NFL team owner dies, local network affiliate itemizes political donations

The owner of the Houston Texans died Friday at the age of 81. He battled skin cancer and leukemia for some twenty years. Bob McNair is legendary in Houston for his entrepreneurship and his philanthropy. With such a rich biography available, something odd caught my ear Saturday as I listened to the local CBS affiliate report on his death. KHOU decided to itemize Mr. McNair’s recent political contributions. I was shocked and disgusted.

The mention was just petty and snarky. I am talking about actual numbers here. The station listed three of his last political donations by the amounts given. One went to the local county Republican party and two went to political action committees. Did I mention that McNair leaned Republican in his political philosophy? I can think of no other reason for it. If they wanted to mention his political leaning they could have just said he contributed to Republican politics. They sure didn’t itemize actual numbers when speaking of other aspects of his philanthropy.

Bob McNair died a billionaire. He built an energy empire and he brought an NFL franchise back to Houston. He built NRG Stadium.

When Houston lost the Oilers to Tennessee after the 1996 season, Mr. McNair made it his mission to return the National Football League to the city. He paid $700 million for the Texans franchise in 1999, the same year he sold his energy-generation company, Cogen, to Enron for $1.5 billion.

He continued to own power plants in New York and West Virginia, as well as a private investment company and a horse farm in Kentucky.

The Houston Texas began play in 2002 as the NFL’s 32nd franchise. Mr. McNair became a powerful force in the NFL as chairman of the league’s finance committee and as a member of the audit committee.

He contributed to local universities.

McNair is one of Houston Baptist University’s top three donors in the school’s history, according to the university’s president Dr. Robert Sloan.

“Bob McNair is one of the greatest men I’ve ever met in my life,” said Sloan. “A man of gentility and honesty.”

McNair also gave generously to Houston’s other universities.

Mr. McNair and his wife, Janice, gave more than $500 million over the course of their philanthropic efforts, including $100 million to the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner – a partisan Democrat- released a statement.

“After The Houston Oilers left Houston for Tennessee, Bob and his family brought NFL football back to Houston, where it certainly belongs. 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.

“But football was not the only good thing Bob McNair gave to Houston. He and his family were very generous to many community and local philanthropic causes. He was a bold and visionary Houstonian who will long be remembered here. We extend our prayers to his wife Janice and family, and we lift them up at this time.”

McNair was a self-made man. He came from humble beginnings in South Carolina and adopted Houston as his home. He went through a corporate bankruptcy and bounced back to become a very successful man. His story is very much one of a classic American dream. He worked hard, supported his family, built a business, and then gave back to his community and to others across the country. He was also known as a kind and honest man. Shame on a local news affiliate to sink to petty politics as his life is remembered.

The usual has happened. I find no reference to the station’s report itemizing McNair’s political donations. The video clip on its website doesn’t include it. How convenient.

A well-known liberal political activist in the LGBT community died Saturday. I’ll not hold my breath waiting for him to receive the same treatment given to Mr. McNair.

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