This is it. The last time we have to listen to Bill O’Brien talk about this football team. Who would have thought that we’d see this moment come today? Without further ado, let’s get into it.
BOB: “I appreciate everyone jumping on here. I just wanted to say a few thing and then take a couple of questions.
Number one, I really want to thank the McNair family. Cal, Janice, Hannah, obviously the late Bob McNair for just giving me and my family this opportunity. They were always very supportive and in the end, in this business, it’s a bottom line business. We weren’t able to get it to where we needed to get it. Obviously I have tremendous respect for their family and again I thank them for the opportunity that they gave me.
I understand that we fell short in terms of taking this team further in the playoffs, but I do leave knowing that myself and this staff gave everything this organization deserved and more. We worked very, very hard to try to get this to a place where it could be a championship program, but we just didn’t get it done.
I will leave here with very fond memories of the Houston Texans organization, and very fond memories of Houston. When my family and I came here in 2014, we had no idea what to expect. Houston is a great city. You think about Texas Children’s Hospital and what it’s done for my family and my son Jack. We can’t thank Texas Children’s Hospital enough. Michael, my son Michael has had a tremendous experience here living in West U and the friends that we made here in Houston are lifelong friends and we really appreciate their friendship.
Most importantly, to the players. I talked to the players briefly this afternoon and just thanked them. I told them that I love them. I think that these players are just awesome guys. They practiced hard. They tried to do everything we asked them to do. It was a pleasure coaching them, I’m going to miss seeing them everyday. From the guys that have been with me for 7 years to the guys that were only here for a year, every one of them are just tremendous guys and I’m just sorry we couldn’t get it done this year early on. I wish them the best. This is a good football team. Romeo stepped in. He’s an awesome awesome coach and he’ll do a great job.
You know, we’ve been through a lot here in the seven years that we’ve bee together here. Most recently obviously a pandemic, the worst hurricane in a hundred years, the passing of Bob McNair, and many more things that we had to deal with. I think we always stood up. I believe that I always tried to stand up in front of the media. We didn’t always have the greatest of conversations with the Houston media, but I feel like I stood up everyday and tried to give them my take on what was going in the right direction for this organization and then things that weren’t going in the right direction. Things that we needed to fix. This is giving me a great perspective and I will take this experience with me to my next opportunity. I want to coach. I love coaching, I love the players, the relationships with the players, the assistant coaches, I think football is the ultimate team game, so really there’s no doubt in my mind that I want to coach again.
The coaches, the football operations staff, and support staff are some of the hardest working people in the NFL. I mean, we demanded a lot of each other. Long hours from the equipment room, to the training room, to the weight room, to the cafeteria. We made a lot of great changes to this organization and I really thank those people. They just worked tirelessly.
I will specifically reach out to Cal and tell him I appreciate the opportunity that he gave me. The support that he gave us. I’m sorry that and, I told him this today, I’m sorry that we couldn’t get this team over the hump. Couldn’t get over the hump last year, or the year before, and obviously early on this year. But, it wasn’t for lack of effort. We did win four division championships here that we’re very proud of. We won four division championships in six years, so we did a lot of good things here but we didn’t do enough. We didn’t bring a Super Bowl to Houston, which I believe eventually someone will. I think this is a championship team that needs to get turned around right now, but I believe in this team. The team meeting room that I stood up in front of every single day was full of guys that have tremendous character, work ethic, and I know that they will succeed on the field but also in life. I mean, you think about some of these players and what they’ve done for the City of Houston, it was just an incredible opportunity for me to be around them everyday. Coaching them and for them to to really take the coaching and try to do what we were asking them to do.
Again, most people would say we didn’t do quite enough to get to the championship that we wanted here, but we did a lot of great things here. We won a lot of games and you know, we won four AFC South division titles in six years. and I think that’s a good accomplishment. Not good enough, but we did a lot of good things here. So, with that I’ll open it up to a couple questions and then I’m going to head home.”
As far as opening statements go, this one was sweet. Bill O’Brien has a beautiful family, and he’s right that it was a privilege to work so closely with the community. Saying that his relationship with the Houston media “wasn’t the greatest” is an understatement.
“How surprised were you when Cal gave you the news, and what did you think about the decision?”
“I respect the decision, John. I know in this business when we lost to Minnesota, a game that we had a chance to win; give Minnesota credit, they did a great job. I knew that something like this could happen, but that’s the business. I have tremendous respect...Cal called me and we had a nice conversation. I thanked him for the opportunity and I told him they’ve got a good team here and they will turn it around.”
O’Brien certainly didn’t expect it this early. He could have seen this happening somewhere closer to, I don’t know, 2023? If this team turns it around with RAC at the helm and wins the Super Bowl, I’ll eat my jersey.
“Hey, Bill. can you maybe put your finger on what didn’t quite happen with this team? Is there something that you point to and say ‘Man I wish we just could have gotten that going to get the season going’?”
“Greg, you’ve known me for seven years. I don’t really make excuses, you know. We just didn’t do enough. Whatever it is, you look back on it, hindsight’s 20/20, right? I mean the players played hard. We had a chance to win or at least tie the game at the end there the other day, you know, scored the touchdown and were able to convert the two-point but we couldn’t get it done. So in the end that’s on the head coach and I totally understand that. Looking back on it, I don’t regret anything we did and especially in this time period with what’s going on with the COVID protocols that we had to follow and all the different things we had to do. We just weren’t able to win games.”
When Bill says he doesn’t make excuses, he’s not wrong. We always heard “It’s on me”, and now it finally is. The season wasn’t lost yesterdy against Minnesota; it was lost when BOB made the conscious decision to value character over talent. It was lost when he shipped Jadeveon Clowney and DeAndre Hopkins out for peanuts.
“I know it might be a little too fresh to reflect, but are there any moves that you made or any decisions that you made that possibly led to the bad start that you may regret right now?”
“I think that every decision we made was in the best interests of the team. We had long conversations, we put a lot of research into them. There were things that happened within the walls of an organization that the outside public will really never know. That’s just the way it is. I totally understand that. We had a lot of great conversations that went into these decisions. A lot of research with a lot of people that helped us along the way, and we made what we believe were the best decisions for the team and that’s what we always did.”
He definitely compared Hopkins to Aaron Hernandez.
“When you were put in charge of football operations and you became general manager, was that something you wanted to do or did the team approach you about it?”
“I think that’s probably something that I really don’t want to get into.I think at the end of the day, I tried to always do what was best for the organization, what was asked of me. I really did. Did we make mistakes? Obviously we made mistakes and I don’t think anybody’s perfect. We worked very hard to field a competitive team. We had a competitive team for years here. I think this is a competitive team, but you obviously have got to win games to be really considered that way. We hadn’t gotten it done. So, in the end, I did what was always asked of me. Whether it was Bob or Cal, and Janice. I tried to do the best I could.”
This was an interesting bit. Clearly, Bill had a power play that ended up working out in his favor (unlike his run plays). Why not celebrate it? Unless he understands that no other franchise on the planet will ever give him that much control again and it looks like a major red flag to make it seem like he wanted that kind of control in the first place. Hmm.
“Hey, Bill. Do you feel like you’re leaving here, after 7 years with high moments and you had some situations I know you wish the results were better, but are you leaving here as a better coach and better leader than when you got here?”
“I believe I am, Randy. I believe that you learn a lot about yourself in these situations. I learned a lot about myself at Penn State, I learned a lot about myself here in Houston. Experience is the best teacher, right? I mean, you gain experience, you try to make decisions that are in the best interest of the team, you always think about what’s best for the team, you work very hard. You put in a lot of time in and you put your heart and soul into the organization. Sometimes things don’t work out, but you definitely learn a lot about yourself and you really are thankful for the people around you. The people that really worked with you. Whether it was Jack Easterby, or the coaching staff, or the trainers, the strength coaches, the cafeteria people that come in at 4:30 in the morning to make breakfast. I just have a strong relationship with the PR department that’s here right now. I have a strong relationship with all these people. Equipment staff and you just really appreciate all those people and all the help that they gave you to try to bring a championship to Houston”
“Thanks for your time, coach.”
“Okay. Thank you, guys.”
That’s all he (I) wrote. So closes the chapter of Texans history with BOB at the helm. I’ve spent more of my football life with Bill O’Brien than without. The next few seasons are going to be very, very interesting. All aboard the Eric Bienemy train!
Jabs aside, I hope that Bill and his family find a nice landing spot and wish them nothing but the best. It was just time for BOB’s reign to come to an end, and now it has.