Patrick Creighton: Bob McNair doesn’t care about his players' concerns, and now it’s on tape

Patrick Creighton: Bob McNair doesn’t care about his players' concerns, and now it’s on tape
Bob McNair can't stay out of the news. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

In light of the leaked audio to the New York Times of the special emergency meeting between NFL owners and players from October 2017, we have now gotten a real accounting of just how phony Bob McNair is when he talks about caring about his players.

As if the “inmates running the prison” comment for which McNair apologized, then rescinded his apology were not enough, we now have more direct quotes from the Texans owner.

“You fellas need to ask your compadres, fellas, stop that other business, let’s go out and do something that really produces positive results, and we’ll help you,” McNair said at the meeting.  We know now, thanks to hindsight, this was a huge blast of hot air up the tailpipe.

McNair clearly was never interested in helping the players address their platform, just in getting them to stop kneeling in protest of social injustice during the anthem.

Colin Kaepernick has made a difference, in donating $1M to multiple grass roots charities, in being the face of a movement, culminating in his receiving an award from Amnesty International just last week.  Other players have worked with civic leaders and law enforcement officials to help bring communities back together. Owners have done nothing.

The disingenuous words of McNair are disturbing, the self-serving nature of which is blatantly transparent.  

The main objective of the owners in this meeting was, as Bills owner Terry Pegula stated, to ”put a Band-Aid on what’s going on....”

While he is clearly not the only owner who was seeking a self-serving solution, Mr. McNair’s repeated patterns both public and private continue to show an uglier side of a man previously known for being magnanimous and charitable.

Mr. McNair made it clear via his words and his subsequent actions that players cannot trust him when he speaks on working with them.  These aren’t issues of football, owners, players, or the like, they’re human issues. Players want to make a positive impact, owners are hindering them.

Former 49ers S Eric Reid made what could be the most powerful statement of the three hour meeting:

“Everyone in here is talking about how much they support us.  Nobody stepped up and said we support Colin’s right to do this.  We all let him become Public Enemy number 1 in this country…”

All the owners fell silent, including McNair.

The sports world gets up in arms when NBA players are told to "shut up and dribble" yet the NFL can pull the same thing and it’s supposed to be OK?  

McNair has dug himself a credibility hole, and until he backs up his previous claim on helping the players with their platform, he’s never getting out of it.

Patrick Creighton is the host of “Late Hits” weeknights 7-9p CT on ESPN 97.5 Houston; “Straight Heat” weeknights 9p-12a CT on SB Nation Radio; “Nate & Creight” Sundays 12-5p CT on SB Nation Radio.  Follow him on Twitter: @pcreighton1


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It's not time to panic, yet. Composite Getty Image.

This is not a column for fanboys or sugarcoating. To this point in the season the Astros stink like rotten eggs. They stink like Angel Hernandez’s umpiring. They stink like Bill O'Brien's general manager skills. The Astros are a bad team right now. That’s notably different from being a bad team. Their 4-10 record is well-earned and it is definitely possible that the Astros’ run of high quality and annual playoff appearances crashes and burns this season. But it’s laughable to declare so after just 14 games of the 162 scheduled have been played.

Last June the Astros had a lousy window in which they went 3-10. In August they had a 4-8 funk. In September it was a 3-9 stretch of collapse. The 2022 World Series Champions had a 3-8 hiccup in April, and a 2-6 blotch overlapping July and August that included getting swept in a three-game series by the then and now awful Oakland A’s.

Now the Astros are back home (Oh No!) for six games, three vs. the Rangers then three with the Braves. The Rangers lead the American League West but are just 7-6, so despite their cellar-dwelling status, the Astros are just three and a half games out of first. A winning homestand is obviously the goal. No, really. 3-3 would be ok, even though that would just about clinch a losing record heading into May.

Mandatory aside: spectacular weather is the Friday night forecast. Stop being stubborn and lame, Astros. Open the roof! I don’t mean just for the postgame fireworks.

On the mend?

The Astros’ track record of downplaying pitching injuries that turned out to be major certainly causes angst as we await Framber Valdez’s return from a sore elbow. If Valdez ultimately winds up out for months, the Astros’ starting rotation is in deep trouble. Even more so if upon the approaching delayed start to his season, 41-year-old Justin Verlander pitches to his age in terms of results and/or durability. However, if Valdez is ok within a month and JV is solid, those two, and Cristian Javier can stabilize the rotation quite nicely.

The Astros started three guys in Kansas City who belong in the minor leagues. It was a sad sign of the times that the Astros were reduced to calling up Blair Henley to make the start Tuesday. Except for Royals fans and Astros haters, it grew uncomfortable watching Henley give up four hits, walk three, record just one out, and wind up charged with seven earned runs. But it’s not Henley’s fault that he was thrust into a role for which he was utterly unqualified.

Last season at Double-A Corpus Christi, Henley’s earned run average was 5.06. Because of the crummy state of the Astros’ farm system, Henley failed up to Triple-A Sugar Land to start this season. After one not good start for the Space Cowboys, “Hey, go get out big leaguers Blair!” Henley turns 27 next month, he is not a prospect of any note. If he never again pitches in the majors Henley forever carries a 135.00 ERA.

But you know what? It was still a great day for the guy. Even if undeserved, Henley made “The Show.” For one day on the Astros’ 26-man roster, Henley made over four thousand dollars. To make him eligible for call up, the Astros first had to put Henley on their 40-man roster and sign him to a split contract. That means that until/unless the Astros release him, Henley’s AAA salary jumps from approximately $36,000 for the season to over 60K.

Lastly, while Henley’s ERA could remain 135.00 in perpetuity, at least he’s no Fred Bruckbauer. In 1961 Bruckbauer made his big league debut and bade his big league farewell in the same game. He faced four batters, giving up three earned runs on three hits and one walk. Career ERA: Infinity! Bruckbauer is the most recent of the more than a dozen pitchers to retire with the infinity ERA.

Spencer Arrighetti’s debut start went much better. For two innings, before it unraveled in a seven run Royals third. Arrighetti has good stuff, but not great stuff. Control has been an issue for him in the minor leagues. Without better command Arrighetti cannot be a plus starter in the majors.

Then there’s Hunter Brown. We could go decades without seeing another pitcher give up nine runs and 11 hits in two-thirds of an inning as Brown did Thursday. It had never happened in MLB history! To this point, Brown is an overhyped hope. ERA last July: 5.92, August: 6.23, September 1 on: 8.74. Three starts into 2024: 16.43.

Jose Abreu watch

It's still early enough in the season that even just a couple of big games can markedly improve a stat line but Jose Abreu continues to look washed up at the plate. Three hits in 37 at bats (.081 batting average), with the most recent hit a questionable official scoring decision. Manager Joe Espada has already dropped Abreu from fifth in the lineup to sixth, then seventh, then eighth. Two more slots down to go, Joe! Continuing to act like Jon Singleton could be a competent bat in the lineup is just silly, though.

Catch the weekly Stone Cold ‘Stros podcast. Brandon Strange, Josh Jordan, and I discuss varied Astros topics. The first post for the week now generally goes up after Sunday’s game (second part released Tuesday, sometimes a third part Wednesday) via YouTube: stone cold stros - YouTubewith the complete audio available via Apple Podcast, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts.

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