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Paid the Cost to be the Boss

It appears Charlie Casserly, the much maligned general manager of the Houston Texans, must have figured he did not have enough pressure and attention on his struggling franchise already, so Wednesday he added a little fuel to the fire.

Casserly told newspaper reporters and national radio personalities that the Texans had no intention of drafting Vince Young and that the team was set on taking either explosive USC tailback Reggie Bush or the rising-through-the-draft-faster-than-you-can-say-“Houston We Have a Problem” North Carolina St. defensive end Mario Williams.

Many pro scouts have been saying for months that Bush may be the most gifted player to come through the draft in the past 30 years. He would add instant offense to the Texans and help keep pressure off of David Carr. Considering fans and observers of the NFL had been calling the race for last place in the NFL last season the “Reggie Bush Sweepstakes,” it would not be considered a shock or major disappointment to Texans’ fans if the Trojan went to Houston.

But Mario Williams?

One unnamed NFL scout who covered three of Williams’ games last season said of the imposing end, “If they hadn't told me to watch Williams, I wouldn't have noticed him."

That is not the kind of player on whom you rest much of the future of your franchise. Number one picks don’t come around often, unnless you’re the Orlando Magic. The Texans have a chance to make a permanent mark on their franchise and its legacy. The best way to do that is to bring in a player of unparralleled skill and charisma. Those two guys are Young and Bush. Williams should not even enter the conversation.

Deciding between Young and Bush is a game of politics and public relations as much as it is about forecasting the young men’s football futures. Young would spark ticket sales and drive interest in the franchise through the roof. It is quite possible that, given his amazing and unique abilities, he could change the way the position of quarterback is played at the next level. And, much like Bush, he is a proven winner.

But, unlike Bush, he is also a proven leader. Young single-handedly willed his team to victory in two of the most spectacular performances in college bowl history. He is the leader in the locker room and on the field and possesses a rare talent in getting every single guy on a team to believe in him. 

And did I mention he was from Houston?

But the Texans decided to lock-up Carr with a contract extension earlier in the off-season. Young would be relgated to the bench for his first couple of years, and his place is on the football field. That leaves the Texans with Bush, a back who should be making regular trips to Hawaii beginning next January, and Williams, a stud lineman who has hardly proven himself as a game-changing player. 

It sems certain the choice will be Bush. But Casserly and the Texans will be under much scrutiny in the coming season. Had they gnoe with Young, their attendance and revenue would have received a boost and they would have had everyone in town behind them in their choice. But being the boss means you have to make the tough decisions, and they can still look like geniueses and avoid a public lynching if Bush shows up and he team can produce a .500 win season. 

The problem is, if Bush becomes a very good player and Young becomes a great player, the loss of the better talent will be compounded by the fact that he is a hometown talent whom everyone worships. 

In taking Bush (or Williams, yea right) over Young, the stakes will be raised for an ownership and management that have made a slew of bad personnell decisions over the past few years. By excluding Young from their list of candidates before draft day they bring even more attention to themselves and their confidence in their pick.

Passing on Young is the move they believe will make them winners in the short and long runs, but it could prove disastrous. If the Texans were to fail with Young, people would be a little more forgiving. If they fail with Bush or Williams, this could, fairly or not, prove to be the worst decision in franchise histry, past and future.

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