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Houston Texans owner Bob McNair apologized for a comment he made last week during a closed-door meeting of NFL owners and executives to discuss players' national anthem protests.

ESPN reported that McNair expressed concern about the effects the protests are having on NFL business and said, "We can't have the inmates running the prison."

In a statement released Friday, McNair said, "I regret that I used that expression. I never meant to offend anyone and I was not referring to our players. I used a figure of speech that was never intended to be taken literally. I would never characterize our players or our league that way and I apologize to anyone who was offended by it."

The NFL has taken strong criticism in recent weeks from fans and President Donald Trump over players refusing to stand for the anthem.

Trump has argued that it's disrespectful to the country, and he called for NFL owners to fire players who participate in the protests.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announced last week that owners did not vote during their annual fall meeting to change league policy to require players to stand during the anthem.

A new Fox News poll found that since 2013, the league’s favorable rating has dropped 18 points.

Today, 46 percent of voters have a positive view of the NFL, while 41 percent view it negatively. Four years ago - which is the last time the question was asked - 64 percent had a positive view of the league and 19 percent held an unfavorable view.

Watch the "Outnumbered" co-hosts discuss the NFL's sagging favorable rating above.

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