HOUSTON (Jan. 2, 2006) -- Dom Capers was fired as coach of the Texans after Houston finished the season with the league's worst record, players said Jan. 2.
Capers told the players at a morning meeting he had been let go. He was accompanied by owner Bob McNair, several players said.
"It was emotional; it was difficult," said offensive lineman Steve McKinney. "I felt sorry for him."
The Texans will keep general manager Charley Casserly, a person close to the organization told The Associated Press. The Texans planned to make the announcement Jan. 2, according to the person, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Houston's season ended with a 20-17 overtime loss in San Francisco that left the Texans with a 2-14 record -- the worst in the team's four-season history.
Capers had one year remaining on a five-year contract worth $9.5 million. Asked about his status after the game, he said: "Those decisions are beyond my control. I always tell the players to focus on the things you can control."
He called the team's season "extremely difficult."
"You don't want to have years like this," Capers said. "I told the guys, you have to learn from this."
After the game, McNair said he would "make some announcements (Monday) of where we're going in the future."
The firing would mark the second time the 55-year-old Capers has been released from an expansion team in its fourth season. He was let go by the Carolina Panthers in 1998.
His plan for building for team worked well until this season. The Texans won seven games last season after winning five in 2003 and four in their first season.
When asked to grade his performance with the Texans, Capers said: "That decision is not for me to make. I felt like we made some progress the first three years and then this was a disappointing year."
"There's no question in my mind we played better in the second half of the season than the first half," he added. "But we haven't won football games and that's your job."
Houston opened this season 0-6 before beating Cleveland and then losing six more. The Texans defeated Arizona and then lost their last two games. They own the top pick in the April draft.
Capers was hailed as an expansion wizard after leading Carolina to seven wins in its first season and the NFC title game in the team's second year in 1996. The feat earned him NFL Coach of the Year honors.
Things went downhill from there and Capers was fired after the Panthers went 4-12 in 1998. When the Texans hired him in 2001, he said he hoped fans would be patient as they slowly built the program after he failed in Carolina following early success.
"You have to be careful and stay with your step-by-step program," Capers told the AP in 2001. "Then, you have to have the courage to stick with it and not sacrifice the future for the quick fix."
He worked for two years as defensive coordinator for the Jacksonville Jaguars before he was hired by the Texans in January 2001.
His first pro job came when he joined Jim Mora's staff with Philadelphia in the USFL. Capers made it to the NFL in 1986 when he went with Mora to New Orleans. He became defensive coordinator at Pittsburgh in 1992 before he was hired in Carolina in 1995.