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Houston Texans owner Cal McNair has issued an apology in response to a report that he used an anti-Asian slur at a golf event.
Bally Sports' Michael Silver reported on Tuesday that McNair made the statement while addressing a crowd of more than 100 people alongside his wife Hannah at the Houston Texans Foundation Charity Golf Classic in May.
Two witnesses told Silver that McNair apologized to attendees for the event being canceled the year prior due to the COVID-19 pandemic as participants prepared to leave the clubhouse for the golf course.
(Warning: An anti-Asian slur is quoted in the text below)
“I’m sorry that we couldn’t get together last year, because of the China Virus," McNair said, per the report.
One witness told Silver that attendees audibly gasped in response to McNair's comment, which reflected language used by former President Donald Trump that has been linked to a rise in racism targeting Asian-Americans.
“Everyone gasped, especially the people directly across from him," a witness said. "He and Hannah seemed to think it was hilarious. It was dead silent.”
McNair responds to report
McNair issued a a statement through the Texans to Bally Sports on Tuesday in response to the report.
“My comments at the event last May included an inappropriate choice of words,” McNair said, per the statement. “I immediately apologized to people who approached me then and I apologize again now. I know how important it is to choose my words carefully. I would never want to offend anyone.”
McNair's father was embroiled in controversy
McNair, 60, has run the Texans since his father and previous owner Bob McNair died in 2018. Bob McNair drew heat the year before he died for a comment about NFL players that was criticized as racist, reportedly urging his fellow team owners in a meeting to crack down on players kneeling during the national anthem to protest social injustice and police brutality.
“We can’t have the inmates running the prison,” Bob McNair reportedly said.
Like his son on Tuesday, Bob McNair issued a statement in response to the report on his comment, expressing regret. He later doubled down on his "inmates" comment, proclaiming "I really didn’t have anything to apologize for.”
New era for NFL
Bob McNair's comment arrived in a different era, prior the 2020 nationwide race reckoning in the aftermath of George Floyd's murder at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer. Cal McNair's comment reported Tuesday also went public as the NFL is embroiled in the email scandal that exposed ex-Las Vegas Raiders coach Jon Gruden's reported racist, anti-gay and misogynistic correspondence with former Washington Football Team executive Bruce Allen.
Gruden's and Allen's emails were part of a trove of reportedly 650,000 emails reviewed in an investigation into workplace misconduct at the Washington Football Team. The vast majority of the emails have not been reviewed publicly amid calls for them to be released.