Houston Texans owner Bob McNair is facing criticism for comments he made during a closed-door meeting to discuss racial dynamics within the NFL, including a ongoing controversy over protests during the national anthem.

According to ESPN, McNair told NFL owners, team executives and commissioner Roger Goodell that the league “can’t have the inmates running the prison.”

Reverends Irene Monroe and Emmett G. Price III joined Jim Braude and Margery Eagan on “Boston Public Radio” Monday to discuss.

This excerpt has been edited for clarity.

IRENE: Good lord. You see, again, the criminalization of black men, and it’s a trope that we control black bodies, and they’re only safe if they’re in a sports arena or in prison. It really bothered me to hear an owner say this.

JIM: This was in a closed-door meeting, by the way, which then leaked out.

IRENE: It tells you what he thinks.

EMMETT: Let’s look at the apology. "I regret that I used that expression," his statement said. "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."

He has to go. This is just horrible. This reminds us of the Donald Sterling situation with the L.A. Clippers a couple years back. … you can’t come back from that.

MARGERY: His girlfriend turned him in, right? What did he say?

EMMETT: He said a number of racist things about his team, about his players, about the way that the team was being run, and the girlfriend actually leaked it out —

IRENE: — and she was a person of color.

JIM: I’ve heard the most pathetic defenses — one, ‘he’s old, give him a break,’ two, ‘he really meant, you can’t have the inmates running the asylum’ and for those who say ‘don’t take it so literally,’ obviously, everything you say or do is in context. You’re dealing with a team. What’s the percentage of African-American players on that team? 90 percent? 85 percent? The reason they’re having this meeting is because of the racial strife in this country and in the NFL.

IRENE: And the mass-incarceration of black men. But what I hope, though, is that the players rise up. That will make a statement.

MARGERY: I wish they would all kneel every week, it would get everybody going.

IRENE: The one thing I will say, though, irrespective, we are having our discussion on race.

Rev. Emmett G. Price III is a professor and the Founding Executive Director of the Institute for the Study of the Black Christian Experience (ISBCE) at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. Re. Irene Monroe is a syndicated religion columnist, the Boston voice for Detour’s African-American Heritage Trail, and this Saturday at 2pm she’ll be giving the keynote address on Rep. John Lewis’ graphic novel, “March.”