March 7, 2001
There’s No Crying in Football!
By Dave Sabo
If the Texans on-field performance can match that of the front office to date, Texan fans have a lot to look forward to come 2002. And the rest of the NFL better beware.
Bob McNair’s already got Bud Adams praying that his team of clown-suited carpet-baggers isn’t put into the same division as the Texans, and now Buffalo Bills President and General Manager, Tom Donahoe, is crying foul over the Texans hiring of Dom Capers as head coach. Throw in the occasional Cryboy fan pathetically gloating about how much better America’s Bandwagon will be in 2002 when compared to our expansion team and the only conclusion I can come to is that the rest of the NFL is already leery of facing the newest kid on the block. Not bad for a team that is essentially nothing but a crack scouting staff, a GM, a head coach, an offensive coordinator, a trainer and front office administration. Once this team drafts some actual players
But, back to Tom Donahoe.
In a recent Chris Mortensen column on ESPN.com, Donahoe was quoted as saying about the Texans’ hiring of Capers that “ there’s a tremendous problem with the ethics of allowing this to happen. I could see it if all 31 teams who will be playing in September already had a head coach in place, but that’s not the case.”
A “tremendous problem with the ethics”?! “Ethics”?! If ANYBODY can explain to me how the Texans’ hiring of Capers was unethical, please e-mail me because, I’m sorry, that’s absolutely beyond me. Then again, perhaps it isn’t really the “ethics” of the hiring that has Donahoe’s panties in a bunch. Maybe the truth of the matter is that he wanted Capers in Buffalo (according to Mortensen, he was one of four assistants on Donahoe’s list of interviewees) and thus needed an excuse after he was too slow on the trigger. His comments later in the Mortensen piece would seem to support this:
“Dom didn’t want to go through with the interview because I told him I was going to wait until after the Super Bowl to interview the other candidates (Ravens defensive coordinator Marvin Lewis and Giants defensive coordinator John Fox),” Donahoe said. “But he was a legitimate candidate, and now he’s off the market for a team that doesn’t play for two more years. It’s wrong.”
It’s wrong? Why? Didn’t Donahoe have the exact same opportunity to talk to and hire Capers as did the Texans (not to mention all seven other teams with head coaching vacancies)? In fact, he did. A bit puzzling? Yes, it is. Until you read Donahoe’s comments from an article by CNN/SI‘s Don Banks. In reference to a proposal to do away with the rule preventing assistants from interviewing for head coaching jobs until after the Super Bowl, Donahoe said, “It’s a terrible rule and the league needs to do something about it.”
While I agree with Donahoe it’s a rule that needs to be changed, I have my suspicions that our agreements ends there. I think it needs to be changed because a guy like Marvin Lewis will be defensive coordinator in Baltimore again next season when he should be a head coach somewhere else. Nine teams had coaching vacancies this off-season and all nine indicated some level of interest in Lewis. Unfortunately, they were not allowed to speak to Lewis until after the Super Bowl. Consequently, all but one (the Bills) decided it wasn’t worth the risk to wait to talk to Lewis and miss out on hiring an available head coach in the event they were unable to land Lewis. Based on his comments and the eventual hiring of Greg Williams as head coach, it’s my opinion that Tom Donahoe thinks the rule needs to be changed so that in the future, he won’t have to stoop to using bogus arguments that it’s unethical Capers is coaching in Houston and not Buffalo.
In other words, Tom Donahoe would like for the rest of the NFL to wait patiently to make any personnel moves until he and the Bills have spoken to the candidates they wish to speak to. Yet, notice Donahoe had no complaints about the rumors that he, along with Charley Casserly, was a candidate for the Texans’ vacant GM spot. Wonder if Donahoe would have found McNair choosing him instead of Casserly “unethical”? Regardless, I think we can safely say, in light of Donahoe’s recent crying over the Capers hiring and his pouting over not being able to talk to Marvin Lewis before the Super Bowl, that Bob McNair made the right decision on passing on him.
And that’s not even taking into account the Johnson/Flutie controversy. While I agree with his decision to go with Johnson (who’s a full decade younger than Flutie), could he have waffled on the decision anymore? Last fall on ESPN.com, Donahoe (who was a contributor to the site) said that the decision should be a simple one for the Bills citing Flutie’s winning record as a starter. Evidently, the decision got a lot tougher once he was on the hook for it. Upon arrival at Orchard Park, he immediately began wavering back and forth on the decision, letting an already acrimonious situation fester and intensify over the course of a month. Then, when he finally makes the decision, he chooses the OTHER guy! Huh?! Did I miss something? Not only has the whole mess further divided the team; it’s sparked threats of season ticket cancellations by outraged fans. What a shambles!
(By the way, calls to Donahoe’s office regarding this situation have gone unreturned, and yes, I actually called his office twice — Monday afternoon and then Tuesday morning, and left messages with his secretary. Hey, what the hell, right?)
I’ve always had a great deal of respect for Bills owner Ralph Wilson. He’s an old-school AFL man that’s had a good bit of success and has done it with class. It’s a damn shame that his team’s being run by a wishy-washy crybaby like Tom Donahoe whose best excuse for having a head coach hired out from under his nose is lack of “ethics.” In the words of Mandy Patinkin (as Inego Montoya in The Princess Bride), “I do not think that word means what you think that it means.”
Dave Sabo is an Archives Specialist with the National Archives and Records Administration. A native of Spring, TX and a life-long Oiler fan, he’s currently now languishing in the heart of Redskins country (Laurel, MD), and hates Daniel Snyder. Tom Donahoe Return to Houston Pro Football If you have a question, comment or suggestion, contact Dave Catch up on past installments of The Armchair Quarterback