By Chris Lane
By Jeff Balke
By Aaron Reiss
By Angelica Leicht
By Dianna Wray
By Aaron Reiss
By Camilo Smith
By Craig Malisow
We were told it'd take three weeks to get the flag, but a month and a half went by without word.
We called DeLay's office, and two separate staffers said they'd track down our order. They didn't blink an eye when we read our requested inscription, so we figured we were golden.
Alas, the next day staffer Ben Jones called.
"Unfortunately, we're going to be unable to complete your request," he said, with all the sympathy of a Tom DeLay touring the Astrodome. "Some of the regulations that the flag office has for the personalized certificates restrict political expressions."
What kind of expressions?
"It says political and/or religious expressions are not permissible on the flag certificate so I will be mailing your flag certificate, or your flag request, and check back to you."
Deadline pressures did not allow us to see if a request for a certificate reading "In honor of Tom DeLay, the best and brightest America has to offer" would be okay. So instead we'll just honor him the only way we can.
Thank you, Tom DeLay, the only two-time winner of our Turkey of the Year award.
Sports Turkey of the Year
Remember those glorious days, way back before the 2005 NFL season opened? Fans of the Houston Texans were convinced that 2005 was finally going to be the year. Not a Super Bowl year, of course, but a year when the team would finally grow out of its expansion status and compete for the playoffs. In fact, anything short of making the playoffs would be seen as a failure by some.
Everyone had high hopes. Then again, at some point a movie studio gave the green light to Gigli. Ticket buyers who suffered through Ben Affleck and J. Lo have got nothing on Texans fans this year, though.
The season began with six straight losses. Six straight losses accomplished through a never-changing policy of using the most conservative offensive plans ever, and not really blocking too much to execute them.
Two games into the season, the Texans fired their offensive coordinator. That's probably a pretty good sign that your preseason hopes might have to be adjusted.
After getting pummeled 42-10 by Seattle October 16, team owner Bob McNair called the loss "unacceptable" but said he wasn't giving up on the season. "A lot of things can happen," he told the press.
Among the things that happened was a 38-20 loss at home to the Colts the next week, in a game that wasn't as close as the score made it seem.
Coach Dom Capers is in a world of hurt, although you'd never know it from listening to his weekly call-in show on KILT each Monday.
A typical call:
Caller: Yeah, I just want to say I'm disgusted and this team sucks. I think they made one good block all day!
Capers: Well, you're right -- we did make at least one good block. And what we have to do is build on that good block, because if you can put a bunch of good blocks together, there's a very good chance you're going to--
[Sound of car-radio button being pushed to sports-talk rival KBME]
Also on the hot seat is general manager Charlie Casserly, who's shown an uncanny ability to draft, or sign as free agents, players who seem somewhat taken aback at being asked to protect the quarterback.
So, if you're considering buying stock in the coach and GM, should you take the plunge?
We asked local stockbroker Erik Solis. His analysis:
"Casserly, Capers & Co. downgraded from neutral to sell.
"We are downgrading this company due to its lack of execution, failures in off-season strategic acquisitions, and its dim prospects for future production. Since the company's IPO, shareholders have maintained skepticism toward the management's direction in key personnel and product delivery. We feel that investors should sell all long positions as the hedge-fund community continues short-selling pressure."
Yikes. Surely there must be some hope for Dom and Charlie?
Alas, no: "We feel that a turnaround by management is unlikely given the short time horizon from shareholders," Solis's analysis concludes. "Furthermore, we would let the stock decline further as the season concludes and their service contracts come under termination pressure. Upon that time we would look to purchase distressed debt as well as common shares for breakup value."
Stockbrokers -- heartless vultures. Then again, the cold figures don't lie. The Texans have never scored more than 20 points in a game this season, and they've reached that figure only twice (both in blowout losses).
So far, the season highlight has been the September 18 home game against the Steelers. Apparently at some point in the week prior to the game, someone associated with the Steelers -- it might have been a coach, a player, or a longtime listener, first-time caller -- expressed some slight concern about getting acclimated to the heat in Houston.
A genius-level plot was hatched at Texans HQ: force the Steelers to wear their black jerseys, and then leave the roof of Reliant Stadium open. They'll melt like the Wicked Witch!
Well, the Steelers romped by 27-7. Not that many Texans fans were around to watch the finish. Temperatures inside the airless facility soared over 100 degrees. Sweat-soaked fans mobbed the air-conditioned areas of the concourses or just left for their cars. The Texans' office was swamped with complaints, and the team issued a public apology and promised, in essence, it would never do anything so inutterably stupid again.