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Bob McNair Is Not Popular

Earlier today I wrote the daily links post, and in it I reacted to Dale Robertson’s column this morning about the Houston Texans owner Bob McNair. McNair, who before this season was largely untouched by criticism within Houston, has recently been the recipient of a lot of disapproval, most notably for retaining Gary Kubiak despite his 37-43 record as a head coach. As of the time I started writing this article, there were only positive comments for my position on Bob McNair, but I do not for a second think that means everyone agrees with me. For every one that comments, there are probably a dozen people who read the article but never chime in. Also, some people have a tendency to only comment on articles they agree with out of respect to the author.

Then there is other feedback. Shortly after posting the daily links, Jerome Solomon of the Chronicle responded to Battle Red Blog’s Twitter page with this:

@battleredblog Because he paid $700 to bring the NFL to Houston is the dumbest reason imaginable to give McNair a pass for Texans' suckage.

One of the reasons I really like Solomon’s work and have linked it a lot in the past is his brutal honesty, so it would be hypocritical of me now to dislike his frankness just because it was pointed at me. I replied back on Twitter, and Solomon and I traded a few responses to each other. I have decided to write a column with those tweets because I think 140 characters really made me sum up my feelings on the matter, and Solomon does a good job representing the other (and more popular IMO) school of thought when it comes to Bob McNair. Follow the jump for those messages as well as my take on them.

My response (in two messages) to Solomon’s initial tweet to BRB:

@JeromeSolomon I wasn't giving him a pass because he paid 700 mil. I was saying he's made mistakes, but I think he is learning from them.

@JeromeSolomon granted, it's taken too much time, but he at least listens to criticism and responds, even if his PR skills are lacking.

I think it is obvious that McNair listens to the criticism of fans. Whether he does what we want him to do in response to that criticism is a different story. McNair has been pushing the "Wade Is Going To Clean Up The Defense" campaign because he is in tune with the fans' disdain for that side of the team. I know, a retard could figure that out. He is also aware that fans have lost faith in Rick Smith’s talent evaluation on defensive personnel, which is why he’s been pushing the "Wade Is Going To Pick Defensive Players" agenda. There are more examples that McNair is at least aware of his and his team’s perceived shortcomings. He’s at least operating above an Al Davis or Bud Adams, which does not make him a great or even good owner, but my argument isn’t through yet.

Here is Jerome’s response:

@JakeBRB Leaing from mistakes? Who will be the head coach next season?

@JakeBRB granted, granted, it's taken too much time, but he at least listens to criticism and responds. ... You're so easy to please. lol

To which I stated:

@JeromeSolomon I hear you. I wasn't saying that was the right decision or that he's infallible, but he didn't keep kubiak because of (cont)

@JeromeSolomon only caring about money or negligence. He has misguided faith in stability. Stupid football decision doesn't equal not caring

I do not contend that McNair has it all figured out and we should blindly put faith in him. For anyone that has any memory of my writing, you would know that I was completely in favor of firing Kubiak and think McNair was wrong for not doing so. I do disagree with the notion that has been forwarded that McNair only cares about his bottom line and not winning. He’s a businessman, so he’s going to make sure his business is profitable in any way that it possibly could be, which in itself shouldn’t be criticized. The previously mentioned decision to keep Kubiak had nothing to do with money because switching coaches would keep the fan base happier, thus making some fans who intend to not renew their season tickets change their mind. That decision comes more from McNair’s attempted replication of organizations like the Steelers and the Patriots, who value stability at the head coaching position. It may not be the right decision in this circumstance, but he made it because he sincerely believes it gives the Texans the best chance of winning, not anything selfish or monetarily motivated.

His response:

@JakeBRB I have never said he cares more about making $$ than winning. He cares about both, but only knows how to do the former.

I’ve got nothing. In nine years, McNair hasn’t proved Solomon wrong. Again, my contention is not that he has this down to a science.

My response to Solomon kidding me that I’m easy to please:

@JeromeSolomon I am easy to please. Mediocre football that has the potential to get better > no football. That's what I was trying to say.

And his response to that:

@JakeBRB But McNair isn't God because the NFL is back in Houston and he is the team's owner. Keep hope alive. :)

Why would I devote so much time to a team that I believed had no possibility of getting better? Honestly, I wouldn’t. If there are Texans fans who completely believe that, yet are dedicated enough to go to games and keep up with the team, they are better people than me. My main contention here is that a product to improve is better than no product at all. McNair is not a saint because he made a business investment that turned out to be a great fiscal decision, but he did put $700 million dollars on the line, the end result of which was a football team for Houston. Would other people eventually have made that decision if he hadn’t? Maybe, but if it was someone else they would receive my gratitude the same way McNair does.

My last note to Solomon debating the McNair matter:

@JeromeSolomon I get it, the texans have sucked and he's doing damage control. I just don't think he warrants the vilification he's getting.

I needed all 140 characters, but this sums up my feelings pretty succinctly. I realize Bob McNair isn’t perfect, but I do feel we could have worse. I think it is an admirable quality that he is willing to make unpopular decisions that rightly or wrongly make him unpopular to the fan base of his team for what he believes is the interest of winning. Also, I think that he is learning on the fly how to run a franchise, even though it isn’t as quickly as we would like it to be. Lastly, even if he makes a ten-fold return on his initial investment, I will love the man forever for returning the NFL to Houston. Maybe Solomon is right that I missed the point, but I’ll be happy in my ignorance.

What do you think? Are you happy with Bob McNair to this point and in the future as the owner of the Texans?