Sean Pendergast

Five Biggest Houston Sports Stories for 2022

Jack Easterby's ouster was a godsend, and a huge story in 2022.
Jack Easterby's ouster was a godsend, and a huge story in 2022. Photo by Jack Gorman
It's been a crazy year in Houston sports, to be sure, and if we learned one thing about the content cycle this year, it's that it pays to have your teams at one extreme or another. In the case of the Astros, they are your 2022 World Champions, and as a result, generate a TON of news. Similarly (and yet conversely), the Rockets and Texans are among the dregs in their sports, and THEY, too, generate a TON of news (very little of it good, for now).

Either way, it was tough for news items to squeeze into the team picture for "biggest Houston sports stories" in 2022, because a lot of newsworthy stuff happened, much of it off the field. People came, people left, trophies were won, and NRG Stadium sure did have a lot of empty seats. So without further ado, here are my five biggest sports stories for the the city of Houston in 2022:

5. Houston gets the World Cup in 2026
Soccer was able to squeeze into the top five, but it took getting a portion of the world's most popular sporting event to do so. It all came down in the middle of June, as Houston was one of 11 United States cities to host the World Cup, which will be spread out over the three biggest countries in North America in 2026. AS a host of numerous international soccer matches and an adept knack for hosting big sporting events, Houston was ideal to use as a host for a handful of the games. It remains to be seen if Houston lands round robin games only, or if we get a knockout round game along the way. Either way, it means billions in income generated for the city.

4. Lovie Smith hired to replace David Culley
The firing of Culley after one season would normally be a top five story, with the Texans terminating the rare (for them) "one and done" head coach. However, the firing of Culley was really just a precursor to a strange hiring cycle, stranger even than the one that landed Culley in 2021. It appeared as though the Texans were on the cusp of hiring former QB Josh McCown with no coaching experience, or former Dolphins DC Brian Flores. Flores wound up suing the league for discriminatory hiring practices at the 11th hour of the Texans' hiring cycle, which meant they couldn't really hire Flores, and they certainly couldn't hire McCown — a white man with zero experience coaching even a position group — over Flores. At the last minute, the Texans pivoted to Smith, who may be the team's second consecutive "one and done" after this season.

3. Jack Easterby fired, finally
The reason why the Texans are having to cycle through coaches like they're changing their underwear is because the team is so very, very bad right now, and the main reason the team is so bad is because of a string of horrific decisions, many of them involving or executed by former EVP of Football Operations Jack Easterby. When Easterby arrived in April 2019, that's when the weird stuff started happening, and stories behind the scenes paint a guy, hiding behind a vail of religion, usurping power from every corner of the building, and being, at the very least, a hype man for a slew of bad roster decisions made my Bill O'Brien. It's not an exaggeration to say that Easterby is the most hated sports figure in the history of the city. If you don't think so, the burden is on you to name one more hated.

2. Astros win 2022 World Series
I'll make this one easy — fully redeemed from the 2017 cheating scandal, the Astros are champions of the world, so carve out 30 minutes and relive the magic:
1. Deshaun Watson traded
It would have to be something pretty big to knock a world title down to runner up status, but the Watson trade, finally executed in March 2022, was a huge story. The Watson saga would have possibly been the top story if it was just ONE of either a trade request from a franchise QB, OR a quarterback getting sued by a couple dozen women for sexual assault. This story had BOTH of those things, and the ripple effects will be felt for years to come. For now, the Texans are content to rebuild with their own draft picks, and the several other sent to them in the trade with the Cleveland Browns for Watson. Thus far, as a Brown, Watson has been underwhelming to say the least, having gone 2-2 and not generated more than one touchdown in any of his starts.

Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/SeanTPendergast and like him on Facebook at facebook.com/SeanTPendergast.
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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 the morning drive on SportsRadio 610, as well as the pre-game and post game shows for the Houston Texans.
Contact: Sean Pendergast