It’s time for another “queue jumper”. This one can’t wait because it is all over the news; I offer up Bleacher Report’s version if you need to catch up on the story.
The crux of this was the comment from Mr. McNair: “We can’t have inmates running the prison.” Though to his credit, he did apologize for the comment earlier today on Twitter, Mr. McNair’s choice of words was reckless and he should have known that they could be interpreted as racist, given the disproportionate number of people of color currently in prison and the fact that the majority of NFL players are men of color.
I caught some of the commentary on the radio (specifically KILT-AM, SportsRadio 610 during the Triple Threat show) and one of the commentators on that show suggested there would be no controversy over this remark if Mr. McNair had instead referred “inmates running the asylum”. I disagree, even though perhaps there would be less controversy, there would probably be a fairly sizeable stink over the remark. This isn’t the 1960s anymore when asylums of the sort referred to in that idiom are even common. As someone who has battled mental illness in the past, and who has also had to help friends cope with mental illness at various times over the past couple of decades, I think that idiom no longer reflects the reality of current times and needs to be retired as being in equally poor taste.
This goes beyond Mr. McNair, though. All the current NFL owners and anyone representing an NFL team as a coach or front office employee need to realize that a lot of current fans are now closer to tuning out of the NFL before, and in fact many already have, whether it’s because of reasons related to the protests, because they feel the player safety issues will never be resolved to their satisfaction or any number of other issues. Comments such as this one definitely will not help the situation, and if too many owners or staff make these kinds of comments, the NFL’s profitability might suffer.