Sean Pendergast

Details Surface Regarding Toxic Relationship Between Bill O'Brien and DeAndre Hopkins

Texans Head Coach Bill O'Brien's relationship with DeAndre Hopkins, as it turns out, was not very good.
Texans Head Coach Bill O'Brien's relationship with DeAndre Hopkins, as it turns out, was not very good. Photo by Eric Sauseda
As I was performing my popular morning sports talk radio show on SportsRadio 610 on Wednesday with my cohost Seth Payne, we continued to wallow in the misery-ridden aftermath of the DeAndre Hopkins trade, wondering just what the hell want wrong between thee All Pro wide receiver and Texans head coach/general manager/Mad King Bill O'Brien.

As we speculated, we finally arrived at a dead end, at which point I reminded Seth that the truth will come put at some point. After all, offensive lineman Brandon Brooks left the Texans in 2016, became a Pro Bowler in Philadelphia, and proceeded to tell everyone O'Brien's overbearing personality almost made him retire. Also, Jadeveon Clowney, after being traded for a song in August, told his whole Texans' departure story in October after he helped the Seahawks to a Monday night win over the Niners.

So, I contended yesterday morning around 7 a.m., at some point Hopkins' story will get told. Little did I know it would happen less than two hours later on ESPN, as Michael Irvin dropped this bombshell on Get Up:

Ok, now THAT is juicy stuff. Baby mommas, Aaron Hernandez, I mean.... WOW. OK, four thoughts on what the good folks with "Get Up" call "shocking" details from this story conveyed by Michael Irvin:

Let's caveat ALL of this by saying that this story is coming in second hand from MICHAEL IRVIN
Needless to say, within seconds of Irvin sharing this story about Hopkins' meeting with O'Brien, Twitter was flooded with "OH MY GOD! FIRE O'BRIEN!" (As if it weren't already flooded with tweets of "OH MY GOD! FIRE O'BRIEN!") Look, we will get into the content of what Irvin shared, but let's caveat all of this with a few things. First, this is Hopkins' side of the story, so it's just one half. As unpopular as O'Brien is, that should be pointed out. Also, it's a recount of the conversation with no clarity on nuance nor context. Finally, it's being conveyed by Michael Irvin, who is just unhinged enough to where I can DEFINITELY see him hyperbolizing and jumbling a few of the details of the story. This is NOT DeAndre Hopkins sitting in a studio recapping his own conversation. It's Michael Irvin screaming into FaceTime, quickly recapping from memory a conversation ABOUT a conversation of one of the most intense topics of the NFL offseason.

DeAndre Hopkins himself tried to defuse the tension with a tweet just a short time after Irvin's appearance
And, to that end, what leads me to believe that Irvin may have spun a somewhat warped version of context to that sit-down between Hopkins and O'Brien — just a couple hours later, Hopkins tweeted this:

OK, great. Still, even if it's being blown out of proportion, there's more to unpack. Let's continue....

Ok, exactly how "shocking" are these details?
The "details" here in Irvin's story are really threefold — (1) O'Brien didn't like how strong Hopkins' voice was becoming in the locker room, (2) O'Brien sat Hopkins down in a one-on-one meeting and told him the last time he'd had a meeting like this, it was with Aaron Hernandez, and (3) O'Brien had an issue with Hopkins' "baby mommas" hanging around. I need to point out again — THIS IS ALL COMING VIA MICHAEL IRVIN, not directly from Hopkins. That said, I'll take the last two bullet points first. On the surface, the mere name "Aaron Hernandez" is going to trigger people (no pun intended), because he was a murderer, and Hopkins is a great citizen. Any analogy there by O'Brien ranges anywhere from misguided to completely insulting. The "baby momma" comment needs more clarification — for example, we don't know if O'Brien used the term "baby momma" or if that's Irvin using the phrase as a descriptor — but that part of the story will be the one that injects a racial element into it, for sure. Honestly, the most relevant one to the construct of an actual football team is the first point, about Hopkins' voice in the locker room. It strikes at the infuriating aspect of O'Brien's player evaluation, to where guys seem to have to fit a certain mold, or they're GONE. Just ask Jadeveon Clowney.

What happens now?
Of course this story had many folks dabbling in wishful thinking immediately — "THERE'S NO WAY O'BIREN SURVIVES THIS!"  Honestly, what makes you think O'Brien doesn't survive this second hand story, especially after Hopkins' tweet had the uproar fairly dulled down by the afternoon? Also, O'Brien seems to survive EVERYTHING, so again, why would THIS be the thing that gets him whacked? If anything, the fallout will be further deterioration of the confidence and backing of the head coach in the locker room. (There are reportedly players who have been doing a lot of eye rolling lately.) Also, it could give free agents reason to pause before considering the Texans as a landing spot.

Make no mistake, largely because of the Hopkins trade, the Texans, for now, are a laughingstock around the league. The roster is a wonkily assembled, top heavy collection of talent being held up above a lava pit of mediocrity by one thing — the greatness of Deshaun Watson. Bill O'Brien has problems, many of them self-inflicted, but sorry, Texan fans — I don't think this will be the straw that breaks Cal McNair's back.

Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at and like him on Facebook at
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Sean Pendergast is a contributing freelance writer who covers Houston area sports daily in the News section, with periodic columns and features, as well. He also hosts afternoon drive on SportsRadio 610, as well as the post game show for the Houston Texans.
Contact: Sean Pendergast