The people of Houston might want to know just what it is that the city did to anger the people at ESPN. That's the only explanation of which I can think to explain ESPN coming down hard on another Houston sports team. Last summer it was the story of the rapidly aging Miguel Tegada. And this coming Sunday, if you're in the mood to wake up early, you might want to check out ESPN's Outside The Lines because this time it's the Texans turn.
In a story that hit ESPN.com today -- and by the way, congrats to the Chron sports staff for being scooped again -- comes details of the Texans running illegal contact drills in last May's mini-camp. Drills which are prohibited by the Collective Bargaining Agreement signed by the NFL and the NFL Players Association.
Three Texans linemen suffered serious, season-ending injuries in these drills last May. Offensive guard Dan Stevenson tore the labrum on his right shoulder and might never be able to play again. Offensive guard Jordan Black also tore a labrum. He had surgery, then was released by the Texans. And center Chukky Okobi suffered a torn triceps. Stevenson and Black had filed labor grievances to the NFL against the Texans, and Stevenson says he will be filing a lawsuit.
The injuries were the result of one-on-one blocking drills, which are expressly prohibited in the Collective Bargaining Agreement. Player reps Kris Brown and Mark Bruener informed head coach Gary Kubiak that such drills were prohibited. Kubiak ignored them and continued with the drills. Stevenson filed an initial complaint to the NFL, but the Texans denied the illegal drills, and the NFL denied Stevenson's complaint. Stevenson then smuggled a video camera into the drills and filmed the workouts. ESPN has a copy of these videos and states that they show full-speed, full-contact drills.
Black and former Texan Fred Weary have signed affidavits to support Stevenson's complaint.
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When contacted by ESPN, Texans legal counsel Suzie Thomas responded with the only thing that a legal counsel can say in these instances: "I am unable to comment other than to say that the information set forth...is inaccurate."
I've got two thoughts on this. Just how stupid is Gary Kubiak? Sure, we've seen his incompetence on the sidelines during the game time and time again. But when you've got player reps daring to speak out during practice, saying that you're violating the rules, then why keep on with the drills? It's just like he's looking to get into trouble of some kind. And what does this say about Kubiak's understanding of this team, because I've always heard that players are supposed to be so terrified of the coach that they'll never report incidents like this.
Finally, what's it going to take for Houston's official paper of record to actually break one of these stories taking place in Houston? They've been scooped on everything regarding Roger Clemens and steroids, Miguel Tejada and his age, the real reasons the Astros had to play in Milwaukee after Ike, and now it's ESPN breaking the news of illegal drills from the Houston Texans. The only portion of the Chron that appears to be fully staffed is the sports -- how else to explain a big story from yesterday on the repairs to the Reliant Stadium roof -- yet for the most part, they get beat on every breaking story.
Then again, it appears that the Texans coaches did enough breaking during that mini-camp last May to cover the Chron for awhile.