redskinsâ injury report is extensive and, on Saturday, the team signed offensive linemanÂ Orlando FranklinÂ and guard Arie Kouandjio, placed linebacker LB Mason Foster on injured reserve and waived running back Mack Brown.
That is not a very rosy injury report for the Redskins. pic.twitter.com/izbgdQhdle
â Mike Jones (@ByMikeJones) October 27, 2017
1 p.m. inactives include:
Ronald Darby (ankle)
Jordan Poyer (knee)
Alex Armah (hamstring)
Inactive players for 4 p.m. games:
C.J. Prosise (ankle)
Luke Joeckel (knee)
Fantasy football advice
Best/worst matchups: At either end of the spectrum, we have LeGarrette Blount and Dez Bryant. (Read more.)
The Atlanta conundrum:Â Should fantasy owners keep faith in the Falconsâ broken offense? (Read more.)
Week 8 cheat sheet: The choicest tips for Week 7. (Read more.)
Week 8 Start/Sit: Expect Kareem Huntâs âstrugglesâ to continue. (Read more.)
The Fantasy Football Beat:Â The Postâs fantasy football experts run down the trade fixes for your fantasy â and reality â teams. (Listen.)
The top trends and insights from Las Vegas. (Read more.)