The Houston Texans won’t hold virtual meetings June 9, the day of George Floyd’s funeral in Houston, so members of the team can attend if they are able, Texans head coach Bill O’Brien said Wednesday.
O’Brien said he plans to attend the funeral.
“On behalf of the Houston Texans organization and speaking from my heart, we want to send our deepest condolences to the family of George Floyd,” O’Brien told reporters. “When I think about the recent conversations we’ve had with Janice, Cal and Hannah McNair, I think of the words empathy and leadership.
“We have to listen, we have to stand by the black community and we’ve got to do our part to enact change. We are committed to doing whatever it takes to promote social justice in our city and throughout our country.”
Floyd, a 46-year-old black man from Houston, died in police custody last week in Minneapolis after police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck for more than eight minutes.
Four police officers were fired because of the incident, and Chauvin was initially charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter for pinning Floyd to the ground, an action that was caught on a widely viewed video.
On Wednesday, Minnesota authorities escalated the murder charge against Chauvin to second degree and levied charges against the other three officers involved in the arrest and death of Floyd.
O’Brien said his opinion on recent public issues has been shaped by discussions he’s had with players, including Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson and wide receiver Kenny Stills, who followed Colin Kaepernick’s kneeling protest during the national anthem.
“Listening to their life stories, and many others, like I said, has helped me cement my belief that we all must do what it takes to improve our country, especially as it relates to race relations,” O’Brien said. “It is horrendous what we are seeing and what we saw eight or nine days ago.
“What is great about our country right now is, to me, the protests, the peaceful protests. The peaceful protests that we see on TV every night [have] just been an amazing example of what our country is all about.”
O’Brien said the front office will meet with players and coaches Thursday to discuss Floyd’s death.
“I’ve told my players since 2014 that I have their back,” O’Brien said. “I told my players in 2017, ‘I have your back.’ I will continue to tell them that I have their back. If they need time to themselves, they can have time to themselves.
“If they need resources from us to try to begin to heal, we’ve got to help them. We’ve got a lot of resources here to do that. They will get it.”