FALCON POINTS

Is Bill O'Brien going full Rocky IV before our eyes?

Photo by Getty Images.

Bill O'Brien may finally be getting some self-awareness. The Texans coach has at long last realized he has an image problem, not just locally, but nationally.

After a year in which he blew a big lead in a playoff game, went off on TV at the draft, traded away key players like DeAndre Hopkins and Jadeveon Clowney for pennies on the dollar and became the star of the infamous "you suck, too!" video, O'Brien is trying to change the narrative.

First, he had a truly heartfelt and emotional reaction to George Floyd's death. It showed a rare human side to a man who has appeared anything but publicly.

Next, he announced he would take a knee with his players during the national anthem. It showed a change of direction for the entire organization, and it again made O'Brien look human.

Finally, he hosted a roundtable off-the-record chat with several Houston media members. (I must have misplaced my invite, but good for him). A few people there said it was nothing earth shattering, but at least trying to open communication is a step in the right direction.

Is he really changing? Or is it just a desperate attempt to clean up an ugly image? Believe it or not, I am giving him the benefit of the doubt. These times we live in are changing all of us. Some for the better, some for worse. There is no "normal" anymore. We will simply have to adjust to whatever is the new normal.

O'Brien is at least making an effort, and listening to others for a change. Maybe that translates to his in-game coaching skills as well, because he could afford to make some changes there.

The media meeting was an attempt to maybe erase some of his terseness with that group in press conferences. Most press conferences are useless, but O'Brien's are next level worthless. "Best interest of the team. We have to coach better, we have to play better. I have to look at the tape."

No one expects that to really change. It doesn't help when half the questions are softballs and the other half O'Brien takes as personal attacks. But getting to know the media that covers you outside of doing business with them is always smart. Listening to each other and getting a sense of what makes us tick is essential in life, especially in the wake of current events.

O'Brien has a long way to go, no question. But he seems to be making an effort, and hopefully it will translate to the field next season as well, if there is a next season.

I'm reminded of the words of Rocky at the end of Rocky IV.

"If I can change and you can change, everybody can change."

Maybe it's just O'Brien's turn. Finally.

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This is a tasty burger. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

If a person isn't a real Houstonian until they have favorite places for staple foods like burgers and Tex-Mex, then Astros pitcher Justin Verlander has officially embraced his new home.

In an interview that occurred during the Thursday, August 11 broadcast of the Astros game against the Texas Rangers, YouTube announcer Scott Braun asked Verlander if he found any food in Houston that he couldn't get in Detroit.

"I like Nancy's Hustle's burger," the pitching ace replied.

Indeed, what's not to like? The Nancy's burger — a double patty cheeseburger with chopped onions, pickles, and aioli on a housemade brioche English muffin — has been a staple since the restaurant opened in late 2017. Here it is, as captured by Houston food influencer Abbas Dhanani.

Beyond its deliciousness, Verlander's affection for the burger makes a certain amount of logistical sense. The EaDo restaurant is only about a mile from Minute Maid Park, and it stays open until 11 pm, making it a perfect post-game treat.

Nancy's co-owner Sean Jensen tells CultureMap that he and chef-owner Jason Vaughan consider Verlander and his wife, supermodel Kate Upton, to be regulars. "They have always been supporters and super nice when they visit," he writes in an email.

Continue on CultureMap to learn more.

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