Bob McNair, who brought professional football back to Houston as the founder and owner of the National Football League’s Houston Texans, died Friday afternoon, the Houston Chronicle reported. He was 81.
McNair had been dealing with skin cancer for several years, the newspaper reported.
"It is with deep sadness that we announce Houston Texans Founder, Senior Chairman and Chief Executive Officer and philanthropist, Robert C. McNair passed away peacefully in Houston today with his loving wife, Janice, and his family by his side,” the Texans wrote on the team’s Twitter feed.
McNair, who moved to Houston in 1960, grew up in Forest City, North Carolina, and was a 1958 graduate of the University of South Carolina, the Chronicle reported. According to Forbes magazine, he was one of America’s richest men.
McNair stepped in to fill the void left when the Oilers left Houston for Nashville after the 1996 season. He was awarded the NFL’s 32nd franchise on Oct. 5, 1999, and the Texans began play in 2002, ESPN reported.
“Mr. McNair was an amazing man who made tremendous contributions to the NFL and the City of Houston,” Texans coach Bill O’Brien said in a statement. “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.”
McNair was the founder of Cogen Technologies, which was sold to Enron in 1999, the Chronicle reported. He also was chairman and CEO of The McNair Group, a financial and real estate company in Houston, and also owned a private investment company, the newspaper reported.