Over the weekend, the Houston Chronicle’s Jerome Solomon released a report that said the Houston Texans would not be signing any free agents who protested during the national anthem during the 2017 NFL season.
“There is no directive within the organization, but it is considered to be understood that as desperate as the Texans are to bring in talent, the pool of potential signees and draftees will not include anyone who has participated in protests or are likely to,” read the Chronicle’s report, citing a pair of NFL agents.
The team issued a statement on Monday denying that report, calling it “categorically false and without merit.”
Player protests were one of the biggest stories of the 2017 season, with several NFLers kneeling during the singing of the U.S. national anthem as part of a larger protest against social injustice and police brutality, following the movement started by Colin Kaepernick and drawing the ire of U.S. President Donald Trump.
Texans team owner and noted Trump donor Robert McNair landed himself in hot water back in October for his poor comments made in reference to anthem protests, saying he and his fellow owners “can’t have the inmates running the prison.” He later apologized, but his comments caused a divide between ownership and players, with most of the team taking a knee the following Sunday in protest.
Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross also made headlines on the topic when he said he won’t be forcing his players to stand for the Star-Spangled Banner despite the fact he doesn’t believe kneeling to be an effective form of protest.
“I’ve shared my opinion with all our players: I’m passionate about the cause of social justice, and I feel that kneeling is an ineffective tactic that alienates more people than it enlists,” Ross said in a statement on Tuesday.