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Losing the locker room is a death knell for any coach’s hopes of retaining his or her job. Same goes for a general manager. Or, in Bill O’Brien’s case, losing both jobs.
Leading up to the Houston Texans’ Week 3 game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, O’Brien and defensive end J.J. Watt — one of the faces of the franchise along with quarterback Deshaun Watson — had a heated exchange during practice, according to ESPN and the Houston Chronicle.
The blowup, which involved defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver, resulted in O’Brien losing the trust of his players and staff, according to reports. The Steelers defeated the Texans and, following another loss the next week to the then-winless Minnesota Vikings to drop to 0-4, team owner Cal McNair fired O’Brien, who went 52-48 in six-plus seasons.
“I don’t know, I’m not going to talk about what happened at practice and what conversations were had. Right now, we have a fresh start,” Watt told reporters Wednesday, adding that he holds “no ill will” toward O’Brien.
Romeo Crennel is serving as Houston’s interim head coach. Jack Easterby will fill O’Brien’s role as general manager.
Follow Chris Bumbaca on Twitter @BOOMbaca.