David Carr, quarterback for the Houston Texans, doesn't “hang out” with his offensive linemen, John McClain said on the radio the other day.
McClain, resident pro football expert at the Houston daily, said he was chatting with NFL Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Montana about Carr when Montana asked if Carr socialized with the big guys who are paid to protect him.
The short answer is no. Carr goes to work early and leaves in the afternoon. This apparently is not good.
When McClain said he went over to the Houston Texans practice facility to tell Carr about his conversation with Montana, Carr already had gone home.
The theory, evidently, is that less socializing with teammates equals a lesser quality of that elusive “team chemistry” one hears so much about. That must not have been a high priority when Houston's NFL franchise decided to make Carr the quarterback. When the Texans spent their first pick in the team's inaugural college football draft, they knew what they were getting – a Dudley Do-Right.
Carr is religious, devoted to his wife and kids and attends Bible study classes. His dad, who moved to Sugar Land to be near his son, used to come to every one of his boy's Texans practice sessions, until the team finally told him, politely I'm sure, to butt out.
Now that the Texans are mired in a nightmare season, with only one win to show for all their carefully laid plans to build a team from the ground-up, the professional experts seem to be hinting that nice guys don't necessarily succeed in the blood 'n guts world of pro football.
Texans owner Bob McNair, it has been said, wants solid citizens on his team. It's good for public relations and apparently reflects the owner's personal values. Fair enough. It's his team.
But now that the team is struggling, and may very well end up with the worst record in the league this year, there's a feeling amongst some members of the disgruntled sporting public that they wouldn't mind having a quarterback who showed up once-in-a-while with a faint whiff of bourbon on his breath, a la Kenny Stabler or Dante Pastorini, who both once played quarterback for the late and almost-great Houston Oilers.
Along the same lines, Richard Justice, in his blog for the Houston daily, observed the other day that the Texans players essentially are colorless, drab fellows who never provide the local sports media with quippy quotes.
This, according to Justice, is just the way Mr. McNair & Co. wants it. Don't rock the boat, don't give the media anything remotely scandalous to harrumph about, etc.
That's fine if you win. But it's a cardinal sin, in the eyes of the media, if you're both a loser and don't have the decency to provide fodder for lively copy.
Oh, if only the local pro footballers had a little more Carl Mauch in them. Mauch, the center on the O.A. “Bum” Phillips-led Oilers, was always ready with the outrageous line, as was Bum, the most beloved coach in Houston's 40-something year pro football history.
Dom Capers, so far, is not beloved. You have to win to be beloved. Capers is remarkably composed and measured when he gets cornered by the media, which is happening with alarming regularity these days. He never blows his stack, never utters off-color language and never reflects the remotest level of frustration. If that isn't bad enough, he doesn't bother to wear colorful head apparel like Bum did.
Capers, in fact, is the grown-up embodiment of his franchise quarterback. A Dudley Do-Right. Not untalented, mind you, but maybe a just a little too nice for this business of professional football.
Of course, the theory on Carr falls apart when you consider the likes of Roger Staubach, a Dudley Do-Right if there ever was one, and Bart Starr, another fly-right QB.
But Staubach had Tom Landry, who possessed a keen football intellect under his fedora, and Starr had Vince Lombardi, who was a bit of a maniac.
So maybe that's the problem. It's not that David Carr is too nice, too religious and too family-oriented. But when his personality is combined with the calm, in-control, public relations-conscious Dom Capers, it's a tepid combination.
Maybe, and this is just a theory, Carr needs to start drinking or Capers needs to start wearing a fedora, or acting more like Lombardi.