Barry Warner: Keenum's success is a great local story, plus Texans, Astros and Keith Jackson

Case Keenum is a great story.

Other than the Astros winning the World Series, there is not a better local story than Case Keenum.  The former Cougar record setting quarterback, who could not get drafted and was cut by the Texans twice, is on his way to becoming a very rich man. His walkoff touchdown pass Sunday added to what he will get paid this offseason when he becomes a free agent.

Saints safety Marcus Williams stood up after his gaffe in the divisional playoff game and took responsibility for allowing Stefon Diggs’ game-winning touchdown. Saints teammates came to his defense immediately after the game and again on social media Monday. The kid showed maturity way beyond his years.  But that does not excuse the lack of fundamental football we watch weekly in the garbage known as the NFL. Whatever happened to the art of tackling, wrapping your arms around a player and bringing them down? The Cardinal rule is for a defensive back to always look for the ball.

I am so sick of guys trying to make SportsCenter with big hits. They should be called turtles.

Texans add a GM

Brian Gaines is a solid hire and makes Billy O and his four-year extension the winner.

For starters, most pro franchises do not rely on head hunting firms to find coaches or executives.  Most are smart enough to know the top candidates.  But not your deep thinkers on Kirby.  So, you do not get the ability to tap into the minds of candidates on their evaluation of your talent. The same with solving many personnel problems within the cap.

It is both a joke and a travesty that they interviewed two house men.

Mc Nair, rightfully so, knew that O’Brien had at least four solid offers.  He was afraid of firing a coach only to see him have success after leaving this joke of a franchise. Does the name Gary Kubiak ring a bell?

One of few times in my career does the head coach get to pick the GM.

Please explain to me how the Texans have the balls to charge more money for such a terrible product.

Nice move for Astros

Gerritt Cole now an Astro. The former top pick in the draft will be here through 2019 when arbitration kicks in.  The price was nominal since Colin Moran was never going to be a starting third baseman and Michael Feliz cannot stay healthy. Joe Musgrove found his niche in the bull pen after demotion to minors.

Where are the fans, Rockets?

Why all the empty seats in the high dollar lower bowl? What does that say about the Houston business community that they can’t give away free tickets? Not questioning the brilliance of Tilman Fertitta, but the NBA will always be in third place the hearts of Houstonians. H-Town belongs to the Astros.

R.I.P. Keith Jackson

Dick Enberg has a cocktail partner in Heaven, with the passing of the great Keith Jackson.  His calls were melodious, up and down the scale — never losing the clippity-clop of his Southern upbringing.

The great sportscasters — and Jackson was truly great — all have a three-octave range and an understanding of storyline and plot points, knowing instinctively when to speak and, more importantly, when not to.

"They talk too damn much," he said once, in describing today’s yappy young announcers. "You wear the audience out."

In his long career, Jackson covered everything — rowing, baseball, boat races and Olympic Games. But it was college football that fit him best. Born in Georgia, he reminded you of an old Southern line coach, broadly built and with a bit of barroom bluster, like his growling soulmate Bear Bryant, with whom he used to pal around.

Every fan at that time remembers Jackson’s signature phrases, “Whoa Nellie,” “fum-BULLLLL,” and “big uglies” — referring to linemen — and how he anointed the Rose Bowl “The Granddaddy of ’em all.”

I had the privilege of being with this incredible broadcaster for the first Monday Night Football in 1970, when Jackson was the play-by-play voice alongside the brilliant-yet-boastful Howard Cosell and “Dandy” Don Meredith.  It was interesting working with Cosell to see the respect he held for Jackson.  

I saw the Iconic broadcaster several times after that night, which changed television, with Jackson always taking a few minutes to chat or do an interview.

He was one of a kind.


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The media has mixed feelings about the James Harden trade. Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

James Harden was 100-percent exactly right earlier this week when he said the Houston Rockets were "just not good enough."

How could they be? Not when their moody superstar scorer, who makes about half a million dollars per game, shows up chubby, looking like a kielbasa about to explode in the microwave. Hey, some people eat when they're unhappy, it's a defense mechanism. In Harden's case, the only defense he's exhibited this season. At least he had a good excuse for missing pre-season training camp and alienating his teammates - he was busy partying with Cinnamon and Cherish in Atlanta and Vegas without a mask. Worst of all, he went into the tank his last four games in a Rockets uniform, standing around, arms folded, scoring fewer than 20 points each time, all Rockets losses. Fans in the front row were asking him to move, he was blocking their view of players who cared about winning. James Harden sabotaged his own team, a team that offered him $50 million a year to stay. Something that crazy could only happen in professional sports these days.

There's a saying that drives the American labor movement: "a fair day's wage for a fair day's work." It's the motto of the American Federation of Labor. The National Basketball Players Association is not a member. Harden's sulking on the court, cheating the Rockets and their fans, was unforgivable.

Harden, sitting out games while somehow being on the court, forced the Rockets to trade him - and quick - to Brooklyn. The trade, when you ignore the fine print and unindicted co-conspirators Cleveland and Indiana, sent Harden to Brooklyn in exchange for Caris LeVert (immediately flipped for Victor Oladipo), Jarrett Allen, three first-round draft picks and four swapped first-rounders. It's true, when you trade a superstar, you never get back equal value. The other team wins.

If it makes Rockets fans feel any better, the media in New York already has problems with their new problem child. I should say newest problem child. Kyrie Irving plays for the Nets.

"They (the Nets) gave up everybody! There's nothing left now. I just want to cry, It's awful," weeped WFAN Radio talk host Evan Roberts. For those who don't subscribe to weekly Arbitron ratings reports, WFAN is the most powerful, top-rated sports talk station in the Apple.

"You're leading down the road of doom. Harden and Durant could be gone in a year and a half. I'm not convinced this gives them a better chance to win a title. I'm living a nightmare again. They better freaking win."

Circle March 3 on your Rockets schedule. That's when the Brooklyn Nets, with their Big 3 of Kevin Durant, James Harden and possibly Kyrie Irving visit Toyota Center. I hear talk radio salivating over the record jeers that will cascade over Harden's name, although I'm not buying it. Fans don't think like the media does. I'm thinking that Rockets fans will welcome Harden back - one night only - with cheers.

Toyota Center public address announcer Matt Thomas: "Usually when former Rockets come to town for the first time since leaving, I give them a positive introduction. It's up to the fans how to react."

James Harden spent eight seasons with the Rockets. He is a spectacular player who watched other NBA players engineer trades so they could compete for a title. Harden didn't think the Rockets were good enough, and he's right. So he wanted out. We've all been there, a job we didn't like for a company we didn't like, for a boss we didn't respect. Harden wanting to be traded is understandable. How he went about it was deplorable. He hurt his co-workers.

Houston will make Harden pay for his disrespectful departure. He has an upscale restaurant set to open here. The name of the steakhouse will be "13." Harden's business partners may want to change that number ... before the restaurant's telephone number is disconnected. There are plenty of other restaurants in Houston. Rich people who can afford steakhouse prices hold grudges.

Rockets fans searching for a silver lining say, "We got two decent players and a whole bunch of precious first-round picks" for a malcontent who would rather be anywhere (except maybe Sacramento) than Houston." Yes, a bunch of first-round picks does bode well for the future. Anywhere, except maybe Houston.

Houston's draft war room isn't the most successful operation in the NBA. Over the past decade prior to 2000, under the direction of general manager Daryl Morey, the Rockets made 16 draft picks. Not one of them is still in a Rockets uniform, many of them have sought employment outside of America, some outside of basketball. Among their first-round whiffs: Nikola Mirotic, Terrence Jones, Sam Dekker - all out of the league. Best of all, Royce White, who played three whole games in his NBA career and finished with a scoring average of 0.00 points per game.

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