Leonardo DiCaprio has nothing on Brock Osweiler. At least, not when it comes to speeches. The Houston Texans’ new $72 Million Quarterback turned his H-Town introduction into a full-blown Oscar acceptance speech.
Osweiler thanked just about everyone who has ever coached him. He thanked his parents. He thanked his wife of one year, Erin. He thanked his agent, Jimmy Sexton. If this had been the actual Oscars, Osweiler would have been played off the stage by that wrap-it-up-already music.
It is unusual for an athlete — especially a 25-year-old who has never spent a full-season as a starter — to show up at a press conference toting note cards. Osweiler’s performance stood out in sharp contrast to the other Texans free-agent acquisitions introduced (running back Lamar Miller, guard Jeff Allen and center Tony Bergstrom) at the end of what turned out to be an awfully celebratory week just off Kirby Drive. Whether you think it’s endearing or over-the-top likely depends on where you stand on the Texans making this player with seven career starts one of the 10 highest-paid quarterbacks in the league.
Miller did not come off nearly as polished or as rehearsed as Osweiler. But the 24-year-old tailback with game-changing speed is much more of an established difference-maker. Miller gives the Texans what this franchise has long lacked even when the incomparable (and hardly big-game done) Arian Foster was healthy: game-breaking speed. Texans general manager Rick Smith calls Miller “a guy who can score every time he touches the ball.” That’s one of the few soundbites coming out of NRG Stadium that didn’t need to be dusted for hyperbole.
Osweiler is much less of a certainty than Miller. A few things are clear: The 6-foot-7 Osweiler’s even taller than Ryan Mallett (Texans coach Bill O’Brien’s last pet quarterback project), he’s much less likely to oversleep and miss a team flight than Mallett, and Bill Belichick never gave up on him. Osweiler even had the presence of mind to wear a Battle Red tie to his Texans’ introduction.
O’Brien loves tall quarterbacks the way DiCaprio loves blonde models. Texans fans can only hope the third-year coach has found a keeper this time. Ever since O’Brien foolishly let the relatively short (and now first-round tendered) Case Keenum walk out the door a second time, he’s been desperately searching for a young quarterback about whom he could feel confident. Osweiler’s brief success in Denver — including a Sunday Night Football showcase game in which he knocked O’Brien’s former team (the New England Patriots) from the ranks of the undefeated and thew 42 passes in the snow — seems to have sold the Texans’ creative coach on the merits of Brock.
It would be interesting to know what the no-nonsense O’Brien thought of his new quarterback’s Oscar speech. The Texans coach watched it from the back of the team auditorium after looking as pained as Arya at the Red Wedding during the long run of new-jersey photo shoots with the new players. “I’d like to get this show on the road,” O’Brien said even before the delayed press conference began.
Brock Osweiler was not about to rush his prepared speech. Something the new quarterback uttered in the question-and-answer session likely raises more alarms, though. “Just don’t hurt the football team,” Osweiler says of what his approach will be as the Texans quarterback. “I don’t think I need to come in and do anything special.
That’s game manager stuff, the kind of thing you would expect from a journeyman fill-in such as Brian Hoyer. A $72 Million Quarterback is supposed to make plays that win games.
Still, it’s only one day. One could argue that Osweiler is just trying to come across as humble to his new teammates and the coach tapping his foot in the back of a cram-packed auditorium.
Osweiler’s Dicaprio moment is more out there, but the only thing certain this March is that Texans owner Bob McNair guaranteed that his franchise will be much more interesting next season. That does not necessarily mean the team will be better, but people too often forget that professional sports is entertainment. In many ways, that’s the real bottom line. It’s something that organizations such as the Dallas Cowboys and Los Angeles Dodgers realized long ago.
An Oscar-speech delivering quarterback is sure better than a boring alternative. Pass the popcorn.