Questions have percolated throughout NFL circles regarding the curious rise of Texans executive V.P. of football operations and interim G.M. Jack Easterby. Many have ignored obvious red flags in his background, from embellishment of his football experience to a brilliant omission that made one of his NFL stops seem bigger than it was to flat-out nonsensical and illogical claims regarding his experience in hiring coaches.
Some have accepted the invitation to write favorably about Easterby, further pushing the questions about his credentials deeper into the background. Jenny Vrentas and Greg Bishop of SI.com have taken a different route, exploring the Easterby rabbit hole and ignoring none of its unusual twists and turns.
Per their report, at least one player studied the popular Game of Thrones TV series upon Easterby’s Houston arrival in 2019 for clues as to how the coming power struggle would play out, wisely predicting that G.M. Brian Gaine and coach Bill O’Brien would be gone, and that Easterby would remain — with more power than any former unpaid NFL team chaplain ever dreamed of wielding.
Vrentas and Bishop spoke to more than 40 people regarding Easterby, and the information they harvested includes allegations of: (1) undermining other executives and decision-makers in Houston; (2) holding workouts at the head strength coach’s house during the early davs of the pandemic; (3) advocating for the trade of receiver DeAndre Hopkins soon after being hired in 2019; and (3) “[f]ostering a culture of distrust among staff and players to the point that one Texan and two other staffers believe players were being surveilled outside the building.”
People from the team have spoken anonymously in the hopes, per the report, of “opening the eyes” of owner Cal McNair, who per one source “is just blinded” by Easterby’s charm.
As to Hopkins, who walked out of practice in 2017 after reports surfaced that team founder Bob McNair had said as to the then-roiling anthem controversy that the league’s owner’s can’t have the “inmates running the prison,” Easterby reportedly said multiple times in 2019, “We need to move on from that person.”
(In 2019, Hopkins told GQ of the “inmates running the prison” remark that “[i]t feels like I’m a slave again.”)
The SI.com report includes information from an unnamed source who was troubled by Easterby’s perceived “use of Black stereotypes” when speaking to players, something that allegedly happened on multiple occasions in 2019.
The SI.com article also takes a close and careful look at Easterby’s overstated football experience arising from a 2004 internship in Jacksonville, when Easterby was only 21. At one point, he claimed that he was “an assistant to the director of operations” with the Jaguars. Later, he became “the assistant director of operations” and eventually “the assistant director of football operations.”
PFT first caught wind of this curious aspect of Easterby’s background in March 2020. At some point after PFT discreetly posed questions to those who know Easterby (a decision was made not to pursue the issue in March 2020), the online description of Easterby’s work with the Jaguars dramatically softened. When PFT noticed the change in October 2020, the Texans were asked when and why the revision was made. The Texans claimed — incorrectly — that they revised the Easterby bio in 2019.
Then there’s Easterby’s claim (from a bio that used to appear on his foundation’s website but is now gone) that he had “been entrusted with over 50 head coaching searches at both power five and mid major universities for multiple sports.” Via Vrentas and Bishop, the Texans and Easterby failed to address specific questions about the programs with which he supposedly has worked, and in what capacity.
Regarding his background, Easterby supplied the following statement to SI.com: “I would like to address the questions that have been raised about my experience. I acknowledge that my career path has been unconventional. However, I stand by my 15-year career working with collegiate and professional teams, and am proud of the impact I’ve had on those organizations. I have made no false claims about my experience, nor my work with my Foundation.”
In short, Easterby says has made no false claims, but he also has provided not a shred of evidence to explain the obvious questions regarding his actual experience and qualifications for a job in an industry with, frankly, far more candidates with far greater objective qualifications than Easterby possesses.
As one writer who has covered the Easterby story but omitted reference to the questions about his background has said, “It’d be a different story if they reprimanded him or whatever, but if they don’t care, then it’s minor enough that I don’t really care.”
The Texans clearly don’t care. More specifically, Cal McNair doesn’t care. Some in his organization believe that he should. Until he does, Easterby will continue to hold a title and earn a salary for a job that others in league circles are far more suited to receive.