Culture / Sporting Life

Cheering Bill O’Brien’s Firing is a Bad, Low-Class Look for Texans Fans

The McNairs Finally Made a Move, But This Houston Franchise's Future is No More Certain

BY // 10.05.20

Just because you got what you wanted, doesn’t mean you have to be a jerk about. Yes, Bill O’Brien is finally gone, kicked out of the Kirby Drive stronghold he methodically built for himself, adding more and more power to the point where he all but dictated how even the copies and coffee had to be made, by Janice and Cal McNair.

But Houston Texans fans cheering this news with the glee scorned Cleveland Cavaliers fans showed in burning LeBron James jerseys back in the day is a bad, low-class look. The outright joy and backslaps being performed on sports radio stations and comments sections everywhere are classless.

Houston is better than this.

O’Brien essentially fired himself when he traded away his best — or second-best — player for scraps and the Arizona Cardinals’ discards. Bill O’Brien the coach was never going to recover from what Bill O’Brien the GM did to him in jettisoning DeAndre Hopkins in some kind of misguided personal feud.

It is clear now that O’Brien lost his locker room in that move. If O’Brien thought he was doing his version of Bill Belichick cutting Lawyer Milloy, he vastly underestimated several factors. Chief among them the fact that Belichick had already won one Super Bowl when he pulled off that immensely unpopular move.

O’Brien had not built close to enough trust to ever survive kicking Hopkins to the curb for such a putrid return. Even if many of the same Texans beat writers ripping O’Brien for his personality now twisted themselves into positions that make the downward dog yoga pose look like cake by comparison trying to defend the Hopkins trade at the time. You know, back when they were certain O’Brien was sticking around.

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So yes, Bill O’Brien dug his own coaching grave. But that does not mean Texans fans have to take such outward delight in dancing on it.

Celebrating a man losing his job just seems so crass. Especially in 2020 when so many are hurting for so many different reasons. Wasn’t the coronavirus pandemic supposed to make us all a little kinder and gentler with each other?

Bill O’Brien, The Man

No matter what you think of how O’Brien lead the Texans, he is still a guy with a family who’s hurting today. I’d argue he’s still a good coach, too. If O’Brien could have just kept his power-grabbing ways in check and stayed away from the general manager’s role, the Texans franchise probably would not be in the horrible position it is today.

O’Brien may be a better guy than many people think, too. Back when I used to be around the Texans almost every day, early in O’Brien’s tenure, I’ll always remember how he went out of his way to pull James Palmer aside and say some kind words when SportsNet Houston folded and Palmer lost his job. This was back when Palmer was a young TV reporter not the NFL Network star he is today.

Most coaches — particularly football coaches — would have no idea what was going on with anyone covering them. And even fewer would bother to actually take time out of their day to say something. O’Brien did. I witnessed it.

Yes, Bill O’Brien was a Masshole (and not so unproud of it) outwardly many times. But he also noticed things in the larger world that many coaches did not — and actually seemed to care. O’Brien quickly spoke out against racial injustice in a way that clearly came from the heart, too.

Delighting in his firing — even if the McNairs needed to do it to have any chance to salvage the locker room and an 0-4 start — just seems petty.

And what exactly are Texans fans throwing a party for? On a day when the Houston Astros reminded us just how much championship mettle they still have and just how much fun they can still be, the Texans reinforced their own unsteady stumble.

This often rudderless franchise is no better position for the future with Romeo Crennel set to serve as a stopgap interim coach for 12 games. The Texans are now essentially starting over — from worse than scratch considering all the draft picks O’Brien was allowed to trade away.

That’s reason for joy? Please.

If the McNairs hire a good, up-and-coming coach (and give him a real GM), maybe Deshaun Watson will have a chance to really do something in about 2022 or 2023. Until then, what exactly are you cheering? A man losing a job he clearly loved?

Houston, you’re better than that.

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