The Extra Point “Charlie’s Angles” by Pat O’Neill

The Extra Point by Pat O'Neill

Gary Kubiak

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January 27, 2000
Charlie’s Angles

by Pat O’Neill

Recently, I had a chance to chat with Charlie Pallilo from Star 610 AM. Charlie is the co-host of Section 610, which airs every Monday through Friday from 3-7pm. You can also catch Charlie every Saturday at 5:30pm on ABC as a panelist on Extra Points, with host Tim Melton.

A former Rhodes Scholar candidate from Long Island, NY, Charlie is very excited that his alma mater, Syracuse is the only undefeated team left in Division I basketball. With his distinctive style and enormous knowledge of all sports, his drive-time show is one of the best in the nation. And Charlie is no stranger to the Oilers; he and Rich Lord were the co-hosts of the Oilers pre- and post-game shows when the team was still in Houston.

What has the listener reaction been to the Titans playoff run and now Super Bowl appearance?
C.P.: I think for the most part, those who care, or are rooting, are more likely to express, “This is great!” or “See I told you so!” type calls to the show. The Houston Chronicle had a statistic where 67% of the city of Houston is rooting for Tennessee. NO WAY!

Some people here are still clinging to the belief that “these are still my Oilers” and “a Titan Super Bowl victory ends long years of suffering for Oilers fans.” What is your opinion on those beliefs?
C.P.: If that’s the case, then if the (Nashville) Predators win the Stanley Cup, their year is made. I don’t get it, really. In some specific cases — the head coach was here, the last buzz here in Houston was when they drafted (Steve) McNair, who is now the quarterback, and a few of the players are linked back to Houston (Marcus Robertson, Blaine Bishop, Bruce Matthews, Eddie Robinson, Baron Wortham). I thought when they changed the name, the colors, the uniform, and the logo that would change. Of course, now, instead of a choke in the playoffs, they’re 13-3 and in the Super Bowl.

Who are you rooting for on Sunday?
C.P.: I typically root for close games. I would not be thrilled if the Titans win, but I won’t be bummed out if they lose. Al del Greco has always been a good guy, who missed a couple of kicks when he first got here in a big game against Pittsburgh, so if he makes a game winning kick, that would be a good story.

Would you care to offer an opinion on how the game will play out and a guess at the score?
C.P.: My vibe is Tennessee. The Rams weak link is Fred Miller and the rest of the offensive line. I don’t think the loss of Marcus Robertson is that big of a deal. He’s good, but not what he used to be. Blaine Bishop has been a stud in the playoffs. That secondary cannot afford any more injuries, though. Their defense is not as good as Tampa Bay’s defense, but they do not have to play as well as Tampa Bay’s defense had to play to win.The Titan offense is better than Tampa Bay’s offense. I’d give the edge in the kicking game to Tennessee. Al del Greco is always money in domed stadiums. As long as Tennessee doesn’t let (Tony) Horne break a big one, they’ll win this battle. I’ll say 23-20. That being said, if they win, they are not a team of destiny, but a team that won because they were better. 

What did you make of Bud Adams not even acknowledging Houston and its fans this past Sunday; even as Jim Nantz tried to get him to say something about the city?
C.P.: Bud’s verbal skills and deftness in public has been pretty well established. He’s often been a bumbler. I don’t think he meant to snub the city; he just got up on the stage and blurted out what came to him. Nantz was tipped off by someone that Bud did indeed want to say something, which is why he kept pursuing it. You’d think if Bud really wanted to mention it, he would have found a way to say it… maybe cue cards. It’s not a brutal offense. The man is 77 years old.

The miracle play this year against Buffalo…. Did Frank Wycheck throw a forward pass or was it a legal lateral?
C.P.: I think it was a forward pass. However, anything that you have to look at eight times and you’re still not sure, fits the definition of “inconclusive.”

What are your impressions of what Bob McNair has done so far?
C.P.: Nothing has made you go, “I wonder what he was thinking there.” You can only give thumbs up to the Charley Casserly hire. That doesn’t mean he’ll construct a champion, but he’s been there and he’ll get after it.

The hiring of Charley Casserly was rather interesting. He really didn’t look at anyone else. Former Steelers’ General Manager Tom Donahoe was out there and he didn’t even get a look. What did you think of the hiring style and more importantly, Charley Casserly himself?
C.P.: On the process, McNair has made a few decisions in his life that worked out. If his gut said, “This is the guy,” he felt he didn’t need to look anywhere else. You would think he would want to pilfer ideas from other candidates, but he chose to lock and load. Casserly being wanted by some other teams and his “playing the field” may have played into that as well. From different people I’ve talked to, the consensus is that Charley Casserly is in the top 1/3 of personnel guys in the NFL. He’s the one that was available; which is the nature of this profession. He was nowhere near batting .1000 with the Redskins. He has to shoulder the blame for the Heath Shuler pick, but he has set them up with 3 first round picks in the upcoming draft. The body of work is pretty strong.

Gary Kubiak’s name will not go away. I know Casserly said they wanted a guy with head coaching experience. How do you think the coaching situation will play out?
C.P.: Maybe Kubiak should have taken that Colorado job last year. They said “preferred” not “mandatory” as far as the coaching experience. It’s tough to say because a year from now, someone hot will be frigid and a guy you would yawn at now, could be the hot guy. Maybe Marty Schottenheimer will be in the running or maybe Barry Alvarez will win another Rose Bowl and decide he wants to try and coach in the NFL. It’s about finding the right match. If it’s Kubiak vs the field… I’ll take the field.

What about a scenario where they get a guy with experience and hire Kubiak as the offensive coordinator. They let the guy with experience take it on the chin for the first couple of years, while Kubiak waits in the wings as the named successor?
C.P.: That’s a reasonable scenario. Mike Shanahan is a younger guy, if he doesn’t burn out he may be in Denver a while. How badly does Kubiak covet the Texas A&M job and the job for the team here in Houston… that’s the real question.

Another name that popped up last week was former Oiler and former NFL Europe executive Oliver Luck. Any word on what position Luck was interested in or interviewing for?
C.P.: His role will not be in the personnel department, but more along the lines of growing the business. The team called Luck and they have talked. He has moved back to the United States form Europe. His role is not one that will be of interest to the fans.

Now that Bud has made it to the Super Bowl, any chance that he might release the “strangle-hold” on the Oiler nickname?
C.P.: No. Besides, I wouldn’t want it back. The name Oilers has three links: the choke in Buffalo, having never been to the Super Bowl, and Luv Ya Blue. Two of the three are bad. The people in Houston need to embrace the future, rather than dwell on the past.

Is it a done deal, in your opinion, that the nickname is Texans, or do you think we have any other options?
C.P.: There is a possibility it may not be Texans. Sometimes people just don’t want everyone to be right. If McNair really likes Texans, it’s the worst kept secret in town. That name is definitely out there. Toros, and Stampede are both out there. Roughnecks was a joke from the get go.

Following his Sugar Bowl performance, Michael Vick’s stock has skyrocketed. Do you think he’ll stay in school until 2001 and more importantly, are you sold on him as an NFL QB?
C.P.: He’s just a baby. He’s an awesome talent. I don’t think, right now, he’s regarded as a brilliant thrower of the ball. You can’t just run around, like he did in the Sugar Bowl, because in the NFL, he’ll get killed; especially over the course of 16 games. Can he grow into a prospect; I see no reason why not. He only averaged 15 passes a game; let him grow. We’ll see how his team and he do next year.

In drafting a team from scratch, where do you start?
C.P: If you believe a guy is a franchise quarterback, you have to take him. The four or five foundation points for me in starting a team are: a hell-raising pass rusher, an offensive tackle who can block a hell-raising rusher, a stud cover corner, and a big playmaker on offense.

Any word on a location for training camp?
C.P.: None at all; they have other fish to fry. You’d want it as close to the city of Houston as possible. That way you can build the fervor right here. San Antonio was a great place for training camp.

Has 610 AM made any progress in securing that “flagship station” status?
C.P.: The station definitely has interest. As far as a timetable in securing that, I have no idea. I am very rarely accused of being a “homer”, but I would love to have the Texans on our airwaves.

Alright Charlie, let’s play a little word association. I’m going to say a word or two and you tell me the first thing that comes to your mind: 

Oilers: “Buffalo”  
Titans: “Super Bowl”  
Texans: “Probably”  
Steve McNair: ” Fair passer, fabulous weapon”  
Bob McNair: “Poised”  
Warren Moon: “Very good, not great. Prolific. He has no Super Bowls and no AFC Championships.”  
Cody Carlson: “Good guy, good back up. Signed a Jon Konkak-ian contract”  
Bud Adams: “Champion?!!??!!?? Bumbling, but not satanic”  
Charley Casserly: “Qualified”  
Buffalo: “35-3. I don’t live in Nashville or I’d say miracle throw-back left”
Renfro Catch: “Inconclusive. Replay would not have helped, besides, even if the catch were ruled a touchdown, it’s still a tie and the game is at Pittsburgh. It’s a highly dubious premise that the Oilers win the game with that catch being called good”  
Stagger Lee: “Elvis is dead!”  
Ian Howfield: “There’s no crying in football!”  
Kevin Gilbride: “Good guy. Too stubborn”  
Jack Pardee: “Nice man, everyone would want a grandpa like Jack Pardee. Were his headsets really turned on?”  
Ray Childress: “Interesting. Multi-layered. Good, dry sense of humor”
Earl Campbell: “Most physically overpowering running back this side of Jim Brown. Earl was a steed ridden too hard, too soon.”

Pat O’Neill, a washed-up high school quarterback, is currently on a mission to land Bob McNair as his next interview subject. Please send Pat an e-mail if you can help him realize his dream.