Maybe the Houston Texans' front-office leadership problem is that when powerful executive Jack Easterby speaks, he thinks he sounds differently than what his audience hears.
That's one explanation for Easterby's claim, in an emailed answer to Sports Illustrated, that since coming under public scrutiny for his role in the 4-12 season, the quick hiring of GM Nick Caserio and the unhappiness of star QB Deshaun Watson, players have “reached out to me in an effort to support me.''
In an organization featuring hundreds of employees and 60-plus players, there is no doubt the controversial Easterby - a "non-football guy'' who continues to be the second-most powerful person in the organization, behind only the owner Cal McNair (who obviously trusts Easterby explicitly) - has some support.
On the eve of the finale of the Texans’ lost 2020 season, Jack Easterby preached. In the preceding weeks, as scrutiny both inside and outside the building swelled around the character coach turned acting GM, Easterby seemed to some to have been keeping a lower profile. But now, he took acting head coach Romeo Crennel’s place at the head of a team meeting.
Easterby delivered a speech that was described in multiple direct accounts as a lengthy missive intended to be rousing. The discourse centered almost entirely on Deshaun Watson, the Texans’ star quarterback at the end of a historically great—if wasted—season. Easterby, those sources said, was effusive in his praise for the quarterback, but to the dismay of many, he did not extend the same attention to: J.J. Watt, the team leader and greatest player in franchise history, who was on the verge of completing only his second healthy season in the past five years; the turmoil that engulfed the organization; the midseason firing of coach Bill O’Brien; or the future of a franchise seeking new leadership.
Easterby, in answering emailed questions from Sports Illustrated via a team spokesperson, described it as a “brief intro speech” and that “afterward, I was thanked by many players and coaches for my words.” But multiple players texted their representatives that night to describe a meandering address unlike any they’d heard. Others, one source said, left the meeting “pissed off,” believing Easterby’s only intention was to curry favor with the quarterback. Watson, if anything, was embarrassed by the show, two sources said.
From what we now know, an "embarrassed'' Watson rings true. So does a "pissed-off'' locker room. And Easterby claim that "I was thanked by many players and coaches for my words'' seems self-aggrandizing.
Easterby said of the "support'' from players, "For that I’m appreciative but I’ve not asked them to speak to Cal on my behalf. I haven’t felt that was needed.”
As SI points out, Jack Easterby is "apparently right'' in that belief. He may or may not have the "support'' of some Texans players. But he doesn't have support from the most important Texans player. What he indisputably has is the support of the only person who is above him on the organizational chart.
CONTINUE READING: Houston Hoodwinked: Can Texans' McNair See Through Easterby Ploys?