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ESPN Article -- "Don't Mess with the Texans"

Discussion in 'Houston Texans' started by MadMax, Dec 2, 2004.

  1. MadMax

    MadMax Contributing Member

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    http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=fleming/041201

    By David Fleming
    Page 2

    On a recent visit to Reliant Stadium, home of the suddenly respectable Houston Texans, I had barely even said hello to veteran tight end Mark Bruener when tears began streaming down the big guy's rectangle face. Hmm. What gives, I wondered.

    Had Bruener, like myself, seen the massive display in the opulent marble and glass lobby of the stadium commemorating Alabama's 2003 farewell tour and laughed himself goofy, as I had done moments earlier? Had he watched as workers hauled out the 130 (I counted) empty (I checked) kegs of beer from the previous game and cried in quiet reflection, as I had, at such a magnificently depressing sight? Had he been scared silly, like I had, by the quilters who had overtaken Houston with their annual convention?


    Or had he, perhaps, taken a moment to reflect upon how Houston had finally begun to shed its expansion tag and earn the respect of the NFL?


    "Dang contacts," he said with a shrug. "I just got a new pair and, man, shoot, they're really irritating my eyes."


    At some point this season, though, there will be real tears shed by grown men in Houston. I promise. At 5-6, unless they get transferred out of the freakishly competitive AFC, the Texans aren't going to the playoffs. But in my petty world they'll get to do the next best thing: wreck it for somebody else. Or at least help determine who goes and where they get seeded. In just their third year the Texans, along with the Bengals, Bills, Chiefs and Panthers, are one of those dangerously resilient teams no one wants to be playing in the final month of the season.


    (Think: Cardinals-Vikes in the 2003 regular season finale in a classic tilt that kept Minnie out of the playoffs.)


    Ya know, just when the Eagles start clinching division titles before Thanksgiving, it's teams like the Texans who promise to make the final month of the season wilder than a bunch of quilters at an Alabama concert with 130 empty kegs of beer.


    First up for the Texas spoilers: The New York Jets who will likely be flying standby for the playoffs if they fall into the same trap as the Titans did last week. On Sunday, Tennessee had Houston down 21-10 at the half when QB David Carr shrugged his shoulders and told his team to stay loose because, heck, "things can't get any worse." Carr took his own advice and in the third quarter went 9-for-9 for 83 yards, two TDs and a near-perfect 144.7 passer rating as the Texans discarded the Titans like one of those ... yuuurp ... empty kegs.


    It's hard trying to find something to dislike about David Carr.
    On Sunday they did what no one has ever been able to accomplish: they made a warrior like Steve McNair, perhaps the toughest player in the league -- player I said, not quarterback -- think about hanging 'em up. While on the other sidelines Carr, who is impossible to dislike, by the way, officially turned a corner as a passer -- and a leader. Domanick Davis rushed for 129 yards. And in the tense second half, the Texans D shutout the Titans and forced them into three turnovers.


    But becoming a spoiler -- NFL parity's Frankenstein monster, if you will, or as I like to call 'em, Parity Poopers -- is more about 'tude than stats.


    A few weeks ago I spent an entire day with the Texans while reporting the cover story on NFL game planning in this week's Magazine. The day started at a pre-dawn meeting with Chris Palmer who was sitting in the cave-dark coaches meeting room on the second floor of Reliant Stadium watching film, the walls around him covered completely in ink-stained football hieroglyphics. Behind him was a bookshelf full of game plan books thicker than the yellow pages. Palmer had a remote control in one hand and a bottle of Windex near the other. Old habit. "When I worked for Bill Parcells," said the former Browns head coach, "he was notorious for coming in on a Wednesday morning, looking at all the stuff we had put together and yelling something like, 'It's too much, TAKE IT ALL DOWN!'"


    Even this early in the morning with his gray hair and glasses Palmer seemed more like a professor than an offensive coordinator. Which fits perfectly with the vibe going on in Houston these days. Professors. Empty kegs. Thick notebooks. The smell of eggs and bacon emanating from the cafeteria. The metallic clank of barbells echoing down the hallway. Players casually strolling to meetings in small packs, their flip-flops snapping against the concrete, book bags slung over their shoulders.


    A bunch of young kids who don't know any better, ready to shock the world.


    Parity Poopers.


    The only thing missing was Tom Wolfe creeping around the dorms.


    Later I bumped into head coach Dom Capers who still keeps a home close to where I live in North Carolina. We talked about real estate for a moment. Talked about how the injuries the Texans suffered last season (17 players were on IR) forced them to use so many young, untested guys that it actually gave them one of the most precious commodities in the salary cap era of the game: depth.


    I know. Depth. A nice foundation. Something to build on. Young talent. An emerging QB. A collegial feel. A good coach. An even better GM. Parity Poopers. I know. I know. That's not as sexy as playoff talk this time of year but trust me Houston, it could be worse. "No one will respect us until we get into the playoffs," Carr insists.


    I disagree. No one will respect you until you start becoming a factor in the playoffs. And that's definitely in reach. Shoot, you're already the best team in Texas. Joey Harrington is wearing Honolulu Blue instead of Battle Red. No one wants to play you guys right now. That beats the heck out of being the Browns, Saints, 'Skins, Niners or Seahawks -- everyone wants a shot at those guys.


    So you could do worse than being a Parity Pooper.


    (Well, yeah, for starters you could be the guy who came up with a lame name like Parity Pooper.)


    I asked Capers if he was still the most meticulous coach in the NFL and in his hands I saw the intricate practice script the team would use that afternoon with every play, every second, every formation planned out in excruciating detail. On a nearby closed circuit TV monitor I then noticed the Texans weekly schedule which included -- I swear -- a "break" Wednesday morning from 9:30 a.m. to 9:35 a.m.


    "Uh, nevermind," I said.


    From there I continued on to the locker room where I had my conversations with Bruener and other players constantly interrupted by a film crew straight out of the movie "Saved!" that kept shouting things like, "OH YEAH, we're talking to J.J. Moses and let me tell you something folks he is an absolute WILDMAN FOR JESUS!!!!!"


    (I wasn't sure what that meant but I had a feeling it included either quilting or Alabama -- or both.)


    By lunchtime there was almost as much fervor in the team cafeteria where the processional line was all the way out in the hallway.


    What gives? I asked.


    "It's taco day," said a Texans employee.


    "Dude, am I back in high school or what?" I said. "They're that good? Really?"


    But before the guy had a chance to answer the door swung open to reveal billionaire owner Bob McNair mowing down an over-stuffed steak fajita like a famished Tony Hawk. I noticed they also had chocolate milk in there. And an ice cream sundae bar. Which meant at that point I'd have chop-blocked 300-pound defensive end Gary Walker had he attempted to cut in front of me.


    As Parity Poopers, Walker and the Texans can feast all they want on the unsuspecting teams out there thinking they're about to waltz right into the playoffs. Teams like the Colts, and their musical-chairs offensive line, who come to town Dec. 12.


    As for me?


    Who knows when I might get another shot at free tacos
     
  2. rrj_gamz

    rrj_gamz Contributing Member

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    Tacos, I love tacos...

    good read, and yes, the Texans won't be going to the playoffs unless they continue to win and an act of god ...

    Next year though, different story, but we still need another corner and a pass rusher...

    Go Texans...
     
  3. ima_drummer2k

    ima_drummer2k Contributing Member

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    Great read.

    Up until a few weeks ago, I loved the Texans but I just couldn't get emotionally attached. I've watched all the games (I've never missed a game in franchise history) and if we won, it was just gravy. I was just happy to have a team and I didn't really care if we won or lost. I was still in the honeymoon stage, I guess.

    After we lost to Green Bay, I was seriously depressed all day at work on Monday. Just like I used to be with the Oilers.

    That's when I realized that this team FINALLY has my heart.

    Texan for life!
     
  4. Uprising

    Uprising Contributing Member

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    Great read.

    Ima_D ditto. After they kicked that field goal for the win I too realized the bad feeling I was getting. I now have that fan expectation where your team should always win.

    Looking forward to Sunday's game.

    Go Texans!
     
  5. Joshfast

    Joshfast "We're all gonna die" - Billy Sole
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    Nice to see the Texans getting some exposure. Great read.

    Last night watching Sportscenter, the Jets where a top story because of Penningingingingingiton, and I thought maybe they would mention the Texans. Nope.
     
  6. ima_drummer2k

    ima_drummer2k Contributing Member

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    They will when we SHOCK THE WORLD and whip the jets on Sunday.

    Dom dom dom dom, doobie doobie dom...
     
  7. swilkins

    swilkins Contributing Member

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    I love the Texans. I mean they have a great attitude.

    They won't hesitate to dish it back if someone gets a cheap shot on them.

    I can honestly say that time will benefit this team better than adding any new players. They are a team's team to the truest extent.

    There - I feel much better now
    ---------------------------as he dabbles away a loose tear...
     
  8. Roc Paint

    Roc Paint Contributing Member

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    The lime light will shine on them a hellva lot quicker than the Spoilers. That's for damn sure.

    Go Texans!!
     

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