HOUSTON, Texas -- DeAndre Hopkins told Sports Illustrated that he had "no relationship" with coach Bill O'Brien during their six years together with the Houston Texans and defended himself against anonymous criticisms that surfaced after he was traded to the Arizona Cardinals.
Hopkins, who told reporters last week that he wasn't surprised by the trade, reiterated that stance in a telephone interview with Sports Illustrated and recounted the matter-of-fact phone call he received from O'Brien to tell him he had been traded. Hopkins was working out with Atlanta Falcons receiver Julio Jones in Los Angeles when he got the call.
"There was no relationship," Hopkins told SI of O'Brien. "Make sure you put that in there. There's not a lot to speak about."
Hopkins told the magazine that he knew how to get out of the situation in Houston. Hopkins said that by "asking for a little raise" the team likely would instead shop him.
"Which is the outcome that I wanted," Hopkins told SI.
On March 18, Hall of Fame receiver Michael Irvin said on ESPN's Get Up that he talked to Hopkins after the trade and was told that the bad blood between Hopkins and O'Brien stemmed from a meeting in which the coach compared the situation to one he had in New England with Aaron Hernandez, the tight end who was convicted of murder in 2015 and killed himself in prison. Hopkins tweeted after the interview, however, that he had "utmost respect for Coach O'Brien."
READ MORE: Testy meeting between Hopkins, O'Brien preceded trade, Michael Irvin says
Hopkins confirmed to SI that the meeting with O'Brien took place during last season but didn't want to get into details of what was said. After Irvin's comments, anonymous criticisms of Hopkins surfaced claiming the wide receiver missed practices, and calling into question the people Hopkins associated with and his decline in production in 2019.
Before defending himself against those criticisms, he told SI, "obviously, we know where all that's coming from."
He told SI the practice criticisms come from the 2018 season when an ankle injury forced him to miss practice time but didn't sideline him for any games. He told the magazine that there is "no evidence" his absence from practices hurt the team and he had his best season in the NFL that year, finishing with 115 receptions and 1,572 yards. He said his best friend is his cousin, D.J. Greenlee, who works as a marketer for a California sports agency and shares a house with Hopkins. And as for a drop in production last season, he had 104 catches and 1,165 yards despite being constantly double-teamed because of injuries to the Texans' wide receiver corps.
SEE ALSO: Houston Texans trade wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins for David Johnson
Hopkins told SI that he will still be pulling for quarterback Deshaun Watson and predicts big things for his former teammate -- "Deshaun is going to be amazing without me," he said.
On April 3, O'Brien said the trade was made with his team in mind and emphasized the point by spelling the word out.
"Capital T capital E capital A capital M," O'Brien said. "Everything that we do is made with the team in mind. We don't think about one player. ... We think about the future."
Hopkins seemed to take note of O'Brien's emphasis on team and took a dig at his former coach with his answer about his future with the Cardinals.
"I'm a stress-free person," he told SI. "I live in the present. I only care about this T-E-A-M."
DeAndre Hopkins says 'there was no relationship' with Bill O'Brien during time with Texans