Houston Texans owner Bob McNair passes away at age 81

HOUSTON (FOX 26) — The Houston Texans organization announced on Friday that team founder, senior chairman and chief executive officer Robert C. "Bob" McNair passed away on Friday with his wife and family by his side.

McNair is survived by his wife Janice, sons Cal and Cary, daughters Ruth and Melissa, fifteen grandchildren and two great grandsons. He is credited with bringing the NFL back to Houston in 2002 after league owners voted 29-0 to award him the 32nd NFL franchise on Oct. 5, 1999.

McNair's leadership brought two Super Bowls to NRG Stadium in 2004 and 2017. He served as chair for The Robert and Janice McNair Foundation, the Houston Texans Foundation and The Robert and Janice McNair Educational Foundation.

When the Texans face division rival Tennessee Titans on Monday Night Football, a decal will be added to the players' helmets to honor McNair.

Former President George H.W. Bush released the following statement on Friday evening upon learning of McNair's passing:

Bob McNair wasn’t just the brightest Point of Light in Houston; he was one of the kindest and most generous people anywhere. Nobody cared — or helped people — more, and that’s just one of the reasons I will always be proud Bob was my good friend. He was simply The Best. My most sincere condolences and family love go to Janice and her wonderful family.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell released the following statement on Friday:


During his nearly two decades as an NFL owner, Bob McNair left a lasting mark on his city and our league. His leadership and determination brought the NFL back to Houston, built a magnificent stadium that hosted two Super Bowls, and his beloved Texans are in the midst of another successful season and are again contending for a place in the postseason. Off the field, Bob served with distinction as the chairman ‎of the Finance Committee and was recognized in his native South Carolina, his adopted home of Houston, and elsewhere for his extraordinary philanthropic and community development work.  He cared deeply about the league and was generous with his time and willingness to share his insights as an exceptional businessman.  But above all, Bob was a family man.  I extend my heartfelt condolences to Janice, their family, the Texans, and the entire Houston community.

Texans team president Jamey Rootes released the following statement on Friday evening:

We lost an incredible man today. Bob McNair had a positive impact on so many people's lives. He was a role model as a father, husband, philanthropist and businessman. He was the reason professional football returned to Houston and he stewarded our franchise with a laser focus on honesty, integrity and high character. He was an amazing Champion for Houston and worked hard to make sure our city received maximum value from the presence of the Texans and the NFL. Bob gave me an opportunity 19 years ago to be part of the creation of the Texans and he became my mentor, hero and father figure. We will all miss him dearly. Our thoughts and prayers are with the McNair family during this difficult time.

Team general manager Brian Gaine released the following statement on Friday evening:

Today is a difficult day for the Houston Texans family and the entire NFL. Mr. McNair did so much for our organization and the City of Houston throughout his time as owner of the Texans. He cared deeply about the players, coaches and staff, and he gave all of us unwavering support to be successful. I remain humbled and honored for the leadership opportunity he provided me here in Houston. He was a true family man and his sincerity and kindness extended to the families of this organization. I will always remember the support he gave to the vision both Coach O'Brien and I share to help build a winning organization the City of Houston deserves. It was a privilege to know and work for Mr. McNair and his impact on our organization as well as our sport will last forever. My thought and prayers are with the McNair Family during this time.

Head coach Bill O'Brien released the following statement on Friday evening:

Mr. McNair was an amazing man who made tremendous contributions to the NFL and the City of Houston. He was a very caring, thoughtful and passionate individual. As much as he cared about winning, I think the thing I will remember most about Mr. McNair is the way he cared about the players. I know how much giving back meant to him and his loyalty and generosity to the City of Houston and our community will never be forgotten. My thoughts and prayers are with Janice and the McNair Family.

"It's a sad day for Houston," Houston Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta told FOX 26 Sports. "I was a partner with Bob from the beginning with the Houston Texans. It's such a disappointment. This is life. We will always remember that Bob was a leader in this city and brought the Texans to Houston, Texas. We're losing one of our icons of this generation. He's got a wonderful family and hearts are with all of them."

"It's bad," former Texans receiver Andre Johnson told FOX 26. "You don't want to ever hear about anybody losing their life. I knew he wasn't doing well. Every time I got a chance to ask Cal how he was doing, I would. You're just kind of caught off guard. You really don't know what to say. You really don't know what to do. For me, you always appreciate someone who gave you an opportunity to live out your dream. He didn't have to draft me, but he did. Financially, he helped put my family in a better situation. I'm forever grateful to the McNair family for giving me that opportunity to live out my dream. I told him, just sitting down and talking with him, I just hope that my play and everything I did showed them that I appreciated them. I tried to do everything I could to help bring that organization a Super Bowl. I don't really know what to say right now." You're just kind of speechless. I sent Cal a text telling him my deepest condolences to him and his family."

"His contributions will be felt by generations of Houstonians for years and years to come," said Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo president & chief executive officer Joel Cowley. "His efforts to bring professional football back to Houston benefited this community so much and directly benefited the Rodeo as well as with the opportunity to move into a facility like NRG Stadium and NRG Center. Those structures and the structures that will follow are really going to be his legacy and will positively impact Houstonians for generations to come."