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Jerry Jones: Bob McNair’s ‘inmates’ comment not ‘about the players’

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has gone to bat for embattled colleague Bob McNair, saying the Houston Texans owner “was not talking about the players” when making his controversial “inmates” comments last week.

McNair ignited a firestorm last week with comments made during an NFL owners meeting regarding anthem protests. The Texans owner argued that “we can’t have the inmates running the prison.”

McNair has since apologized on two occasions. A meeting Saturday between McNair and Texans players didn’t assuage the team, as a majority of players took a knee ahead of last Sunday’s game against the Seattle Seahawks. Then, a costume worn by Jadeveon Clowney to a Halloween party Monday night appeared to mock McNair.

Despite the backlash, Jones — who has been a vocal opponent of player anthem protests — nevertheless threw his support behind McNair. Jones suggested during an interview Tuesday morning on 105.3 The Fan [KRLD-FM] that McNair’s “inmates” comment was in reference to the dealings between the team owners and the NFL league office, not about the players. McNair made the same claim.

“Bob is one of the absolute most admired people, as far as the ownership, there is in the NFL,” Jones said, as transcribed by The Dallas Morning News. “And I know what Bob’s stature is in Houston. He brought football back to Houston. It’s so unfortunate that he’s had this happen for him. But he’s really a guy that has a lot of influence and I admire him greatly. I know that I did hear [him]. I heard him. He did not and was not talking about the players.”

Jones later continued to sing McNair’s praises.

“… I just can’t tell you how magnanimous he is. He’s one of the really great benefactors to Houston and to anybody that’s been around him,” Jones said. “This is really unfortunate the way that it came out. He’s the first to tell you that he misused words, but it’s so unfortunate because he’s a high-quality individual.”

It makes sense that Jones defended his embattled fellow owner. However, the notion that McNair’s “inmates” remarks were about members of the NFL league office arguably doesn’t pass the smell test.