Put on your conspiracy theory thinking caps on and join us for the newest ride down What If Boulevard.
Recently, the Houston Texans announced they’d whittled their coaching search down to three candidates: former Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores, former never-coached-in-the-NCAA-or-NFL guy Josh McCown, and Philadelphia Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon. As this was happening, Flores filed a landmark lawsuit against the NFL, specifically naming the New York Giants, Denver Broncos and Dolphins. The suit mentioned the Texans as well with regard to one-and-done head coach David Culley.
Somewhere in all this, the Texans’ “brain trust” (Cal McNair, Jack Easterby, and Nick Caserio) apparently decided it was in the best interest of the team to blow off the three named finalists and promote Lovie Smith from his position as Houston’s defensive coordinator to head football coach. The decision was made to retcon the spin around the search to make it out as if that was the plan all along. Unfortunately, anyone who had been paying attention has come to expect head-scratching decisions from the front office since Cal took over.
But snubbing Flores to hire Smith might just be the one head-scratcher that draws blood.
Plenty of people think that it’s fine for a company to slam a door in the face of a current or former employee who has had the audacity to file a lawsuit against it. It’s not fine. It’s a violation of the rights of the person who filed the claim and then was shunned.
It’s a point that soon will play out for the NFL and the landmark litigation filed against it by former Dolphins coach Brian Flores. In addition to the pending claims against the league, the Dolphins, the Broncos, and the Giants, a source with knowledge of the situation tells PFT that the case will be amended to state a retaliation claim against the Texans for failing to hire Flores.
Despite scathing articles from respected outlets like Sports Illustrated and NBC Sports, Jack Easterby has managed to operate in the relative shadows of national attention, sporting his Teflon Texans tracksuit while hiding behind a wall of “aw, shucks” toxic positivity seemingly intended to con the fanbase into believing he’s not only qualified for his job but that his input on organizational decisions is minimal at best. This includes a widely held belief Easterby has somehow cajoled several in the NFL press to pen positive pieces about his involvement with the team to counter the truth.
However, a lawsuit of this magnitude will pull a lot of things from the darkness into the light. Don’t believe it? Just ask Jon Gruden.
I’m not lawyer, but I think it’s generally true that any form of written communication is potentially discoverable in a lawsuit. This includes everything from physical letters to Google voice transcribed messages, texts, Snapchats, emails, message board private chats, and more. Once something like that is saved electronically, it’s nearly impossible to scrub it from existence.
Cases like this are proven through a careful review of documents, such as emails and text messages. Also, key witnesses will be grilled aggressively during depositions in an effort to test their stories, and ideally (from Flores’s perspective) to blow holes in them.
Regardless of how it plays out, it’s coming.
Trying to build a case around “We wanted Lovie as the HC all along” likely won’t play against high-powered attorneys armed with a mountain of texts, emails, webpage text alteration timestamps, and the like. Unless the Texans are holding some wildcard skeleton-in-the-closet evidence that justifies failing to hire Flores, this likely will not go well for them.
Flores, a man with deep professional connections to both Caserio and Easterby, a man who was widely considered as the home run coaching hire for the Texans due to those relationships until the lawsuit was announced, was clearly the right man for the job. Until he wasn’t.
Maybe, just maybe, this might be the right time for Cal McNair to turn off the Playstation and figure out how to divest himself of the liability that is his apparent right hand man. If not, Cal may well learn a lesson many before him were taught the hard way: Running a large organization isn’t all fun and video games. Especially when your negligence brings a massive, high profile lawsuit to your front door.