Brian Cushing always had a passion for football and the weight room.
After playing nine seasons for the Texans, the former starting inside linebacker will now have an opportunity to begin a new chapter in his career as the team's new assistant strength and conditioning coach.
"I'm looking forward to it," Cushing said in an interview with Texans Radio. "I just kind of dove into the opportunity and just excited to be back around the building, around the guys. Clearly, missed the game. To be back in any form or fashion was something I wanted to do."
Cushing was selected 15th overall in the 2009 NFL Draft and earned Associated Press Defensive Rookie of the Year honors. The Pro Bowl linebacker remains the team's all-time leading tackler with 664 tackles, logging three 100-tackle seasons (2009, 2011, 2015). Cushing played the final game of his NFL career in 2017 in a Texans uniform.
"Brian, as I expressed when he was playing for us here, is a guy that meant a lot to me as a head coach coming into this league," head coach Bill O'Brien said. "He was a captain for us. The way that he laid it on the line for us every time that he played, it was really cool to have conversations with him about wanting to transition to this part of his career and we're excited for him. Both of these things are starting at the bottom of the coaching deal and then working his way up and we'll see how it goes, but I know he's excited about the opportunity."
Cushing played four seasons under O'Brien (2014-17) before the team released him in February 2018. A veteran presence in the locker room, Cushing was known for his work ethic and effort on the field. He earned two second-team All-Pro nods (2009, 2011) and was named the Texans Ed Block Courage Award winner in 2013 after returning from a season-ending knee injury. Now just a season removed from the Texans locker room, Cushing will have a chance to coach a number of players he once called teammates.
"Clearly, the job comes first," Cushing said. "I have a job to do and I have to relay as best as I can to them. The guys on the team are great. They've always, I think, had an idea that I probably would get back into coaching in some form. So just seeing them in there, obviously, initially it's a lot of excitement, a lot of happiness, both ways. I'm just thrilled to be back there and see the guys. At the same time, I do have to bark some orders here and there and kind of get them in line but they are all respectful and just great guys all around."
Cushing finished his career with 42 tackles for loss, 13.5 career sacks, eight interceptions, 30 passes defensed, 57 quarterback hits, nine forced fumbles, one safety and 17 career double-digit tackle games.