It's Week 14 of the 2012 NFL season. The 11-1 Houston Texans are in New England for the biggest game of the season, taking on the Patriots. A win in New England and home field advantage in the playoffs and a first-round bye are all but clinched.
The Texans trail 7-0 in the first quarter, but are on the move, 2nd and 8 from the New England 21 yard line. Matt Schaub drops back to pass, lofts a ball wishfully toward Kevin Walter (whose presence in the story makes this feel like it occurred a thousand years ago) and it's picked off by Patriots defensive back Devin McCourty.
The Texans' momentum snubbed, the Patriots march down the field to promptly take a 14-0 lead, which becomes a 21-0 lead, which becomes a 42-14 Patriots rout.
The Texans would go on to lose three of their final four games, get knocked out of the playoffs in a divisional round whimper against these very same Patriots, and that was that.
Then, 2-14 happened.
If the fall of Matt Schaub in Houston were an illness, the McCourty interception was the first tinge of pain or latent cough, the first sign that "Hey, something doesn't feel right."
The 2012 playoffs were more acute pain, and a sign that we probably should have a doctor at least look at us.
The barrage of pick sixes that Schaub threw to start the 2013 season was the onslaught, the affliction spreading quickly to every organ of the team, with no cure in sight. It just kept getting worse and worse and worse, and eventually, Schaub's Texans career died an ignominious death, an interception in his final pass as a Houston Texan in a meaningless game against the Tennessee Titans being its final words.
Miraculously, on Friday morning, Oakland traded a late-round draft choice for the remains of Matt Schaub's career, hoping for one final $10 million resurrection. Perhaps even more miraculously, the Raiders made this deal because they were afraid Schaub would go to the Cleveland Browns if he were released outright.
Yes, that's how messed up the quarterback calibration is in the NFL -- teams were making chess moves to make sure they got their hands on Matt Schaub. (Although to be fair, since the teams involved were Cleveland and Oakland, it was probably more like Candy Land than chess.)
MATT. SCHAUB. This guy...
It's almost as if the cities of Oakland and Cleveland don't get the NFL Sunday TIcket. Do theyreally
think that Matt Schaub is fixable? And do they really think he is fixable with franchises who have cultures of completely obliterating the spirit and mojo of every quarterback that's come through their team over the past decade?
Since it's Oakland he's off to, I'll focus on them. Does Oakland's management team really sit in a room, look at each other and say, "Sure, sure, I realize Kerry Collins, Andrew Walter, Daunte Culpepper, JaMarcus Russell, Jason Campbell, Carson Palmer....but really, this time, MATT SCHAUB is the answer."
This will fail. It will fail miserably. It will be a spectacular train wreck of silver and black Amtrak cars crammed into one big explosive volcano of turnovers, sacks and spiky shoulder pads.
Indeed, Schaub, pending the successful passing of a physical (Vegas has "PASS" at -125.), will now move on to the next chapter of his career, in Oakland, with Raiders fans. This could get very entertaining.
A few other thoughts on this deal on my way out:
1. From a financial perspective, I like that the deal forces the Texans to eat the $10.5 million dead money hit in one fell swoop in 2014. That's what rebuilding teams do; they take their medicine all at once. Now, the notion that the deal "saves" the Texans $4 million in cap space (the rough delta between Schaub's dead money and his would-have-been cap number as an active Texan) is a tad misguided, since they essentially turn around and use nearly all of those "savings" on Schaub's replacement, Ryan Fitzpatrick.
2. Anyone who thinks either of these moves -- Fitzpatrick's signing or Schaub's trade -- affects what the Texans do with the number one pick needs to think again. (And I would say this goes for the Raiders and their pick, too, but who the hell knows what the Raiders are thinking.) The Texans' need for a quarterback transcends any stopgap moves made for 2014 or 2015. The franchise needs to be making all decisions on the first pick with a ten-year mentality, not a ten-month mentality.
3. I think this trade by the Raiders effectively ends any speculation that Al Davis is still alive. My theory, by the way, has been that Davis faked his death and has been running the Raiders as a puppet regime through Reggie McKenzie, like the father of the Bruce in Braveheart, complete with the bloody bandages wrapped around his face. Well, one thing we know -- Al Davis loved to go VERTICAL. He would not have been down with the Schaub 35 Yard Deep Ball Special.
4. Back during the Pick Six parade in 2013, there were reports of Texans fans showing up at Matt Schaub's house, and let's just say they weren't exactly there to pay their respects, although reports that Schaub was "accosted" were probably greatly exaggerated. At worst, it was probably some heavyhanded loitering going on. Regardless, I've been to an Oakland Raiders game. I've seen Raider Fan up close. If Schaub starts handing out Pick Six candies in the Black Hole this season, it's going to make the Texans fans who showed up at his house look like the Welcome Wagon.
5. One more time, for good measure....good-bye, old friend....