Connor: An Open Letter To The McNair Family

Dear McNair Family,

Sell the team.

Make your billions and move on.

Sell the team and do it right now.

In October of 1999, Bob McNair gave our city the gift of having a football once again after the city stop putting up a fight to keep a bad owner and his Oilers team around any longer. But that was over twenty years ago now and the franchise is creeping up on twenty years of playing here soon...the goodwill for giving us back football is long gone. Enough is enough and what many of us want is for you all to move on. Pass the torch to the person that wants to win. Pass the torch to someone that is not okay with just getting to the playoff dance. Pass the torch to someone with a big enough set to take control of the franchise they own and not let someone they hire make it a laughing stock of the league, despite actually being a pretty consistent winner over the last decade.

Sell the team and do it now.

Our level of expectations as Houston sports fans in my lifetime have never been higher than they have been in the last five or so years and I would guess that most people in our wonderful city would agree with that statement. For years we as a city have had to fight back of the perception our town receives. Facts are facts, for most of our sports existence, our city has been viewed as a smaller place than it actually is. We are about to be, if not already, the third largest city in this country, and over the last five years, after all the fighting to make sure people know that this is not some small market sports scene, the perception has slowly changed. People know that this is a huge city that cares about their sports and expects to be right up there with all the big boys, because that is where we are supposed to be. And over the last five years, we have watched two other franchises actually try to give us what we all want. And while we have only gotten it once, the relentless pursuit of more from both of those franchises has not stopped. Sure, the Rockets make us mad because they have not been able to get over the hump, but one thing we all do no matter what, is come back to them and unite behind them because even if a season ends without the ultimate goal being reached, they make every effort they can to get themselves over that final hurdle. Instead of sitting back and being complacent, they push back on the norm. They are not afraid to roll the dice in hopes that they can be better. And while you might not be afraid to take that chance too, there is no way to justify that what your team did yesterday was something that made them better and increased their odds at taking that next step in the immediate future. The Rockets go out and trade for hall of fame sit back and trade it away because you have empowered a man that thinks he is smarter than everyone else.

I do not even have to tell you how wide the gap is between you and the Houston Astros. Despite a winter of chaos for them following a gut punch that ended a season one win shy of bringing us two titles in the last three years, they in large part still have the trust and loyalty of the fans in this city. For years, like the Rockets, they have been transparent about what they were going to do and how they were going to go about doing it and over time, they built the trust that they very much deserve. And still, they are not perfect. This winter is proof of that, but what did their owner do? He took control of his franchise and did what he needed to do to keep them on the right track. On top of that, he did not sit back and strip away core talent that had no reason to be gone, instead, he has hunkered down and knows that he is about to be strapped in luxury tax hell because pivoting off the incredible talent his team has would be the worst thing that he could do. Jim Crane has provided a wonderful example of being committed to generational type talent and adding to it as it goes. It is why, even after some turmoil, that they still have our trust and support as fans...something you have lost from so many of us that have cared too much for far too long.

Bill O'Brien and his power are a problem for the Houston Texans. The problem with the Houston Texans is YOU.

YOU have empowered a man to run your franchise for far too long and as the years have moved on, YOU have given him more and more power and made it clear that you have no stones to stand up to the man that clearly is in over his head at just about everything he is allowed to do. This past season had some very big ups and some very big downs and it ended in the most embarrassing fashion this city has probably ever seen a season end. This team was sitting in Kansas City on the road in a divisional round, a place you have yet to get past, with the Super Bowl in sight after one quarter of play. They came out and kicked the massive favorite in the mouth and built a 24-0 lead early in the second quarter, just to piss down their legs and be outscored 51-7 the rest of the way. Yes, credit does have to go to the Chiefs and their generational talent they have at the quarterback spot, but any team worth a damn that truly is a big boy in this league should not be embarrassed the way you were. But that is what you and this franchise do. You tease a fan base that should truly have no loyalty to you and as soon as you give us one little sniff of reaching the next level, you piss it away and remind us that nothing under your leadership will change. The embarrassing ending to this past season was something that in most places would get a head coach, who has had six years to figure it out, fired on the spot the moment the game comes to an end. Instead what do you do? In typical Texans fashion, you double down and empower the man to have even more authority than he had before.

Your history of how you have run this franchise tells us that none of this should surprise us. For a franchise that has never even played in a conference championship game and has been to the playoffs six times in their nineteen seasons of play, it is mind blowing that somehow after all these years, you still are only on coach number three in the history of the team. While shuffling the deck all the time is clearly not the right way to build something special over a long period of time, continuing to give people way too long of a rope when it is clear to anyone with a functioning brain that things will never change, is not what you are supposed to do.

With Dom Capers, we all knew it was never meant to be. After a proper amount of time and proof that he would not work, you moved on. Hiring Gary Kubiak to follow Dom, at the time, was absolutely the right move. After five years of Gary, all while being average at best, you lengthened his rope and gave him one last shot to move the franchise forward in 2011. At the time, we all hated that move, but it worked out as Gary and his staff moved the team forward, winning two straight division titles, gaining some trust of you of what the franchise could do. There were a lot of really bad misses along the way in the Gary era, too many to name individually, but to your credit, when it went south quickly in 2013, you bit the bullet and moved on, something the franchise had to do. You made Gary get out of his comfort zone and hire guys that were not his guys if he wanted to stay around and to his credit, he adapted and allowed changes to be made, while letting others do their jobs. For a brief period, it worked and should have given you the evidence that taking some control of your franchise and dictating what those in charge need to do, leading you to a place you had not been before.

After that 2013 season you generally excited the fan base when you plucked Bill O'Brien away from Penn State, giving him his first chance to be a head coach at the NFL level. He was a name that had been very hot on the NFL coaching market for a couple of years and it felt like landing what many viewed as the biggest available fish in the open water at the time, was proof that maybe you actually understood what you needed to do. While making that hire felt great in the moment, in typical Texans fashion, you instantly created friction within by not completely clearing the deck, leaving those in the front office still in place, something that not one soul thought you should do. The franchise needed a complete reset, but again, that is clearly not what you like to do.

Rick Smith was by no means a perfect General Manager and there are enough stories thrown about to know that some did not love how he operated as the man in charge of putting together the football team. What should have been done after the 2013 season was clear and easy to do. You should have started by finding a completely new front office and allowed them to make the decision on who the next head coach would be. Instead, like most of your existence, you made a decision based off your infatuation of becoming the next New England Patriots. You hired a man that had been inside that building, thinking you would find yourself quickly being viewed in the same light that the best team in the league has been viewed. Instead of being yourself and creating your own path, you tried to re-create something that simply cannot be duplicated no matter what you do. The Patriots have been blessed with the greatest quarterback to ever play the game. The most important position on the field, they have had the best to ever do it, something you have never had. You believed that just having someone that had learned their way would make you them, but that is not how this works. It starts with the talent you have on the field and you have never sniffed the overall level that is required to be the team that everyone is chasing.

While we as the general public will likely never know the true dynamics inside that building, the evidence is clear that since the moment that Bill O'Brien has walked through that door over there on Kirby, the power struggle within is very real. Leaving Rick Smith in place at the time of the hiring set those wheels in motion from the jump. He was not Bill's guy and the two were never truly going to work. Sadly and tragically for Rick, he had to step away from the franchise for a horrible personal reason, but the underlying struggle between he and Bill was something that we all knew was still there when he walked away. Again, Rick was no perfect GM and nobody, including me, is going to sit here and say that not bringing him back was a huge mistake. He had been given a very long run and it had been time, for some time, to move on and get a fresh voice in the room. Looking back on it now, while he irritated us more often than he did not, it is clear that he and his staff had the ability to clearly recognize talent and bring in some players that should have helped you take the next step as team. While he was a massive failure when it came to the middle and late rounds of drafts and he was part of some very poor decisions on the trade and free agent side of things, the man rarely missed when it came to nailing his first round picks, while keeping the team flexible to make moves whenever they needed to. While he absolutely lacked a level of being aggressive that the franchise needed to take the next step, he was put in charge to do one job and like other men that are put in the same position of power, he did the one job he was supposed to do.

Early on in the O'Brien era, we heard the name Brian Gaine mentioned often as a guy that Bill trusted to get the type of players that he wanted on his team. After a few years here, he shockingly left the organization, making a lateral move in his career, joining the Buffalo Bills in the same capacity he had during his first tenure in Houston. After that one year in Buffalo and the exit of Rick Smith, he was suddenly good enough to bring back and given the title of General Manager. We rejoiced as fans when this happened because it finally felt like things were in place to end the clear power struggle inside the organization that we all knew existed and maybe, just maybe, he was the fresh voice this team needed to guide them to a new place they had never been before. While that was a welcome thing, you doubled down on his hire by giving O'Brien an extension to tie them both at the hip moving forward. While it was not what we all wanted at the time when you gave Bill that extension to 'align' the two men, we could live with it because finally, you made a smart move.

We heard the word 'alignment' over and over again after the hire of Gaine. It was preached to us as the gospel that 'alignment' was what was needed here and that was finally what you had in place with these two. Boy, oh boy, did that last long. After just over a year with Gaine in place, he was out of nowhere fired and once again you gave us all the proof that Bill O'Brien has this franchise by the you know what. It was embarrassing, even for a franchise with so many embarrassing moments tied to their history. From David Carr cutting his hair after finally winning a couple of games in a row, to pooping all over yourself in 2005 to win the 'Bush Bowl', to drafting Mario Williams instead (which actually turned out to be the right move), to the laughing stock pick-six end of the Schaub era, to the laughable signing of a washed up Ed Reed because he was a guy that KNEW WHAT IT TOOK TO BEAT THE PATRIOTS, to the turnstile approach at the QB position with the Fitzpatrick/Hoyer/Mallett/Savage era, to the joke of the free agent signing of the used car salesman that was Brock Osweiler, to his horrific press conferences that always talked about having a great week of practice and working hard to be better, to the joke of his HEB commercials, to the laser game in Mexico City, to the covering up your massive Brock mistake by trading away an asset to rid yourself of this mistake, to actually fixing it by having to give up even more picks to Cleveland to draft to Deshaun...the sudden exit of your new GM that you preached to us as gospel would bring the needed 'alignment' this franchise felt as if this was the lowest level of embarrassment you had ever brought to us as fans. But you are the Houston Texans and what do you know, you said hold my beer and watch what else we can do.

You sat back and left Bill and this Jack Easterby fella in charge this season, which we could live with at the time, only to not go out out and actually bring in a needed new voice to be the GM, instead, empowering Bill even more by also giving him the title of GM to go along with his title of Head Coach, Head Scout, Director of Player Personnel, President of Football Operations, Ghost Offensive Coordinator (because we all know Tim Kelly is not going to get the chance to call the plays for long)...just acknowledge what Bill actually is. While he might technically only have the two official titles of Head Coach and GM...his title should truly be...Texans Dictator.

One man and his mysterious, assumed, yes man are making all the decisions. And you elevated them to this status after chasing the ghost that was Nick Caserio (oh look another Patriots employee that you thought you could land to make you the next Patriots) and you made this decision after the absolute embarrassment that was the end of the 2019 season, the one where you held a 24-0 lead in the second quarter of the divisional round in enemy territory, where if you don't wet the bed, would lead you to hosting the AFC Championship Game at home the following week against a Titans team that you would have been favored to beat. For the first time ever, the Super Bowl was actually in your sights. We all sat there after the first quarter of that game and allowed ourselves to go into fantasy land and envision what it would be like to watch our team play on the first Sunday in February for the first time in the history of this city. But again, you said hold my beer and your head coach got the ball rolling with decisions like fake punts in the second quarter of that game, on the wrong side of the field, because he has too much power and responsibility to do just one job properly, telling us all afterwards that he just did not have a play they liked there. That right there is egregious enough and should have fired all of your alarms that this man has no business being in the position you have him in. But I have to say it once again, you said watch this, grabbed those beers, chugged them down and gave him even more power than he had before.

This city has lived through quarterback hell for years. We have grown accustomed to it. Outside of Warren Moon, this city has not known what is like to have a hall of fame level of talent at that position, the most important position you need it at to be the one that hoists that Lombardi Trophy at the end of a year. After all the pain and suffering of watching guys that every single soul watching knew was not that guy, the football gods smiled upon us with the gift that is Deshaun Watson. As special a talent as it gets, a player that has the talent and dedication to one day put on that ugly ass gold jacket while being inducted to the hall in Canton, Ohio.

Along the way to getting him and in the years following, you have had to burn so many valuable assets that are needed to build the team around any quarterback, even the ones that can carry a team above the level of talent you might have. After nearly getting him killed for a few years, you invested in your line, but in doing so you had to trade away multiple valuable picks, hurting your chances to build the required depth for a team to actually take that next step. We all could have lived with it if along the way you did not make an ass of yourself like you so often have. Instead of trading away some other valuable pieces for the proper value to regain some of the needed draft capital, you instead gave away serious talent for pennies on the dollar. Whether it's the Duane Brown trade or the moving of Jadeveon Clowney, your men in charge proved that they have no business being the ones that should be given the power to make these sort of moves.

You gave away Clowney for nothing. While you might not have been in a great spot of leverage, your dictator bungled the entire situation, telling the player to stay away instead of just getting the man to sign the franchise tag and forcing him to show up. Instead, you hurt your team in the now once again and shipped him off for a pick that lands nowhere close to the one you used to take him a few years ago. While he absolutely never lived up to the overall hype he received coming out of college, there is no way you can possibly justify that you got enough when you moved on from him, hurting your team in the now and getting very little to help in the future.

All of this has gone on in a period where you have insane flexibility with your stud quarterback under the absurdly ridiculous affordable rookie deal he is under. For multiple years now you have had ample cap space to not only keep some of these players like a Clowney for the now by loading up a deal on the front end, while you have also had the ability to go out and use some of your available funds in your cap space to supplement this team before you have to give that quarterback the massive deal he deserves. But what did you do? You sat back and sat on too much of it and handed out multiple contracts that had no business being handed out at all.

If there is one thing that Bill O'Brien has done during his tenure as the head coach, his teams have generally not quit on him, having multiple slow starts to seasons, rallying to overachieve on multiple occasions. That is something that is actually commendable and needed for your team to take another step. But in one day this man has pissed away any goodwill he might have had with some of his players and those players in turn should have absolutely no faith that this organization is ever going to get it right. Every single player in on the roster should want out and I could not blame any of them for wanting just that.

So instead of doing all the smart things that you should do as a franchise to build around your stud young quarterback, your dictator decided yesterday to move his most trusted and valuable player on the offensive side of the ball for absolutely no logical reason at all. You have empowered this man to make the team worse. You have allowed the man to let his ego control what you do. You have a man that gets his feelings hurt if a player is upset and his response is to simply ship out the player and get a bag of dog poop in return that he will turn around and tell you is a filet. This is what you have signed up for. In a world that needs a group of people to properly evaluate talent and make decisions, you have instead given one man and his mysterious yes man to make all of the decision. Instead of having the proper structure in place that has checks and balances to avoid idiotic things like this happening.

This franchise has watched some hall of fame talent players come through this organization and all they have done is waste all of that talent. Andre Johnson set the standard for receiver play in this organization. He represented everything that you want in a superstar level player. He worked hard, he rarely made anything public and he came in every single day and set an example for how all players should work. Hell not only was he an amazing example for any athlete, he was just a great example for how any person should work in life. The Texans drafted DeAndre Hopkins with the 27th pick in the 2013 draft, filling the massive need they had to finally land a true legit second receiver that never really had. Hopkins was the guy that was overlooked by too many in that draft. He did not wow with amazing speed and was not the sexy name in that draft like the burners that were Tavon Austin or Cordarrelle Patterson and Hopkins quickly showed in his first year how badly some people evaluated him ahead of the draft. Along his ride to becoming who many have viewed as the best and at worst a top three receiver in this league, he carried on what Andre Johnson built. He worked hard, set the perfect example of what a star player should always working his ass off on and off the field, all while enduring the exact same thing Andre did for the first few years of his career and that is having to play with quarterbacks that were nowhere near the level of talent receiver like him should have. And while having to deal with a constant shuffling of the deck with at best average quarterbacks that were worse than what Andre had, he never once complained publicly, threw anyone under the bus or made it about him. All the dude did was ball out and put up numbers that no man should put up when you consider the talent he had throwing him the ball. Now, finally, he has the quarterback that his talent deserves and out of nowhere you have ripped this special duo from a fan base that deserved to watch it continue to grow.

To make all of this worse, you traded away a top level talent in this league in the middle of the prime of his career, all because your dictator had a little friction with him and could not keep his ego out of it. Guys like DeAndre Hopkins are worthy of special treatment when the situation clearly calls for that and that is what should have been done. If he was a 31 year old wide receiver that was about to hit the decline rapidly, this could be stomached. But the fact that this player more than likely has at least another five years of top level production in front of him, it continues to make this decision even worse.

DeAndre had every right to want another extension. In a sport with non-guaranteed deals and a constant resetting of the market, he has become massively underpaid at his position. Players want more guaranteed and his status and production clearly say that you pay this guy. AND YOU COULD HAVE DONE THIS!!! YOU HAVE THE CAP SPACE TO GIVE HIM MORE NOW AND LOAD IT UP AT THE FRONT END OF THE DEAL AND YOU STILL DO NOT HAVE TO WORRY HIM FALLING OFF THE FACE OF THE EARTH AND NOT BEING WORTH HIS DEAL...HE IS GOING TO BE 28 THIS SEASON!!! But yeah, trade him away because you do not want to reward him and your egotistic dictator got his feelings hurt and oh yeah get nothing close to proper value when trading this player away. This washed, always hurt, massively overpaid running back and a second round pick will do. This is completely fine.

I feel terrible for the spot that you have put David Johnson in. No matter what he comes here and does, outside of setting the rushing record and leading them to a Super Bowl, the dude will forever be linked to the worst trade this city has ever seen and it was not of his doing. I hope he succeeds and I hope he does it for himself, not you. I blame no players for not playing with the franchise as their biggest reason why. They should play for themselves and their teammates only. Play to guarantee themselves future contracts. Play for the fans that appreciate their work. Not for the logo on the side of their helmet.

I wrap up this long, I'm sure rambling at times and angry letter by reminding you that this is of your own doing. You have brought all this anger on yourselves by empowering a dictator that cannot get his ego out of the way. A man that is trying to do multiple jobs at once when he has continued to show you that he has enough trouble doing the one you originally hired him for. You have forced a city that loves to come together and unite behind each other and the great things we have in our city. And guess what you aren't? That's right, great. At making money, you sure are great. Consistently one of the highest valued teams in a league, all while accomplishing very little overall. Division banners were nice and cute when we first got them, but guess what, that's not good enough. I will not tell people how to spend there money, but I am hopeful that this year you feel the fans anger. I hope you see empty seats all over that building all season long. I hope you feel how much you have angered a fan base that wants no part of disliking their team this much. I will continue to watch because my job requires that. If it were not for this job, I would stop watching this team moving forward. Emotionally investing in your team is the worst investment a fan in this city could make right now.

There is no reason to trust you. There is no reason to be loyal to your product. And that is so sad for a city that is always so thirsty to give all of that to the teams we love. I am not interested in hearing your reasoning or excuses behind this. I am not interested in whatever moves you make to fill this void you have created for your team. Nothing you do outside of hoisting a trophy will ever be good enough. Your grace period of bringing football back to this city is long gone. Please give us the best thing you have given us since the late Bob McNair gave us back football. Sell the team...sell the team and move on so we have a chance to have the team the fans actually deserve.

-Michael Connor

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