"With respect to their organization,'' Houston Texans owner Cal McNair said early on in the Friday press conference to introduce his new New England-accented franchise leadership, "we do not consider ourselves 'Patriots South.''
And then GM Nick Caserio, formerly of the Patriots, was introduced.
And then the issue of high-powered staffer Jack Easterby, formerly of the Patriots, was addressed.
And soon the Patriots South ... er, the Texans, will announce the name of their new head coach. And that person - if McNair's pledge is to be believed - will not necessarily have any ties to the Patriots.
if McNair's pledge is to be believed.
Of course, we already know that the new coach won't be bringing with him "Chiefs South'' or "Colts South,'' inasmuch as the Kansas City coordinator Eric Bieniemy wasn't invited to interview with Houston and inasmuch as the Indianapolis coordinator Matt Eberflus declined an invitation to do so.
Understand, there is absolutely nothing wrong, in a vacuum, with wanting to emulate Bill Belichick's Patriots. Mimic exactly their success and you win six Super Bowls.
Nobody is opposed to that.
The problems, though, are undeniable. First, Belichick proteges have not generally moved on to recreate that success elsewhere. And more specific to Houston ... Been there. Done that.
"Patriots South'' is an echo of the not-good-enough Bill O'Brien era, and Easterby's continuing successful power grab (pity those naive enough to believe he's just a bystander as McNair hired Caserio all on his own, with the deep Caserio-Easterby friendship just a coincidence) will not continue to echo.
Caserio just got done spending 20 years in New England, where he rose to role of director of pro personnel, the top spot in the front office below Belichick. He was Belichick's right hand. In this regard - irrespective of who McNair listened to for guidance - the Caserio hire is a coup.
But while Belichick's Patriots largely bullied their way through problems, the Texans of this era create their own problems. McNair's remark about "building a wall'' was as tone-deaf as his late father once saying that players/foes being in power would be like letting "inmates run the prison.'' McNair tried to tell jokes during the Friday presser, ill-advised given that Texans Nation has been put in a no-laughing-matter situation by the news of QB Deshaun Watson's unhappiness with this process ... a process that, if Easterby is the "people person'' he's billed to be, could've been smoothed by him contacting Watson to keep him (as the players' representative) informed.
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In past decades, when the Packers or the Steelers or the 49ers or the Cowboys won multiple Super Bowls, they were emulated and copied. There was nothing wrong with it. Borrow from the best.
In Houston, when the owner is obliged to open a press conference by denying the obvious - that the Texans are absolutely trying to emulate and copy the Patriots - it's a bumbling fib. And it's exactly the opposite of what Belichick's Patriots have always been. Belichick's Patriots lie and cheat and win and never apologize for any of it.
The Houston Texans are already having to apologize for the "Patriots South'' feel ... and we're just hours into it.