The Texans introduced Rick Smith as the team's new general manager Monday. Following are comments from Smith, owner Bob McNair and head coach Gary Kubiak regarding the hire.
**Texans owner Robert McNair
(opening statement) **"First of all I thank you for coming out this afternoon. This is a wonderful time for us. We have gone through a period in which we have built a foundation, we've made a start and we've had an introduction into the NFL. We've had some great people working with us and we appreciate very much all that they have done. Dom Capers and of course Charley Casserly in helping get us started. And I feel like we're sort of like the situation with NASA, where we have liftoff and now we're ready for the ignition of the second stage. That is what this is all about.
"The first part of this of course was when we brought in Gary Kubiak and Gary put together a fine staff and they are all working very hard and very well together. The second part of it was to bring in a general manager. We have really looked far and wide across the country and looked at all the teams and all of the personnel that were out there. We interviewed some outstanding people but at the end of the day we came to the conclusion that Rick Smith was the man for us.
"Rick has a terrific background; number one he has worked with coach Kubiak, which is important to us. This is a team effort and we need to have people that can work well together. Rick has been a player, he has been a coach, he has been a scout and most recently he has been an assistant general manager at Denver. He has done an outstanding job in all of these areas. He is a young man, 36 years old and I want to keep him looking young, I don't want him to start looking old. He has had a tremendous amount of experience and he has great energy and enthusiasm.
"He has a lovely wife and child and we're delighted, Tiffany, to have you all here. I think that we have a winning team that has been put together. We have met today and we've discussed responsibilities and how Rick would work with coach Kubiak and Dan Ferens on contract administrations and negotiations and the salary cap and everybody is on the same page and we're all excited. We're ready to move ahead and we've promised that we're going to have a winner for Houston and I'll say I'm committed to that. We are going to win and we're going to have a great, great time doing it and the city is going to love it. I appreciate the opportunity to bring together fine people like this to work with us and help us with this effort.
"Rick, congratulations on your new position with us and you have my full support and the support of our total organization and we look forward to having you help us as we continue this journey and hold on for the ignition of the second stage. Congratulations."
**General manager Rick Smith
(opening statement)** "It's a little bit thicker down here in Houston than it was in Denver but I think I'll get used to it a little bit. First thing I want to do is I want to thank Mr. McNair for this opportunity. This man is committed to bringing a championship team to the city of Houston and it is very apparent. When I came down for the first interview and had a chance to interact with him on a personal basis and its obvious he wants to bring a winner here. He's very committed and I want to thank you for the opportunity to join your franchise and bring a winner to the city.
"The second person I want to thank is Gary (Kubiak). I think this might become a reoccurring theme today, but I'm so excited about this opportunity, particularly the opportunity to work with a guy like Gary, who is just a quality individual and heck of a football coach and a guy that I really, really believe in and I know that his players will play for him and I know that he will put a quality football team on the field so I'm just excited to work with him.
"I want to thank Pat Bolin and Mike Shanahan for giving me an opportunity and showing me what a winning organization looks like. It was a very valuable experience to work in a place like Denver and that organization for as long as I did in the various capacities that I served. And I'm just really appreciative of what they both did for me, particularly what Mike has done for my career. He has been a great friend and I appreciate his friendship as well as everything that he has done for my career.
"When you spend ten years in an organization you develop relationships and friendships and hopefully that is what we're going to establish here; we're going to have consistency and longevity. When you do that like I did in Denver, I like to just thank the whole organization from the secretaries to the athletic training staff to the PR staff to the equipment staff, video, everybody, because everybody had something to do with me development as a person as well as a coach and personnel evaluator. So I'd like to thank the entire Bronco organization.
"The one person I'd like to single out who has probably been the most important person in my career is a guy by the name of Bobby Turner, who, when I was a young guy at Purdue University, saw something in me to convince Jim Colletto to give me an opportunity as a graduate assistant and then hire me as a very young coach to coach the secondary there at Purdue. Then talk to coach Shanahan and on his recommendation Mike hired me sight unseen. So Bobby has been instrumental to my career and I'd just like to thank him and his family.
"I'd like to thank my wife, Tiffany, who has become the rock in my foundation in this crazy world of the NFL. We have been on a roller coaster ride here in the last few years, and he has just been a foundation for me so I appreciate that as well as my parents and my family for all their support.
"It's a difficult and maybe even daunting task to start a franchise. It's very complicated and very challenging and I think that I would be remiss if I didn't acknowledge the job that Charley Casserly and Dom Capers did here, in laying the foundation for this franchise. I think it's important to recognize that there is a foundation that we're going to continue to build on and we're going to work hard to get that done. I just wanted to make sure that they understood that we understand what the job that they did and we appreciate the job that they both did.
"We are going to work. There are no geniuses in the NFL; the only real genius that I know of is Albert Einstein. I think he was asked what genius is and he said its one percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration. That's what it takes, we're going to work and we're going to roll our sleeves up. I worked hard for this ring, but I'm looking forward to taking this ring off and rolling up our sleeves and getting after the job and going about the business of making this franchise a winner and bringing a winner to this organization.
"My father was a coach and coached us when we were very young and I have a brother who is a couple years older than I am and my father was coaching his little league team of nine and ten year olds. I 'm a little seven year old and I'm out there running around with him. My knee pads are on my shins because I'm so small and I'm just running around and they are just letting me stay out around everybody. The first game of the season we scored a touchdown and my dad turns around and he says 'Ricky, I right, 22 dive and you are the fullback'. I'm seven years old playing with all these nine and ten year olds and we call the play and I run the play and the guy hits me and my helmet turns this way and the ball flies that way and I get up and I'm so excited about the fact that I had an opportunity to go in and run the football. Periodically through that season he allowed me to go in and run the extra points as the fullback.
"I have been preparing for this job since the day that I strapped that helmet on. I have been the youngest a lot of times and it's never been a problem for me, in fact, I've always looked at it as a challenge. I have never been complacent and I've always liked to push the envelop e and I'm always trying to grow. I'm excited about this opportunity. This is going to be a team effort from ownership to coaches to personnel to business operations, everybody, we're going to forge ahead as a team and I'm so excited about this opportunity and so excited to bring a championship to our city."
(on the pressure of being a black GM)** "I don't know that I look at it so much as pressure. I think at the outset it's important to state that Mr. McNair is a man that is committed to equal opportunity and certainly I don't think I got this job because I'm an African-American. I think I got this job because I'm the best person for the job and I think that's why he hired me. That being said, I'm not naive and I do recognize the importance. I'm standing on a lot of people's shoulders. A lot of people who worked hard for me to have this opportunity and I recognize that and I carry that. I'm going to continue to do what I've always done in my life and try to be an example to young kids. I think this is a great example. For any of those kids that are out there, trying to do whatever they want to do with their life, here's a perfect example to say that you can do it."
(on why he left coaching for personnel) "For a lot of reasons. My coaching career was going fairly well and obviously, I coached in the Big Ten Conference, I coached in the NFL, we won a championship and my career was advancing fairly quickly. I sat down and tired to make a decision to see if head coaching and that track was something that I wanted and for a lot of reasons I decided that I liked the bigger picture a little bit better. I liked putting the team together a little better and obviously I wanted to stay in the NFL. I had a talk with coach (Mike) Shanahan and we both decided that the general manager track would be a little more in line with what I wanted to do so I switched."
(on his working relationship with Gary Kubiak and Dan Ferens) "I think all of us are on the same page. I think in these next few days we're going to sit down. Like Mr. McNair indicated, we've already sat down. It's up to both Gary and I and we both know, we have a pretty good idea from working together for 10 years what we're looking for, but we still need to sit down and talk about the specifics. Once we do that, we'll put a plan together from a personnel standpoint and go about the practice of selecting players that will help us."
(on whether he will be at mini-camp this week)"Absolutely, we've got to meet the staff and get to know everyone in the organization and that's one of the first things we've got to do is evaluate this football team. I need to see what Gary thinks the strengths and weaknesses are and see where we are and formulate a game plan and see where we need to go."
**Head coach Gary Kubiak
(on the give and take that will exist with Rick Smith)** "There's no doubt about that. You're not going to be successful in this business if you don't have people around you that are willing to give their opinion on players and on coaching staffs. When you're putting a staff together, that's what you're looking for. You're looking for guys that will battle you as a coach, that will help you get better and help the football team get better and that's one of the reasons that I feel so good about this guy right here because I've been with him. I've battled him and he's battled me in a lot of situations and made me a better football coach because sometimes I get a little bit of tunnel vision on some players and things and he would help me see another side. That's the way we're going to get where we all want to go as an organization and that's when nobody's turf is untouchable. We need to all work together. We need to all listen and that's how we're going to get better and get the Texans to where we want to go. Like I said, that's one of the reasons why I feel so good about this guy right here."
**General manager Rick Smith
(on his draft strategy) **"I think what we're going to do is take the best of what we did in Denver, take the best of what was done here in Houston and some new, fresh ideas from other places and try to formulate a game plan to make sure that on draft day we've got all the information we need on all the players in order to make good selections."
**Head coach Gary Kubiak
(on what he told Mr. McNair that he would like about Rick Smith)** "First off, we had three wonderful candidates come through that all did a super job. But when I talked to Bob about Rick, I said first off, from personnel standpoint we're looking for someone to evaluate players and do an excellent job in personnel and this guy is as good as I've ever been around. The icing on the cake, sort of speak, is the fact that I think this guy is a tremendous leader of people and when you're talking about a big organization, there's a lot of people's paths that you cross every day from a business standpoint to the business side. This guy when he walks in a room, he lights it up. He gets the best out of everybody that he's around and I think that's extremely important."
**General manager Rick Smith
(on why he thinks Gary Kubiak will be successful)** "First of all, I think the world of Gary as a man and as a human being, and I think he's an excellent football coach. I think he's well-prepared, and I think he's been prepared, and I think he's already showing it. I think you can watch practice, and I know this not even having been around, but I would suspect that the tempo of practice is a little bit different; the attitude is a little bit different. Gary has a unique ability to endear himself to his players but command their respect that he needs in order to get them to do what they need to do in order to be successful. I think the world of him, and I always said that if I ever got a shot to be a general manager and hire a head coach, I would've hired him in a heartbeat, so it's ironic that he got his shot first, and I'm just happy that we're together. But this guy's going to be a tremendous, tremendous football coach."
(on his core beliefs that go into building a roster) "I think that number one, scouts, we tend to value height, weight and speed. We've got position parameters that each individual position needs in order to fit into our system, so that's the first thing you look for—you look for height, weight and speed. Is a guy fast enough and big enough to play a particular position? But then, the most important thing I think that you look for is what I call football character. Does a guy have passion to play the game? Does he love to play the game of football? Sometimes a guy won't have the ideal height, weight and speed, but he's got that special something about him that you can see, and that's something that you evaluate as a personnel guy. So it's a combination there. It's physical attributes as well as passion and intelligence, character—we want to make sure that we put high-character players on our football field, because that right there, at the end of the day, in the fourth quarter, those are the guys that you're going to be able to count on. So that's what we'll look for."
**Texans owner Bob McNair
(on why he elected to hire a first-time head coach and general manager this time after hiring veterans at each position originally) ** "Well, I think we're at a different stage of our development, and initially I think we needed the experience. I think it was more important to us because we had nothing. There were no employees, no players, nothing. So you're starting from scratch. I think we're at the point now where we've been doing this for a few years. I'm no longer a rookie, and I think we have a better idea as to how we want to go about accomplishing our goals.
"I think that there were veteran general managers out there, and I guess we could've brought in one of the veteran general managers and he probably would've been trying to teach me how he wanted to run things instead of my teaching Rick how I wanted to run things. I think I like the latter better than the former.
"But I think we're at that stage of our development where we've got a lot of good things in place, and we don't need a whole lot of new things, so I think now we need people who are going to work together, who are smart people, who understand the game and who can work together. I think we've got that kind of a group now, and I think they're the kind of guys—I think either Gary or Rick touched on it—who are flexible, who are willing to—you know, we have new technology today. We have a lot more information today than we had 20 or 30 years ago, and we have to make sure that we're exploiting that, that we're using it properly. And these guys are ready to do that because they're young and they're still willing to reach out and do things that are different. They're not concerned about protecting their turf. They're willing to try things, and if it doesn't work, we'll change some of the things, some of the relationships. We want to do what works for the Houston Texans, and that's what we're all committed to, and that's why we're going to be successful."
**General manager Rick Smith
(on the two or three Denver players that he recommended to Mike Shanahan that he is most proud of)** "Hmm, let's see. I would say the two guys that come to mind, the first one would be a guy by the name of Bertrand Berry, who is a defensive end for the Arizona Cardinals now. Bert was out of work, he had been what we call a 'tweener' in our league, if you're familiar with that. He just never really found a home. I think Indianapolis had tried him at both outside linebacker as well as defensive end, and so he had found himself on the street.
"I had done some evaluation, and I brought him in for a workout, and I sat him down in front of me after the workout and I said, 'You're talented enough to play in this league.' We talked about it and he said he wanted to be a defensive end, so I told him, 'You're a defensive end, and that's what you're going to play here.' And he just grew and developed as a player. We were not able to keep him as an unrestricted free agent; he signed a big deal with Arizona, and that was well-deserved, and he went on to earn a Pro Bowl berth the next year, so I'm really proud of him.
"Another kid, and it's a similar type of story, is guy named Nick Ferguson, who is our starting strong safety for the Broncos now, and Nick was a guy who just worked his butt off and played in Canada and was cut. He actually was cut from the New York Jets and I did a little evaluation on him and liked him and called his agent. His agent's Pat Dye down in Atlanta. I called Pat and said, 'Hey, this kid's got a chance. Let me bring him in and work him out.' And he said, 'Well, he's actually kind of given up on it. He's going into coaching and he's doing an internship down in NFL Europe.' I said, 'I'm going down to NFL Europe's training camp, so I'll work him out when I'm down there.'
"And I get down there and it's—I don't know if you've been to training camp, but the fields aren't the best, and so the grass was thick and it was raining and it's hot and muggy—and his workout wasn't the best. In fact, if I had to hire him off his workout, I would not have done it, and I told him that. But what I saw on tapes—one of the things I was saying earlier—was that intuitive thing that Nick had. He's a physical player, he's a smart player. I saw enough on film to take a chance, and he has done an outstanding job for us there in Denver as a backup and as a starter. So those two guys really, because they were guys who were out of it, but there was something in them that kept them going."
**Head coach Gary Kubiak
(on how he and Smith will resolve conflicts when they disagree) ** "I think we both have to listen. We have to listen and work through situations, and the bottom line is we have to come to a conclusion on what's best for the Houston Texans and our football team. That's the only way we're going to get to where we want to go, is if we're willing to sit there and talk to coaches, Rick, trainers, everybody involved. And if we approach each day that way, then we've got a chance. We've got a good thing going right now; we've got a lot of good work going on and a lot of good people doing it, and the players are working hard and we've just got to continue in that direction."