MORE DRAMA ON KIRBY?

Did the Texans know about discriminatory firings, and hope no one would notice?

Did the Texans know about discriminatory firings, and hope no one would notice?
Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

*Editor's note:

The original headline on this story has changed and the intention of the headline was not to assume or state that the Texans had any knowledge of any discriminatory firings.

Wednesday was a busy day for the Texans. Not only were they served with tampering charges from Patriots over contact with their top choice to be their new GM in Nick Caserio, but they also got served with a discrimination complaint against their former GM, Brian Gaine.

Former Texans staffer Jeff Pope alleged to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission he was fired unjustly on Friday – which happened to be Gaine's last day as well (sources agreed Gaine's firing had absolutely zero to do with the alleged discriminatory practices). The complaint went on to state that Gaine had created a hostile work environment towards African-Americans and that his firing was just one in a long line of terminations of African-American employees replaced by white males.

According to sources, Gaine knew exactly what he was doing with all of these terminations, and so did Texans head coach Bill O'Brien. The two had been discussing the issue as far back as last year.

Both agreed that it "looked bad", according to the sources, and they hoped no one would notice. The two also had hoped that the hiring of CJ Leak as Assistant Director of Pro Scouting would be enough of a deterrent to anyone thinking that the front office was acting in a discriminatory fashion.

Leak was a combine scout for the Saints prior to joining the Texans, and combine scout to assistant director of pro scouting is a major leap up the ranks (imagine hiring another team's Assistant Linebackers Coach as your new Defensive Coordinator). While the sources spoke highly of Leak as a scout, they agreed race was likely a factor in the decision because both Gaine and O'Brien were overly conscious of perception of all the terminated African-American staffers, none of whom were replaced by other minorities.

Perhaps the biggest unjust firing, according to the sources, was that of assistant director of college scouting Mike Martin, who was terminated a few months after Gaine took over as GM. Martin was one of the first hires made by former GM Rick Smith when he took over, and was highly regarded as a scout.

Martin is noted for being the scout who convinced the Texans to sign Arian Foster and AJ Bouye as undrafted free agents. He is also the scout who made the recommendations of Duane Brown, DeAndre Hopkins, and Jadeveon Clowney. Martin was a big advocate for the team choosing Clowney over Blake Bortles.

Martin was also a big proponent of Deshaun Watson, and was the man who scouted Benardrick McKinney and Kareem Jackson.

None of that sounds like the resume of a guy you want to fire, does it?

It seems like the biggest red X he had was that he was hired by Rick Smith. Perhaps that was all he needed.

Sources indicated that O'Brien and Gaine worked collaboratively on these terminations (they were in "alignment") because one of the most important issues to O'Brien was to get rid of anyone that he thought was a "Rick Smith guy" and replace them with "his guys". Whether or not a staffer was good at their job was not important, just who hired them was (and perhaps the color of their skin as well).

The sources also indicated that former assistant GM Jimmy Raye III was terminated because he was the guy Rick Smith hired to replace Gaine when Gaine left the Texans to become the VP of Player Personnel in Buffalo.

Being African-American and hired by Rick Smith were the two biggest reasons people were getting terminated. It's the perfect intersection where discrimination meets pettiness.

It's also where the two most powerful people in the Texans organization whose last names aren't McNair sat down, broke bread, and deliberately turned a blind eye to a practice they knew "looked bad" and was wrong.

They hoped no one would notice. Now they may find themselves under a microscope.



Patrick Creighton is the host of "Late Hits" weeknights 7-9p on ESPN 97.5 Houston. Follow him on Twitter: @PCreighton1

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The Astros are back in action Friday night against Seattle. Composite Getty Image.

The Astros were a season low 12 games under .500 (12-24) on May 8th but were able to turn things around and entered the All-Star break with a respectable 50-46 record.

The turnaround can be attributed to better performances on the field by a multitude of players, but there are still things that could be improved to ensure a successful second half of the season.

As it currently stands, Houston is only one game behind the Seattle Mariners in the American League West division race, and the Astros should have key players returning from injury to further bolster their playoff ambitions.

The return of the King

Kyle Tucker has been on the injured list with a shin contusion for six weeks now, and looks to return in the near future.

The Astros have done surprisingly well without their three-time All-Star outfielder thanks to contributions from guys like Joey Loperfido, Jake Meyers and Marcio Dubon in the outfield. Plus, Jose Altuve, Yordan Alvarez, Alex Bregman, Yanier Diaz and Jeremy Pena carrying the offense while King Tuck is away.

Before getting hurt, the 27-year-old was hitting .266/.395/.584 through 60 games. Houston already has one of the best offenses in baseball, and adding Tucker back would give the Astros another high-quality bat to further bolster their lineup.

The latest update is Tucker has been playing catch and could start a rehab assignment soon if all goes well.

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Starting pitching has been a major issue this season due to a multitude of injuries.

Cristian Javier, Jose Urquidy and J.P. France have all been lost for the year with various surgeries and guys like Justin Verlander and Luis Garcia are trying to work their way back from their injured list stints.

Garcia was recently pulled from his rehab assignment and won’t pitch again until he is ready. Meanwhile, Verlander could be closer to his return and is throwing bullpen sessions as of July 14. Getting both of these pitchers back at some point this season will be a huge boost to this roster.

The current Astros’ rotation consists of Framber Valdez, Ronel Blanco, Hunter Brown, Spencer Arrighetti and Jake Bloss. Although not a bad rotation by any means, the starting pitching depth is getting pretty thin and Houston can ill afford another injury to their staff.

Astros general manager Dana Brown has been vocal about his desire to add starting pitching, and could have some options heading into the trade deadline. Players like Jack Flaherty, Garrett Crochet or Yusei Kikuchi, just to name a few, could be low risk high reward pitchers the Astros could acquire to add depth to their rotation.

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Play Astros baseball

The Astros have been playing better baseball as of late and have won 18 of their last 23 games. With players like Kyle Tucker and Justin Verlander potentially returning soon, there is reason to believe Houston can make the playoffs for the 8th consecutive season.

The 'Stros will try to take sole possession of first place in their division from the Mariners when the two teams meet for three games at T-Mobile Park starting on Friday night.

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