Houston Texans executive vice president of football operations Jack Easterby reportedly used stereotypes about Black forenames when addressing the team during a Saturday evening meeting in 2019.
Jenny Vrentas and Greg Bishop of Sports Illustrated relayed the report as part of a longer examination of Easterby's rise within the Texans organization and the ensuing fallout:
"Easterby also began occasionally addressing the team on the nights preceding games, turning the meeting room into his pulpit. But some of his efforts to relate to the majority-Black roster occasionally failed him; in some cases he even caused offense.
"During one Saturday-night meeting in 2019, Easterby, who is white and cites Martin Luther King Jr. as a role model, asked players to think back to when they were growing up 'playing ball with Ray-Ray and Ki-Ki and them,' according to three people in the room for these meetings. Some saw the language as more of a misguided attempt to fit in—players often called Easterby a 'try-hard.'
"But at least one person was bothered enough by what they saw as a use of Black stereotypes that they debated saying something to Easterby. (They decided not to take on that conversation with a game the next day.) A few weeks later, one of the sources says, Easterby used similar language again."
Easterby worked as an intern with the Jaguars and a chaplain and character coach with the New England Patriots before former Texans head coach and GM Bill O'Brien, who had been the Patriots' offensive coordinator, brought him to Houston. That's where he became involved in football operations.
Per Vrentas and Bishop, Easterby was promoted to his current position in January, overseeing most areas of the team's football operations, including strength and conditioning, equipment, video and player development. In his role as GM, O'Brien was responsible for the coaching staff and roster.
One colleague told Vrentas and Bishop: "Jack was basically doing everything O'Brien was doing, except for calling plays."
Since O'Brien was fired in October, Easterby has also taken a bigger role, with team chairman Cal McNair saying he did "a great job picking up [GM] responsibilities in addition to his other duties."
Easterby's alleged comments don't mark the first time a high-ranking member of the Texans' organization has been accused of making racial stereotypes.
Late Texans chairman Bob McNair reportedly said that the league "can't have the inmates running the prison" during a meeting with league governors and brass regarding players' protests during the national anthem in 2017, per ESPN's Don Van Natta Jr. and Seth Wickersham.