HOUSTON (April 26, 2006) -- Sorry, Vince, but you won't be playing for your hometown team.
The Houston Texans will take Southern Cal running back Reggie Bush or North Carolina State defensive end Mario Williams with the first pick in the 2006 draft (April 29-30), general manager Charley Casserly said.
The Texans dashed the hopes of Texas fans who have been clamoring for the team to pick Vince Young, a Houston native who led the Longhorns to a Rose Bowl win and the national championship over Bush and USC.
"We came to the conclusion that to draft a quarterback, whether it be Vince Young, Matt Leinart or Jay Cutler, was not the best thing for this football team," Casserly said. "The best thing for this football team was to use the first pick in this draft to add a premier player at another position."
Casserly said part of the decision involved contacting other teams to see if they wanted to trade for the top pick.
"Right now we have nobody interested in that first pick, so we have gone ahead and begun negotiations with two players," Casserly said.
The public fervor for the team to pick Young hasn't died down since he declared for the NFL draft four days after his 467-yard performance in the Rose Bowl. The latest example came when a local businessman bought a full-page ad in Sunday's Houston Chronicle imploring Texans owner Bob McNair to draft Young.
Casserly agreed the pressure from fans to pick Young has been unprecedented.
"People have asked me to think of a comparable situation. I can't think of one," Casserly said.
He had many glowing things to say about Young and said he understands the "fans' passion," but the Texans decided he wasn't right for the them.
"When you're on this side of the table, the only thing that counts is winning," Casserly said. "You've got to do what you think is the best way to win, so you've got to eliminate all of those outside influences ... because at the end of the day all anybody cares about is the score on Sunday.
"We didn't think it was the right decision to win the most games for us."
Casserly knows that fans can be a fickle sort and that allegiances can change overnight.
"We can't let ourselves be influenced by public pressure," he said. "You can never do that. Public pressure can sway."
But is he prepared for the potential backlash if the team passes on not just Young, but Heisman Trophy winner Bush, as well?
"If that happens, then I'll be the first one to defend Mario Williams," he said. "What people should understand is that if we take Mario Williams and if somebody doesn't like it, then I'm right here and I'm the guy to yell at. Nobody else. Boo me. Don't boo Mario Williams."