Houston Texans owner Bob McNair died Friday at 81 in Houston.
“It is with deep sadness that we announce Houston Texans Founder, Senior Chairman and Chief Executive Officer and philanthropist, Robert C. McNair passed away peacefully in Houston today with his loving wife, Janice, and his family by his side,” the team said in a statement.
McNair had four children and 15 grandchildren.
“He was an amazing Champion for Houston and and worked hard to make sure our city received maximum value from the presence of the Texans and the NFL,” team persident Jamey Rootes said in a statement.
General manager Brian Gaine and head coach Bill O’Brien both released statements praising McNair’s “support” and “generosity to the City of Houston” and offering thoughts and prayers to his family.
McNair formed Houston NFL Holdings in 1998 and on Oct. 5, 1999, he was awarded the 32nd NFL franchise. The franchise replaced the Houston Oilers, who had moved to Tennessee in 1997 and eventually became the Titans.
McNair came under fire in October 2017 after saying at an NFL owners meeting, “we can’t have the inmates running the prison,” in reference to NFL players’ demonstrations during the national anthem. McNair apologized, saying his comments were about the “relationship between the league office and team owners” and not the players themselves.
The Texans’ inaugural season was 2002, and Houston’s NRG Stadium has hosted two Super Bowls, XXXVIII and LI. The Texans have won four division titles — in 2011, 2012, 2015, 2016 — and are 3-4 all-time in the playoffs.