So, I thought I was young. Even when I started writing this article, which prompted me to remember the roots of my football fandom – bringing me back to 1998 or so – I still thought I was young. Then, I read the two most recent writer introductions on this site and they had to reach way back to 2013 and 2010 for their introductions to football and Texans misery.
I started college in 2010. I was a year into my marriage at 2013. I looked at my kids, stood as my knees popped, and reflexively said to the four-year-old, “But defense still wins championships, right?”.
He looked away in disgust, so I turned to the eighteen-month-old.
“Joe Montana is the best to ever do it?”
He looked at me and his eyes (not his voice because of his surprisingly poor vocabulary) replied, “Tom Brady is the GOAT and Patrick Mahomes might be on his tail.”
I, very suddenly, felt the years the Texans have put on me.
But my football love didn’t start with the Texans. It started in 1998 or so. I was five years old and remember the tail ends of the careers of Dan Marino, Steve Young, and John Elway, along with the beginning of Peyton Manning’s career. I watched all of them equally because I grew up in Las Vegas, without a team to call my own.
Note: For the really young fans (looking at you, Carlos), this was before the Raiders moved there.
I remember learning to throw a spiral because of their greatness. Which, with small, five-year-old Asian hands, is actually quite a feat. I was hooked. None of my family watched sports, but I started that year. I learned the game, started to play for my schools, and when Janet Jackson’s infamous halftime performance found its way to my TV, I became a man.
Then, at thirteen (oddly, the same age the two newest writers also became Texans fans), we moved to Corpus Christi. Finally, I could have a team of my own! But would it be the Texans or the Cowboys?
I rationalized that since the Texans were new and I’d watched them since their inception, it would be like a lifetime fandom. My fate was sealed. After all these years, they bring me misery, but at least I’m not a Cowboys fan.
So, in 2007’s preseason, I watched them almost beat the Super Bowl runner-up Chicago Bears. “Well, they were leading when the starters sat,” I would say proudly. Then in Week 3 of that preseason – as everyone knows, it’s the most serious dress rehearsal, of course – they did it. They beat the Cowboys handily, 28-16. It was doubly sealed. The Texans were mine and I was theirs.
The season started and they beat the Chiefs. I remember Mario Williams rumbling 38 yards for a TD. “More TDs on the season than Reggie Bust (sic) and VY,” we would say on the forums. I remember Andre Johnson’s 77-yard touchdown over eventual Texans great Bernard Pollard, and Mark Vandermeer’s call, “Rock and Roll. Andre Johnson, 77 yards, for the score.”
Ahman Green even briefly looked good on those two ground beef bags he called hamstrings. I remember Matt Schaub throwing an interception in the back of the end zone, on the left side I believe, and him tapping his helmet indicating, “Boneheaded throw; it’s on me” and thinking, ‘Oh yeah, it won’t impact the game; he’s learning from it already.’
Week Two started and the Panthers jumped out to an early lead with two touchdowns from Jake Delhomme (another Texans great) to Steve Smith. But Matt and Andre would foreshadow the dynamic duo they would become by roaring back with two of their own. Dunta Robinson got a pick, Amobi Okoye got a sack. Ron Dayne rumbled to life. Some say Dayne still travels three yards everywhere he goes; never more and, most importantly, never fewer.
The Houston Texans’ official site wrote a piece about Andre starting a new tradition of keeping his TD balls starting that season because “They mean something different now,” he said.
I felt it. I turned to my sister and said, “I don’t see them losing this year.”
The next week, the Colts spanked the Texans like they would for the next three years. Every loss after that is my fault because I jinxed them. Writing about them now is my penance. I’m sorry. Please forgive me for the posts I have not written yet.
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