Time to Grow Up

No more excuses for the Houston Texans

No doubt. But enough of that -- what about the poetry?

Joe has reworded poems like "The Raven" and one called "The Cowboy" to commemorate Texan wins. He also wrote "The Dolphin," which has this stirring final stanza: "That fish looked just like Flipper / But Johnson was much quicker / When Carr threw he was all alone / gracing the end zone."

So Joe, beyond your obvious determination to get rid of meter and rhyme, is poetry a hobby of yours?

"No, not really," he says. He only turned to writing poems when the Texans rejected his proposed fight song.

The Houston Press, patron of all fine arts, commissioned a poem for the upcoming season. In a mere two hours, Joe produced this:

The Bull Pen is ready, its band is in tune
We've had football spirit since the beginning of June
Preseason is over, it's time for the game
The Blue Crew went platinum but we're still the same
As we call out the last name of our football stars
They come streaming in, from all of the cars
This season is starting, we scream and we cheer
We want a Super Bowl win, did I make myself clear?

Man, we can just bow deeply. And admit it's better than our effort:

There once was a coach named Dom Capers
Getting good ink in all of the papers
And on TV too
They never said boo
But frankly he gives us the vapors.

All Your Questions Answered

Everyone wants to know how the Texans are going to do this year. Luckily, we've got it all figured out.

Steven Devadanam, Night & Day editor of the Houston Press and video game expert, took on the task of guiding the Texans through the 2005 season in Madden 2006 (the dates apparently make sense in Video World).

And, well, don't get your hopes up.

He simmed some games and played others. Opening day against Buffalo he simmed, winning 14-10. Domanick Davis banged one in from three yards out ("Clearly, this was simulated," Devadanam noted). He simmed again for the Pittsburgh game and got wiped out 31-9, complaining that Madden allowed Jerome Bettis and Duce Staley to play even though in real life they're injured. In other words, like a true Texans coach, he had some excuses handy.

Other highlights: The October 9 showdown against the Tennessee Titans, won by the Texans 35-10. "Veteran LT Victor Riley definitely has helped bolster the O-Line, but my defense is looking soft," Devadanam says. "Is it time for a trade? Whatev -- at least I stuck it to that pig Bud Adams."

Next up were the Seattle Seahawks. "They're a bunch of softies -- a no-brainer sim," he says, and we're assuming this makes sense to gamers, if not to us. "Mistake. A computer-generated Jamie Sharper obviously has an ax to grind against his old team, because he clocks in 11 tackles, a sack, a forced fumble and a safety." Sure, now he does. The Texans lose 30-10.

Depressed, Devadanam tries to shake things up by giving Carr some awesome new tattoos and yet another new hairdo. It doesn't work. Peyton Manning once again baffles the Texans, and the Colts breeze 35-21.

It doesn't get a whole lot better. St. Louis and Baltimore win easily; the Texans do manage to beat Kansas City and Arizona. They wind up a familiar 7-9, out of the playoffs.

In his defense, Devadanam said he was counting on injury-prone DE Gary Walker getting hurt so rookie Travis Johnson would play in the sim-mode games. It never happened.

"We lost because we didn't get injured" -- when it comes to coaches' excuses, that's a novel one. Sounds to Kick Butt By

Besides being an utterly flawless predictor of future gridiron activity, Madden 2006 is also known for producing hit singles. Jet's "Are You Gonna Be My Girl" and Franz Ferdinand's "Take Me Out" were rocking the Madden soundtrack long before they hit the Billboard charts.

Devadanam joined with Press music editor John Nova Lomax and assistant music editor Scott Faingold to pick which songs might be hits, which ones players will quickly delete and which ones made them scratch their heads.

94.5 The Buzz hits: Foo Fighters' "No Way Back" (Devadanam's fave) and Avenged Sevenfold's "Bat Country" (Lomax awards points for the Hunter S. Thompson reference).

97.9 The Boxx hits: Bum J's "Move Around" and Stat Quo's "Rock Da Party."

Deletables: Disturbed's "Ten Thousand Fists," Bullet For My Valentine's "4 Words (To Choke Upon)" ("We choked on it too," the panel said), and rapper Memphis Bleek's boring "Like That." ("We didn't 'like that' much at all.")

Biggest disappointment: The panel was dismayed to find that both Houston tracks -- Slim Thug's "Get It Started" and Chamillionaire's "Hate In Ya Eyes" -- were nothing short of lackluster. "The plus (for the artists, anyway): the ridiculous exposure the tunes will receive," they said.

Right song, wrong game: Hot Hot Heat's dandy "Pickin' It Up." Lomax called it "More of an MLB 2006 tune," referring to what Devadanam calls "the bookish white-guy fan base" of that baseball game. Devadanam called it "this year's head-scratcher, much like Franz Ferdinand's disco-riffic 'Take Me Out' on last year's Madden game. Hey, emo kids appreciate a zone blitz as much as anyone else."

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