Oftentimes when an athlete or coach leaves a team after a period of time, they thank their former fans in the form of an ad taken out in a local newspaper.
But if they’ve left the team with a feeling of bitterness or dissent, an ad in the paper is likely the furthest thing from their mind.
But in the case of Gary Kubiak, those rules simply didn’t apply.
On Sunday, just two days after he was fired from his job as head coach of the Houston Texans, Kubiak placed a full-page ad in the Houston Chronicle, thanking both the Texans and their fans for a great experience.
To simply say that this was a class act by Kubiak and his wife doesn’t even close to giving it justice. It’s completely against the grain for any player or coach to publicly thank their team within days of being unceremoniously dumped by them.
Kubiak was a career backup quarterback for the Denver Broncos before embarking on his coaching career. He became well-known as an outstanding quarterbacks coach for several seasons with the San Francisco 49ers and Denver Broncos, helping both Steve Young and John Elway along the way.
Kubiak would become the offensive coordinator for the Broncos under head coach Mike Shanahan, a job he would hold until the Texans came calling. Looking for a head coach, Kubiak was given the job in 2006.
While his overall regular season record of 61-62 may not look all that flashy, Kubiak accomplished a lot during his time in Houston. He helped deliver the franchise’s first winning record in 2011, compiling a 10-6 mark and qualifying for the playoffs. He then led the Texans to their first-ever playoff win, defeating the Cincinnati Bengals, 31-10. The Texans lost in the divisional round to the Baltimore Ravens.
Kubiak followed up the next season with an even-better mark, posting a 12-4 record and winning the AFC South Division title. However, the Texans were again eliminated in the divisional round, losing to the New England Patriots, 41-28.
Based on the success of the prior two seasons, much was expected from the Texans in 2013. The season started on a bright note as Houston won their first two games. But things quickly started falling apart, as the Texans would lose their next six games. In the sixth loss, Kubiak was walking off the field during halftime with his team leading the Indianapolis Colts, 21-3. Kubiak suddenly collapsed, and he was immediately attended to and taken off the field by a stretcher.
Tests would reveal that Kubiak suffered a minor stroke, or TIA. Defensive coordinator Wade Phillips took over as coach for the following two games.
Kubiak returned to the sidelines last Sunday as his team suffered their 11th consecutive loss at the hands of the hapless Jacksonville Jaguars. That proved to be enough for owner Bob McNair, who fired Kubiak on Friday.
Despite his firing, Kubiak still felt it was appropriate to thank the team that gave him his first head coaching job. His heartfelt message to both the team and its fans on Sunday exuded both class and dignity for sure.
The Texans have issues with their team that go far beyond Kubiak. As the head coach, he served as the sacrificial lamb. Now, McNair will be tasked with finding a coach that can make sense of a roster that inexplicably underperformed this season.
Kubiak will land on his feet with another team, most likely as a coordinator. His talent simply can’t be ignored. But the way he left Houston should serve as an example to all athletes and coaches that good sportsmanship goes far beyond hurt feelings.