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Andre Johnson: I would trade Texans’ first overall draft pick

Andre JohnsonAndre Johnson is not a GM, but occasionally he plays one during interviews.

Johnson spoke with our friend David Nuno of KTRK in Houston on Wednesday to promote his charity golf tournament next month and was asked what he would do with the No. 1 draft pick if he were running the Houston Texans.

“I have thought about different scenarios. Me personally, if I had it, I would probably trade it, but that’s just my opinion,” Johnson told Nuno.

“That doesn’t make it right,” he said. “Doesn’t mean they should listen to me, because I am not the GM. I have never had to sit in the draft room like that.”

Johnson, who was drafted third overall by the Texans in 2003, believes the Texans are not that far away from becoming contenders again. Houston went 12-4 in 2012 and lost in the divisional round of the playoffs and they were expected to be a Super Bowl contender in 2013. Unfortunately Matt Schaub had a disastrous season and they were unable to win many games. After a 2-0 start, they fell flat on their faces and lost 14 in a row to finish 2-14.

Houston probably isn’t far off from contending again, but the key piece they need is a quarterback. I think everyone says they would try to trade out of the No. 1 spot, but most of the time that’s not too realistic. And if the Texans don’t like any of the quarterbacks available at the top, they can always go Jadeveon Clowney to pair him with JJ Watt for what would be one of the best defensive lines of all time.

Texans share report about Texas reportedly having interest in Bill O’Brien

Bill-OBrienThe Houston Texans have begun their head coaching search, and one name that is now being thrown around is that of Penn State head coach Bill O’Brien. Former Chicago Bears coach Lovie Smith is believed to be one of the top candidates for the job, and the Texans may have already interviewed him. According to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network, O’Brien is another top choice.

On Thursday, Rapoport reported that O’Brien and the Texans have agreed to an interview. That would mean the interview has either already taken place or likely will in the near future. O’Brien’s buyout at Penn State was reduced from $13 million to $6.5 million in March, which would make it easier for him to jump to the NFL.

Perhaps the most interesting part of this story development is that the Texans official Twitter account linked to a story about Rapoport’s report on Friday morning. The story they linked to is one from the Texans’ official website. Typically, a team’s Twitter account and website would have the best interest of the team in mind and would not fuel speculation about a potential coaching hire.

If nothing else, this is somewhat of a first.

Former Oilers say two players on 1993 team were gay, nobody cared

Lamar-Lathon-OilersWhile the topic of gay players on NFL rosters has garnered a great deal of attention over the past few years, it is hardly a new issue. There are likely gay men playing professional football today just as there were gay men playing professional football 20 years ago. According to a few former players, the 1993 Houston Oilers had two gay players on their roster and they were not ostracized in any way.

Lamar Lathon, a two-time Pro Bowl linebacker who played for the Oilers from 1990-1994, told the Houston Chronicle this week that the two players he was asked about are some of the toughest teammates he has ever played alongside.

“Listen, those guys that we’re talking about were unbelievable teammates,” Lathon said. “And if you wanted to go to war with someone, you would get those guys first. Because I have never seen tougher guys than those guys. And everybody in the locker room, the consensus knew or had an idea that things were not exactly right. But guess what? When they strapped the pads on and got on the field, man, we were going to war with these guys because they were unbelievable.”

I’m sure there will be people who take offense to Lathon describing the situation as “not exactly right,” but he was clearly defending his former teammates. Bubba McDowell, a former Oilers safety, echoed Lathon’s comments.

“Everybody knew certain guys (were gay),” he said. “Everybody speculated and people used to see these two guys come in by themselves. They’d leave at lunchtime and then come back.”

Both McDowell and Lathon said that showering and being in the locker room with their gay teammates was “no big deal.” An NFL documentary that aired recently painted a picture of the ’93 Oilers — who started the year 1-4 before winning 11 straight and being bounced in the playoffs — as one of the most dysfunctional teams in NFL history.

Earlier this year, Vince Lombardi’s daughter claimed that her father worked with at least five gay men on his 1969 Washington Redskins team and protected any players or co-workers that were discriminated against. If players and coaches were aware that there were gay players in locker rooms almost 50 years ago, I’m sure the same is true now. Hopefully more of those players receive support as time passes.

Texans reportedly not interested in Jon Gruden, Mike Shanahan

Jon-Gruden-Miami-HurricanesWith the Houston Texans having fired former head coach Gary Kubiak last week, the usual big names have been flying around as potential candidates for the vacancy. Two of the more popular ones are Mike Shanahan and Jon Gruden. According to John McClain of the Houston Chronicle, neither Shanahan nor Gruden are a possibility.

McClain wrote on Sunday night that the Texans “will not try to hire ESPN analyst Jon Gruden” and “won’t be pursuing Washington Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan” even if he is fired after his team’s disappointing 2013 season. Texans owner Bob McNair has said he wants a coach with head-coaching experience and NFL experience, which both Shanahan and Gruden have. Still, it sounds like the team is not interested.

Sports Talk 790 in Houston’s Lance Zierlein reported on Sunday night that there is “no way” the Texans hire Shanahan and that Shanahan’s name is probably being leaked by his own camp.

One candidate who is expected to draw serious interest from the Texans is Lovie Smith, who took a season off this year after being unexpectedly fired by the Chicago Bears. McClain said he expects Smith to be the first candidate the Texans interview. Other candidates include Stanford head coach David Shaw — who worked as a quarterbacks and wide receivers coach for the Oakland Raiders, Philadelphia Eagles and Baltimore Ravens — and San Diego Chargers offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt.

The Texans are having a horrendous season, but they are only a year removed from the playoffs and have core pieces like JJ Watt and Brian Cushing on what has been an underachieving defensive unit. The job should have plenty of appeal.

Jon Gruden reportedly a candidate for Houston Texans coaching job

Jon GrudenWhenever a head coaching vacancy in college football or the NFL stirs speculation, Jon Gruden is frequently tossed into the mix. Despite the endless rumors though that have tailed Gruden, who last coached at Tampa Bay before being canned in 2008, he hasn’t budged from his broadcasting perch as an analyst on Monday Night Football.

Cabin fever?

“I haven’t lost a game in 3½ years. But no, I would like to give coaching one more try,” Gruden said in October during a speaking engagement in Ocala, Fla.

That comment didn’t raise as many eyebrows as ESPN’s John Clayton floating Gruden’s name at the top of a list of candidates to replace Gary Kubiak, who was dismissed earlier this week by the Texans. The respected Clayton has to know something, no?

Gruden hasn’t spoken publicly about Houston, but with Clayton mentioning his name, the subject could come up when Monday Night Football airs.

It might be another case of much to do about nothing. Still, the rumors never seem to cease. USC AD Pat Haden might have inadvertly fueled them during an interview Wednesday on “The Dan Patrick Show.”

“I talked with Jon a while back,” Haden said when Patrick asked if he had spoken to Gruden about the Trojans’ head coaching job, which went to Steve Sarkisian. “Yeah, he wants to coach in the pros. If he’s going to coach, he’s going to be a pro coach.”

Since Gruden fancies himself as a quarterback guru, no one needs a mentor more than the basket case known as Matt Schaub. Or maybe Gruden salivates at the thought of grooming a young gun like Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater or Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel, expected to be among the first QBs taken in the NFL Draft, while rebuilding the Texans back to respectability.

Or maybe it’s another tease. It won’t be the first time. Probably not the last either.

Texans stadium security guards reportedly fired for taking picture with Tom Brady

Texans-security-Tom-Brady-photoTwo security guards who were working at Reliant Stadium during Sunday’s game between the Houston Texans and New England Patriots claim they were fired for taking a photo with Tom Brady. One of the employees, Joe Williams, told KHOU in Houston that he was just about to clock out for the day when he spotted Brady.

“I said, ‘Hey Tom Brady, good job, good game man,’” Williams explained. “He looked at me and smiled. He was very polite, very nice guy, humble. Sometimes I see players and say hello, and they just keep walking.

“Immediately after I took the picture, I got ran down by a supervisor. They didn’t’ really give a reason, they said you know you’re wrong and you’re fired.”

Williams acknowledged that stadium security members are not supposed to take photos with athletes while they are at their post because they are supposed to be securing their area. However, he thought it was OK since he was essentially done with work for the day. Co-worker Christopher Moore, who was also fired, said he has seen other employees do the same and keep their jobs.

“What they say and what they practice are two different things,” Moore said. “What we see on a daily basis, whether it be Reliant or CSC employees, is them taking picture and asking for autographs from players.”

Contemporary Services Corporation (CSC) basically told KHOU in a statement that rules are rules.

“It is strictly against CSC policy for its employees to request photos or autographs from players,” CSC said. “CSC stands by its decision to terminate the two employees who violated this policy.”

While some may think firing the employees was excessive, it seems like the rules were pretty clear and both Williams and Moore were well aware of them. It makes sense that stadium employees are not allowed to pester athletes for pictures, as that would be a slippery slope. Moore and Williams were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.

H/T Pro Football Talk

Andre Johnson on Texans: ‘We suck’

Andre-Johnson-AFC-PlayoffsMost people would argue that the Houston Texans are a better football team than the Jacksonville Jaguars. Those who subscribe to the “numbers don’t lie” theory would tell you that the Texans and Jags are both 2-9, and Jacksonville beat Houston on Sunday. Does that mean the team that was once widely considered the NFL’s worst is now better than a team that made the playoffs a year ago?

After his team’s embarrassing 13-6 loss at home, star wide receiver Andre Johnson had very little to say to reporters. He didn’t need to say much.

“We suck,” Johnson said, via ESPN.com. “As an offense. That’s pretty much it.”

Case Keenum threw for just 169 yards and an interception against the Jaguars. Johnson caught two passes for 36 yards. The Texans have lost nine straight games since starting the season with back-to-back wins. Johnson was asked specifically if he believes Houston is the worst team in the NFL.

“I think our record shows it,” he said. “Yeah, if you look at our record, yeah, we’re the worst team.

“You’re not going to play perfect every single game, but I mean, it’s been bad, you know. (The fans) were booing us last week. They booed us before. I said it before, if we’re not putting good stuff on the field, we ain’t giving them nothing to cheer about. They booed. They should boo.”

Running back Ben Tate called out a fan who heckled him on Twitter last week and ripped Texans fans for booing. Johnson is right. The Texans deserve it. There are three teams in the NFL with only two wins. One of those teams picked up their second win against Houston on Sunday. As they say, if the shoe fits…

H/T Deadspin