After Brian Flores’ Lawsuit, the Houston Texans Cannot Possibly Hire Josh McCown

The Houston Texans have not been a franchise synonymous with excellent decision-making over the past few seasons. The path they appeared to have chosen for themselves in regards to their next head coaching here was only going to add to their sorry list of head-scratchers.

But events this week may have inadvertently saved them from themselves.

The Texans have formally interviewed former quarterback John McCown not once, but twice, for their head-coaching vacancy, despite the fact that McCown has no coaching experience beyond the high-school level.

Before Tuesday, the prospect of such a hire was met with a combination of ridicule and shoulder shrugs. Texans gonna Texan.

But in light of Brian Flores’ explosive lawsuit against the NFL and the New York Giants alleging racial bias in hiring practices for head coaching jobs, the potential hiring of a clearly unqualified McCown would raise many more troubling questions, especially considering Flores himself is the other leading candidate for the job.

In this suddenly new climate, can the Texans still consider such an eyebrow-raising hire?

McCown’s candidacy speaks to the “buddy” system that denies coaches of color opportunities

Josh McCown is among three finalists for the Texans head coaching position
Josh McCown | Quinn Harris/Getty Images

The apparent driver of the McCown candidacy for Texans head coach is vice president of football operations Jack Easterby, who is close friends with McCown and is also close to general manager Nick Caserio. Easterby has apparently taken up prime real estate in Caserio’s ear, considering the two have long known each other, going back to their time together with the New England Patriots.

In a nutshell, Easterby wants his good buddy McCown to be the head coach of the Texans, and Caserio was inclined to follow Easterby’s advice, which is how a candidate with no coaching experience above the high school level gets two interviews for an NFL head coaching job, after also landing an interview with the Texans before last season’s hiring of David Culley.

But now, should the Texans actually go through with it and hire McCown in the wake of Flores’ lawsuit, the optics would not only be a public relations disaster for the team and the league, but it would also be a prime exhibit for Flores’ lawsuit, which claims minority candidate interviews are merely conducted for show and to satisfy the “Rooney Rule,” which mandates that teams interview minority candidates for head-coaching jobs.

It seems inconceivable now that the Texans, even if McCown is truly their top choice, can make that hire in this environment. But if not McCown, which way do the Texans turn?

The Texans could still hire Flores, despite the controversial nature of the lawsuit

While most of the focus of the Texans’ coaching search has centered on the ridiculous notion of hiring Josh McCown, the reality is that Flores has also been interviewed twice by the Texans, and Caserio has a longstanding relationship with Flores that also dates back to their time together with the Patriots.

Flores had been considered one of the top coaching candidates on the market this offseason after his controversial firing by the Miami Dolphins, which now looks even more suspect in light of allegations against owner Steven Ross in Flores’ lawsuit.

But even with all the attention thrust onto Flores and his legal battle against the league, it does not change the fact that he is a top coaching candidate and one that the Texans have clearly vetted and value.

NFL Network’s Ian Rapaport said Wednesday that despite the lawsuit, the Texans are still considering Flores for the job.

“The Houston Texans are a team that was extremely interested in him,” Rapoport said. “You [can] say ‘how would they hire him?’ The answer would be, they do what’s best for them, and worry about everything else after that. One thing I know about Nick Caserio is he will do what’s best for his football team and not really care about the ramifications or repercussions. So, potentially that could be in play.”

The Texans’ pool of candidates shrunk by one on Wednesday

Flores is one of three candidates remaining for the job after the Vikings swooped in and reached agreement with Los Angeles Rams offensive coordinator Kevin O’Connell on Wednesday.

Besides McCown and Flores, the Texans have interviewed Philadelphia Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon.

Gannon is somewhere between Flores and McCown in terms of actual coaching experience, having only been the Eagles’ defensive coordinator for one season. But the 39-year-old is considered much more of a legitimate head-coaching prospect than McCown.

But Flores is clearly the most qualified candidate of the bunch. Wouldn’t it be something if the Texans picked the most-qualified candidate with the most experience? Isn’t that ultimately what Flores’ lawsuit is asking owners and teams to do?

Stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference

RELATED: Former Patriots WR Deion Branch Backs Up Brian Flores Amid NFL Lawsuit: ‘It’s Not Fair and It’s Sad’