When the Houston Texans fired Lovie Smith on Monday after only a year on the job, the sorriest franchise in the NFL was following the same script from last year when they fired David Culley after one season. The last three men to have the title of “coach” within that organization have all been Black — and all three men (which also includes Romeo Crennel) were used as scapegoats by an organization that’s been in shambles for years.
Every Black candidate that the Texans reach out to this offseason should ignore their phone calls and reject the chance to be interviewed — making Houston noncompliant with the Rooney Rule and forcing the team to hire a white coach for the worst job in the NFL. In 2021, the league mandated that teams must interview at least two external minority candidates for open head coaching positions, and at least one external minority candidate for a coordinator job.
To understand why this drastic measure should be taken at a time in which the league is being sued for its alleged racist hiring practices, as the annual discussion about the lack of diversity within the coaching ranks of the NFL is in full throttle, you have to go back and understand how the Texans got here.
This is the same organization that used to be owned by a man that once doubled down on saying, “We can’t have the inmates running the prison,” when Black players were kneeling in peaceful protest against racism and police brutality during the national anthem. This is also the same organization that is now run by a man that once said “I’m sorry that we couldn’t get together last year, because of the China Virus,” at a charity event. Lastly, this is still the same franchise that donated money and announced that they were partnering with Texas Southern — an HBCU — last year to improve their athletic facilities and funds in a failed attempt to change their image.
And that’s just the beginning.
After Bill O’Brien — a white man — was fired after being a dumpster fire of a head coach that allegedly said racially insensitive things to DeAndre Hopkins and got into it with J.J. Watt at practice, the Texans promoted Romeo Crennel — a Black man — to interim head coach. O’Brien was 0-4 in 2020, and Crennel went 4-8 but was not retained.
The team eventually wound up hiring Culley out of left field as it left people asking, “Who is that?” in a move that didn’t make sense after then-disgruntled star quarterback Deshaun Watson had already advocated for the hiring of Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy. 2021 was a disaster for Culley and the Texans given Watson’s situation as he didn’t play a single game that season. The team finished 4-13 — so they fired Culley as if he was the problem.
With another head-coaching vacancy, it was speculated that the Texans wanted to hire Josh McCown for the job, despite the journeyman QB’s only coaching experience being an assistant at the high school level. However, Brian Flores’ lawsuit put the team in a bind. To save face, the Texans hired another Black coach, Lovie Smith, at the eleventh hour.
Now, here we are again, as the Texans are looking for another head coach after Smith finished the season 3-13-1. And when the phone calls start being made, every Black candidate should hit ignore whenever a 713 area code pops up on their screens.
You will never be able to tell me that Culley and Smith didn’t know what they were getting into when they took the Texans job. And while I understand that it came with a considerable pay raise, at this point, it’s time that the Texans learn a tough lesson — that it’s always been them. The Rooney Rule isn’t the problem here, the Texans are — and their affinity for making Black coaches the inevitable fall guys when the organization’s own incompetence is the true culprit.
There is no value in being the head coach of the Houston Texans, and that goes for white and Black coaches. And while it’s a tough request to ask a group of men who have been overlooked for decades to ignore a potential opportunity to interview for their dream job, this franchise has proven that they’re only calling you to fire you, or because they need to speak to you to reach a quota. If the Texans truly want Josh McCown that badly, they should be allowed to hire him without any punishment from the league. And if that does happen, it will surely end in disarray — once and for all proving that the ones in the front office were the ones that should have been fired.