“Any social occasion, it’s hello, how do you do
All those introductions, I never miss my cue
So before a question, so before a doubt
My hand moves out and, I have the touch.” — Peter Gabriel
I usually opine about matters political, but I thought I would shift to the wild world of sports for a day. Sports serve as a distraction for our daily lives and Houstonians have certainly been distracted by the goings on at NRG Stadium this season and beyond. They just hired a new coach and he is being introduced today.
When I first heard the name David Culley my mind immediately started making the jokes. The Texans just hired Luther Van Damme. Of course, I then immediately realized that this reference immediately went into obscurity when we left the 1990s. Then, it hit me like a ton of bricks. I was David Culley once upon a time.
Culley has been an assistant coach for over 30 years and has only been a coordinator once. That was at UTEP back in the 1990s. In the NFL he has only been a position coach. My coaching career was relatively brief. I only toiled a few years and essentially quit shortly after my daughter was born. My sport of choice was volleyball.
Like Culley, I was once in over my head. I took a varsity position at the high school in Galveston. They had gone over 20 years without winning a district match. I don’t mean finishing in last place. I mean without winning a single match. Needless to say, I didn’t last long. There were fumbles and foibles along the way and the results didn’t change. Of course, I got the job because few wanted it. That’s usually how these things work.
So, why did Culley get this job? Well, that depends on the timeline you choose to believe. Either the team believes Deshaun Watson (the star quarterback) was already gone or they don’t. If they believe he was already gone then Culley’s place is similar to mine. Few with better credentials would want this job. It is a certain rebuilding job and the coach is almost certainly being hired to be fired in a few seasons. Younger coaches don’t want to torpedo their careers that way. So, enter David Culley.
If they believe Watson is not gone then the selection of Culley is just that much more of a head scratcher. Sure, the two know each other from the Pro Bowl last season, but what Watson wants is so much simpler than that. He wants to win and he wants an organization that does everything it can to win. It’s hard to see how hiring a coach that has never even been a coordinator at the NFL level is really going to convince the quarterback you are trying to win.
From here there is only the explanation of how we got here in the first place. I won’t bore you with the details. Essentially, Watson is upset with the decision making process. One can hardly blame him. One of the chief architects that has been in the building the past two years is whispering in the owner’s ear at all the wrong moments. He was intimately involved in shaping a roster that was once a division champion into the worst one in the division.
For David Culley this has to be a nightmare. This is supposed to be his day. He has been in football in one form or another since the 1970s. There are only 32 of these jobs and he has one of them. He is signing a five year contract to be head coach. His kids and his grandkids are set for the rest of their lives. Whatever will happen next season and beyond, this is supposed to be a day to celebrate him.
Yet, he will get questions about the quarterback that likely won’t be here in September. The owner will get questions about the Rasputin-like figure that seems to be controlling things behind the scenes. Of course, that same figure won’t make an appearance because why would he. Finally, there are the fans that almost universally wanted someone else, anyone else, to be the coach of this team.
As much as I want to make fun of him or be angry at him, I just can’t do it. I’ve been David Culley and I know how much it sucks. It’s also hard to continue to be angry at an organization that finds ways to screw up without provocation. There’s a simple solution to all of these problems and it won’t get done. That’s largely because everyone is screaming for it now. Human nature is to dig in your heels at that point. The sad thing is that I don’t think any of the McNairs are hemophiliacs. At least the Romanovs had a good excuse.