Texans owner is “expected to lean heavily” on Jack Easterby in coaching search

Sport

Texans executive V.P. of football operations Jack Easterby emerges from the firing of coach/G.M. Bill O’Brien with considerable power in the organization, even though his hiring for that position never was subject to a diverse search that complied with the Rooney Rule. Now, Easterby will have a major voice in a pair of hires that the Texans eventually make: Coach and General Manager.

According to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle, Texans owner Cal McNair is “expected to lean heavily” on Easterby for “what’s expected to be a wide-ranging coaching search.” Wilson also reports that Easterby is “expected to be a key figure in guiding the organization through this transition.”

The news comes at a time when questions linger in league circles about Easterby’s credentials and background. Last night, a suspicious change to Easterby’s online bio was noticed. In March 2020, the bio said that Easterby served in 2004 as “assistant to the director of football operations” with the Jaguars. Now, the bio says that he merely “help[ed] in football operations and public relations.” (Asked to identify when and why the change was made, the Texans provided a statement that did not explain the reason for the change, and that claimed the change was made last year. In truth, it was not changed until after we began asking around about the accuracy of the claim in March 2020.)

As one source explained it, Easterby was merely a summer intern with the Jaguars in 2004; indeed, he didn’t graduate from college until 2005. (This article from the Texans’ website says that Easterby served as “assistant director of football operations” for the Jaguars in 2005, creating the impression that he was hired for the position after graduating college, and in turn creating the impression that it wasn’t simply an internship.)

The claim that Easterby served not as an intern but “assistant to the director of football operations” (or, as the case may be, “assistant director of football operations”) in Jacksonville was neither new nor accidental. An article on the Newberry College website announcing his arrival as an employee in 2012 contains the assertion that Easterby served as “assistant to the director of operations” with the Jaguars.

That’s another inconsistency. Newberry College hired Easterby in 2012 to serve as “associate athletic director for strategic operations.” His online bio with the Texans never mentions this job; instead, it says this regarding the relevant time period: “Easterby served the Kansas City Chiefs organization for the 2011 and 2012 seasons in character development in a role created through the vision of Kansas City Chiefs General Manager Scott Pioli.”

So how did Easterby perform both jobs in 2012? The job with the Chiefs wasn’t actually a job. As noted in this article from Seth Wickersham of ESPN.com, Easterby didn’t get paid. Instead, he traveled back and forth from South Carolina to Kansas City at no expense to himself personally.

Is it technically accurate for Easterby to say that he “served” the Chiefs “in character development” for two seasons even though he was never paid for his work? Arguably, yes. The omission of any reference from his Texans’ online bio to his simultaneous employment at Newberry College, however, helps create the impression that he actually worked for (and was paid by) the Chiefs. He did not, and was not.

These questions are emerging because, as Easterby’s profile rises, people in the league who may be far more qualified to serve as executive V.P. of football operations with the Texans are wondering how he got the job and, more importantly, why a full and formal selection and interview process for the position never happened.

Regardless, Easterby will now be in charge of a full and formal selection and interview process for the position of coach and G.M. in Houston. Chances are that any candidate who would potentially threaten the power Easterby uncannily has accumulated need not apply.