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Bill O'Brien Says He'll Kneel with Texans Players During Anthem: 'All for It'

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistJune 12, 2020

Houston Texans head coach Bill O'Brien watches his team warm up before an NFL wild-card playoff football game against the Buffalo Bills Saturday, Jan. 4, 2020, in Houston. (AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith)
Eric Christian Smith/Associated Press

Houston Texans head coach Bill O'Brien plans to support his players during the 2020 NFL season if they decide to kneel during the playing of the national anthem.

According to John McClain of the Houston Chronicle, O'Brien said he intends to join in as well: "Yeah, I'll take a knee—I'm all for it. The players have a right to protest, a right to be heard and a right to be who they are. They're not taking a knee because they're against our flag. They're taking a knee because they haven't been treated equally in this country for over 400 years."

The practice of kneeling during the anthem—which was started by then-San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick in 2016 to protest racial inequality, police brutality and social injustice—is something that has been condemned by the NFL over the years because of the league's contention that it was disrespectful to the flag.

That seems to be changing, as NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said the league was "wrong" in the way it handled players wanting to protest:

NFL @NFL

We, the NFL, condemn racism and the systematic oppression of Black People. We, the NFL, admit we were wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier and encourage all to speak out and peacefully protest. We, the NFL, believe Black Lives Matter. #InspireChange https://t.co/ENWQP8A0sv

With the league changing its stance, it is likely that many players will kneel during the anthem throughout the 2020 campaign, especially on the heels of protests taking place across the United States.

The protests were organized after 46-year-old black man George Floyd died while in Minneapolis police custody on May 25.

Floyd died after former officer Derek Chauvin kept his knee pressed against the back of Floyd's neck for nearly nine minutes while Floyd was handcuffed and facedown on the ground even though the unarmed Floyd said he couldn't breathe on multiple occasions.

Chauvin was fired, arrested and charged with second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter for Floyd's death. The other three officers on the scene—Thomas Lane, J.A. Keung and Tou Thao—were charged with aiding and abetting.

O'Brien and defensive end J.J. Watt were among the Texans who attended Floyd's funeral in his native Houston on Tuesday.

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