Well, sir, the Texans played on Monday Night Football (and thumped the Jaguars!!!) this evening for the first time. So, in honor of that occasion, I decided to talk about the hometown squad. (Note: this is not going to be an in-depth analysis of the team, or even X's and O's, but a discussion about fan-dom [If that's not a word, I just made it up. Is it too soon to "coin" the term, Jennifer? Too late? Let me know, kindly] and what that means to me (so, by proxy, if you agree with me you're correct and if not, well then you're wrong. You're either with us or against us. Haven't we heard that somewhere before? I forget. Finals are upon us and my brain isn't what it once was. Forgive me.).
So, I'm a Houston guy. You know that. I always figured, you should be proud of where you're from. And I am. Just ask me, I'll tell you. The Texans are from Houston, so they're my team. The Oilers (who I never liked, those traitorous dogs ["dogs" being a family-friendly word, while I had a few others in mind]) left Houston and the Texans opened up shop in 2002. The Texans represent Houston. There is it, that's my team. Seems simple, right?
Well, it's not as easy as it sounds. The Texans have never had a winning season. They've been close, twice. Last year they finished 8-8 and in 2004 they were 7-9. Andre Johnson is all world. Mario Williams (more on this later) and DeMeco Ryans are close. Steve Slaton and Jacoby Jones are as promising as they are fast. The Texans beat the hated Cowboys in their inaugural game, 19-10. Is it sad if the first game, back in 2002, is the highlight of the franchise?
There have been a lot (and I'm being generous here) of bad (again, generosity, as this should read utterly worthless, gut-wrenching, and personally embarrassing) moments. The Vince Young (more on him later, too) game where local hero ran in the winning score minutes after I predicted such an ending. Even this year, the Sage-copter game, the Jacksonville melt down, the sheer lack of aggression (is "pedestrian" degrading enough?) from the defense this year, the season opening beat down at the hands of the Steelers, the whole David (no joke required) Carr, all those wasted picks, stupid trades (Phyllis Buchanan!!!) and foolish free agent signings, and on and on and on. It's been rough. Damned rough. Yeah, they were an expansion team. Yeah, they had different rules than when the Jaguars and Panthers came into the league in 1996. Look it up: no cap, extra picks, and on.
(I know I left some good moments out and some bad moments out. Feel free to mention them.)
But, fans I (and we) remain. I've been to games. I watch nearly every game (even when I lived in NOLA and New Haven, I found places to watch the games). I buy jerseys. I talk about the team. I defend them (Nate). I watch the draft. Hell, I've even been to practices. Outside. In August. Did I mention in Houston?
Why do I (and we) remain? Because it's the right thing to do? No, that's not it. Plenty of people could care less about football (I call them communists, but that's not the point here, folks). Plenty of people can claim to like the top teams in every league. People could have a new favorite team every year, if that team is winning. I know people like that. I won't names, but you know who you are. It's not me, but this person's name may or may not rhyme with mine.
There are a number of reasons why I (we) remain. Sure, part of the reason is that it's the Houston Texans. You have to like the hometown team. That stadium sure is beautiful. There are no morons or knuckleheads on this team shooting themselves in the thigh, beating their wives (no, that's not another shot at Lugo. On second thought, let's make it a shot at Julio "I slammed my wife's head off of the hood of our car in the parking lot of the stadium hours before a game" Lugo) or acting like jerks. Signs point to improvement at some point, hopefully sooner than later. I think the biggest reason is the expected (it's gonna happen, it's gonna happen, it's gonna happen) emotional payoff when the Texans finally win something. The division, a playoff game, the Super Bowl (we can dream, can't we?). That payoff will be huge. Way better than the shame of losing, of being very near exact replicas of losers, of being the laughing stock.
The payoff will be bigger than the pleasure of seeing Mario go for 3 sacks on MNF after being taken controversially as the top pick in the draft over Reggie (That house isn't free) Bush and local god Vincent Paul Young (I'm man enough to admit I still have a man crush at that man [no homo]). We don't need to go down that road again. I think it's clear Mario is super (yup, I went there). I also think its equally clear Reggie Bush has been good when healthy, but not a franchise back. Further, and this may be seen as heresy by some people, Vince took a team to the playoffs but was benched in favor of Kerry ("is it happy hour yet?") Collins. Objectively, that's not a good sign. I'm not saying anything about anything else VY may have done at bars without his shirt on and surrounded by dudes, with a suicide counselor, not being able to throw in the NFL, getting a 5 on the Wunderlick, etc. The Texans made the right call after being lambasted all across the country. They were right. Wow, that feels good to say.
(The Red Sox won two World Series [and their fans all turned to hated, bitter, obnoxious jerks] so anything is possible.)
That payoff, whenever it happens, will be worth it. That's why I'm a fan. That's why we're fans. I (we) may be entirely too emotionally invested in something we have no and cannot have any control over, but that's why we're fans.