Culture / Sporting Life

Hannah McNair Making Her Strong Voice Heard May be the Texans’ Last Hope at Finally Getting a Coaching Search Right

With GM Nick Caserio Putting Himself in Limbo, Cal McNair's Wife and Confidant Brings Some Humanity and Realness to Kirby Drive

BY // 01.10.23

Nick Caserio sounds a little humbled, which seems to be the point. But he also seems less sure of himself, not exactly a trait sought after in the general manager of $4.7 billion NFL franchise. Yes, the Houston Texans are conducting press conference theater again, returning to their annual exercise of firing their coach and hiring a new one. Caserio and Texans CEO Cal McNair don’t exactly look relaxed in their turns at the podium. In fact, the only one who brings a touch of humanity to the proceedings is Hannah McNair.

The owner’s wife and confidant comes into the team auditorium before either man — and it’s a relaxed entry through the main doors rather than behind the stage entrance both Nick Caserio and Cal McNair use. “I’m your opening act,” Hannah McNair breezily tells the reporters sitting in the seats that come with their own tray tables. She jokes about doing a parade wave.

Later when the 30 minute press conference is done and Caserio and Cal McNair both quickly retreat through that back door, Hannah McNair stays behind and talks to a reporter who asked a pointed question about fan disillusionment for several minutes. A few PR officials look on, perhaps somewhat nervously. Then, Hannah McNair walks over and talks to another small group of reporters.

By now, Cal McNair has returned to the auditorium and he starts making his own rounds.

It’s just a snapshot at the end of a press conference. But it says something. So does Hannah McNair being the one who audibly speaks up from the audience when Caserio begins to rather awkwardly answer a question on who will have final authority on the new coaching hire. (That would be the McNair family not Caserio.)

These Texans need so much, having completely lost their way during three straight seasons of complete misery (which involved four different coaches) and not coming close to finding it again. But they could use some more strong voices. And Hannah McNair sure seems to be one.

She is the one who had the courage to turn her back on allegedly predatory former Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson on his return to NRG Stadium. She is the one who seems willing to speak up.

Texans fans should hope that Hannah McNair’s voice is heard before Caserio gets to announce his third coaching hire in three offseasons.

The Texans Coaching Search and the Credibility Problem

The still baffling David Culley hire and the unimaginative Lovie Smith hire cannot be followed by another coach that no other team in the NFL would have seriously considered. When coaches are seemingly hired to lose and be fired, never given a real chance or even seemingly much of a directive, something is broken with the process. And perhaps the franchise.

“We’re committed to getting this one right,” Cal McNair says of the latest coaching search.

The early candidates under consideration by the Texans this time — reportedly Philadelphia Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon, San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator (and former Texans player) DeMeco Ryans, Detroit Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson, Broncos defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero and Eagles offensive coordinator Shane Steichen — are much more promising. Particularly Ryans and Johnson.

But the Texans have more earned the doubts they’re facing. Including the idea that they may have trouble convincing one of the top candidates to join what’s being cast as a clown show by much of the football world. Ryans and Johnson could both say thanks but no thanks to jumping onto the ever swaying ship on Kirby Drive.

Yes, the Detroit Lions are now considered the up-and-coming team and the Texans are the biggest laughingstock in professional sports. Life comes at you fast in the National Football League.

So fast that Nick Caserio seemingly suggests several times that he would ax himself and leave his job as the Texans general manager if the organization’s eventual preferred coaching candidate pushed for his departure.

“I would say just candidly — and honestly — as we work through this process if there’s candidates that they feel whether or not my position — if I’m worthwhile of being in my position — if ultimately the best thing for the organization is for me not to be in that position,” Caserio says, “then I have to respect that and acknowledge that. And I’m not certainly not above and beyond anything else.”

Welcome to Bizarro World.

Having someone who comes across more real like Hannah McNair can only help in the strange land this ownership and general manager combo has plunged the Texans franchise into. She actually sounds honest without having to tell everyone that in a word jumble.

The Texans could use some more strong voices. And Hannah McNair sure seems to be one.

Lovie Smith Nick Caserio
Lovie Smith was the second coach hired by Houston Texans general manager Nick Caserio. Now, he’s working on hire No. 3.

Caserio long ago proved adept at stringing a lot of words together that actually say little. The best moments for the under pressure GM from this press conference come in the rare instances when he cuts to the chase.

“Let’s be real,” Caserio says. “Let’s be honest. The clock is ticking. Time is short, but that’s OK. We work in a high-pressure environment.”

If you’re a coach hired by Caserio, it’s been a no-win environment with the barometer for success and failure as unclear as the foggiest of Houston mornings. Meanwhile Caserio seemingly will get to make another super high pick in April’s NFL Draft (but not the No. 1 pick after another inexplicable Sunday) after whiffing by not selecting already clear cornerback star Sauce Gardner with the No. 3 overall pick in last year’s draft.

Blaming Lovie Smith’s preferred defense schemes for Derek Stingley Jr.’s very uneven rookie season — the new narrative on the team-controlled Texans sports radio — does not exactly scream accountability.

Yes, the strange doings at NRG Stadium still don’t seem to be done.

The Texans need more strong common sense voices in the room. Voices with the power to be heard. Hannah McNair being one of them would at least offer some reason for hope. For these Texans, that actually could be something of a start.

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