JOHN GRANATO

The city of Houston vs. Bob McNair on the charge of racism: The honorable judge John Granato presiding

Let's take Bob McNair's legacy to the judge. Bob Levey/Getty Images

The City of Houston vs Bob McNair

Charge: Racism

The Honorable John Granato presiding

Judge Granato: Are both sides ready to argue this case?

Defense: Your honor the defense moves to have this charge dismissed. It is baseless and without merit.

Prosecutor: We have several witnesses who heard Mr. McNair state that “the inmates can’t run the prison.” That is clearly a racist statement. The NFL is made up of almost 70% African American players. This plantation mentality must stop here and now.

Defense: Your honor all my client is guilty of is mixing a metaphor. If he had said “inmates running the asylum” would they have condemned him for believing they’re all crazy? If he had said “that was a horse of a different color” would they have thought he called them all horses? It’s ridiculous to think that a life’s work should be tarnished by one slip of the tongue and an ambiguous one at that. Let’s also not forget the setting of that statement: negotiations to end the flag controversy. Racial tensions were extremely high. In any other setting Mr. McNair’s statement would not have been as highly scrutinized.

Prosecutor: Your honor we also have the 2008 incident in which Mr. McNair was addressing the team and was “very disappointed” that Barack Obama had won the election and would be President of the United States. We will have plenty of witnesses testifying to that.

Defense: Your honor we can save the court a lot of time here. We will stipulate that yes Mr. McNair was indeed disappointed in that election’s result if the prosecutor will also stipulate that in every election the losing side is disappointed that they lost. Mr. McNair was a staunch Republican. Was he supposed to be happy that a Democrat won? Were Democrats happy that Reagan, Bush and Trump won? Are they racists because of it?  Of course not. They have their political views just like Mr. McNair did.

Prosecutor: Mr. McNair’s views included defending his friend Jerry Richardson when he was accused of making racially charged statements. Mr. McNair was certain Mr. Richardson meant no harm. Since when are racial epithets harmless?

Defense: You honor Mr. McNair saw the good in everyone. That he thought that his good friend meant no harm with his words is not surprising. Mr. McNair was an extremely positive person. Seeing the best and positives in everyone and everything may be idealistic but it certainly isn’t criminal and neither should defending a friend when he is under such intense public scrutiny.

Your honor the defense would like to offer the examples of Rick Smith, Tony Wyllie and Kevin Cooper, all African Americans who among other African Americans held high ranking positions in the Texans organization. Mr. Smith was his highest ranking official as General Manager of the team for 11 years. Mr. McNair’s legacy is the Texans and he entrusted that legacy to an African American. Does that sound like a man who is racist?

Prosecutor: Donald Sterling had Elgin Baylor and Doc Rivers as his General Manager and Player Personnel Director and he was clearly a racist.

Defense: I didn’t say it precluded you from being a racist. Donald Sterling was a slum lord and was taped making racially charged statements. Bob McNair has done nothing remotely like that. Mixing a metaphor, being a disappointed Republican and standing up for your friend don’t make you a racist. Please tell me that there’s more evidence than this because I have a lot more evidence to the contrary, namely the millions of dollars in charitable donations to help the underprivileged no matter what their color and the testimony of countless African American employees who will tell you that he always treated them with class and respect.

Judge Granato: Gentlemen I believe I’ve heard enough. It is the burden of the prosecution to bring evidence of racism to these proceedings and I do not believe they have met that burden. We throw the word “racist” around pretty loosely these days. The definition of the word racist is a “person who shows or feels discrimination or prejudice against people of other races or who believes that a particular race is superior to another.” I cannot find any example of that in any of Mr. McNair’s actions. As a matter of fact his life was filled with examples of exactly the opposite. That his legacy is marred by these accusations is in my opinion a shame and says more about this society than it does about Mr. McNair. He always represented himself with class and dignity and should be remembered in that way. This court finds for the defendant. The charges are dismissed. Court is adjourned.

 

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