HOUSTON — It was a side of Bill O’Brien that we don’t often see.
The Texans coach spoke candidly from his heart Wednesday about the death of George Floyd and the state of race relations in America.
“To see discrimination of any kind against an innocent man who was murdered out of evil and ignorance, it simply breaks my heart and makes me angry,” O’Brien said. “We have to do better. It's so much deeper. It's 400 years of slavery. It's segregation. It's police brutality. It's not equal opportunities. We have to stand with the black community. We have to heed the call to action.”
O’Brien said Floyd and his family have been on his mind since the Houston native was killed at the hands of Minneapolis police.
“The more I read about George and think about George and how much he loved Houston and how much he loved his family,” O’Brien said. “And watching his family and how passionate and unbelievably strong they have been. The Floyd family has been an unbelievable example for this country.”
On Tuesday, O’Brien watched as 60,000 people of all races, religions and backgrounds marched in an emotional show of solidarity through downtown Houston.
“That’s what Houston is all about. Houston comes together, Houston unites, and Houston is uniting around the Floyd family. Our hearts go out to that family. Our hearts go out to the black community in our country -- and especially in this city.
“We stand by you and we are ready to do our part in this community. Everyone has to admit their mistakes along the way … What is going on in this country is wrong."
O’Brien said some of our leaders must also do better. He cited recent statements from former Presidents Bush and Obama, along with coaches Gregg Popovich and Brian Flores as examples of “true leaders.”
“Leadership without empathy is horrendous When you’re a leader, you have to have empathy for the people that you lead and what they’re going through,” O’Brien said.
The coach said empathy comes, in part, from conversations through the years with players and coaches who shared their stories about what it’s like to be black in America. It’s helped him better understand why players like Kenny Stills take a knee.
“Listening to their life stories has helped me cement my belief that we all must do whatever it takes to improve our country – especially as it relates to race relations
“We have to stand with the black community, and we have to heed the call to action.”
You can watch the entire statement from O’Brien here: