Houston Texans coach Bill O'Brien pledges to kneel with players in protest

As attitudes on protesting shift throughout the NFL after the death of George Floyd, Houston Texans coach Bill O'Brien pledged to join players who demonstrate during the national anthem.

O'Brien told the Houston Chronicle that he would take a knee during the upcoming season.

“Yeah, I’ll take a knee — I’m all for it,” O’Brien said. “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.”

Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began the demonstration in 2016 as a means of protesting racial injustices and police brutality. Texans wide receiver Kenny Stills was one of the few NFL players who continued to kneel during the anthem through the 2019 season. 

O'Brien canceled virtual team activities for June 9 and instead encouraged players to go to the local funeral service for Floyd, a black man and Houston native who died after a Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his neck for nearly nine minutes. Texans defensive end J.J. Watt, owner Cal McNair, offensive coordinator Tim Kelly, defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver and former Texans defensive tackle D.J. Reader were among those who joined O'Brien in attending the event.

“When you think about how big the issue is, if we can help make a little change in Houston, maybe it’ll be like a pebble in the pond that creates a ripple,” McNair told McClain. “What happened to George Floyd brought to life something that’s bigger than football, and you can’t ignore it. We felt like we couldn’t stay silent. We felt like we had to say and do something. We want to help make changes.

“This is the right thing to do, and I think our players recognize that. We want to support our players and our community. We’re all in this boat together.”