Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Will New Year Bring New Texans?

The Houston Texans will gaze into the abyss this weekend, challenged to face without blinking what is staring back at them. At 5 - 10 with only one game remaining this season, this team awaits the inevitable: their campaign's sad, final curtain upon the conclusion of their matchup versus the Jacksonville Jaguars on January 2nd.

Who would have thought back in September that this team stood a very good chance of losing more than twice as often as they won? But this has been the most disappointing season the city of Houston has ever been asked to endure by any of its professional sports franchises.

The Rockets falling to the Jazz in the Western Conference Championship in 1998 was nothing. The Astros getting swept in the World Series by the White Sox in 2005 does not compare either. Those premature ends to otherwise would-be championship seasons were not nearly as devastating as the 2010 Houston Texans effort (insert sarcastic joke here) because the Rockets and Astros competed but fell to better teams.

There's not a fan, analyst, coach or player that can deny the following: The Texans underachieved and shortchanged themselves on what could have been the most special year of football in the history of Houston. But they let it slip away. Over and over again they found ways to lose.

Now, with an off-season just 60 minutes of regulation play away and then only time to ponder what would could have been, and maybe even what should have been...How will this team perform? If history is any indication, they play best when they have nothing left to lose.

Just because the Houston Texans are staring into the abyss does not mean they have to play abysmal football. Never mind if Houston deserves to be in the NFL playoffs...let's find out if this team deserves to play football in Texas! This state holds the game of football to high standards. Here's hoping the New Year finds the home team in a position to have elevated theirs.

Monday, December 27, 2010

A Beautiful Day for Football

Sunday, October 17, 2010 still felt like Summer. There was sunshine in the air and warmth in your heart as you held, if guarded, great expectations for your Houston Texans. You had waited nine years for something special from this team for the first time since their 19 - 10 victory over the Dallas Cowboys. And now, after a thrilling comeback win against the Chiefs, here they were at 4 - 2 going into a Bye-week to prepare to win on the road in Indianapolis against a team they throttled at Reliant Stadium to christen and begin the long awaited success of what would be the 2010 season.

Then over the next nine games they mustered only one additional win to now sit at 5 - 10 before concluding their sad, pathetic season on January 2nd. Two days into the new year the Texans host the Jacksonville Jaguars to at least try to end their season on a positive note.

Just two weeks ago, owner Bob McNair assured restless Houstonians that he himself had been assured by his colleages that this team was on the right track, despite the many headscratching collapses masquerading as heartbreaking defeats. And then they racked up two additional losses in everybit as befuddlingly a fashion.

The weather forecast leading up to this weekend's game is dark, gloomy, and rainy. But it will be sunny and spring-like for the game on Sunday. It will be a beautiful day for football. Let's hope we see some!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

More SmiBiak a Lump of Coal

The Houston Texans are at what we will look back on five years from now and realize was the precipice of their future. How they negotiate this dangerous divide between mediocrity and outright failure as an organization will determine how professional football in Houston is viewed and experienced for the better part of the next decade.

When your time is up, your time is up. "One more year to pull things together" is the request on the calling card of every underachiever...whether a son, a salesman, or a head coach. The SmiBiak (Rick Smith/Gary KuBiak) regime is over. It's been over, as has been demonstrated on so many levels in so many ways. The same degree of benefit lost by not making a mid-season change, is going to manifest itself in the form of an equal amount of detriment suffered.

Collective Bargaining Agreement, sma-lective bargaining agreement. This is a billionaire's several times over multi-hundred million dollar business. Having to be on the hook for the salary of a coach to whom you erred in extending his contract in the first place just isn't that big a deal. In fact, it ought to diminish the doom and gloom of the guilt of firing a man just days before Christmas. In other words, no waking up in the middle of the night during your Christmas Eve slumber scared to death that you think you may have heard the rattling and clanking chains of Jacob Marley.

The important thing is the Texans were improved upon as an organization and as a team, and Gary Kubiak deserves great credit for that. But, as he has shown, he's not the person to lead the Texans to the next level. No shame there. He should be proud of immediately elevating a 2 - 14 team to 6 - 10 on its way to its first ever winning season last year.

But it is time for the next stage of thrusters to continue the jettison of this team to its next level of success. McNair's loyal legion of fans deserves as much. It would infuse this city with hope and good cheer as they wait, yet again, to "get 'em next year!"

Monday, December 20, 2010

Same Curse, Different Verse

Robert James Ritchie says,"If it looks good, you'll see it. If it sounds good, you'll hear it. If it's marketed right, you'll buy it. But... if it's real, you'll feel it."I got a real feeling it's time to fire Gary Kubiak.

The Texans are a great bunch of guys with a whole bunch of football skills and athletic ability. But, they don't look good, and you can see it. The fans' reasonable complaints don't sound good, and you can hear it. They're certainly marketed right...Reliant continues to sell out, but critics are no longer buying that the Texans can get it done. And the real need to fire the coach and get the players motivated and the team on the path to success, well, you can just feel it.

Regarding the quote at the beginning of the article: Robert's stage name is Kid Rock. You got the energy to argue with him?

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Standing on the banks of Lake Whatawedonow?

O.K., armchair-owners... What do we do now?

Our firstround, first-pick overall career-underachieving defensive SuperStar Mario Williams has shut it down for the remainder of the year. And for the past two months, save a victory over the Titans, Matt Schaub has conducted post-game interviews with eyes as red and teary as my wife after a back-to-back viewing of Steel Magnolias and Beaches.

The league's best wide receiver Andre Johnson continues to toil in his team's regular season mediocrity, revealing to the NFL's top rusher Arian Foster an unpleasant glimpse into his future of stats, awards, recognition, and respect... but seasons that end in week #17, nonetheless.

So, what do we do now?

Is it a matter of a missing piece on defense that was all that held up this team from finally achieving post-season participation? Is it a matter of a GM that can adequately find that piece? Is it an issue of coaching, and all that goes with it: effective preparation, motivation, and leadership?

Probably all of the above.

Bob McNair can decide right here, right now, whether he wants to join the ranks of this city's other professional sports teams that disappoint their fans, but alleviate the pain of failure with books that show a profit. The problem is, Drayton McLane's baseball team that went to the World Series just 5 years ago is now suffering a fate that is the worst of all: people aren't the least bit interested in them.

And I haven't even mentioned Leslie Alexander's ball-dribblers. They have become such a disgrace that they are irrelevant by Thanksgiving. And although they won back-to-back World Championships, that was when today's newly licensed drivers were born! When's the last time you heard someone complain about them? They don't. People instead discuss the great play of other teams and their players.

That's the problem. For a few years fans vent with frustration and anger about their team not performing. Then, they just stop caring. That results in less revenue and the diminished ability to run the team profitably. The Houston Texans have with great pride announced at each and every game how once again they have a capacity crowd. But that won't continue. Not if ownership continues to demonstrate the same apathy regarding not winning that will soon be met with a reciprocal sentiment by the fans illustrating their disapproval with a profitable but losing organization.

Bob McNair does not have as much time as he thinks...He better act now!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Remember The Titans

The Houston Texans are going to Nashville, Tennessee this weekend to try to stave off what would be their first losing season since 2006. It is no small task, as they are going up against veteran quarterback Kerry Collins who is more than capable of carving up a Texans secondary well-chronicled as the league's worst against the pass.

The last time the Texans went up against the Titans they were facing Florida Atlantic rookie quarterback Rusty Smith, resulting in a 20 - 0 home victory. Kerry Collins, however, has a history of beating Houston with his arm. The Texans coming away with a win seems as unlikely as a "hug-it-out" embrace between Cortland Finnegan and Andre Johnson when they line up across from each other for the first time since the fight that got them both ejected from the game on November 28th at Reliant Stadium.

At 5 - 8 and with three games remaining, the Texans must prevail in Tennessee, follow that up with a victory in the snow in Denver, and produce a "this is our house" statement-win in front of their fans with what will be their final game of the season on January 2nd to achieve what would be their third .500 record in the last four years.

With seven losses in their last eight games, the Texans may want to revisit exactly how they pulled off their only win in the last two months. I would advise they start by remembering the Titans.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Texans Stub Toe on MNF, Stumble Onto Great Opportunity!

Who among us is not familiar with the concept that success in life comes more easily and quickly with a healthy dose of perspective. But, to paraphrase David St. Hubbins of Spinal Tap, sometimes you can have "too much %*#@%#% perspective".

Perhaps what is more important is the right perspective. I think the Houston Texans and their fans have been looking at their role in the NFL the wrong way. Yes, they have capable athletes. But they've proven over and over again that they are not a well-coached, strategically competent or prepared organization.

In the last two weeks my private conversations with Dan Fouts of CBS and with Jon Gruden, Mike Tirico, and Ron Jaworski of ESPN's Monday Night Football included a discussion that the Texans find more ways to lose games than the Washington Generals. And then, it hit me! It was probably just like the "Eureka Moment" of The Monkees' lead guitarist Michael Nesmith's mother Bette when she happened upon Liquid Paper in 1951; and 3M scientist Spencer Silver when he unwittingly developed the technology for Post-It Notes in 1970. The Houston Texans have stumbled upon what can be their greatest role in the history of the NFL.

They can be the 2nd Bye-Week Opponent, if you will, in what would be an owners-favored extension of the campaign to 18 regular season games! Think about it. They already have the clownish all-red uniforms. They just need to stock up on plenty of confetti as I am sure the other 31 teams in the NFL will insist they bring it for the ol' bucket of water gag.

They will have to do two games in one day, but they can just make the second contest the Sunday Night Flex-Game for good, wholesome family entertainment.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Here's the Story...

The Houston Texans could not have suffered worse misfortune this season if they had drafted and started Robbie Rist and also charged him with double-duty as Head Chef and Traveling Secretary.

Rist played the bumbling, stumbling, blonde bowl-cut bad luck cousin Oliver who visited the Brady Bunch, and he would have nothing on whoever or whatever is responsible for the mishaps bestowed upon the Texans this year. They fumble away opportunities for late-game heroics and instead wind up on the wrong end of a Hail Mary in Jacksonville; In the New Meadowlands versus the Jets they snatch defeat from the jaws of victory by allowing a length-of-the-field game-winning touchdown drive in the waning seconds after with First and Goal they ended up settling for what would turn out to be only a temporary "go-ahead" field goal just moments earlier.

I’m not even mentioning the beat-downs they took at home at the hands of the Cowboys, Giants, and Chargers…or their lackluster play on the road in Indy or Philly. Because even with those losses, the Texans could still be sitting alone atop the AFC-South with a record of 7 – 5 ahead of what would be the tied-for-second Colts and Jaguars at 6 – 6. No, I speak only of the insufferable and inexplicable bad luck they and their fans have been forced to endure.

With next week's hosting of Monday Night Football against Ray Lewis and league bully Baltimore Ravens, there’s no time to waste when it comes to exorcising from the organization its unbelievably bad luck. The Texans need someone who is good at handling this kind of, well, "junk”. And from what I’ve heard lately, if it’s “junk” you want handled, call in the TSA security experts from Bush Intercontinental and Hobby Airport to sweep the facility of what’s currently ailing the home team.

It must be some sort of bad luck hex, or maybe even an evil object. You know, like the ancient Tiki Idol discovered on the beach by Greg Brady while on vacation in Hawaii.

I’ll bet you Alice could find it!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Houston Texans Steered to Defeat by Philadelphia Eagles

Against all odds and sensibilities, the Houston Texans were somehow once again in a position to claim a stake in both a game and a season by winning on the road in Philadelphia against the Eagles and NFL MVP contender Michael Vick.

But Houston was challenged by its offense's slow start, a costly turnover, and missed opportunities in the first half. Contributing no help to the Texans cause was a defense initially succumbing to an immediately productive Philadelphia Eagles offense that kept the ball 19:18 of the first two quarters.

Vick deftly led his team with a surgical precision comprised of a balanced attack that incorporated his arm, his feet, and his complement of weapons that made up the rest of Philadelphia's offensive arsenal yielding two length-of-the-field touchdown drives on their first two possessions.

When the Texans finally responded and were driving at the end of the first half trailing 17 - 10, Matt Schaub threw a "Man, I'd like to have that one back!" interception to Eagles defensive lineman Trevor Laws. Houston was fortunate that ultimately a dropped touchdown pass by Brent Celek on the ensuing possession meant Philly had to settle for a field goal and a 20 - 10 halftime lead.

Houston opened up the second half with consecutive possessions resulting in touchdowns by Arian Foster as their fourteen unanswered points gave them their first lead of the night at 24 - 20. Those two drives sandwiched a Vick interception, but Glover Quin's fourth pick in five days would only momentarily stall the Eagles, as only they would score the game's remaining points with two more touchdown drives.

Despite the Texans defense desperately trying to hold the Eagles to a field goal to keep it a one possession game late in the fourth quarter, Philadelphia's final touchdown scoring drive included a converted 3rd and 19 pass to a determined "stretch for the stick" Celek after Houston safety Bernard Pollard's near-interception at the goal line the previous play.

The Houston Texans fall to the Philadelphia Eagles 34 - 24, dropping to 5 - 7 on the season.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Texans Playoffs Scenario Requires High Nielson Ratings

The Houston Texans can not only still make the playoffs, they can also still win the AFC-South. But it's going to take something Houston has never accomplished before: A six-game winning streak commenced with last weekend's win over Tennessee. I know what you are thinking: "Surely you CAN'T be serious!"

All it will take is a tough win on the road in Philadelphia for the Houston Texans to have a .500 record of 6 - 6 in the wake of the Eagles falling during what would be a two-game skid to 7 - 5 from their .700 winning percentage of just one week ago. Then, just follow that up with a Monday Night Football victory at Reliant Stadium against a brutal Baltimore Ravens team that is currently 5 - 1 on the road this season.

Next, pick up in week 15 at Tennessee with a continuation of the beatdown the Texans put on the Titans in week 12, demolish in the snowfall the trainwreck that is the Broncos, then finalize the best season in franchise history with revenge for the "Ah Hail, Mary!" in Jacksonville by winning against the Jaguars at Reliant in week 17.

That's all it takes. The Jaguars and Colts, each projected to finish at 9-7, will be left out in the cold due to the AFC WildCard berths being awarded to the Ravens and either Jets or Patriots (depending on which of those two teams wraps up the AFC-East.)

To Recap: just go into the den of a beast of a team against likely NFL MVP Michael Vick and win in Philly tomorrow night, and then pull off another tough challenge by defeating the Ravens on football's brightest stage at home with your city behind you the following week. All that would remain would be the Winter Wonderland Waltz of dishing out "just desserts" to division rivals and a defeat to the weakened organization that is the Denver Broncos. That's all it takes for the Houston Texans to pull off the best in franchise history trifecta of achieving a record of 10 - 6, going to the playoffs, and wearing the crown as AFC-South Champions.

I AM serious, and don't call me Shirley!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Arian Foster Spurs Texans to Victory over Titans

Here stood the Houston Texans on a late fall, brisk blue-sky, Thanksgiving Holiday-weekend Football Sunday beneath an open roof at Reliant Stadium.

Despite how nicely things had been shaping up earlier in the season for Houston to perhaps compete for the AFC-South, the Texans were now sitting at 4 - 6 as division cellar dwellers with the notoriety of a team on pace to have the worst defense in the history of the NFL. Their losing record of 2 - 3 at home did not exactly engender confidence in the fan base as they prepared to host the 5 - 5, third place in the division, Tennessee Titans. The "ex-Oilers" had their own issues what with the most recently written chapter in the soap opera that is the continuing Vince Young-Jeff Fisher-Bud Adams saga.

Houston, however, could not afford to concern themselves with that. They had their own problems, not the least of which was flirting with once again failing to make the playoffs. While not yet mathematically eliminated from post-season contention, the home town team was probably playing for pride; trying desperately to salvage for themselves and their fans something-anything-with some semlance of value from an otherwise disappointing season. And with six weeks remaining in the campaign, conceivably, there was still time to recover to achieve at least yet another .500 mark with an 8 - 8 record...what would be their third in the last four years.

The Houston Texans responded. Quarterback Matt Schaub played well with 71% efficiency on 25 of 35 attempts for 178 yards, yielding two touchdowns, no interceptions and a passer rating of 101.8. Arian Foster racked up 143 yards rushing on 30 attempts, with another 75 yards receiving. Joel Dreessen caught three passes including a Red Zone score off of a play-action fake to Foster, and Andre Johnson caught nine of eleven targeted throws for 56 yards and a touchdown.

Tennessee's rookie quarterback Rusty Smith was sacked, rattled, and ineffective as he threw for only 138 yards and three interceptions. Titans running back Chris Johnson, coming into the game just 32 yards shy of 1,000 on the season, was held to only five yards, and Randy Moss could not have been more of a non-factor.

Punctuating a feisty "We've had enough of this" attitude was Andre Johnson receiving a 4th-quarter ejection for fighting when he took into his own hands the issue of Tennessee's cornerback and league-renowned dirty player Cortland Finnegan.

True Texans wear spurs. Today we found out that Houston still had a little "jingle" left in theirs as they shut out the Titans 20 - 0.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Houston Texans Rank as Generals

The Houston Texans find more ways to lose games than the Washington Generals. And though there's no time to go globetrotting for excuses for the lapses, breakdowns, and failures, there ARE 6 weeks remaining for this team to prevent themselves from going down in the record books as losers.

Houston is not going to win the AFC-South. Perched way out here on my limb I'll share with you my rationale: Indianapolis is going to reel off six straight wins to complete their regular season at 12 - 4 (4 - 2 in the division). Houston will strongly compete at a pace of 4 - 2 to finish 8 - 8 (3 - 3), tied for second with Jacksonville who will stumble to a 2 - 4 conclusion of 8 - 8 (3 - 3). Tennesseee and it's Love Triangle Soap Opera of Vince Young, Jeff Fisher, and Bud Adams will limp out of 2010 1 - 5 to 6 - 10 and round out the division at 2 - 4.

8 - 8 will not yield an AFC team a WildCard-berth. The conference is too stacked with talented and successful teams. The precious two remaining spots in addition to the AFC's four division champions will likely be New York or New England (depending on which of the two takes the AFC-East) and Baltimore (behind likely AFC-North Champion Pittsburgh). But in a season of such heartbreaking losses despite a roster full of exciting talent and grand expectations, you can at least be glad the Houston Texans will not finish with a losing record.

Just know that finishing 8 - 8 is going to be accompanied with the following cold splash of reality: Bob McNair will keep Gary Kubiak as Head Coach. He'll probably announce it with a bucket of confetti whistling Sweet Georgia Brown!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Texans Fanbase Running on Empty

Your tank of enthusiasm for the Houston Texans is on "E".

The Texans are finding more ways to lose than the Washington Generals. Lackluster effort, poor game-planning, unimaginitive play-calling, giving up Hail Mary's, literally being the worst defense in NFL history...I could, as you know, go on and on and on.

The details of the loss at New Meadowlands yesterday to the New York Jets are a much less necessary discussion of what has gone wrong for the team than a conversation about what has to happen for the Houston Texans to ever be successful.

What you may now know is that the heartbreak of unfathomable losses, falling short of expectations, and the ability of the team to as easily either stoke the flames of failure as snatch defeat from the jaws of victory is a description of the Houston Texans with which ownership can live.

Why? Because the organization has what the league recognizes as one of the top run franchises in the NFL: One of a fan base comprised of unconditional and blind loyalty. Regardless of performance, the team will sell out Reliant Stadium and those present for the game will fill up on $8 beers and $10 hamburgers. Losing is really not a problem for this franchise's ownership.

If you the fan want a winning team in Houston, you cannot support one that loses the way the Texans do. Low attendance and apathy, even if only feigned, is the only thing that will get the attention of Bob McNair.

When it comes to having a reason in your tank to be excited about the Houston Texans, I know you want to yell, "Fill 'er up!"

Just know that it's Self-Serve...It's on you, Houston.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Dual Over (his) Head Cam

First of all, it looks like this whole Cam Newton thing is about to get a lot easier on him, his family, and Auburn University.

I see that they hired as spokesperson and legal counsel Rafael Palmeiro and the quote from him I just read is, “The accusation that Cecil Newton solicited money in return for his son to play at Mississippi State is absolutely FALSE!"

Sooooo, I’d go ahead and expect this WHOLE thing to just kind of, you know, blow over. WAR EAGLE ! That is, as long as it’s not a Tramp Stamp on some male SEC fan's lower back!

In all seriousness, when it’s all said and done, Cam Newton’s going to look like a highly decorated pig farmer: A very nice award…yes, but covered in crap nonetheless! I’m only half-joking when I say they’re going to have to redesign the Heisman Trophy Award with some special help in the engineering department from Tommy Smothers. That way, the committee can just “Yo-Yo” that thing back any time an investigation of impropriety is complete.

And to think we thought vacating the Heisman that Reggie Bush was awarded would be the first and last of this sort of thing…at least for a long while anyway. Nope, looks like it’s more and more likely going to become quite standard.

I predict there’s going to be a lot of bare pedestals in the next decade at the Downtown Athletic Club.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

I Hope We're Doomed to Repeat History!

Last year the Houston Texans returned from a road game against the Jacksonville Jaguars with a head-scratching loss that put them at 5 - 7, but then won the next four games to finish with the first winning record in franchise history.

If the Texans can somehow manage to find a way to lose on the road this weekend (if you're picking up on the sarcasm, to quote David Spade in Tommy Boy,"I should hope so, because I'm laying it on pretty thick!") and fall to 4 - 5, but then win the next four games...they'll be 8 - 5 with a chance to win two of the three remaining games (at Tennessee, at Denver, Jacksonville) for a legitimate chance to make the playoffs with a 10 - 6 record.

If you think THAT'S ridiculous, tell me...what do you think of continuing to start Kareem Jackson!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Houston Texans Suffer Sobering Loss to San Diego Chargers

On a late fall's brisk, blue-sky day at Reliant Stadium the Houston Texans had to be wondering what had become of their not-too-distant and once promising 2 - 0 start to a season that through the first six weeks of the 2010 campaign found them leading outright, or sharing the lead, atop the AFC-South, the only division in the NFL that still had no team with a losing record.

Now 4 - 3 and in third place looking up at the Tennessee Titans and Indianapolis Colts, they were hosting the equally befuddled 3 - 5 San Diego Chargers who were also in third place trailing the resurgent Oakland Raiders and surprising Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC-West. But these Chargers were not your typical sub-.500 team. They led the league in both offense and defense, and their quarterback Phillip Rivers was on pace to set an NFL record for single season passing yardage.

In an effort to keep the San Diego high-flying offense off the field, the Texans fed a steady diet of the ball to the NFL's second leading rusher, tops in the AFC, Arian Foster. He totalled 127 yards and two rushing touchdowns on twenty-seven attempts. Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson, targeted just seven times the entire afternoon, caught only four balls for forty-one yards.

Vacancies due to injuries to the Chargers' tight end Antonio Gates and wide receiver Legedu Naanee were aptly filled by Randy McMichael and Seyi Ajirotutu who caught two touchdowns each. Rivers had a stellar day that included 74% efficiency on seventeen of twenty-three attempts, four touchdowns and only one interception, and 295 total yards for a quarterback passing rating of 137.2!

In the end, the Houston Texans had to too often settle for field goals instead of touchdowns in an otherwise exciting game that featured 4 lead changes, the last one courtesy of the San Diego Chargers who prevailed over the Houston Texans 29 - 23.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Let's Go Streaking!

Dating back to last season, the Houston Texans have eleven consecutive times played the "Most Important Game in Franchise History". That streak continues against the visiting San Diego Chargers this Sunday at Reliant Stadium.

If Houston wins, the streak will continue to grow and include the next week's road game against division-rival Jacksonville Jaguars. If the Texans lose, the trip to Florida will be just another game for just another mid-level / bottom-feeder team rounding out the 32 organizations in the NFL.

The underlying identifying feature of the Houston Texans has for the past four years been a team that fails to deliver on the promise of its talent and resources. Performance on the field and coaching from the sidelines and booth continues to fall far short of expectations, but fans' faith and good will has always managed to endure. A loss this Sunday in front of the Texans faithful and they fall to .500 at 4 - 4, with the rest of their division and league smelling blood from a future victim, regardless of where they play.

On the other hand, a home win this Sunday would bolster the Houston Texans' record to 5 - 3, with hope they can then go on the road to secure a very respectable 6 - 3 with a road win against the Jaguars. Follow that up with a little magic on the road against the Jets, and a 7 - 3 Texans team is right in the mix to make the playoffs. I'm not unaware that I've just called for three consecutive wins (two on the road, no less), a winning streak 50% longer than the only other one they've had in 2010, but...

Keep the streak of "Most Important Game in Franchise History" alive!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Brett Favre's Streak Set to Roll Over to Zero

America has long had a curious and obsessive compulsion with a dynamic I call "The Rolling Over of The Odometer."

Remember as a youth the long road trips in the Pontiac with your family? Between moments of your mom and dad regretting having you and you praying a bolt of lightning would strike the car and incapacitate your parents and bratty little sister, there were intermittent periods where the family came together and enjoyed otherwise typically inane occurrences and observations. You know...cows, out of state license plates, look!...more cows.

But every now and then there was a moment that stood head and shoulders above all others: The Rolling Over of The Odometer! Some of these were bigger than others, but at times they were truly momentous: as many as 5 new zeroes rolling over and dropping into place in a ballet of coordinated synchronicity unchallenged by the most gentle of snowfalls, and every bit as silent and beautiful. And "Oh, The Horror!" of a "near miss" should you momentarily become distracted and miss the milestone, even if only sometimes by as little as 1/10th of a mile!

The end of the record streak of 291 (315 including playoffs) consecutive games started by Brett Favre means the rolling over of the odometer of both the career of one of pro football's most iconic figures and one of the sport's most hallowed records. It will be interesting to reflect on the content and context of the moment as it relates to all those leading up to it...and then it will be gone!

This Sunday will likely be the first time Brett Favre does not start a consecutive game in 20 years! But the moment will arrive and evaporate every bit as quickly as we admittedly probably over-zealously anticipate it. That's not to say it won't be great theater. It may even deserve, I suppose, all the fuss marking the end of a period of great achievement. But it will pass and be gone forever, with nothing remaining but fresh zeroes against the dash and time to settle back into your seat, wondering what will hold your attention next on this long road-trip we call being a sports fan.

Don't miss it!

Monday, October 25, 2010

An Open Letter to the Meatheads of America:

You almost took your cheese-balls and went home, didn't you?

If you couldn't have pretty-boy prima donnas with the toughness to pay the price in the form of risking the loss of many decades of a quality of life worth living...well then, darn it, football was just getting too soft.

I watched every play of all thirteen games played yesterday (honey, do you like the yellow roses---they're all out of the red ones?) and not one time was I left with the sentiment that both the game and I were somehow cheated by experiencing less thuggery; instead more dignity and respect for one another by the players.

I saw stinging hits, great tackles, and feats of athleticism by acrobats on the field from both sides of the ball that left my mouth agape and jaw dragging on the shag carpet. And not once did teams have to join each other in prayer on one knee hoping to dear God that an impact just moments ago wouldn't bring an eternity of regret.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The NFL is a Role Model...They Show So!

Forgive me for wallowing in the self pity of my awareness that I have no idea what every single sports broadcast personality seems to lack in their ability of comprehension. I speak of the NFL's very recent attempt to do something about the potentially life-, and quality of life-, threatening hits by the biggest, strongest, fastest athletes ever.

The sum total of these sports personalities' illogical argument is that they think people want to see these "big hits." I don't. I want to see people survive them, but I would be much happier if the game was played without them in the first place.

I spent the better part of a half hour in a private conversation with Exec. VP of Football Operations for the NFL Ray Anderson last weekend in Houston.

What you come away with very quickly is exactly why Roger Goodell chose this person as his right-hand man to represent the moves Roger makes as he continues to move the NFL and sport “light years” beyond what other leagues are offering. And, that Roger does not really care what people’s reaction or perception of his moves are if he thinks it’s best for the league.

I’m hearing Ray Anderson loud and clear: Far from the NFL wanting to accomplish “Legislation of Viciousness”, or as what some would claim is a knee-jerk reaction vis-à-vis enacting new rules, it’s really just the NFL out to enforce Rule 12, Section 2, Article 8... Which calls for attention to flagrant and egregious helmet, shoulder pad, or fore-arm contact to the head or neck of a defenseless player.

And the NFL is going to successfully put an end to it with, effective immediately, perhaps even multiple game suspensions representing de-facto fines of hundreds of thousands of dollars and real impact against the offending player’s team.

Ray says the NFL sees itself as the standard bearer for a platform of all techniques, at all levels, of the game of football:
-) playing
-) coaching
-) administration
-) and maintaining integrity of the sport
…which includes, of course, the health of its players.

Unlike Charles Barkley, the NFL IS a Role Model!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Warpath Drumbeat Paces Texans Past Chiefs for 4th Quarter Comeback

It was Armed Forces Day, but it was the Houston Texans who were under attack for most of the afternoon by the visiting Kansas City Chiefs beneath an open-roof at Reliant Stadium.

Half-way through the 3rd Quarter, the Texans were "doubled-up" by the Chiefs in time of possession (25 minutes), total yards (228), and first downs (19). Matters were made worse when Kansas City WR Dwayne Bowe (18 yards per catch on 6 receptions for 108 yards and 2 TDs) broke loose on a simple slant pattern for a 42 yard TD that had more YAC than an exotic petting zoo. This put the Chiefs up 21-7 as the Texans found themselves mired in a most unsettling streak: They were in the midst of racking up 11 consecutive quarters of home-turf play failing to lead an NFL game against visiting opponents.

But the Houston Texans offense responded with the even-keel, calm leadership of Matt Schaub (75% on 25 of 33, 305 yards, 2 TDs/0 picks, and a 123.9 QB rating) coupled with the running game of Arian Foster (4 yards per carry on 18 attempts for 79 yards and 2 TDs) and continued emergence of Derek Ward (19 yards per carry on 3 attempts for 58 yards and 1 TD) which eventually brought the home team within three points for a 31-28 deficit with 3:30 remaining in the 4th quarter.

With DeMeco Ryans now long out of the game due to an earlier in the game season-ending achilles' heel injury, the Texans Defense made a statement of a stop: They held the Chiefs to a 3-n-out. The Texans were able to again march down the field with big plays that included swing passes to Foster, seam-routes to Daniels, and with only 28 seconds remaining in regulation...a back of the end zone TD pass to Andre Johnson (17 yards per catch on 8 receptions for 138 yards and 1 TD) for their first lead of the day.

The Texans hung on for a 35-31 victory as an effective but now desperate Kansas City offense (429 total yards with 228 rushing and 201 receiving) with only :22 remaining concluded their day with an Amobe Okoye sack of Matt Cassel (69% on 20 of 29, 201 yards, 3 TDs/0 picks, and a 122.9 QB rating) as time expired.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Houston Texans Got Trouble...Right Here in Bayou City

Oh, We Got Trouble...Right Here in Bayou City,

With a Capital "T" and that rhymes with "D" and that stand for Defense!

Leading the league in laughable Defense has put the skids on a not too distant and once promising start to the Houston Texans 2010 Campaign.

Instead of spending time in the Houston Texans locker room to ask them what went wrong where for the 2nd time in 14 days they had been blown out of their own building, I went to speak with the stars of the New York Giants' Defense.

I asked in a private conversation with Osi Umenyiora and Justin Tuck what was it about their Front Four that made them so special and productive that other teams' D-lines just didn't seem to be able to figure out.

They told me that in the end, as nice as strength, size, and speed are...it's really about the desire to get the job done. Period. They went on to explain that the additional benefit of truly believing in one another and trusting each other enough to perform as a unit, instead of 4 individuals, puts them over the top.

That's the problem with the Houston Texans Defense. They have a front line of attack that plays without real desire and hunger. They're willing to compete against opponents in the categories of strength, size, and speed...but not heart. And they certainly don't work together as a unit.

Until the #1 overall draft pick of 2006 leads the rest of the Front Four onward and upward, he leads them nowhere. And until it's a scarier proposition for an opposing Quarterback to line up across from Mario Williams than it is for a Houston Texans fan to ask for his autograph, he'll continue to lead this team's defense nowhere.

We got trouble.

It's Awesome to Watch The Game From the Press Box!

Many people think it would be an incredible experience to watch a professional football game from the Press Box. And it is. Just not for the reasons you think.

First of all, the nicest people you see all day long are the people working the hardest and respected the least by the people with whom they'll come in contact. They're the security detail that check your credentials upon entry into the facility and ensure that you're not packing heat or transporting dangerous materials. And they do it with a smile!

Then you interact with the nattily-attired and pleasant Red Coat ambassadors of Reliant Stadium who guide you to the access-controlled elevators to whisk you away to the 8th level that contains the broadcast booths for radio (T.V. is on 3), coaches' booths, and 3 rows of press box seating for roughly 250 credentialed media and the Houston Texans communications and public relations department.

As you step off the elevator you sign in and get situated at your assigned seating, which is set up according to where you fall within the Houston Media Aristocracy. Ranking highest, of course, is Big Mac, flanked by his beautiful maiden and court of loyal lords. They sit front row, 50-yard line.

It is from there that the palpable pettiness of Junior High School raises its pathetic head as people jockey for status and respect from one another that no one is willing to give but all so hungrily seek.

Pre-Season TV dwarfs dressed with wardrobe as if an "extra" somewhere between Urban Cowboy and Saved by The Bell pretend to be above the excitement of attending and enjoying privileged access at one of only 16 games the world's most compelling sport is presenting. Bitter failed comedians perpetrating program directors sulk and skulk. Faltering 2nd and 3rd rate sports radio hosts desperately scan the room to find someone else transfixed by their presence, while failing miserably to appear aloof. Oh, and they speak just a little too loudly to ensure that everyone can hear them as they comment on everything from the complimentary fare to their views on the previous day's college games to what they think would be a terribly original headline to encapsulate either the play that just transpired or the entire game.

And national media that may be on hand chuckle under their breath at the ridiculousness they observe. But at least they don't look on them with disdain as is the case from Houston Texans staff that if their team is winning, question your existence and right to be there covering the team...but if their team is losing, want to kick everyone out of the party they wish they didn't have to host in the first place.

But, other than that...it's Awesome to watch the game from the Press Box!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Houston Texans The Fantastiks of the AFC South

The Paper Texan wrote this Summer that Houston Texans fans could expect a 7-1 start that would then be met with some pretty tough sledding in the form of a rough 2-5 stretch before winning their final game of the regular season at home against Jacksonville for a franchise best 10-6 record and Wild-Card Playoff Berth. Of course that first half prediction was based on beating Dallas week #3, but hey, I'm the Paper Texan...not the Paper Perfect!

I'm thinking that 2nd half of the season tough sledding of 2-5 looks as likely to be 4-3 with a split against consecutive road opponents Jags (W) and Jets (L) and a couple of victories as they host the Titans (W) and are rude guests in Philly(W) before a couple of losses at home to Baltimore (L) and at Tennessee (L) preceding a win at Denver (W).

It's those two losses that worry me much more about the fans than the team itself. It will mean they have to go at least 3 weeks without their team winning...and that's presuming things go right late in the season at likely snowy Invesco Field. That's the new definition of dry-spell for this team. Nice, isn't it?!!

So, when you're suffering the trials and tribulations of 3 weeks passing between victories, try to remember the kind of September we had...and gear up for some Post-Season Football with maybe even a home playoff game as a result of, dare I say it, an 11-5 record!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Cowboys Break Texans

This was not the Dallas Cowboys' first rodeo, and they proved it by breaking the Houston Texans' quest to remain undefeated through its first 3 games of the 2010 season for the first time in franchise history. Dallas owned Houston with a 27 - 13 victory that was not as close as better than lapping the Texans might sound.

Desperate and 0 - 2, Dallas came to Houston for a contest that locals hoped would result in Texas Pro-Football little brother finally getting the best of the perennial relatively superior neighbor to the north. It was not to be, as the Cowboys for the better part of 59 minutes faced an opponent whose point total was less than its total number of possessions with a couple of measly field goals to show for an afternoon of missed opportunities and failed execution.

When that kind of stagnant production includes the inability to punch it in with First and Goal from inside the 1-yard line, it's pretty clear the mindset of the two teams on the field and who will win the game. Couple with that a Dallas offense that finally delivered on its potential with better than 75% efficiency, 284 yards, 2:0 TD/int ratio and a 127 QB rating for Romo...and Houston had no shot.

Specifically, a continuation of a porous secondary exploited by potent passing attacks made swiss-cheese of the Texans' defense as Dez Bryant was a beast for the Cowboys, and Roy Williams played like a superstar with 2 TD receptions. The defense could not get off the field, or be kept off of it by Schaub and the offense. This was in no small part due to the ineffectiveness of Rashad Butler, replacement for suspended Duane Brown, lining up across from DeMarcus Ware who notched 3 sacks and led a D-line that created havoc for Matt Schaub all day long.

Dallas came to play and win and Houston was an obliging host.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Fans' Reaction to Texans' Suspensions Reveal True Sentiment: Just Win Baby!

Remember when the Houston Texans were pure as the wind-driven snow and losers? Then they were lovable and stuck in win-lose purgatory with two consecutive .500 seasons? Not 100 days after completion of the first winning season in franchise history, Brian Cushing illustrated that innocence is the first casualty of success in the NFL when he revealed he had tested positive for banned substances, and was handed down a 4-game suspension.

Now, not even 100 hours after the franchise's first overtime victory enroute to a 2 - 0 beginning to a promising season, Duane Brown is accepting and beginning sentence immediately on his 4-game suspension for banned substances.

I'm waiting to hear from a single Houston Texans fan that it will negatively impact either their feelings or allegiance to the team. Conveniently pointed out is that there were no victims or reckless behavior that potentially threatened people other than themselves. No DUIs, no domestic abuse charges, no drug dealing, etc.

But the team, if only because of a couple of players, is being reasonably identified as comprised of some who, at worst, will do whatever it takes to win. And, at best, will not take into account the benefits of leveraging every organization-provided advantage available to ensure that they avoid unfortunate test results.

Houston Texans---you're better than that.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Texans Put Redskins on Ice

The Houston Texans stared defeat square in the eyes during a tough Sunday afternoon road game and didn't blink. Trailing by 17 late in the 3rd quarter, the offense began to click. The role players began to produce and its stars began to shine. Matt Schaub finished with 73% efficiency on 38 of 52 pass attempts with a 3:1 TD/int ratio and a QB rating of 114.

Arian Foster's relatively diminished output of 60+ yards rushing was nicely complemented with 3 catches for another 60+ yards that put his total production over 130. Jacoby Jones continued his development with a nifty goal line touchdown pattern early in the game and a crucial crunch-time reception late in the contest in front of the opponent's sideline. Kevin Walters and Andre Johnson combined for over 300 yards and a touchdown each with their sterling play.

But credit MUST be given to the defense that for the better part of 3 quarters was rung up for 27 points as Donovan McNabb had just his 3rd 400-yard passing game in his illustrious 12 year career. They finally stiffened, and Bernard Pollard pulling duty on special teams incredibly blocked a Graham Gano field goal attempt that turned out to be an ominous sign for the rookie kicker from Florida State that otherwise probably would have "iced" the game with a 10-point lead. Taking over on downs and trailing 27 – 20, the Texans drove down the field with brave catches by Walters, Daniels and Dreesen over the middle, and a miracle 4th and 10 35-yard “jump ball” touchdown to Johnson to tie the game and force overtime.

The icewater in the veins of a defense that didn't allow another point by the Redskins, the steadfast faith in that squad by Gary Kubiak to punt away the ball and play field position after failing to convert with the overtime period's first possession, and the "icing of the kicker" that worked effectively against Gano to negate his otherwise successful first attempt at a 52-yard game-winner... meant Houston would prevail with their own game-winning field goal of 35 yards by Neil Rackers.

The Texans have returned home to Houston with a 2 - 0 record to host a no-doubt desperate 0 - 2 Dallas Cowboys team this Sunday in Reliant Stadium.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Price of Success

The price of success is the expectation of continued achievement, and the bill begins to accrue immediately.

The Houston Texans' defeat of division nemesis Indianapolis resulted in a well-deserved moment of congratulations among players, coaches, and executives. They then turned their attention towards this weekend for the season's first road game in week #2 against the also 1-0 Washington Redskins.

A nationally televised Sunday afternoon game that leads into The NFL on CBS post-game show is a tremendous opportunity for the nation to finally recognize the merit of the Houston Texans. Highlighted will be a review of their week #1 victory over Manning and the Colts, and what that represented, but only if the team showed maturity for a road victory in front of a crowd 30% larger than that which they play in front of in Houston. That's what it will take for the Texans to return home 2-0 for only the second time in franchise history to face the under-performing Dallas Cowboys.

And therein lies the challenge. The coaches have got to deliver on preparation, and the players on dedication, consistency, and continuity of teamwork and execution...all while maintaining and building on resiliency, resolve, and reaction to the challenges of winning on the road.

If they are successful, theirs will be a victory with a reward of immense hunger to host Dallas in week #3 of the regular season as they did in week #3 of the pre-season: With a complete thrashing!

Hey Houston Texans...Get your wallets out!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

You've read the rest...Here's the best!

Very well-behaved well-to-do Indianapolis fans had flown down to Houston with their team for the Houston Texans home opener in Reliant Stadium. As they watched from the sideline during Pre-Game warm up, they informed me of just what to expect from Peyton Manning and the rest of the Colts: Domination!

"They simply just don't lose in September. Although we respect (code for they try, but can't win) the Texans, they just can't handle the firepower of Indy."

Then, it happened. The Houston Texans organization, coaching staff, and players delivered on their promise of an entire off-season's worth of preparation. The players displayed a team mindset as a unit, not individual players that may or may not add up to a successful play, series, quarter, or game. They flawlessly executed schemes and plays that yielded sustained drives with TDs on offense, curtailed drives on defense, and yielded all important field position on special teams.

A Texans 34 - 24, never-trailed victory was the result of a franchise record-setting day on rushing attempts and rushing yards by a single back, defense that perfectly blended pressure and punishment to yield timely turnovers, and a crowd whose energy infused the team, and vice-versa.

But most impressive was that after such a statement of a season opening win against the perennial division big brother, to a man the team spoke with humble perspective about what the victory meant: a chance to prepare for next week with a victory under their belt.

This team has flown under the radar this off season, and upcoming opponents are as clueless about these new Texans as were the Colts! Their next two opponents - Washington and Dallas - played each other last night and combined for less than two offensive touchdowns.

Here comes the best!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Sweet Caroline

With less than a week to go before the NFL Season begins, let's momentarily distract ourselves from the delicious anticipation of the Houston Texans' campaign by allowing me to divert your attention to the U.S. Open in Flushing Meadow, New York. And in honor of newest Houston Texan Matt Leinart, let's do it with just a bit too much "horn-dog-iness"!

It's a good thing Caroline Wozniacki had just a LITTLE more of that neon, Day-Glo Yellow nail polish so she could then ALSO paint on those shorts she was wearing underneath that waist-length bustier masquerading as a tennis outfit.

I mean, is she the women's #1 Seed at the U.S. Open, or one of The PussyCat Dolls?!!!

I haven't had a crush on a tennis player this bad since Andre Agassi himself brought HIS tight little stone-washed, denim-clad money-maker and long, flowing gold mane to the game. And speaking of a man whose return was legendary...Wozniacki is incredible! Everything you hit to her, no matter how good, SHE HITS BACK!

Wozniacki? More like "Wall"zniacki. And when you factor in her femme fatal looks, it's "Balls to the 'Wall'zniacki"!

And speaking of Andre...Has anyone seen him lately? How do we know she isn't really him? How do we know that he hasn't once again stapled an overly-bleached blonde wig to his head to thrill a U.S. Open crowd with his amazing play?!!!

Just Kidding, Caroline...You're sweet, indeed!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Random Thoughts

Before we have to take steps to try to prevent Tom Coughlin and the New York Giants from “going David Tyree” on Victor Cruz, you know…cutting the player making the most sensational, athletic, game-changing receptions of the game…

Can we talk about Eli’s Dome going Sno-Cone Syrup Topping Dispenser! "All I got is Red, kid. No, no lime…no I DON’T have pineapple, I got RED!”


I thought Saw VII was already in the can for release next month. Gor-Y! I’m guessing he’ll be rocking that scar tissue getting re-opened every weekend for the rest of his NFL career!

Back to Cruz…he did more for Darelle Revis’ cause than Neil Schwartz and Jon Feinsod ever could. I realize he did it against the twos and threes, but perception is reality: They’re vulnerable to passing attack down the edges and need their shut down corner. Period.

Looks like the Jersey Shore kids are going to have to invite to live with them the newest trash fascination that is Bo Wyble and Sara Saco Vertiz…the couple from the Astros Game where she was hit by a foul ball from which he failed to protect her.

Now I’m told we can expect more sordid, salacious details of their relationship:
Ecstasy Parties, Nude Pictures, “Getting Down” on video…

Snookie, baby, Your Crew’s got nothing on these two! “That’s one foul ball…That’s one foul ball, Kid! That’s one foul ball!”

Hey, Francisco Rodriguez,

You DO know, don't you, that the "K" in K-Rod is supposed to stand for the number of "K"s you rack up against opposing batters...right?

It DOES NOT stand for the "K" in "TKO" for knocking out your kids’ grandfather following a tough home-loss to the Rockies!

Do you see Francisco working? After his two-game suspension without pay, he rejoined the team on Saturday and pitched against the Phillies…Without having first reported that his hand was injured prior to taking the bump. I think it may be more difficult for the Mets to claim the injury was non-baseball related than they might immediately and reasonably think.

Did you catch the act of Larry Legend’s Pacers’ first round draft choice Lance Stephenson?

Pushes his girlfriend down a flight of stairs when she comes home late from partying, bashes her head in the stairs…and the Judge releases him with no Bail?

Who’s the Judge…Lawrence Phillips?

What’s the Judge's next act, failing to pick up a blitzing linebacker to end the career of an NFL hall of fame Quarterback?

First, we had LeBron dunking after freight-training on a fast-break against 6 year olds...

Now, Dwayne Wade is sending toddlers' "tear drops" in the paint to the other end of the court.

HU-HU, HU...HU-mil-i-a-ting...for him, that is. THAT's the memory you're going to leave that kid with?

That would be like Jerry Jones instead of giving a child a 1-Day contract for the Cowboys...instead leaving a "Sharpie"-diagramed explanation of why he was "cut" from the team on a linen tablecloth.

What's getting more tired...?

The NBA All-Star Weekend Slam Dunk Contest...or football players that think they can pull off the athleticism in cleats, pads, and helmet who fail miserably.

Did you catch that FAIL by Ravens' lineman Joe Reitz (Western Michigan University). I'm half-thinking Troy Smith (Ohio State) told him to do it just to make ANYone from Michigan look bad.

Did you catch the act of Matt Barnes, recent acquisition of the Los Angeles Lakers?

I don't know which of the following three things is most embarrassing:

1. That he was playing for a Summer Recreational League Team that "self-glossed" themselves Dream Team,

2. That he went "Man's Game, Bitch!" against opponent Gold Rush's assistant coach Rick Lewis when he slapped him for mouthing off, or

3. That he gave himself credit for regaining his composure, because after all..."We Won a Championship!"

Matt, you're joining one of professional sports' most storied franchises. They win REAL championships...WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS!

"Hey, Kobe, nice little run you've had, but check out this sweet championship jewelry!"

You DO know you don't get a ring, right? You DO know that you're not going to have "Mad-Dod Madsen" speaking at the culmination of your victory parade, right? You DO know you’re not going to have a parade, right?

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Problem w/ The Texans

First of all...Yes, I know it was just a pre-season game.

But, when you say the following out loud, it is true, irrefutable, and eerily reminiscent of all too many heart-breaking dynamics of 2009 losses:

The Houston Texans lost by a margin that otherwise would have been overcome had their starting running back not fumbled away the ball at the goal line when he should have been going in for a score.

It just has to stop ! ! ! ! !

Friday, August 6, 2010

The Andre Johnson You Don't Know

You know Andre Johnson is the only wide-receiver along with Jerry Rice to lead the NFL two consecutive seasons, and the only wide-receiver along with Marvin Harrison to lead the NFL two consecutive seasons with greater than 1,500 yards.

You know he's the only wide-receiver to do both. You know he's the NFL's best at what he does. And you now know he's the highest paid, at $10.5 million per year over the next 7 years.

What you may not know is how hard working, grounded, humble, and generous he is. The Houston Texans hosted the Minnesota Vikings with Brett Favre, who had been with the team all of about 5 minutes, for a pre-season Monday Night Football game last August.

All the media were covering the Vikings and Brett after their victory. Long after the commotion, Andre was the only player...the only PERSON left in the Texans locker room. As I entered the home team's lair, I approached Andre not sure of the demeanor with which he would respond.

He had me pull out a chair, sit with him in front of his locker, and after we spoke briefly about the game played, we just talked route-running for 15 minutes. How to get off the line, how to cut, how to separate from the defense, how to find the soft spots in the zone.

As a frustrated football player that loves running routes and still playing football, it was an awesome experience. Andre Johnson makes it very easy to celebrate his success and rewards, and root for great things this season for him and the Houston Texans.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Brett Favre is Not Retired!

The now perennial and practically ceremonial charade by Brett Favre has all the legitimacy of a Third World Presidential Election Victory Parade: We've seen it before, and we ought to have expected it!!!

I spoke to Brett 36 hours after he joined The Vikings last summer, and I asked him, "Brett, what's different now? What is it that you've learned about yourself with this new organization and your teammates, that even as an 18 year veteran, you didn't know a week and a half ago?" He gave a rambling ten-minute answer that rivaled any performance of the soliloquy from Shakespeare's Macbeth, but it also included a very simple, "Well, Mike, I learned that I CAN still play!"

And he was right, he balled all season! So far the most compelling story this Training Camp Season has to offer is Dez Bryant's soap opera evolving from PadGate to a high ankle sprain, T.O hookin' up with C.O., Albert Haynesworth "love spat" with Shanny, the trail left by L.T. in San Diego, and Darrell Revis holding out for more money in New York. Yawn.

You and I NOW know one thing: Brett Favre is not going to allow himself to be supplanted as the daily, ALL DAY, lead story of the NFL the rest of summer, and that as long as this story is reported with phraseology along the lines of "unnamed sources, under condition of anonymity, etc.", and until Brett's backside is on the couch on Kick Off Weekend...


Thursday, July 29, 2010

P90X Rage

Don't look now, but you're being duped!

Haven't you heard? It's all about P90X these days. If you can't commit to an exercise and diet routine to attain a body reminiscent of a science book diagram of the human muscular system, then you just aren't worthy of a damn thing!

Let me get this straight. I've been doing it all wrong, huh? Swimming a mile several evenings a week, lifting weights 5 times a week, riding my bike 10 miles a morning 4 times a week, playing football and tennis in the Texas heat and the Houston humidity, all while participating in a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, grains, protein, lots of water, and limited carbs and sugar isn't going to get it done?

You don't need this new P90X fad if you've maintained freindships, personal relationships and a life of balanced perspective that does not require a date with your DVD-player and kitchen stool late at night long after the family has given up on getting any attention from you.

Here's the challenge I'm throwing out for all talkers: I'll out-run, out-swim, out-bike, out-lift, out-play, and out-hustle for an unbelievable play/shot/catch/jump any P90X user.

Bring It!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Cue Phil Collins: This Story is Against All Odds

I love sports. L O V E.

I've been a fan since I was 8. And by fan, I mean I was tormented by disappointment and delirious from success. I am also a long-time fan of creative expression that makes no apology for being unique. Couple that with my appetite to challenge contemporary and conventional wisdom, and I naturally gravitated toward the flavor of the nation's best sports commentary-themed radio show.

You know which one!

Realizing for a long time that I shared the same energy, enthusiasm, and creative element of the host and his loyal band of brothers that shared his vision, I dreamed of one day being in a position to contribute to the show.

I felt I was in the studio with him, "spotting" him lines and ideas just before he needed them. And then he spoke them! I watched him drop from the sky in a helicopter in Portland. I watched him improve his on-camera presence from one television production to the next, all the while knowing my true calling was to work with the best ever as he became the greatest there would ever be!

So I honed my craft, practiced interviewing legends, and wrote on things that were in people's sub-conscience, but had yet to realize they were thinking. And I got good at it. Really good.

When my preparation had simmered to a perfectly slow boil, I reached out. The host was impressed, both with my material and my perspective. The fact that I ferreted out a means by which to make contact with him favored me as well. It probably said something about initiative, as opposed to stalking or desperation. And I appreciate his distinction.

I suppose it would have been great if this had happened sooner, but...

You Can't Hurry Love.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Yankees Drank from Giant Steinbrenner

George Steinbrenner came into this world with a bang on the 4th of July. A life of 80 years was commemorated at MLB's All Star Game Tuesday night when he died that morning of a massive heart attack.

For all the easy, convenient, accurate, and appropriate attacks on the man, one thing cannot be denied. He was a fighter, an innovator, a visionary, and a champion. Greater than 25% of the team's 40 American League Penants 27 World Series were under his reign.

The dictator King George ruled harshly without hesitation, and contributed selflessly to the lives of those less fortunate than him with unmitigated modesty and annonymity. All the while sustaining through 4 decades a Yankee spirit that transcended the team and its championship titles to the fans who celebrated them throughout the world.

For all the glory he earned, he just as bravely stood defiantly in the face of criticism. All he insisted on was achieving excellence, and settling for nothing less than complete focus on his goals by those whom he had charged with responsibility.

Short is the list of great accomplished men without detractors.

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Paper Dog Days of Summer

1. The Astros are on pace to lose 100 games this season.
2. The Rangers, the only other alternative to Texas baseball, just lost all 4 games at home to the Orioles!
3. FIFA just took 1 month to crown a world champion with a game that went 3 hours of broadcast without a goal before finally ending with a score of 1 - 0.
4. I resent having to call a score of 0 "Nil"!
5. FIFA Referees either don't know the rules, don't care about the rules, or are unable to call a game according to the rules.
6. You can play the ball while standing out of bounds!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
7. Players writhing in pain one second during defense are sprinting full-speed on offense the next second.
8. Vuvuzelas
9. 90-second in duration proclamations of "Gooooooooooooooooooooooooooooal!"
10. Seriously, If I never hear another vuvuzela, it'll be too soon!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

We Have Seen the LeBron

Pogo said, "We have seen the enemy, and he is us!"

LeBron James will announce his decision regarding his future during a Live 1-hour television broadcast tonight on ESPN. Many quickly and conveniently point to their disdain for such a display of ego, arrogance, and hubris by the self-monikered Chosen 1, as he has tattooed across his back. But the source of the problem is that the very people who complain about the presence of birds continue to feed them.

It makes about as much sense as complaining about the grocery store tabloids' salacious front page headlines. We live in a capitalist, consumer-based society. The point is this: If we could not or would not financially support the industry of celebrity, it would cease to exist.

Complaining about the fevered pitch of anticipation regarding LeBron's decision is like jumping on a Pogo-stick: Though you create a bit of a spectacle, it wastes alot of energy...and in the end, you don't really get anywhere!

Monday, June 28, 2010

I Come to Bury US Soccer

Friends, Americans, countrymen, lend me your ears;
I come to bury US Soccer, not to praise it;
The vile taste that sports leaves lives after it,
Their good is oft interred with their clippings and highlights,
So let it be with US Soccer...

The noble broadcasters hath told you US Soccer was ambitious:
If it were so, it was a grievous fault,
And grievously hath US Soccer answered it
Here, under leave of analysts and the rest,
(For noble broadcasters are honorable men;
So are they all; all honorable men)
Come I to write on US Soccer's funeral...
It was my passion, faithful and just to me:
But broadcasters say it was ambitious;
And broadcasters are honorable men...

It hath brought many youth sports leagues to America,
Whose ransoms did the general coffers fill:
Did this in US Soccer seem ambitious?
When that the smaller, less athletic cried, US Soccer hath wept:
Ambition should be made of sterner stuff:
Yet broadcasters say it was ambitious;
And broadcasters are honorable men.

You all did see that on the SportsCenter
it was thrice presented a kingly crown,
Which it did thrice refuse: was this ambition?
Yet broadcasters say it was ambitious;
And, sure, they are honorable men.

I speak not to disprove what broadcasters spoke,
But here I am to speak what I do know.
You all did love US Soccer once, not without cause,
Capri Suns, or orange slices.
What cause withholds you then to mourn for it?
O judgement! thou art fled to brutish beasts,
And men have lost their reason...

Bear with me; My heart is in the coffin there with US Soccer,
And I must pause till it come back to me.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Flag Football Guy

As heard from "Four-9" Knapp, aka The Paper Texan, on the Jim Rome Show Tuesday, June 22, 2010:

Flag Football Guy...

1. wastes untold time of the company he works for running his team and league for which he is an "officer" on their fictionally delusional Board of Directors
2. uses up all the binding materials that are supposed to be for presenting proposals to prospects and clients because he used it for playbooks to distribute to the rest of the team
2. has set up his e-mail so that his address contains as its domain the name of the team, or worse, also includes its motto: #80@hyenas-get-it-done.com
4. schedules practices, and threatens disciplinary action against team mates who don't make it or are late
5. sends out multiple motivational "blast-texts" to the whole team
6. keeps paper and pen on the nightstand in case he wakes up in the middle of the night with a great idea for a play
7. has intricate system of audibles to be called in certain situations
8. has a system of "call signals" (like "Four - 9", or "All Day") for teammates that rival even those of "Maverick", "Goose", or "Ice Man"
9. has plays drawn up on his QB wristband that is only a little more embarrassing than the fact that he's wearing the earring he wore during his high school state championship game.
10. practices throughout the brutal summers in Houston in 100+ degrees when the league doesn't even start until January
11. bases workouts and practices upon what he saw at Houston Texans OTAs he snuck into
12. works on his footwork for routes and "cuts" while in line at the bank
13. approaches complete strangers about playing for the team

Monday, June 14, 2010

Blow It Out Your Vuvu!

"A society is ultimately judged by how it treats its weakest and most vulnerable members."

But it SHOULD be judged by whether or not it allows vuvuzelas at its sporting events.

South Africa is both host to the FIFA 2010 World Cup, and source of mankind's most originally annoying sound. By failure to appropriately acknowledge the worldwide rage at the cacophony, FIFA will inexplicably allow it to continue.

Translation: the desire of the crowd to be a more compelling component than the game itself is proof once and for all that soccer...yes, soccer, deserves to be considered no more than a slightly amusing activity only barely more relevant than the other suspensions of reality that is elementary school recess: Kick-Ball, Four-Square, and Duck, Duck, Goose!

Gee whiz, soccer...I thought you said you wanted to finally be taken seriously.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Justice: The First Casualty of Pride

Jim Joyce. A name now synonymously analogous to the danger of not evolving. I'm not speaking of Jim Joyce, but Major League Baseball itself! Joyce's blown call of the game's 27th out cost Detroit Pitcher Armando Gallarraga a perfect game. Instant Replay would have effectively, efficiently, and rightly corrected the admittedly sans prejudice injustice. Instead, baseball fans were robbed of the sport's 21st Perfect Game of all time with what would have ridiculously totalled 3 in just the past 4 weeks!

Ah, but pride raises its ugly head yet again. I write not of the pride of universally recognized by players, management, and broadcasters alike as MLB's most admired and appreciated umpire. It is the pride of the game itself that steadfastly insists on resisting adapting policy and adopting technology to improve the accuracy of the game played and the integrity of the record books it claims are so sacred.

I often speak to those who can stand the sound of my voice and the length of my comments that the value of sports is in the lessons it offers that transcend the diamond, field, court, and ice to our personal and professional lives. Honor, commitment, loyalty...that sort of thing.

Jim Joyce owned the bad call, apologized to the person he hurt most, and made no excuses. Let's hope Commissioner Selig finally sees the value in honoring Jim Joyce's courageous admission with one of his own:

Baseball needs comprehensive instant replay.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The Paper Texan's Day Off

Gummi bear? It's been in my pocket; they're real warm and soft.

I can picture you reading this right now: Dead tired on Day One of your return to work after a nightmare holiday weekend. A weekend that, despite the best of intentions, had all the allure of a real-life Ed Rooney experience.

You've been outsmarted by disrespectful teens, hurt from social and cultural institutions, and beaten down by your all too frequent self-admission that you are not where you thought you'd be twenty years ago. But you can relax because the unofficial beginning of Summer has struck like a Grandfather Clock in the middle of the night: unapologetic, without the least chance that you did not hear it, and the knowledge that its echo will not soon depart your senses.

The aforementioned chime is the realization that the Astros are officially imploding. The core players are not delivering, USDA prime pitchers are melting down, and management is unwilling to accept that a turnaround is as unlikely as a humidity-free Houston summer.

As disgusted as you may be with the current professional sports climate locally, celebrate instead the national and nostalgic reminiscent return to the sports legend lore of yesteryear: Lakers v. Celtics. There'll be no McHale clotheslining of Rambis, or Magic fast-break dishes, but you can join in on the festivity of great competition.

And you better. Try to fight off and not be distracted by the peripherally nauseating thought of the next taste that's coming soon to Houston sports fans, because here comes Football. A sport whose local franchise's playbook is as full of excuses as it is successes.

Houston Football? It's been in my pocket; it's real warm and soft.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

BP Spill at Texans OTAs

You've heard about the BP spill, gushing and spewing forth liquid energy threatening to impact everything and everyone with whom it comes in contact.

I'm talking about, of course, Bernard Pollard. He provided the soundtrack of enthusiasm for the Houston Texans at their organized training activities. Gutteral barks and roaring approval for drills, assignments, and effort by his teammates filled the air. This city was concerned about the void that would be left by the departure of the spirited Dunta Robinson. I'm here to report the void has been filled and our cup runneth over. No blowout preventer is going to put a cap on Pollard's intensity.

A seasoned veteran amp'd up to be on the field for voluntary workouts, #31 was leading by example. Other respected players were present and performed, but with a relatively subdued and casual style. Pollard and his presence transcended the event. He rode the stationary bike between drills, treated the blocking sled like you'd do Delonte West after finding his name in your mother's cell phone, and ruled the day with a fevered pitch just above that of a Pantera concert.

He spoke to me of the need for the team to be hungry, demand respect, and if it's not given...TAKE IT! I brought up the slow start of the squad in 2009, and asked who the leader of the defense is. BP confidently responded, "We're ALL leading by example. We're going to hit the ground running Week 1!"


Friday, May 14, 2010

Brian's Song

Brian Cushing, AP Defensive Rookie of the Year despite requiring a voter recount in light of the surfacing of his having tested positive for a banned substance, spoke publicly and answered questions regarding this issue for the first and last time at Reliant Stadium in front of hoards of local and national media.

The press conference consisted of a 3-minute statement and 17 minutes of Q & A that because of the dynamic imposed by the organization, didn't allow for follow-up questions to explanations devoid of reason, logic, or probability. Of a dubious nature not seen since Slick Willy's "I did not have sex with that woman" were the overwhelming majority of the star linebacker's claims.

Cushing eluded to fear of tumors that could be the only culprit capable of causing a presence of hCG, given his training program and strictly adhering to a diet of supplements consistent with NFL standards. Though he spoke of a regimen as pure as the wind-driven snow, he slogged through excuses masquerading as explanations like curbside slush: yucky and miserable.

In the end, Brian's claims suffered the same result as that of a broken calculator: they just didn't add up. I have tumors, but I haven't pursued treatment...Tumors caused one indication of a presence of hCG, but no others...The NFL inaccurately defined me as guilty of taking banned substances, but I will pursue no vindication.

Brian's song was sour indeed.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Suspended Animation

Brian Cushing brought a ferocity and velocity, girth and worth, and athletic ability that yielded stability for a defense finally delivering for an organization in need of help on that side of the ball.

He brought to life the defense with a win at all costs attitude. Hard hits that occurered out of bounds?...15 yard penalty. But that same approach forced fumbles, harvested interceptions and echoed defensive scores.

That animated play is now officially suspended for the first quarter of the 2010 season that includes home games versus the Colts and Cowboys, and road games at Washington and Oakland. A schedule that was reasonably and realistically capable of 4 - 0 is now at risk of 0 - 4.

This was to be the year professional football in Houston took on a life of its own. Suspended animation, indeed!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Texans Fishing for Success

The business at hand this past NFL Draft weekend was shoring up the team that at best in the past has hung its hat on almost deserving the success it almost earned. Well, as Police Chief Martin Brody said, "That's some bad hat, Harry."

The SmithIak System of building through the draft and shrewdly acquiring talent and filling needs via intelligent trades and risk-balanced free agency, has left our organization's front office looking into the teeth of the beast they're trying to reel in.

"You're gonna need a bigger boat."

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Paper Karnak

It's time once again for the The Paper Texan to don the paper turban:

The Texans will start off 6 - 0 in a season where they sweep the NFC-East and set the city on fire with ridiculous expectations of a SuperBowl appearance. Now the bad news: upon responding to a then tough road loss at Indy to beat the Chargers at home and stand firmly at 7 - 1, the Texans go 2 - 5 before a week #17 win at home versus the Jaguars.

They will post a franchise best 10 - 6, and lose on the road in their first ever playoff game.

Despite the amazing start, the sweep of the NFC-East, finally splitting their division, and making it to the post-season, naysayers will call for the firing of Smith and Kubiak.

They will not be fired, and the Texans will continue forward, onward, and upward!

In my best Ed McMahon, sounding a bit too much like Marv Albert, "Yes!"

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Hey, Bartender...!

A week from tonight Houston and its Texans, hungry for the city's first playoffs victory since versus the Jets in 1991 and first playoffs appearance since losing to the Chiefs in 1993, set their sites on a successful season and playoffs participation.

They'll start by looking to have the most effective draft since 2006 when they picked up Mario Williams, DeMeco Ryans, Eric Winston, and Owen Daniels. A draft with just half that efficiency will leave the team relatively "shored up" enough to compete for the AFC-South. Or, at least to be the biggest sibling to "Division Big Brother" Peyton's Colts.

First their needs: an offensive line...stay healthy and they'll have it. Running backs to hold onto the ball...nothing a little concentration can't solve. Defensive pass rush...better help in the secondary will fix that!

The Texans are projected to procure University of Texas standout #12! No, not that #12...their other #12: Earl Thomas. He'll join a productive and ascending defensive unit that wonderfully mixes youth, athleticism, and an ignorance of what they are too young to achieve with a maturity and experience to help them achieve it anyway. Thomas, Ryans, Cushing, Williams, Smith, Diles, Reeves, and "Bonecrusher" Pollard...? Bring back the House of Pain!

"Bartender...'Gimme draw' of that 2010 Draft!"

Monday, April 12, 2010


2010: Twenty-Ten...

It's got a "half the distance to the goal" kind of "ring" to it, don't you think?

But, as you know, no matter how many times you're awarded half the distance to the goal, you never hit paydirt without delivering effort and execution on your part as well.

Can't you just smell, feel, and taste that the Texans are right there if a couple of things break their way this Draft and post-draft pre-season? What'll it be, and in what permutation: draft defensive bigs, or athletes? Or perhaps you prefer big beef up front on the O-line, or a running back witht the quicks to seize upon nicely executed blocking schemes? Do we then go out and round out the balance of our team's needs with cautious and heady free agent signings or shrewdly orchestrated trades? If the goal is a successful draft, off-season acquisitions, and a season that includes a playoff appearance, it's going to take effort and execution.

It's Twenty-Ten, make a good call!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Could've Been Awesome!

The Houston Texans want to make sure they are cautious with free agents this offseason in the face of no Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) for the 2010 campaign.

CBA should stand for "Could've Been Awesome", because after this upcoming season's potential disappointment from executive decisions justifying frugal cowardice as caution, we'll be left to ponder what could have been.

Because the Houston market and Houston Texans marketing bear no financial pressure whatsoever on sound personnel decisions, there is no excuse for not keeping in tact a swiftly improving defense that "has each other's back" and the chemistry-rich and talented receiving corp.

You're so close, Mr. McNair. Now is not the time to fall back on patronizing statements like, "Well, we did an analysis that shows spending money has no correlation to winning." Sir, bad teams that spend money badly skew that statistic in favor of the point that for some reason you want to make. There's no excuse to not keep what's working, and improve on it. You're so close.

This offseason is the watershed moment in your football ownership career. You can do what's necessary to right the ship after having stumbled with unfortunate decisions (Tony Boselli, David Carr, Ahman Green) , but gotten back up with smart moves.

Everyone's favorite commercial these days ends with, "Fortune Favors the Bold!" Share some of your fortune with some bold moves and we'll see you in the playoffs!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Balancing Act of Olympic Proportion

It's football. It's always been football. And it will always be football. Anything else is blatantly but mere filler. This week the NFL Combine takes place in Indianapolis to dissect the talent and project the potential of the country's best college football players who have declared themselves eligible for the 2010 Draft.

I know it's going to be difficult, but try to balance your excitement for the Olympics, anticipation of baseball, imminent March Madness, and the jostling for NBA playoff seeding with an appreciation for a real balancing act: The art of managing your emotional and visceral response to players at the combine with your cerebral recognition of what your team needs.

The business of football is one that calls for an exact science when there is none. That glaring deficiency is never more obvious than when reflecting on the results of the combine, upon which heavily rest decisions made in the Draft. Ultimately the question is, "Do we pick the best athlete, best football player, or best position player who fulfills our team's needs?"

It's enough to make your head swim. Example-based theories for all arguments abound, as does reasonable criticism of the eventual choice. But understand this: the foundation for success for a Houston Texans 2010 campaign begins this week. It's a balancing act of Olympic proportion!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Jet Set Season

Forgive the poetic symmetry that the Houston Texans' season ended the same way it began: with a New York Jets victory.

The Houston Texans finished above .500 with a 9-7 record with their 34 - 27 victory over the New England Patriots at Reliant Stadium. But to make the playoffs, they would also need the Jets to lose against the Bengals in the league's last game played on the last day of the regular season. It was not to be as New York trounced Cincinnati 37 - 0.

Ultimately, however, this organization can hang its hat on this: four players sent to the Pro Bowl in Miami, a winning record for the first time in franchise history, and a season where their final effort included a 4th quarter 21-straight-point "come-from-behind" victory over the New England Patriots.

I hope your bags are packed for a 2010 season playoff appearance. Please return your seat back and tray table to their stowed positions...I have a feeling this team is getting ready to take off!