According to Bill O’Brien, there’s a lot to like about his job as head coach of the Houston Texans and the NFL.
Here are a few reasons:
Walking in the locker room after a win; the preparation; coaching a legend like J.J. Watt and up-and-coming one like DeShaun Watson; running onto the field for the start of a game, seeing a player “get it” and competing against the likes of Bill Belichick.
“I got the best job in the world,” said the former Andover resident, now in his fifth season with the Texans.
Those aformentioned exhilirating experiences, though, are easy pickings. Any fan could predict most of those.
O’Brien adds another to the list:
The month between mandatory mini-camp and when he and his other Texans coaches report for duty for the coming season.
“The best thing about the NFL is the month off,” said O’Brien. “Not many occupations do that. For coaches, all of us, it allows us to reconnect with our families.”
For the O’Briens of Houston, that is about two weeks, the end of the baseball season for Michael, who threw a no-hitter at the famous Cooperstown Tournament in mid-June.
“It’s his favorite sport,” said O’Brien. “Mine was football growing up. I love watching him play. He’s tough.”
And the last two weeks of that month are spent in Dennisport, where they have a summer home.
“My family had a place in Harwich when we were growing up,” said O’Brien. “(My wife) Colleen and I decided we wanted a place, too, and we both live the Cape. It’s beautiful.”
But this month, uninterupted, with family is really what makes it special.
Bill and Colleen’s eldest son, Jack, is severely disabled. This month is a time to bond with him, too.
“It means a lot to be around Jack so much,” said O’Brien.
The “month” had a little extra special sauce on it. It was the 20th wedding anniversary for O’Brien and his wife on July 11. They spent a night in Boston, at the Boston Harbor Hotel, the place of their rehearsal dinner.
In fact, extra, uninterupted, time with Mrs. O’Brien is mandatory.
“I realize how lucky I am to have Colleen,” said O’Brien. “This is not an easy life, especially for the wife, who bears most of the load at home.
“Young coaches ask me about the balance of coaching and having a family, and I tell them you’ve got to find the right wife,” said O’Brien. “Not only one who understands football, but sports. I was texting my two brothers that Wednesday was mine and Colleen’s twentieth anniversary and each texted me back immediately with the same message: ‘Thank God for Colleen.’ “
O’Brien’s month ends on Monday. He heads back to Boston and then on Houston the next day.
Colleen and the boys remain in Dennisport until mid-August before heading back for the start of school on Aug. 20. Her parents spend a lot of time there, too.
“I won’t see them for about a month, which is never easy,” said O’Brien. “But I talk to them everyday. That’ll never change. But we really have had a great time the last month. Colleen likes to call say ‘It’s the time daddy re-enters the family.’ She’s right.”
You can email Bill Burt at email@example.com.
O’Brien on high expectations
The expectations are different for Bill O’Brien’s Houston Texans. After three consecutive 9-7 seasons, which included a pair of AFC South division titles and playoff appearances, the Texans fell to 4-12 in 2017.
There were extenuating circumstances: Injuries. Lots and lots of key injuries (see J.J. Watt, DeShaun Watson etc.).
Las Vegas bookmakers believe the Texans could be a force in 2018.
The Texans are listed as tied for sixth overall at several casinos and on-line bookmakers with 18-to-1 odds to win the Super Bowl (The Pats are No. 1 at 5-to-1).
A big year for you and your team, Mr. O’Brien?
“People always say that,” said O’Brien. “Every year is different. Every game is different. The odds don’t matter. This is a very challenging league. To be honest, that’s what makes it fun.
“You are challenged every week, against different players and coaches,” said O’Brien. “We have a great bunch of guys on our team like J.J. Watt, (Benadrick) McKinney, DeShaun (Watson) and (Whitney) Mercilus. And we have some new guys who have been great, like (Tyrann) Mathieu. The bottom line is we have to get better. We know that. That’s our goal.”
The Texans open against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium on Sunday, Sept. 9 at 1 p.m.