Deshaun Watson #4 of the Houston Texans reacts to a play during a game against the Tennessee Titans at NRG Stadium on January 03, 2021 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)

As an avid fan of the NFL for the last 30 years I have enjoyed the game of football since I was a child. But in light of the last few seasons, the issues within the Houston Texans franchise dealing with race has come to a head.

I can no longer ignore the elephant in the room that raises the question: Is the Houston Texans organization purposefully racist or does it exhibit discriminatory behaviors out of ignorance and indifference?

The incidents speak for themselves. From the remarks of the late Houston Texans owner Robert McNair, “can’t have the inmates running the prison,” to the discrimination case against the Texans franchise regarding the alleged discriminatory practices of former GM Brian Gaine, there are blatant examples of racism within the organization.

Another incident occurred in 2019 when I pursued a story about Texans wide receiver Kenny Stills regarding his courage to continue to take a knee in peaceful protest during the national anthem when the league wasn’t as accepting of the act. The stall tactics indicated a hesitation on the part of the Texans to allow the interview prompting a player in the locker room to say “don’t let them get to you, they are just like that.”

Then there is the reported unchecked cultural bias and insensitive comments of former head coach and GM Bill O’Brien (who denied the comments) to All-Pro wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, comparing him to convicted murderer Aaron Hernandez, and claiming he had “too much influence.”

To top it off O’Brien allegedly criticized the future Hall of Famer for having the mothers of his children around too much only to end in his dismissal from the franchise via an unprecedented trade.

Now the Texans are on the verge of losing the NFL’s 2020 leader in passing yards, Deshaun Watson, after failing to fulfill a public commitment the team made that he would be involved in the selection of the next general manager and coach. Watson, arguably one of the league’s top-tier quarterbacks, just signed one of the highest paying contracts in league history now wants to leave because the Texans reneged on their front office promise.

Houston, we’ve got problems. Something needs to be done to fix the culture that continues to have missteps. It is obvious the franchise needs help addressing the culture from within the Houston Texans organization. 

In this age of social and racial sensitivity, as a Black man I am uncomfortable supporting our local team based on all these incidents that are unacceptable in 2021. In a league of majority Black players and no Black owners it is time for a change that demands outside help to assist the Texans in changing their culture.

Some would argue all issues are resolved with the recent hiring of a Black head coach, but I argue that is equivalent to putting a single band-aid over an open shotgun wound.  David Culley could very well be a great coach, but when you compare his pedigree to some of the African-Americans in the candidate pools it gives you pause.

There are a number of other reasons why the Texans need to address this problem.

With the bad reputation the Houston Texans have earned, they risk young, Black athletes being turned off by the franchise and not wanting to play for them.

You could say this is “Tough Love” because we are grateful to the Houston Texans for all they have done for this great city, including the recent $500k donation toward local winter storm relief, and the relationship the Defender has enjoyed with the Texans, especially the donation during COVID-19. But these issues cannot be disregarded. Life is about what you are willing to accept and this is unacceptable.

We offer the Texans an opportunity to share their side of the story. And to avoid being a critic complaining about the problem, the Houston Defender Network wants to help the Texans change the culture by offering a few recommendations to get the ball rolling toward change. I am not an expert, but here are a few recommendations.

1. Talk with the team and staff about what changes need to be made to create a more inclusive Texans work culture. DO IT!

2. Create an ongoing dialogue with the Houston area’s Black community and get their recommendations.

3. Secure a professional firm to help the Texans develop a strategy to change the culture based on recommendations received internally and externally.

4. Place more African-Americans in leadership and C-Suite positions (CEO, CFO, COO, CIO).

5. Increase investment in local Black businesses: banking, professional services, florist, restaurants, etc.

In the words of Martin Luther King Jr. “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” And while today’s failures can lead to tomorrow’s success it can also continue to fester and evolve into bigger uncontrollable issues. So let’s get to work and get it done.

Sincerely,

Jodie B. Jiles

cc: NFL owners, Commissioner Roger Goodell and Executive Committee.


CALL-TO-ACTION

#HouTexansChange

We love the TEXANS but some things need to change.

  • Share this editorial
  • Share YOUR Opinion: Go to the Defendernetwork.com, click the Let the People Be Heard banner and upload your video of recommendations
  • Go to the Texans Facebook Page and the NFL Facebook Page– share your recommendation