As Cal McNair begins his tenure as the person ultimately in charge of the Texans, a new employee with a non-traditional football background quickly has secured plenty of football influence in Houston.
He’s Jack Easterby. Not a coach or a scout or a football executive in any way, shape, or form, Easterby serves as the Texans’ executive V.P. of team development.
So what does he do?
“Jack is just what his title says,” coach Bill O’Brien told reporters on Tuesday. “He is executive vice president of team development and he helps in all areas of the team. He helps me with the team. He helps in the different departments around the team, the departments that work with the team, obviously the training room, equipment room. He helps me with putting in processes to really help the duties of each department relative to the team. It’s all about the team and how can we improve the team and Jack has been an excellent addition to the organization.”
Jack Easterby came from the Patriots, where he spent six seasons as the Team Development Director/Character Coach. Before that, Easterby worked for two seasons as team chaplain for the Chiefs.
Only 36 years old, Easterby got his first NFL job 14 years ago, as assistant director of football operations with the Jaguars. In the five years between Jacksonville and Kansas City, Easterby was “character coach” at the University of South Carolina.
As John McClain of the Houston Chronicle recently wrote, “Expect to hear more about Easterby as his influence continues to grow within the organization since he was hired by [former G.M. Brian] Gaine and coach Bill O’Brien after working six years in the Patriots’ front office and earning three Super Bowl rings.”
McClain notes that Easterby will participate in the interviews of candidates to replace Gaine.
“Easterby is a counselor and adviser to players, coaches and their families,” McClain writes. “He’s on call 24-7.”
As one source explained it to PFT, Easterby already has “tons” of juice in Houston, despite being on the job for only a handful of months. At some point, however, influence brings accountability; if he takes a prominent role in the football operation — and if he in turn tries to take credit for successes of the team — he’ll eventually be responsible for any failures.
That’s the balance that plenty of non-football football executives with NFL teams try to strike, finding a path to the spotlight when times are good and running for cover when the going gets tough. Whether he realizes it or not, Easterby seems to be fully inserting himself onto the radar screen of eventual consequences, if the Texans don’t win enough games for Cal McNair’s liking.