Texans reportedly not interested in signing any players who protested during anthem

When NFL free agency starts on March 14, it appears that the Texans are going to actively avoid signing any players who have protested during the national anthem over the past two years. 

At least that's the word from two NFL agents who spoke with the Houston Chronicle this week. According to the agents, "the Texans aren't interested in any players who participated in pregame kneel-downs" during the national anthem. Multiple players across the NFL have knelt during the anthem over the past two years to protest racial injustice and police brutality against minorities.

The Texans vehemently denied the report in a statement released on Monday night. 

"A recent report that suggests the Houston Texans would not sign a player who has protested in support of social justice issues is categorically false and without merit," Texans spokeswoman Amy Palcic said in a statement. "The Texans ownership, coaching, personnel and executive staff sign and hire employees based on talent, character and fit within our organization."

If the agents are correct, and the Texans are purposely avoiding players who protested, and that could turn into a public relations nightmare for both the team and the NFL. When it comes to the Texans, the league has already had to deal with one PR nightmare, and that came in October when owner Bob McNair made his comment about the inmates running the asylum

Although McNair apologized for his comments, that didn't fix anything right away in Houston. DeAndre Hopkins and one other Texans player boycotted practice after McNair's comments went public. In the team's first game after McNair's comments, nearly every player on the roster kneeled during the national anthem. 

At the time when McNair made his comments, offensive lineman Duane Brown was one of the few Texans players who was still protesting weekly during the national anthem. Brown said he was embarrassed by the remarks that McNair made

"I think it was ignorant," Brown said in October. "I think it was embarrassing. I think it angered a lot of players, including myself. We put our bodies and minds on the line every time we step on that field, and to use an analogy of inmates in prison, that's disrespectful. That's how I feel about it."

Three days after making those comments, Brown was shipped out of Houston and traded to the Seahawks. When part of the trade fell through after Seahawks defensive back Jeremy Lane failed his physical, the Texans decided to go through with the trade anyway, and had Seattle add an extra draft pick. 

The Texans had a chance to sign the player who started the protests, Colin Kaepernick, after Deshaun Watson went down with a torn ACL in November. However, the team decided to add Josh Johnson after deciding that Kaepernick had been out of football for too long. 

CBS Sports Writer

John Breech has been at CBS Sports since July 2011 and currently spends most of his time writing about the NFL. He's believed to be one of only three people in the world who thinks that Andy Dalton will... Full Bio

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