Getting Past the Nightmare

April 29, 2006. The NFL world still isn’t ready to let us forget that date. One year later, analysts still (rightfully) deride the Texans for selecting not-so-super Mario and even Electronic Arts has joined in the fun by basing an

entire marketing campaign

around Houston’s draft blunder. Then again, we don’t seem overly willing to let it go either. Tune in to your favorite local sports talk station today and I guarantee you’ll hear yet another stale take on the Vince/Reggie/Mario love triangle. It’s as sure a thing as the sunrise at this point.

But maybe, just maybe, the Texans franchise helped us take a small step away from the carnage this past weekend. If you’re a loyal reader, you know I’ve had a bit of a man-crush on Amobi Okoye for quite some time. Critics point to his age and say he’s inexperienced but, last I checked, he played college football for four years just like every other draft-eligible senior. Throw in his size, quickness, intelligence and maturity and you’ve got yourself a blue-chip prospect capable of quickly becoming an anchor in the trenches.

I hoped Oyoke would end up in Houston, but was also resigned to the fact that he was likely to be off the board before the Texans were on the clock. When he actually slipped to the ten spot, I feared the worst. Yes, just like every other Texans’ fan, I’ve been conditioned to expect management to screw the pooch at every opportunity. Hey, what can I say? Nobody enjoyed reaming poor Fluffy more than good ol’ Charley Casserly. But just as I was preparing to strangle myself with my David Carr jersey, something wonderful happened. NFL commissioner, Roger Goodell, stepped to the podium and announced that the Houston Texans had selected Amobi Okoye with the tenth pick of the draft. I was elated... for about five minutes.

You see, I’d love to tell you that pick changed everything for me. But it didn’t. I wish I could say the nightmare of 2006 is now nothing but a distant memory. But it’s not. Truth is, we’re still suffering from a dearth of offensive playmakers one year after a pair of transcendent athletes were right there for the taking. We still don’t have a wide receiver who appears capable of relieving some of the burden from Andre Johnson. We still have nothing but an aging Ahman Green and Ron Dayne at running back (although I keep holding out hope that Chris Taylor will get a legit shot at some point). We’re still severely lacking at the safety position. And we still have an average (at best) O-line. In the stacked AFC, our team remains light years away from being a realistic title contender. And isn't that what it's all about?

I know, I know. I’ve got to learn how to lighten up, let go and move on. It’s all about baby steps, right? Then perhaps it’s only appropriate that we’re asking a man-child to take our hand, give us hope and direct us past the nightmare. I mean, that’s not too much to ask of a 19 year old, is it? -- Jason Friedman


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