RENTON, Wash. -- Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman said Friday that Houston Texans owner Bob McNair exposed his true feelings with a recent comment in which he likened NFL players who protest during the national anthem to "inmates running the prison."
Sherman expressed his appreciation for Seahawks owner Paul Allen and others throughout the NFL who believe in equality. But he said McNair's comments are representative of how some of the league's other owners feel.
"I think there are very progressive owners in this league who don't feel that way," Sherman said. "But do I think there are some conservative owners who have Confederate flags at their homes and things like that? Yes, yes I do. I don't think that they feel like there's anything wrong with that ideology and that Southern heritage, in quotations. But do I think all owners think like that? No, I don't. I think there are some great owners in this league who have done everything they can to make this world a better place. But do I feel some have that old line of thinking? Yes, yes, and he's one of them."
McNair was quoted in an ESPN The Magazine report as saying during last week's owners meetings, "We can't have the inmates running the prison," in reference to ongoing player demonstrations during the national anthem. He has since issued an apology.
Asked if McNair's comment will be a setback in the progress that NFL players and the league have been making in working together to address social issues, Sherman said he doesn't think it will be.
"I appreciate when people like that show who they are," he said. "More people in the world need to be that open and that candid about how they truly feel so you can identify them and make sure you stay away from those kinds of people and keep those kinds of people out of power. But, of course, they've got to sit back and apologize because it's politically correct to apologize, but eventually, you've got to take people for their word and for who they are. For most players, even once we apologize, they still take what we said and judge us by it, so you should do the same with him."
Sherman took issue with McNair's choice of words in particular.
"When you think of people in a certain way, then your analogies go along with that," he said. "If he was speaking about his family or anybody in that situation, and his kids were running rampant in his home, he wouldn't say, 'Man, I've got to put my foot down so the prisoners don't feel like they're running the asylum.' He wouldn't say that because he has love and adoration and thinks of them equally. He thinks of them as people, so he would never use an analogy or a phrase like that. But when you think about people in a certain way, then things like that roll off your tongue effortlessly like they did."
A source told ESPN's Adam Schefter that Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins left practice Friday in response to McNair's comment. Sherman, who knows Hopkins well, said he hasn't spoken to the receiver recently because the Seahawks are hosting the Texans on Sunday, but he understands why Hopkins would walk out.
"Obviously, if [McNair] was our owner, I'd feel strongly too, but our owner is awesome, and he feels like people should be treated equally and is all about civil rights and equality, and I think obviously he's done his part as a philanthropist," Sherman said. "So thank god we don't have to worry about our owner being involved in some of that, but some of these owners are showing their true colors."
Seahawks middle linebacker Bobby Wagner said of Texans players: "It sucks that they have to deal with that. I wouldn't want to play for a guy like that."
Sherman, the Seahawks' player representative for the NFLPA, said he thinks Texans players would sit out Sunday's game if NFL contracts were guaranteed.
"I'm sure they'll show up and play as a hard as they can because they didn't work hard and do all that sacrificing in the offseason and put their bodies on the line for this owner," he said. "They're fighting for their teammates. They worked hard. They're going to put their hard work to use. But I think that they will make their point to him, and their points known, because obviously he does not value them in the same way they may have once thought."