Twitter is up in arms this morning about an ESPN story that quotes Houston Texans owner Bob McNair saying, “We can’t have the inmates running the prison,” referring to a growing slew of NFL players protesting the national anthem.

“That statement stunned some in the room,” Seth Wickersham and Don Van Natta Jr. wrote in this ESPN The Magazine story, which chronicles a recent closed-door meeting of National Football League team owners.

Janice and Bob McNair

McNair (pictured above with wife Janice) made the remark as Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones spoke about the importance of all players standing and saluting the flag during the pre-game “Star-Spangled Banner.”

“After the owners finished, [former NFL cornerback and current league executive] Troy Vincent stood up,” their piece continued. “He was offended by McNair’s characterization of the players as ‘inmates.’ Vincent said that in all his years of playing in the NFL — during which, he said, he had been called every name in the book, including the N-word — he never felt like an ‘inmate.’”

“McNair later pulled Vincent aside and apologized, saying that he felt horrible and that his words weren’t meant to be taken literally, which Vincent appreciated,” the duo wrote.

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