Another year, another year without the Houston Texans in the Super Bowl. I won't get snarky and call it a "tradition like no other" because making the Super Bowl is a very difficult thing to do. Someday, it will happen, and with Deshaun Watson as the franchise quarterback, that day may come sooner rather than later. We can all dare to dream.
For now, all we can do, as Texans fans, is buckle up and watch Super Bowl LII and count the number of former Texans who are getting their own personal fraction of the big stage, and then let the emotions take hold however they unfold. By my count, there seven former Texans on the roster or practice squad of the two teams playing on Sunday (with a bonus of two former Coogs!).
Here are reasons to root for and against each of the former Houston guys....
G BRANDON BROOKS, PHI
Reason to root for: You have to admire how Brooks has taken his game to a Pro Bowl level since leaving Houston two seasons ago, and not only that, but also overcoming anxiety issues that periodically stunted his growth in Houston. Good player, good guy. Reasons to root against: Merely seeing his face on the TV screen is an instant reminder of the Jeff Allen sized hole Brooks left behind when he signed in Philly, not that it's his fault. Also, when you think of Allen you immediately pivot to Xavier Su'a-Filo, who then induces feelings of nausea.
QB Brian Hoyer, NE
Reason to root for: Unlike Case Keenum, Hoyer is not a former Texans starting QB that will make certain factions of fans flood the phone lines with hindsight analysis that "HE NEVER SHOULD HAVE BEEN LET GO." Reasons to root against: January 2016. Wild card round of playoffs. Five turnovers. Chiefs 30, Texans 0.
DE Eric Lee, NE Reason to root for: Another training camp casualty who could actually play a little and will now be getting snaps in a Super Bowl! Cinderella story, the 2017 version of Chris Jones! Reasons to root against: Sorry Eric, but you're now part of the evil empire of football, and if I'm watching Star Wars then I can't just root for one, sole stormtrooper on the Death Star. One dies, all die. (And yes, I know Finn from Episode 7 and Episode 8 was a stormtrooper who turned good, but work with me. Do we really think Eric F'N Lee is Finn?!?)
OLB Bryan Braman, PHI Reason to root for: Braman once made a tackle in a game without wearing a helmet, back in the day when that sort of thing was celebrated (2011, to be exact).
Reasons to root against: The only bad thing I can say about Braman is that he once stood up our show for an interview on Radio Row, three years ago in Phoenix.
P Donnie Jones, PHI Reason to root for: Punters are people, too! Reasons to root against: .... but barely.
OL James Ferentz, NE PS Reason to root for: You have to admire an undersized interior offensive lineman who's been able to pull an NFL practice squad salary for about three or four years no. You are one of us, James Ferentz! Reasons to root against: See: Lee, Eric
WR Riley McCarron, NE PS Reason to root for: I thought he was going to make the Texans 53 man roster early on in training camp, and then injuries and some uneven play kind of doomed him, but he's a nice underdog story. Reasons to root against: Unfortunately, his diminutive, white stature makes him the next likely undrafted slot guy to catch 80 balls from Tom Brady.
BONUS! Two former University of Houston Cougars are part of the festivities (sort of).....
ILB Elandon Roberts, NE
Reason to root for: He was the unquestioned leader of the Cougar defense that put the program back on the map in the first of Tom Herman's two seasons in Houston, and he made a nice impact during his rookie season. It's been tough sledding in his sophomore year in the league. Reasons to root against: He stole the jersey number of my cohost and former Patriot inside linebacker, Ted Johnson! TED IS THE REAL 52!!
WR Greg Ward, PHI PS Reason to root for: He was the best player on the field during the Herman Era, a tour de force at quarterback who could make plays off schedule like few other quarterbacks in college football. If you went to a U of H game during Ward's QB career, you got your money's worth. Reasons to root against: Ward now plays for a team whose fans did THIS to innocent Viking fans....
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Sean Pendergast is a contributing freelance writer who covers Houston area sports daily in the News section, with periodic columns and features, as well. He also hosts afternoon drive on SportsRadio 610, as well as the post game show for the Houston Texans.