HOUSTON, TX – Even in this most unusual of seasons, NFL teams attempt to move forward with the rites of August, acclimating to football drills, practices and preparing for the 2020 season. The Houston Texans are no exception. There will be changes, especially since the team will start the year with three new coordinators. Without the benefit of preseason games, it will be difficult to figure out what in-game strategies and tactics the team will employ until the opener on September 10th.
Reports out of the Texans’ training camp indicate some potentially radical developments. Players and coaches would not comment on the record, but what is coming to light could be, at best, radical, and at worst, as one anonymous player noted, “bat [kitten] crazy”. Recent grumblings after various camp meetings saw players wonder just what was going on with the team and the leadership of the organization.
“I don’t think I have heard so many grown men swear in astonishment,” noted a Texans player [all players sourced for this report refused to provide their names for fear of significant retribution].
“The ‘W’, ‘T’ and ‘F’ keys on my phone are so worn down to the point I can’t use them” lamented another player.
When pressed as to what new strategy could engender such consternation, the players did not get into many specifics, but the accounts seem to corroborate the following story as reported via anonymous sources:
“It started right at the end of July. I guess [head] coach [Bill O’Brien] finally got a social media account…boasting that he was on “Spacebook”. Anyway, he was searching on it to see what people were saying about Houston one night, and then came across a lot of people trashing Houston, saying that opposing teams should be throwing right at the players, calling them cheaters and evil.
Well, that got [Bill O’Brien] all fired up. Apparently, he called an emergency meeting of all the coaches. Wanted them in the office right then and there. When the whole social distancing thing kept everyone from the office, he went nuts. He started screaming for someone to set up the AOL+ video chat. I guess he broke one of his computers when he couldn’t get on YouTube to chat up Romeo [Crennel]. Finally, someone in his family gave him a lesson in how to use Zoom, with [Bill O’Brien] allegedly saying that he thought Zoom was his wife’s dance class.
At that point, with all the coaches together, O’Brien fumed that if anyone throws at any of the players, we will throw it right back at them on the next possession!!! Here, one of the position coaches spoke up. “Uh, Coach, I think you are confusing us with the Houston Ast…” BO’B cut him off, threatening to send him to Jacksonville. After two other objections, followed by a lot of shouting and the emergence of BO’B newest coaching assistant, “Lucille,” BO’B proceeded to describe how to implement this philosophy into the game plans. Most were skeptical, but “Lucille” seemed to help sway the doubters.
When revealed to the players after the opening of training camp, there were even more sounds of incredulity. Stated one veteran, “Man, I thought that goal-line play in that game against KC was jacked up, but hearing this, I was like “is Coach [O’Brien] okay? Did he get the ‘Rona or something?”
Another bolder but less experienced player actually said, “Coach, are you saying we should throw it right back to them? Aren’t we, like, supposed to hope they throw it to us?” BO’B immediately chased said player out of the room with “Lucille”, as the player got traded to the NY Jets along with a 2025 second round and 2022 seventh round pick for a 2023 seventh and a two-day old Pizza Hut pepperoni pizza within four hours. Another defensive back also protested, which saw him shipped to the CFL with a 2026 third round pick for a 12-pack of stale Molson Canadian beer.
Multiple sources indicated that throughout the first week of practice, BO’B stressed acceptance of his strategy, noting that he was ready for opposing teams to throw hard passes directly at the Texans’ players with heavy concern about helmet shots. Offensive Coordinator/QB coach Tim Kelly was seen drilling the QBs on new throwing techniques. Said one anonymous QB, “I’ve played football for almost 20 years. Never have I been taught to throw at an opposing player. He emphasized only throwing at the back or lower body. Very weird.”
Defensive players received intense academic instruction on what to look for in case they would get thrown at: ”The coaches kept saying ’Yatch out for a Joe Kelly’…and I’m like, ‘you mean there is a QB that will actually throw to us deliberately?’ I thought Jameis Winston was in New Orleans, but perhaps we would see Nate Peterman, or even, [NAME REDACTED]. They were acting like this was the biggest threat to our success, like one of those existential threat things. But you can’t question that out loud. I was hearing rumors that some undrafted rookie mimicked BO’B’s voice at the front entrance; by that afternoon, he got shipped to Norway for a jar of two month-old lutefisk.” [ed. note: The deal also included a 2027 second rounder].
This same anonymous player continued: “What’s even crazier is that Coach [O’Brien] kept saying ‘Now, be the better man and don’t hit back…let the ump figure it out.’ First off, we get to hit people in the game…legally. Second, aren’t we like supposed to get the ball and keep it away from the other players? And third, don’t we usually refer to them as ‘refs’?”
Noted another defender who asked that we only talk with him at 2 a.m. in an empty office parking lot, “I don’t know what is going on here, but wow, what is the deal? Y’all need to get in here and stop this! Follow the money, man!” He kept mostly out of sight, only distinguishable by the shadow from his trench coat…which admittedly stood out in the middle of a Houston August night.
This reign of terror threatened to escalate, at least until a meeting between Coach O’Brien, Associate Head Coach Romeo Crennel, and two unidentified players. We could not confirm the identity of these players, but it seems likely to be two players who are unlikely to get traded or meet with “Lucille”. No official recording survives from that meeting, but the tenor of camp changed after that late-night session.
“At first, I thought that the coaches had lost their [kittening] minds. I still think they have some issues, but I think that we have resolved some of those concerns. Oh, I don’t think other teams will try to throw at us like BO’B seems to think they will…but if they do, we have a special play ready to go. One of our guys [ed. note: apparently one of the two mystery players has good entertainment connections] put the coaches onto an old play from an obscure league…I think from a team, the Citrus State Prison…anyway, it is something we might just have to use…could be a lot of fun, especially if I, er, someone, really steps into that throw.”
When asked about it, the player chuckled, “Well, it will certainly keep a guy out of the backfield for a while. We won’t practice it in front of the cameras.” Asked if we would see any clue as to the implementation of this play, one coach noted “Hey, if KC can use a play from the 1949 Rose Bowl, we can bust out something from 40 years ago. If that can work, so can this.”
As best we can figure, this is the play in question.
The records from Citrus State Prison did not qualify for FOIA requests.
Whether this gets implemented during a game, only time will tell. If nothing else, it promises to be just one more interesting aspect to perhaps the strangest season in pro football history.