Former Houston Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson admitted that he nearly pulled out of the ceremony to become the first member of the franchise's Ring of Honor because of his displeasure with team owner Bob McNair.
Johnson was irked by McNair referring to the NFL's national anthem controversy as "the inmates running the prison" in October. Johnson's ceremony was the following month.
"I wouldn't say it surprised me, but I just didn't like it," Johnson said of McNair's comment on former teammate Arian Foster's podcast, via the Houston Chronicle. "To know you did so much for a franchise and to have him come out and say something like that. At the end of the day, you don't make the money if we don't run it. If you take some people off the street and put them in there, nobody's coming to watch that.
"It was real touchy with me. I even thought about not doing the ring ceremony."
McNair initially apologized for his comments before telling the Wall Street Journal last week that he now regrets making that apology.
The 80-year-old McNair insisted to the newspaper that the "inmates" he referenced during league meetings on Oct. 18 were not NFL players, but rather league executives who he felt had more control over significant decisions than the owners. It also came as the NFL struggled with its response to players kneeling in protest during the national anthem.
"I really didn't have anything to apologize for," McNair said. "In business, it's a common expression. But the general public doesn't understand it, perhaps."
Johnson is Houston's all-time leader in nearly every receiving category including career receptions (1,012), receiving yards (13,597), receiving touchdowns (64) and 100-yard games (51).
The seven-time Pro Bowl selection also holds multiple individual game records for the Texans, including most catches (14), receiving yards (273) and receiving touchdowns (three).
Johnson spent 12 seasons with the Texans before signing with the Indianapolis Colts in 2015 and the Tennessee Titans the following year. He finished his career with 1,062 catches for 14,185 yards and 70 touchdowns.