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UMaine alum Brian Gaine named Houston Texans GM

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Former UMaine Black Bear football player Brian Gaine, a longtime NFL executive, has been named general manager of the Houston Texans. Former UMaine Black Bear football player Brian Gaine, a longtime NFL executive, has been named general manager of the Houston Texans. (AP photo/Matt Patterson)

HOUSTON – The newest general manager of the NFL’s Houston Texans has ties to the University of Maine.

The Texans announced the hiring of Brian Gaine as their newest general manager on Jan. 13. Gaine signed a five-year contract on the same day that Texans head coach Bill O’Brien was extended through 2022.

Gaine has been working in NFL front offices for nearly two decades. He was the vice president of player personnel for the Buffalo Bills this season, but he was a familiar figure to the Texans, having served as Houston’s director of pro personnel in 2014 and director of player personnel from 2015-16. He replaces Rick Smith, who is taking a leave of absence to help take care of his wife as she battles breast cancer. Smith will retain the title of executive vice president.

According to the Associated Press, Texans owner Bob McNair called Gaine an “incredibly smart, hardworking individual that understands the importance of good communication.”

But before Gaine was working in front offices across the league, he was working on the field – including on the gridiron for the University of Maine Black Bears.

A native of Pearl River, New York, Gaine played tight end for Orono starting in 1992. Despite some struggles with injury, he managed to catch over 70 passes in his tenure with the Black Bears before graduating in 1995.

From there, Gaine went to the NFL in an effort to stick as a player. He spent three years on the practice squads of various teams – the New York Jets (1995), the New York Giants (1996) and the Kansas City Chiefs (1997) – before hanging up his cleats and officially walking away from his playing career.

But his life in football was only just beginning.

He got his start in football operations with the Jets; he spent five years as a scout for them from 1999-2004. After that, he was hired as the director of pro scouting for the Dallas Cowboys, a position he held from 2005-2007. From there, he went to Miami, which is where his star really began to ascend as he climbed the ladder from assistant director of pro personnel (2008-2010) to director of player personnel (2011) to assistant general manager (2012-2013).

Gaine is taking over a team that went just 4-12 this season following two consecutive division titles in the AFC South. However, that record can largely be chalked up to a rash of injuries to key personnel. Assuming a return to relative health, the Texans look poised to break through in a big way in the near future.

They’ve got a dynamic playmaking quarterback of the future in Deshaun Watson, who looked phenomenal under center until suffering a season-ending injury. Watson will be throwing to DeAndre Hopkins – probably a top-five receiver in the league – and burner Will Fuller. Oh, and the Texans happen to have some of the most disruptive defensive players in the league, led by all-everything lineman J.J. Watt and a cohort that includes Jadeveon Clowney and Whitney Mercilus.

The Texans certainly look like a team that is just a few pieces away ... and the task of acquiring those pieces falls to Brian Gaine.

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