Houston Texans Chairman and CEO Cal McNair is apologizing for calling the coronavirus the "China virus" at a charity golf tournament earlier this year.
"My comments at the event last May included an inappropriate choice of words," McNair said in a statement to Bally Sports. "I immediately apologized to people who approached me then and I apologize again now. I know how important it is to choose my words carefully. I would never want to offend anyone."
Bally Sports reported Tuesday that several eyewitnesses said McNair made the remarks while briefly addressing the crowd at the Houston Texans Foundation Charity Golf Classic at River Oaks Country Club in May.
"I'm sorry that we couldn't get together last year because of the China virus,” McNair told the crowd of 100 attendees.
“Everyone gasped,” one witness told Bally Sports. “Especially the people directly across from him. He and Hannah seemed to think it was hilarious. It was dead silent.”
McNair’s wife, Hannah McNair, also joked with several attendees about her husband’s use of the term, according to Bally Sports.
Former President TrumpDonald TrumpBiden heading to Kansas City to promote infrastructure package Trump calls Milley a 'f---ing idiot' over Afghanistan withdrawal First rally for far-right French candidate Zemmour prompts protests, violence MORE repeatedly used the same phrase during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Chinese Americans Civil Rights Coalition filed a lawsuit against Trump in May for his use of that term, alleging it has caused harm to the Asian American community.
Cal McNair has been running the Texans organization since his father, Bob McNair, died in 2018, according to ESPN.
Bob McNair stirred controversy in 2017 after ESPN reported that he said during an owners meeting that league owners "can't have the inmates running the prison" in reference to players’ demonstrations during the national anthem.