Falcon Points

This might surprise you, but some praise for Bill O'Brien

Texans Bill O'Brien
Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

It's been easy over the past couple years to rip Texans coach Bill O'Brien for his behavior, his failings as a coach and GM, and his hotheaded responses to simple things. His absurd rise to ultimate power has only opened him to more criticism. From trading DeAndre Hopkins for pennies on the dollar to the infamous "you suck, too," O'Brien has been a goldmine for people like me.

But a public image is a fickle thing; just ask Drew Brees. Is he suddenly a terrible person because he has a bad opinion? Sadly, that is where we are as a society. Being tone-deaf during multiple national crises is stupid and rightly should be called out. It does not necessarily make you evil.

In that vein, as much as O'Brien has done little to foster confidence in his ability to lead, his comments on Wednesday showed a different side. A person who actually listens to others. A man wanting to step up in his community. Was it one-time BS? A PR move? The cynic in me would say yes. But now is a time where we should have discourse, and try to give people the benefit of the doubt. So for all he has done wrong, let's give him credit for doing something right at a time where more people need to do that. Below is the transcript of what he said. It is worth your time.

It is long, rambling and hard to read it its form (hey Texans PR, ever heard of paragraphs?), but the words are what matters:

Bill O'Brien: "One thing that I want to talk about today is going to take a few minutes. I think over the last eight, nine days like all of you, we've been thinking and listening and trying to understand. I wanted to take a few minutes to speak on behalf of our organization, but also speak from my heart. I would say first on behalf of the Houston Texans, we want to send our deepest condolences to the family of George Floyd, Houston's own George Floyd. The more I read about George and think about George and know that he played football at Yates High School and how much he loved Houston and how much he loved his family and watching his family over the last three or four days and how just passionate and how just unbelievably strong they have been, whether it's here in Houston or when they went to pray where he was murdered in Minneapolis. They've just been a great example for this country. The Floyd family has been an unbelievable example for this country and topped off by yesterday with 60,000 people down there at the (Discovery) Green in downtown Houston. I think that's what Houston's all about. Houston comes together. Houston unites and Houston is uniting around the Floyd family. I think a lot of that has to do with the example of the Floyd family. Our heart goes out to that family. Our hearts go out to the black community in this country, especially in this city. We stand by you and we are ready to do our part in this community. I think everyone has to admit their mistakes along the way. We all have to stand up and understand what's going on in this country right now is wrong. It's wrong relative to many, many things. I had a great conversation with a friend yesterday. A friend of mine, who I won't mention his name, but he talked to me. He's a black man and he talked to me a lot about his experiences growing up in Miami and living on the West Coast and it's not just police brutality, although that's what we're talking about right now. It's corporate America, it's professional sports, it's the medical area, it's the legal area – it's everything. We all have to do our part. We all have to do it now. I spoke with Brian Flores yesterday. Brian Flores is great friend of mine. We worked together in New England for five years. He brought up a great point. Brian Flores said that one thing we can all say is that we 100 percent agree on the fact that what we saw in Minneapolis was just absolutely horrendous. We can all agree on that and we all know, Brian said that this has to spur change. Jack Easterby and I have had several conversations over the last week, eight, nine days. Many of those conversations have included Janice McNair, Cal McNair and Hannah McNair. When I think of those conversations with the McNairs, I think of the words empathy and leadership. Janice McNair has just been in tears on the phone with us about how heartbroken she is for what she saw. Cal and Hannah McNair, yesterday we had a long conversation with them. You'll hear more from Cal later today about we have to do our part. We have to listen, we have to stand by the black community and we've got to do our part. We do. The McNairs, like I said, are heartbroken over the murder of George Floyd and they are committed to doing whatever it takes to promote social justice in our city. They're committed to it. Like I said, you'll hear more about that later on today. In my role as a head coach at Penn State and Houston, I've been fortunate to be a head coach. Fortunate. I don't take that for granted. I've had the privilege of being around some unbelievable players and coaches. I've learned a great deal from all of them. As it relates to the Texans, I've learned so much from men like Romeo Crennel when he talked to me one time about his experiences coaching college football in the south during the late 60s, early 70s. I've learned a lot from Deshaun Watson, when he talks about growing up in Gainesville and why he has the area code of Gainesville tattooed on his arm. I've learned a lot over the last year of talking to Kenny Stills on why he takes a knee. I think we all know why Kenny takes a knee and why Eric Reid takes a knee. I think one of the things that I try to do is I try to coach good football and I try to listen to the players and the coaches and their life stories. There's many other players and coaches that I haven't even mentioned because it would take all day to mention all of them. Listening to their life stories and many others, like I said, has helped me cement my belief that we all must do whatever it takes to improve our country, especially as it relates to race relations. It is horrendous what we are seeing or what we saw eight or nine days ago. What is great about our country right now is to me the protests, the peaceful protests. The peaceful protests that we see on TV every night has just been an amazing example of what our country is all about. I've read a lot this week. I've read what many people have said and I don't want to weigh too much into the political realm, but I will a little bit, to be honest with you. I've read, like I've said, I've read Brian Flores's statement probably 50 times. I've read Coach (Gregg) Popovich's comments several times. I've read the comments of Presidents Obama and Bush, true leaders. Leaders who have empathy. Leaders that have an understanding of what leadership is all about. Their statements have resonated the most with me. B-Flo (Brian Flores) spoke about how honesty, transparency and empathy go a long way and we coach a great group of young man who can have an impact, they can. Men like Michael Thomas, who have already been doing great things in this league, can have a huge impact moving forward and we need to stand by them and help them. We need to use quote-unquote our platform, whatever that means. I don't know what platforms mean, I just know that we need to do our part. President Obama spoke and wrote about how we can sustain the momentum to bring about real change. He said, 'It's important that we all be interested in being activists,' and to be honest I've thought about what I'm doing, coaching, and can I do more. I realize I have a job to do as a coach. I realize that's my main job, but can I do more? These people have made me think. President Obama said the protests "represented genuine legitimate frustration over decades-long failure to reform police practices and the broader criminal justice system in the U.S." This is one of the reasons why Kenny Stills takes a knee. President Bush had a statement yesterday about the fact that this is the time for America to examine our failures. Part of being a leader is being able to admit your mistakes. He said, "It's time for us to listen," and that, "Many doubt the justice of our country, and with good reason. Black people see the repeated violations of their rights without an urgent and adequate response from American institutions." Coach Popovich spoke about leadership without empathy and how that is terrible. Leadership without empathy is horrendous. When you are a leader you have to have empathy for the people that you lead and what they're going through. Coach Popovich spoke about how every American has to do their part to bring about change. He spoke about leadership bringing people together, not dividing people. Leadership is about unifying. Brian Flores talked about that yesterday with me. Part of our responsibility as football coaches is to unify the team, to make the team understand that no one is bigger than the team, and that we have to bring people together from all different backgrounds, all different ethnicities, from every part of the country, from every part of the world to come together for a common goal. Isn't that a microcosm of what we're in right now? These are statements, and statements are not enough, I realize that, but I do think it's important to speak out. I think as a white head football coach in the National Football League, it's important to speak out. There is real pain and statements can't really take the pain away, I understand that. It's just deeper. On the phone yesterday with the friend of mine that I was telling you about earlier, it's so much deeper. It's so much deeper. It's 400 years ago slavery, it's segregation, it's police brutality, it's not equal opportunities. It's so much deeper, it's deeper. We have to stand with the black community and we have to heed the call to action and challenge each other to live out the change that we want to see. I'm emotional, I'm sad, you guys know that about me, especially here in Houston. I'm sad, I'm frustrated because I'm questioning what can I do, I've got to do more. We'll talk to our players. We have a player call tomorrow, we'll talk to our players about it. I've been blessed throughout my life to have deep and meaningful relationships with players and coaches who are different than me ethnically. I simply would not have the perspective I have now without these relationships. So, to see discrimination of any kind against an innocent man who was murdered out of evil and ignorance, it simply breaks my heart and makes me angry, makes me angry personally. We have to do better. As a leader committing that we will all have to do better, one thing I know we will not do, we will not virtually meet – whatever the hell that means – on June 9th, which I believe is the day of George Floyd's funeral. We will not meet on that day, so we will encourage the guys that are here in Houston to go to the funeral if we're able to go to that. I've told my players since 2014 that I have their back. I told my players in 2017, "I have your back," and I'll continue to tell them that I have their back. If they need time to themselves, they can have time to themselves. If they need resources from us to try to begin to heal, we've got to help them, we have a lot of resources here to do that, they will get it. Finally, if they just need someone to listen – maybe they don't want to talk to me about it, but we have plenty of people here that they can talk to about it. That's really what I have to say."

(From Houston Texans media transcript).

As a longtime O'Brien critic, I found his words to be emotional and heartfelt. I am a firm believer in fairness, and for all he has done wrong, he deserves praise when he does something right. I know there are people who will never get over the Hopkins trade or his insistence on praising AFC South titles. That's your choice. This is something far more important than bad play calling or throwing temper fits.

I do believe people can change, and step up when it matters.

For once, O'Brien did. Good for him.

Most Popular

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome

Listen Live

ESPN Houston 97.5 FM
Reed Sheppard to Houston seems to be the common consensus. Composite Getty Image.

French 7-footer Alexandre Sarr has widely been projected to follow the footsteps of fellow countryman Victor Wembanyama as the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft.

But Sarr isn't the only big man expected to have his name called.

Though the June 26 draft isn't loaded with bigs, it does have the two-time national college player of the year and a two-time national champion available.

UConn's Donovan Clingan won two national championships and could go in the lottery with his strong pick-and-roll skills and shot-blocking ability.

Purdue's Zach Edey is expected to go much later in the first round due to his lack of mobility and perimeter shooting, but he is the first two-time national player of the year since Ralph Sampson, so there's likely a place for him in the NBA.

This year's draft also includes Kyle Filipowski from Duke, Indiana's Kel'el Ware and Baylor's Yves Missi, so there will be chances for teams looking to add size.

Then again, some team may even take a chance on using a first-round pick on Southern California's Bronny James, son of NBA career scoring leader LeBron James.

1. ATLANTA HAWKS: Alexandre Sarr, center, France

Sarr doesn't have the all-around skills of Wembanyama, but then no one really does. He's still extremely talented, an athletic 7-footer who can wreck rims and the hopes of opposing shooters. Sarr's shot still needs some work, but he could end up becoming a franchise player in the next few years. Atlanta fans should love watching him throw down lobs from Trae Young.

2. WASHINGTON WIZARDS: Zaccharie Risacher, forward, France

Many NBA mock drafts have Risacher going No. 1 — and for good reason. The 6-foot-9 forward has the skills of a guard and should be a perfect fit for today's NBA. Risacher is a superb catch-and-shoot wing who can beat defenders off the dribble and has a huge defensive upside with his length and athleticism. He may end up being the franchise player the Wizards need in their rebuild.

3. HOUSTON ROCKETS: Reed Sheppard, guard, Kentucky

The Rockets need shooters and Sheppard is certainly that. The 6-3 guard may be the best shooter in the draft — his 52% mark would have led Division I last season if he had enough attempts to qualify.

He has a high basketball IQ — both parents played at Kentucky — and averaged 12.5 points as a freshman.

Last week's mock draft also had Sheppard going to the Rockets.

4. SAN ANTONIO SPURS: Stephon Castle, guard, UConn

The Huskies were loaded with talented players in their title defense last season and Castle had no trouble fitting in as a freshman. The 6-6 guard is a solid playmaker who can get his own shot and is a hard-nosed defender. His size and athleticism could end up making him one of the best players of the draft, particularly if he improves his outside shot. Even at 19, he’s already a proven winner.

5. DETROIT PISTONS: Matas Buzelis, forward, G League Ignite

Buzelis bypassed college basketball to play in the G League and improved his draft status by gaining muscle while rounding out his game. The 6-8 forward is an excellent playmaker who can see over defenders and finishes strong at the rim in transition. Buzelis will need to work on his perimeter shooting, though: He hit 27% from 3 for the Ignite last season.

6. CHARLOTTE HORNETS: Donovan Clingan, center, UConn

Clingan's a proven winner as the massive anchor to UConn's back-to-back NCAA titles. Though he doesn't fit the NBA mold of a perimeter-shooting big man, the 7-2, 280-pounder is a load for opponents inside at both ends of the floor and would be a great fit for a Charlotte team that was 25th in the NBA in blocked shots last season. Clingan also is excellent at finishing on lobs, which could be a great fit with LaMelo Ball running the point in Charlotte.

7. PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS: Rob Dillingham, guard, Kentucky

Portland was last in the NBA in 3-point percentage last season and Dillingham's 44% mark in his lone season at Kentucky was nearly 10 points higher than the Blazers' percentage. Though small at 6-1, 165 pounds, Dillingham has a big game with an ability to score at three levels and has the quickness to beat defenders off the dribble. His size could be a liability on defense.

8. SAN ANTONIO SPURS: Ron Holland II, forward, G League Unite

Holland could end up being the best defensive forward in the draft. The 6-7 forward has a nose for the ball defensively — he averaged more than 2 steals a game in the G League — and is excellent in the open floor. Holland can create his own shot, but needs to make more after shooting 24% from 3 on 3.6 attempts per game last season. The Spurs are at least in a position to wait for him to develop.

9. MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES: Dalton Knecht, guard, Tennessee

A knockdown shooter, Knecht could be a great complement to Ja Morant. The 6-6 shooting guard is superb at shooting off screens and can fill it up in a hurry, like he did while scoring 37 points against Purdue in the Elite Eight. Knecht is close to a finished product already, a 23-year-old who should contribute right away.

10. UTAH JAZZ: Tidjane Salaun, forward, France

Salaun can make it three French players as lottery picks in this year's draft. The 6-9 forward fits the NBA style of play. He can shoot it from deep and improved his game — not to mention his frame — while playing in the French LNB Pro A, the same league as Wembanyama before his move to the NBA. Salaun may be a longer-term project, but has massive upside.

11. CHICAGO BULLS: Cody Williams, guard, Colorado

He’s a thin 6-8, but has the size and athleticism to shoot over or get around defenders. Williams can create his own shot, is an excellent finisher and has good playmaking skills for a shooting guard. He shot a respectable 41% from 3 during his freshman season and has a huge defensive upside with his length and agility.

12. OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER: Ron Holland, forward, G League Unite

Holland could end up being the best defensive forward in the draft. The 6-7 forward has a nose for the ball defensively — he averaged more than 2 steals a game in the G League — and is excellent in the open floor, which would be a great fit in OKC. Holland can create his own shot, but needs to make more after shooting 24% from 3 on 3.6 attempts per game last season. The Thunder are at least in a position to wait for him to develop.

13. SACRAMENTO KINGS: Devin Carter, guard, Providence

The 6-3 guard has a massive wingspan and vertical leap, which helped allow him make a big jump from 13 points to 19.7 last season. Carter has a high basketball IQ, is a hard-nosed defender and an excellent rebounder for a guard. The son of former NBA player Anthony Carter, he was the Big East player of the year in a league that included Clingan and Castle.

14. PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS: Ja'Kobe Walter, guard, Baylor

The 6-5 guard was not shy in putting it up from 3 for the Bears as a freshman, taking more than four a game while shooting 34%. His long wingspan and athleticism give Walter the potential to become a defensive stopper at the next level. Shot selection and adding a bit of muscle to his 197-pound frame will be the biggest adjustments in the move to the NBA, but he's only 19, so there's plenty of time.

15. MIAMI HEAT: Nikola Topic, guard, Serbia

At 6-6, Topic is a superb passer with great vision and size to see over defenders. He also has the strength to get into the lane and can finish strong at the rim, making him able to control a game even without being a great 3-point shooter. Would be projected to go higher — maybe with the Spurs’ first pick at No. 4 — but medical tests showed he has a partially torn ACL in his left knee, which he injured twice last season in Europe.

16. PHILADELPHIA 76ERS: Jared McCain, guard, Duke

He was Duke's toughest competitor during his lone season in Durham and is an elite shooter who could fit in on any team. McCain is an excellent shooter off screens and in the pullup game, but can also run the point if needed. He has a high basketball IQ, so should pick up the NBA game fairly quickly.

17. LOS ANGELES LAKERS: Kel'el Ware, center, Indiana

The 7-footer with a 7-5 wingspan has the length and game to have an immediate impact in the NBA. Ware quickly moved up NBA draft boards during team workouts and is a strong rim protector. He's also excellent on lobs and shot 43% from 3 last season, making him the type of stretch big man NBA teams covet.

18. ORLANDO MAGIC: Carlton Carrington, guard, Pittsburgh

The player known as “Bub” gets buckets in bunches and loves the pull-up J. The 6-4 guard has good size to play point guard and, at 19, has plenty of time to develop. His biggest downside: perimeter shooting. Carrington didn’t lack for confidence in his freshman season, attempting 6.1 3s per game, but shot 32% from the arc.

19. TORONTO RAPTORS: Zach Edey, center, Purdue

Even with a lack of mobility and perimeter shooting, Edey was still the first repeat AP national player of the year since Ralph Sampson. At 7-4, 300 pounds, he dominated the college game and will be a handful even in the NBA. The Canadian would be a popular pick by the Raptors.

20: CLEVELAND CAVALIERS: Tristan da Silva, forward, Colorado

Any team could use a steady, do-it-all type of player and da Silva is just that. The 6-8 forward doesn't have eye-catching athleticism, but he is smart and has the size and strength to endure the rigors of the NBA. He also can guard multiple positions and may be the most NBA-ready player in the draft after playing four years in Boulder.

21. NEW ORLEANS PELICANS: Isaiah Collier, guard, USC

While Bronny James got much of the hype in Southern California, Collier was the higher-rated prospect out of high school. Once projected as a lottery pick, his draft stock took a bit of a hit during an inconsistent lone season with the Trojans. Even so, Collier has the type of game and solid frame that could translate well in the NBA. The 6-3 guard plays hard with the strength and quickness to get past defenders, but needs to work on his perimeter game after shooting 34% from the college 3-point line.

22. PHOENIX SUNS: Tyler Kolek, guard, Marquette

The Suns have plenty of firepower led by Kevin Durant and Devin Booker but could use a true point guard to help get them organized. The two-time All-American can certainly do that and also provide points when needed, and should be a familiar name to new coach Mike Budenholzer from his time coaching in Milwaukee.

23. MILWAUKEE BUCKS: Yves Missi, center, Baylor

Missi knows his game and sticks to it. A high-motor 6-11 forward, he is a rim runner and shot blocker who didn’t even attempt a 3-pointer last season. The Cameroon native should transition well to the pick-and-roll game of the NBA and is a thunderous dunker, as he proved during his lone season with the Bears.

24. NEW YORK KNICKS: Kyle Filipowski, center, Duke

New York is loaded with Duke fans and Filipowski could be an instant favorite. The sturdy 6-11 center may not be an elite rim protector or a consistent 3-point shooter, but he has good footwork and plays hard. The Knicks had a solid run into the second round of the playoffs and Filipowski could be another piece to help push them deeper.

25. NEW YORK KNICKS: Terrence Shannon, guard, Illinois

Shannon can flat-out score and has shown he can do it in big moments. Sexual assault accusations might have made teams leery of taking the dynamic guard in the first round, but the Knicks might be willing to take a chance following a not guilty verdict earlier this month.

26. WASHINGTON WIZARDS: Johnny Furphy, guard, Kansas

The 6-8 Australian has a smooth shooting stroke and gets his shot off quickly. He also has good touch around the rim and good instincts on defense, often leading to steals. Furphy is not much of a shot creator off the dribble and needs to work on his individual defense, so he could need a year or two of development.

27. MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES: DaRon Holmes II, forward, Dayton

The 6-9 forward is good in the pick-and-roll game and a strong finisher at the rim. Holmes has improved his outside shooting, hitting 39% from the 3-point arc after shooting 32% the season before. He can defend multiple positions, but would be undersized as a center in the NBA. He also isn’t much of a shot creator, but his pick-and-roll skills may offset that.

28. DENVER NUGGETS: Jaylon Tyson, forward, California

Denver's bid to repeat as NBA champions hit a wall in the second round when its top players were stretched to the limit. Tyson could give them a solid boost off the bench. The 6-6 guard has good size, finishes strong at the rim and is a decent perimeter shooter. He increased his scoring average nearly 10 points to 19.6 last season, so has shown the ability to develop his game.

29. UTAH JAZZ: Bobi Klintman, forward, Wake Forest/Australia

The back end of the first round is typically filled with potential projects and Klintman is an intriguing one. The 6-9 stretch forward from Sweden has good length, both physically and shooting ability. Klintman moves more like a guard and is a good passer for a big man. He will likely need a few years of development before becoming ready, but is worth the risk late in the first round.

30. BOSTON CELTICS: Bronny James, guard, USC

The champion Celtics already have a loaded roster, so there's room to take a chance on LeBron's son. Bronny James has an incredible feel for the game after learning from his father and has a solid 6-4 frame. He had a so-so freshman season at USC, averaging 4.8 points and 27% shooting from 3-point range, but has the potential to be a solid pro. James also could come with a huge bonus if his father follows through with his intention to play at least one season with his son.

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome