Bob McNair, the owner of the NFL’s Houston Texans, died Friday in Houston, according to the team’s official Twitter account. He was 81.
He’s the third NFL owner to die this year. Seattle Seahawks owner Paul Allen died in October and New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson died in March.
McNair served as senior chairman and CEO of the team and was known as the man who brought the NFL back to Houston, according to the Texans’ website.
After the Houston Oilers left the city for Tennessee following the 1996 season, Houston was without an NFL team. He persuaded the NFL to grant a franchise to Houston and the Texans played their first game in 2002. Since then, the city has hosted two Super Bowls, in 2004 and 2017.
According to the team website, McNair founded Cogen Technologies, a privately-owned energy company, and served as senior chairman of McNair Interests, Palmetto Partners Ltd. and RCM Financial Services.
“After The Houston Oilers left Houston for Tennessee, Bob and his family brought NFL football back to Houston, where it certainly belongs,” Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said in a statement. “Bob was also instrumental in the construction of NRG Stadium and was the force that brought the 2017 Super Bowl to our city. Fittingly, the premier sports arena was the site of one of the best Super Bowls ever.”
J.J. Watt, a defensive end for the Texans, tweeted: “Rest In Peace Mr. McNair. Thank you for giving myself and so many others an opportunity here in Houston. My thoughts are with Janice, Cal and the entire McNair family.”
Former President George H.W. Bush issued a statement in a tweet from his spokesman calling McNair “one of the kindest and most generous people anywhere.”
McNair was born in Tampa, Florida, graduated from the University of South Carolina and moved to Houston with his wife, Janice, in 1960, the team’s website said.
Texans President Jamey Rootes, General Manager Brian Gaine and Head Coach Bill O’Brien issued these statements below:
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.
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.
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.