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!