The Houston Texans surprised the NFL world on Monday when they traded star wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins to the Arizona Cardinals. There was a report in the immediate aftermath that the former first-round pick did not exactly get along with head coach Bill O'Brien, but it was not initially confirmed. However, NFL Network analyst Michael Irvin stunned many when he revealed that O'Brien had reportedly likened Hopkins to the late Aaron Hernandez.
Appearing on ESPN's Get Up, Irvin described a conversation that he had with Hopkins following Monday's trade. The receiver didn't initially want to discuss the perceived friction between him and his former coach, but Irvin eventually got the full story. He then explained that one of the biggest issues between the two was a meeting in which O'Brien reportedly mentioned Hernandez while discussing Hopkins' influence on the locker room. This comparison was reportedly made amid a "power struggle."
"I said, 'Tell me what happened in Houston,' and he went into it," Irvin said on Wednesday. "He told me, he said, 'Michael, it was a bit of a power struggle there' because Bill O'Brien thought, Coach O'Brien thought [Hopkins] had too much influence over the locker room. He called DeAndre Hopkins in a meeting to talk about this and, I kinda guess, hash it out.
"In that meeting, he started the meeting with telling DeAndre Hopkins this, that blew my mind when DeAndre told me this," Irvin continued. "He told DeAndre Hopkins, he said: 'Hey, the last time I had to have a meeting like this, it was with Aaron Hernandez.' I was like: 'What? He put in Aaron Hernandez in this meeting?' He said, 'Yes he did.' He said: 'Michael, that blew my mind that he would even bring that up. I've never been in any trouble. I don't know why would he equate me with Aaron Hernandez.'"
O'Brien originally joined the Patriots in 2007 as an offensive assistant. He eventually was promoted to offensive coordinator in 2011 and spent one year in the position prior to taking a job as Penn State's head coach. O'Brien's offense featured Hernandez in 2010 and 2011. The former Florida Gators tight end was later arrested in June 2013 on a charge of first-degree murder.
Following Irvin's appearance on ESPN, Hopkins did respond to this reported meeting with O'Brien. He did not confirm or deny that the head coach had brought up Hernandez. Instead, Hopkins simply said that he has respect for O'Brien.
"This is being blown way out of proportion. As I've said before, I enjoyed and am proud of my time with the Texans. I have the utmost respect for Coach O'Brien and that will not change. Now, I'm ready to play for the Cardinals," Hopkins wrote on Twitter.
The focus is squarely on the Houston Texans and whether or not O'Brien actually compared Hopkins — a player without legal issues — to someone that was allegedly linked to four murders. However, the newest member of the Arizona Cardinals is no longer concerned. He is heading to a fresh start with a new team.
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