When you think of the best players in Houston Texans history, Andre Johnson, J.J. Watt and, now Deshaun Watson all come to mind. Last weekend, Deshaun Watson spoke out (albeit through others) against the current turmoil inside the Texans organization. You know, the maelstrom of misery that has Jack Easterby at the epicenter. While Watson wasn’t in-your-face about it, when DW4 voices displeasure with his team, the entire NFL world sits up and takes notice.
Unfortunately, that wasn’t enough for Cal McNair to wake from the spell Easterby has cast over him. Yesterday, another Texans great, Andre Johnson, connected with a right cross sure to put his opponent on the turf a la Cortland Finnegan. With Johnson leading the way, as he did for so long when he was in Houston’s locker room, other players followed. Everyone from DeAndre Hopkins to Arian Foster, Kareem Jackson, D.J. Reader, Duane Brown, Sage Rosenfels, and even Ed Reed have chimed in to back ‘Dre’s play urging Deshaun Watson to stand his ground. Even former Texan-turned-Houston-radio-personality Seth Payne is totally out on Easterby.
Now, like it or not, the ball is rolling over to the feet of arguably the G.O.A.T. of the Houston Texans greats, J.J. Watt. When examining the greatest defensive linemen to ever play ball in Texas, you have to take into account that when you achieve the level of greatness Watt has, you tend to be a bit different than the other players. We could see this in Hard Knocks a few years ago, with Watt cutting a solitary figure on the practice field and in the weight room, He even had a $4,000 mattress tucked in the back of the training room to take power naps between two-a-days.
No, Watt is not like the others. That also means Watt is not normally prone to speaking out, lashing out, creating drama, or engaging in any of the negative behavior we often see with star athletes. In that way, Watt and Andre Johnson are cut from the same cloth. That’s part of why ‘Dre’s punch yesterday shocked so many. LIke Andre Johnson, #99 has a breaking point too. Over the time Jack Easterby has been whispering in Cal McNair’s ear, Watt’s “speak softly and carry a big stick” demeanor has slowly changed. This season saw more than one postgame presser where Watt lost his cool.
Therein lies the impact of Jack Easterby. Brought in to “fix” the culture of the Houston Texans, Easterby has fomented an environment where the first inductee into the franchise’s Ring of Honor quit his job as Special Advisor to the Head Coach and then, months later, accused the Texans of being known for wasting players’ careers. Watt, the next man presumably to have his name put in the Ring, has gone from calm, cool, and collected to coming unglued behind the podium in postgame pressers.
Hot on the heels of the greatest season EVER by a Houston Texans quarterback, rumors emerge that Deshaun Watson might force a trade to get out of H-Town. And Watson’s not the only one unhappy with how things are going at NRG Park.
On Deshaun Watson/Texans, a league source texted me back with “most miserable place to work in the NFL”— Chris Trapasso (@ChrisTrapasso) January 13, 2021
In some ways, Watt has already indicated what he thinks about the state of the franchise.
Could it be Watt’s comments lit the fire in Deshaun that sparked all this? Or maybe it’s simply a symptom of the underlying disease. Either way, two of the three greatest Texans to ever don a helmet and set foot on the field have gone sideways over Jack Easterby. And, the fan base has gone with them.
Last weekend, #FireEasterby was the #1 trending tag on Twitter in H-Town. Of all the things Houstonians could tweet about, a “Culture Guy” behind the scenes of the local football team shouldn’t merit a single tweet. Especially if he was truly “improving the team culture.” As the saying goes, “great service is most conspicuous in its absence”. The absence of great service to the team culture is as conspicuous as it gets when that hashtag takes over one of the largest cities on Earth for an entire weekend.
Where does that leave the giant of a man, J.J. Watt? He’s never been one to dig into these sorts of controversies, preferring to keep his nose to the grindstone and remain focused on football, hard work, and what it takes to remain great. Unfortunately, if Watt doesn’t speak out, others will for him, and they could interpret Watt’s silence as being fine with the current state of the franchise.
So .@JJWatt calls players out but not this dude that Andre is calling out?...sounds to me JJ is a company man!!— Dan Sileo (@DanSileoShow) January 13, 2021
If I had Watt’s phone number, or any way to reach him, I’d love to ask his opinion on this whole mess. Unfortunately, Amy Palcic, the Texans head of PR whom I have spoken with in the past, was fired for not fitting the Texans’ “culture.”
No matter what, the big man won’t be able to avoid this subject for long. Every chance anyone in the NFL press gets, they’re going to ask him about it. We’ll be waiting for his answer.