The Houston Texans fired a respected media relations executive on Wednesday, causing an uproar among reporters who know her from covering the sport.
Longtime Texans captain J.J. Watt weighed in too, calling the firing a “difficult loss.”
The Texans fired vice president of communications Amy Palcic and told her she was no longer a “cultural fit,” ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported early Wednesday.
Palcic was the only woman to head an NFL team’s public relations department and won the 2017 Rozelle Award for the league’s best public relations staff as voted on by the Pro Football Writers of America.
Watt: ‘One of the absolute best’
Watt, a 10-year veteran, three-time NFL Defensive Player of the year, captain and face of the franchise, expressed regret over the Texans’ decision.
“Yeah, I think you can tell from universal response from people in the business what type of person Amy is and how well-liked she is,” Watt said, per the Houston Chronicle. “Extremely professional, good at her job. A massive helping hand with me during the hurricane, very difficult loss.”
He later tweeted a similar sentiment.
First & only woman to be head of PR for an NFL team and winner of the Rozelle Award for best PR Staff in the NFL.
Massive help in my hurricane relief efforts, community events and much more.
Whoever picks up @amypalcic will be getting one of the absolute best in the business.
— JJ Watt (@JJWatt) November 11, 2020
Scathing criticism pours in
Watt’s commentary — which wasn’t his first this year that can be construed as critical of the Texans — followed an outpouring of criticism for the firing, largely from NFL media and media relations professionals.
— Peter King (@peter_king) November 11, 2020
— Charean Williams (@NFLCharean) November 11, 2020
Shocked. Palcic is the consummate professional & always a pleasure to deal with. She respects our jobs and what we need while never compromising the objectives of her team. The NFL is better with her in it..... https://t.co/ywB6H67BYP
— Andrea Kremer (@Andrea_Kremer) November 11, 2020
Disgraceful. Amy is amazing. What are the Texans doing? https://t.co/Ujrq4JbeXJ
— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) November 11, 2020
I am so upset about this. There is no better person in the @NFL we work with than @amypalcic . She is not only a consummate pro, but great at her job and a good friend. This makes no sense. https://t.co/RYAndbUmR8
— Tracy Wolfson (@tracywolfson) November 11, 2020
To see the only female in a leadership role in NFL team PR let go is disappointing and disheartening.
— Gaby Moran (@gabsmoran) November 11, 2020
— Seth Markman (@tunasweasel) November 11, 2020
Team president addresses firing
Team president Jamey Rootes took credit for the decision Wednesday evening.
“It was definitely my call,” Rootes said, per The Houston Chronicle’s Aaron Wilson. “I gave her the role a number of years ago and just felt the need to make a change.
“Leadership is sometimes a very lonely job, and from time to time, you have to make a move that impacts people that you care about deeply. This was one of those unfortunate times.”
What does ‘cultural fit’ mean?
The Texans have undergone significant leadership changes since the 2018 death of team owner Bob McNair in 2018. They fired general manager Brian Gaine in 2019 after less than two years on the job.
Head coach Bill O’Brien took over general manager duties after Gaine’s firing. He was fired in October following an 0-4 start and a series of questionable personnel decisions.
The team is now run by CEO and chairman Cal McNair — Bob McNair’s son — alongside Rootes and executive vice president of football operations Jack Easterby.
Easterby, a Christian pastor, made the stunning rise from New England Patriots team chaplain and “character coach” to the top of an NFL team’s football operations when the Texans hired him in 2019.
Schefter’s report of Palcic’s dismissal didn’t detail what was meant by “cultural fit.” Palcic has tweeted in recent days in support of Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and re-tweeted criticism of President Donald Trump’s staff.
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