Gallant: Why Don’t We Hear From Rick Smith More?

By Paul Gallant, SportsRadio 610

HOUSTON (SPORTSRADIO 610) – I’m not sure how important it is for us sports media types to ask questions anymore. Players, coaches, and executives are smart, and rarely give you a real legitimate answer. But I do believe it’s important that we get the opportunity to ask questions. That way, you get a little extra insight into the product that you’re supporting.

So I was a little surprised that Texans head coach Bill O’Brien answered questions about Colin Kaepernick at his press conference Monday. He didn’t give us anything juicy, like “Did you see Tom Savage Sunday? We need the HELL out of KAep!!!” or “that Kaep clown is a TRAITOR”. In fact, he didn’t really say anything. He was just candid. What he did do was confirm that he’s had conversations with Texans general manager Rick Smith about bringing in Kaepernick, and that he believes Kaepernick to be a good football player.

No real news. It didn’t sound like the Texans were going to bring in Kaepernick. The possibility wasn’t ruled out there I guess? Oh well.

I was at the press conference. After it ended I listened back to the audio before sending it back for use on SportsRadio 610. This exchange caught my ears and made me think:

ESPN’s Sarah Barshop: Do you want Executive Vice President of Football Operations and General Manager Rick Smith to sign QB Colin Kaepernick?

Bill O’Brien: “Again, we talk about everybody that’s out there, every day. I coach the football team. What you saw yesterday, that’s what I’m in charge of. So, I just give my input, and then I coach the football team.”

I stopped for a second. Bill O’Brien is in charge of coaching the 53 players on his roster. Rick Smith is in charge of putting that roster together. So Rick should have to answer questions like this, right?

Then it hit me. How many questions in the middle of an NFL season does Smith even take – let alone actually answer – from Houston media?

I’ve kept all of the Texans availability transcripts emails (their PR staff does a fantastic job typing these out for us media types) since January 1, 2016 (along with some from the 2015, 2014, and 2013 season). Per my records, Smith spoke to the media 6 times before and after the NFL Draft (4/19, 4/21, 4/27, 4/28, 4/29), once in May (5/8), once in July (7/25, but in West Virginia, and once in August (8/30 while the team was in Dallas AFTER the 4th preseason game was canceled). That’s it.

That ain’t often. Especially considering that the Texans had to find roster replacements for J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus when they suffered season ending injuries during the Texans loss to the Chiefs. He wasn’t made available then.

Even more ridiculous? Smith didn’t speak to the media after the Texans traded Duane Brown, a guy who had only played for the team FOR 10 YEARS. That is indefensible. Even cowardly. Especially giving the climate in the locker room after the controversial comments about “inmates running the prison” made by owner Bob McNair.

I’m not saying Smith has to be available for EVERY question ever about signing certain free agents. But given what the Texans quarterback situation is with the immobile Tom Savage and one of the league’s worst offensive lines, it should probably be a priority for an NFL G.M. to look to improve his offense by any means necessary . . . right?

Whatever. Maybe this is just an NFL wide problem? That NFL General Managers aren’t held accountable for their actions and rarely have to field difficult questions when they screw up.

And then, I saw THIS story on ProFootballTalk:

(ProFootballTalk): Browns Executive Vice President Sashi Brown is denying talk that he purposely sabotaged the team’s attempt to acquire quarterback AJ McCarron in a trade with the Bengals.

The proposed trade fell through just before Tuesday’s NFL trade deadline, leading to some speculation that Brown purposely failed to get the proper paperwork to the league because he didn’t want McCarron but also didn’t want to refuse the trade that coach Hue Jackson was pushing for. Brown told reporters today, however, that such speculation is “wholly untrue.”

“We were all in it together,” Brown said. “We were all disappointed it didn’t happen.”

Instead, Brown insists that the issue was just that the Browns waited until the last minute to get everything together and couldn’t get it all done in time.

So we can attribute the Browns’ failure to land McCarron to incompetence, not to malice. At least according to Brown.

So Sashi Brown – part of an incompetent Browns front office that JUST OWNED UP to crapping themselves while trying to trade for A.J. McCarron – is PUBLICLY telling people that he screwed this trade up in embarrassing fashion. He might be terrible at his job, but hey . . . at least he fields questions about screwing it up.

Shouldn’t Rick Smith have to field questions – many of which Bill O’Brien ends up taking AND answering for him – on a semi regular basis too? He – like many others in the NFL – has had plenty of screw ups. So shouldn’t we get to ask him about those? Hell, even the successes? What has he done in 11 years as a General Manager that puts him above fielding questions like that?

The answer . . . is nothing.

Paul Gallant hosts “Gallant at Night” – Tuesday 9-11 PM CT, Wednesdays and Fridays 8-11 PM CT – on SportsRadio 610. He also hosts SportsZone Unfiltered – Fridays at 10 PM – on The Kube: Channel 57. Get in touch with Paul via email or his facebook page.

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