Texans coach Bill O'Brien on NFL social justice protests: 'I have the players' backs'

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Kenny Stills is by far one of the most outspoken players in the NFL.

Stills frequently advocates for social justice issues, has been kneeling during the national anthem before games for years and was extremely critical of Jay-Z’s new partnership with the NFL.

While he hasn’t always had his organization’s support in the past, it sounds like that’s going to change in Houston.

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"Relative to any social justice initiatives, you guys know my history with the Texans," Texans coach Bill O’Brien said Monday, via the Houston Chronicle. "I love the players. I have the players' backs. We communicate about those things. I'm not going to get into any discussions I have with any player about those things, but I support the players in social justice initiatives."

The Dolphins traded Stills to the Texans last week, along with left tackle Laremy Tunsil, for a slew of draft picks.

Though Stills’ arrival in Houston may not be the perfect landing spot for the 27-year-old — late team owner Bob McNair said in 2017 that the league “can’t have inmates running the prison,” referring to protests during the national anthem — it should be better than it was in Miami.

Stills was at odds with Dolphins owner Stephen Ross over his very public support for President Donald Trump, and called him out in August for hosting a fundraiser for his re-election campaign.

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First-year head coach Brian Flores then seemingly trolled the wide receiver in practice last month, too, by playing eight Jay-Z songs in a row. The move came just one day after Stills spoke out against the rapper’s new partnership with the NFL. Flores, though, insisted that he supports social justice protests.

The Texans have only had one game where players took a knee during the national anthem, which came immediately after McNair’s inmate comments. While O’Brien didn’t comment specifically about Stills’ intentions for their Week 1 game against the New Orleans Saints, he did make it clear that he’s on his side.

After his issues with the Miami Dolphins front office, it sounds like Kenny Stills will have a lot more support in Houston.
After his issues with the Miami Dolphins front office, it sounds like Kenny Stills will have a lot more support in Houston.(Photo by Michele Sandberg/Getty Images)

O’Brien defends roster moves, Clowney trade

Many across the league were taken aback by the Texans’ roster moves on Saturday, most notably by sending Jadeveon Clowney to the Seattle Seahawks.

In return, the Texans received a third-round draft pick and a pair of defenders, though neither are expected to make major waves. Houston gave up a lot to get Stills and Tunsil, too — sending a pair of first-round picks and a second-round pick to Miami.

O’Brien, however, doesn’t care about any outside criticism regarding the roster moves.

They were part of a well thought-out plan, he said, and thinks it can help improve the roster down the road.

“I understand everybody's going to dissect how we did it, what we got back and what we gave Seattle," O'Brien said, via the Houston Chronicle. “We can't control what the outside world thinks. We try to do the best we can to make the best decisions possible to help us win. We understand that how much we win will determine our future.”

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