When people say professional football is a brutal business, they're talking about David Culley.
The first Black quarterback in Vanderbilt history, Culley entered coaching in 1978. He entered the NFL in 1994. From there, it would take 27 seasons, changing job six times, to finally land a long, long awaited NFL head job. And it was the worst in the NFL.
Culley walked into a Houston Texans organization beset by turmoil. The 2020 season was essentially a power struggle between then-head coach Bill O'Brien, chairman and CEO Cal McNair, and executive vice president Jack Easterby. The feeling at the time was that Culley was the only coach who wanted the job, or a coach so desperate to finally be a head man that he wouldn't threaten Easterby's hold on the organization, as O'Brien had.
The New York Times headline from Culley's Jan. 30 hiring: "Reeling Texans Hire David Culley as Head Coach."
And all that was before the first civil lawsuit was filed against franchise quarterback Deshaun Watson was filed, in March of last year. Soon after, close to two dozen women would accuse Watson of sexual misconduct. Needless to say, he did not play all season.
The Texans were expected to be bad before Watson rendered himself unplayable and untradeable. Given all that, the Texans still went 4-13 -- generally in line with how they were expected to perform.
It wasn't enough to buy Culley a second season.
He becomes the 17th one-and-done NFL head coach since 1994, this second this season, and the second in the AFC South, joining Jacksonville's Urban Meyer.
And, considering the circumstances, David Culley should be insulted to find himself on the same list as Urban Meyer. After 40-plus years of striving and climbing, it's got to be enough to make Culley wonder if being an NFL head coach is worth the struggle in the first place.
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