HOUSTON — Houston Texans head coach and general manager Bill O'Brien said he will be kneeling alongside his players during the national anthem this upcoming football season.
O'Brien is one of key NFL figures who have spoken out about institutional racism and police brutality since George Floyd died at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer.
"If the players want me to kneel, I absolutely would," O'Brien told KHOU 11.
The head coach and several other Texans employees attended Floyd's funeral in Houston earlier this week. O'Brien said he was touched by the family's strength and Houston coming together in support.
He recently shared an emotional video addressing racial inequality, police brutality and other racial issues.
“To see discrimination of any kind against an innocent man who was murdered out of evil and ignorance, it simply breaks my heart and makes me angry,” he said in the video. “We have to do better. It's so much deeper. It's 400 years of slavery. It's segregation. It's police brutality. It's not equal opportunities. We have to stand with the black community. We have to heed the call to action.”
Floyd's death has revitalized conversations about racial equality in the United States. It's also changed mainstream perspectives about former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and his decision to kneel in protest of police brutality, specifically against African-Americans.
Kaepernick started to take a knee during national anthem performances during the 2016 NFL preseason. The following year, he was joined by others players, and soon, his protest became a national controversy.
The issue influenced Kaepernick's contract being renewed, and he hasn't played professional football since the 2017 season.
Many believe kneeling during the national anthem will make a comeback this year as players and coaches continue to speak out against systemic racism, teams have issued statements on the issue and support for the Black Lives Matter movement; and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell recently encouraged peaceful protests in response to systemic oppression.