Texans CEO Cal McNair apologized in a statement to Bally Sports on Tuesday, admitting he used an "inappropriate choice of words" when describing COVID-19 as "the China virus" during a team charity event this spring.
McNair and his wife, Hannah, attended the Texans Foundation's Charity Golf Classic in May, as Michael Silver reported for Bally Sports. While there, McNair addressed more than 100 guests, closing his brief remarks by reflecting on the cancellation of the 2020 event due to the pandemic: "I'm sorry that we couldn't get together last year, because of the China virus."
As McNair and his wife, Hannah, looked on smirking, some audience members were stunned by the reference ... "Everyone gasped," one witness said, "especially the people directly across from him. He and Hannah seemed to think it was hilarious. It was dead silent."
"My comments at the event last May included an inappropriate choice of words," McNair said in 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."
After Cal's in-person apology, Hannah reportedly joked about McNair's comment, which is widely considered an anti-Asian remark. The week prior, per Silver, she visited a local Asian community center representing the Texans Foundation.
This isn't the first time the McNair family has publicly apologized for private remarks. Cal's late father, Bob, the founding owner of the Texans starting in 1999, apologized in 2017 after ESPN reported he had told fellow NFL owners they "can't have the inmates running the prison" while discussing players protesting police brutality during the national anthem. DeAndre Hopkins, then with the Texans, skipped practice in the wake of Bob's comments, while fellow starter Duane Brown called the remarks "embarrassing."
Cal has been the Texans' chairman and CEO since Bob died in 2018.