The NFL community has been divided over politics. In 2016, Colin Kaepernick began kneeling during the national anthem in protest of police brutality against African Americans. He drew a lot of negative attention and, eventually was allegedly blackballed by NFL owners during his free agency. He currently has a case against NFL owners, stating there was collusion to keep him unemployed. Kaepernick's courage sparked other NFL players to protest.

Players have protested for Kaepernick in multiple forms. This includes kneeling before the anthem, raising a fist during the anthem, or standing in solidarity with players kneeling during the anthem.

Fans, owners, and advertisers expressed their disappoint by the protest, claiming that it is disrespectful to the flag and what it stands for. Others argue that the very essence of the flag represents the right to choose whether to stand or not.

Division in the NFL

There are multiple views in the NFL on this topic. There are owners like Cowboys' Jerry Jones, who explicitly stated that his players will stand for the anthem or they will be benched. Then, there are owners like Jaguars' Shahid Khan kneeled with the players. Some fans believe that standing during the anthem is the right decision but, respect the other players' choice to kneel. Other fans agree and support the players who are kneeling.

There are other fans who believe kneeling is disrespectful to the flag and, those players deserved to be punished.

During a rally in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, President Donald Trump expressed his severe disappoint in the NFL protests. He called the players kneeling, "sons of b**ches", and encouraged owners to fire any player who kneeled during the anthem.

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This only made matters worse. Professional athletes such as Lebron James commented on Trump's attacks, calling him "a bum" and said the White House lost value with the arrival of Trump. That following Sunday, more players than ever kneeled during the anthem.

Bob McNair's comments

Texans' owner Bob Mcnair is a public supporter of Donald Trump.

He donated $6.5 million to Trump's campaign, the most out of all the NFL owners. Naturally, McNair's opinion on the protest during the national anthem and its possible effects on the business was asked. This is when he said, "We can't have the inmates running the prison". He apologized to NFL vice president of football operations, Troy Vincent, who was offended by the analogy. McNair issued a public apology after the story's publication.

Players' reactions

Troy Vincent was deeply offended by McNair's inmate analogy and, justifiably so. Vincent, a former NFL player, said that in all his years of playing, he's been called every name in the book, including the N-word, but has never felt like an inmate.

However, Vincent is not alone. NFL players Richard Sherman, Damon Harrison, and Bobby Wagner felt disrespected by McNair's words.

McNair's comments have caused a divide in the Houston team. Star receiver DeAndre Hopkins skipped practice after hearing reports about the "inmate analogy". Other players considered skipping practice until their concerns are heard. The current way for players to voice concerns is through meetings between players and owners.The meetings between players and owners are not effective at all, according to Los Angeles Chargers' Russell Okung.

Players believe that the owners' only care about the business effects of the protest and not the reason why they are protesting. The owners give off a disingenuous vibe, players report.

For example, Bills owner Terry Pegula complimented receiver Anquan Boldin's speech on police brutality but called the player "Antwan".

Although McNair apologized, his apology fell on deaf ears. Richard Sherman said that there was no need to apologize because McNair revealed his true colors. The problem is how many times will these stories be published before an actual change occurs. NFL owners want players to remain silent on issues that directly affect players if it cost owners money. The players need to realize that they are the reason why the NFL is successful, not the owners.