DeAndre Hopkins Slams His Relationship With Bill O’Brien And Says He Was Happy To Get Traded By Texans
The DeAndre Hopkins trade this NFL offseason is one of the biggest (and most shocking) in recent memory. Not only did the Houston Texans trade away, arguably, the top wideout in the league for nothing more than an injury-prone running back (David Johnson) and a couple mid-round draft picks to the Arizona Cardinals — which is just insane — but reports then surfaced that Hopkins and Texans head coach/general manager Bill O’Brien had a contentious relationship going back a few years.
Following the Hopkins trade, Hall of Famer Michael Irvin sort of detailed some of the reported things that O’Brien said in the past to his star wide receiver, and, just to add gas to the fire, rumors surfaced that the Texans were actually pretty upset with some of DeAndre Hopkins’s practice habits, and how he wasn’t acting like a good mentor to younger, less-talented players during the week.
The Hopkins deal was then defended by Bill O’Brien after the head coach went out and traded for Brandin Cooks — which got ripped apart by NFL fans — which led to even more speculation that Hopkins and his head coach just flat out couldn’t stand one another, and that the trade to the Cardinals had to be more personal than anything else. At least, that seemed to be what Hopkins suggested.
Recently talking to Sports Illustrated‘s Greg Bishop, the four-time Pro Bowl receiver described his time playing under O’Brien, and, as expected, he wasn’t too thrilled about it. Pretty much describing his relationship with the coach as nonexistent, Hopkins also mentioned that he was happy he got traded; take a look below at some excerpts from the SI story.
The wideout had spoken to his family throughout the season about his desire to start over, with a new team, and, more specifically, with a new boss. He believed that Bill O’Brien, the lone NFL coach to also hold a general manager title, had been shopping him for more than a year.
To the rest of a football-obsessed world, the idea that any team would unload an elite player in his prime—let alone one who had never carried a diva label, proposed to a kicking net or ripped his quarterback (even with the uncertainty under center that preceded Watson)—seemed ludicrous. But the trade that shocked the rest of the NFL came as no surprise to Hopkins.
That January afternoon at Arrowhead Stadium he tugged off his jersey, met with reporters and crisscrossed the corridors until he found his mother, Sabrina Greenlee. “We talked about this before the year,” she told him. “I know you guys had success as a team and you got further than in the past. But if you’re ready to go, I will be your No. 1 supporter.”
Anyone who knew Hopkins, his story and his relationship with O’Brien would understand, he thought. At that point, though, few did. His Houston tenure was over, despite the teammates he loved, the quarterback he bonded with and the city that had become his adopted home. What Hopkins knew was, “that asking for a little raise would lead to the outcome that I got,” he says, “which is the outcome that I wanted.”
Hopkins took the call from O’Brien while working out with Julio Jones in Los Angeles. Their initial reaction? “We both smiled,” Hopkins says. The coach adopted a businesslike approach for the brief exchange, his tone and message exactly what the receiver had expected, given the tenor of their interactions over the past six seasons. “There was no relationship,” Hopkins says. “Make sure you put that in there. There’s not a lot to speak about.”
So, for every single NFL fan who couldn’t imagine how a guy like DeAndre Hopkins could get traded, there’s the reason: Because Bill O’Brien seemed to have something against him. Hopkins got what he claims to have wanted, but it’s still incredible that it actually happened.
As for that whole Irvin story about “baby mamas” and the apparent comparisons to Aaron Hernandez during a meeting between O’Brien and Hopkins a few years ago, the SI story dived into that a bit, too, and, unsurprisingly, referenced the lack of relationship between the two men as a reason why the wideout even told the story to Irvin in the first place.
But in that meeting Hopkins told Irvin that, in reference to Hopkins’s friends, O’Brien brought up another player he had coached, former Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez, the convicted murderer who hanged himself in prison. O’Brien also used the term “baby mothers” to refer to the mothers of Hopkins’s three children, two boys and a girl. (He is not married.) O’Brien confidants say they doubt the coach used those exact words.
But because the men lacked depth in their relationship, the sentiments that O’Brien expressed didn’t come across as genuine concerns for Hopkins and his well-being. They seemed like answers to why they had no relationship in the first place. They felt like judgments, from a coach who didn’t seem to care about him—plus the outdated contract.
It’s all pretty fascinating stuff here from DeAndre Hopkins, who seems happy and content with being moved by the Texans. And, as we’ve seen in sports before, when egos get involved and coaches and star players can’t coexist, it turns ugly in a flash — which seems to have happened a couple years ago between Bill O’Brien and Hopkins, ultimately leading to the trade this offseason.