For better or worse, the Texans are still at a stage in their history where they are experiencing some "exciting but for most teams not really extraordinary" things for the first time. This will happen when the first four years of your eight-year existence were spent being constructed by Charley Casserly.
So when the announcement came down yesterday that Texans quarterback Matt Schaub was going to be joining four of his teammates in the Pro Bowl as a replacement for the injured Tom Brady, it was no surprise that the Texans called a press conference and the city of Houston rejoiced. Three years removed from the ill-fated David Carr Era, the Texans' first Pro Bowl selection at quarterback is a big deal, at least here it is.
Truth be told, you could make an argument that Schaub should not have had to wait for Brady's bow-out to get the tap on the shoulder for a trip to sunny Miami the week before the Super Bowl. Three quarterbacks go in each conference; in the AFC, Peyton Manning and Philip Rivers were viewed as locks. Schaub was going to have a tough time surpassing Tom Brady as the third quarterback, what with Brady's track record of winning Super Bowls and banging supermodels. And that ended up being the three initially selected -- Manning, Riviers, and Brady.
However, Schaub put up one of the most prolific seasons of the last several years, including the sixth-highest passing yardage total in league history (4,770 yards). He led the Texans to four straight wins down the stretch, and within a couple "lay downs" by the Colts and Bengals (both against the Jets) of the NFL playoffs. He did all this behind an offensive line that lost both starting guards by the middle of the season and with a running back corps that consisted of Steve Slaton's forgettable fumble-fest, Chris Brown's three feet and a cloud of dust, Ryan Moats when he wasn't on a milk carton, and Arian Foster the last couple games.
In short, Matt Schaub should have been going to Miami for the Pro Bowl anyway. But even his going as the understudy to a suddenly ailing Brady was cool. It was special....and then the news came down yesterday that Rivers decided to bow out of the Pro Bowl as well....and then it started to unravel.
With Schaub suddenly moved up to second in the Pro Bowl pecking order, and with Brady and Rivers suddenly "debilitated" (not to mention the likelihood that Manning probably will not be playing due to the Colts likely having other plans for the week after the Pro Bowl), fans were now forced to go through a quick run through the other AFC quarterbacks to figure out who would be next. The AFC asked Ben Roethlisberger, and amazingly he too was too injured to take a free trip to Miami to play de facto touch football. Carson Palmer? Same thing.
With the sobering thought that a QB (Palmer) who spent the last month of the season playing quarterback with a look on his face like you just asked him to recite the preamble to the Constitution in Greek did NOT want to play in the Pro Bowl, it became evident where all this was going.
Yep. VY Time.
Indeed, we are so far down the roster of AFC quarterbacks that a guy who started ten games and threw ten touchdown passes against seven picks is now a Pro Bowler. Truth be told, most of the time it would be hard for me to care less about who the seventh-best quarterback in the AFC is, but I know that if the Titans' 8-2 finish awoke the VY Fanboy Brigade, then this Pro Bowl berth will now have them going door to door in their Longhorn #10 jerseys handing out leaflets and asking for a few minutes of my time.
The VYFB will tell us what a great story of redemption it is that he is being recognized as one of the elite talents in the league, when in fact he is merely being recognized as possibly being in the upper half of quarterbacks in his conference. Yay Vince!
Oh and his "redemption," as best I can tell, is not redemption from injury (like Brady) or redemption from people losing faith in him because he was getting on in years (like Brett Favre). Nope, instead VY the Great managed to pick himself up and dust himself off from the self-inflicted wound of handling adversity like a spoiled teenager and disappearing with a bucket of chicken wings on a Monday night (allegedly). WHAT A STORY!
And for someone in my line of work, you know what this means. Hours and hours of the "Texans screwed up by selecting Mario over Vince" argument resurrected. Never mind that they have been selected to the same number of Pro Bowls -- actually, to be clear, Vince made both of his as an alternate, whereas Mario was selected first time around -- and never mind that the Texans current quarterback was selected to the Pro Bowl ahead of Vince. Oh
but the Texans should have taken Vince. Whatever, VYFB.
And do I need to bring up the fact that Vince was, in fact, the THIRD selection overall in the draft? In other words, a Pro Bowl berth should be expected by now. Congratulations for meeting expectations, Vince. I guess. No one hands the ball to Chris Johnson and watches his defense from the sidelines quite like you; well, except maybe Kerry Collins, who went 13-3
last season and (drum roll, please) MADE THE PRO BOWL for doing just that.
In the end, the euphoria of Schaub's selection wears off and you realize that after Brady, Rivers, Roethlisberger, and Palmer all said "thanks, but no thanks," and that Manning will probably miss the game because he'll have a bigger game the following weekend, the AFC will need to go find ANOTHER quarterback. The EIGHTH best quarterback in the conference to round out their roster. How soon until JaMarcus Russell gets a call? Even worse, would he say yes, or does he have a fudge-eating contest that weekend that he's already committed to?
My point is, I'm happy for Matt Schaub, but somewhere along the way, the Pro Bowl became...well, you remember that one girl back in college who seemingly hooked up with you and every single one of your friends? Some more than others? Every group of friends has one. Just to attach a name to her, let's call her Julie.
Julie is fun to get with a few times in a row, even when you know everyone else has had a crack at her. You've heard the stories about how crazy she is, and eventually you get to experience it for yourself. Sure, you need to be safe and avoid injury/disease, but football is football, nookie is nookie, and free warm-weather vacations are cool. Especially if you've never been to one before. But like everything else in life, even when you thought the novelty would never wear off, eventually it does.
The Pro Bowl is basically Julie....and Brady, Rivers, Manning, etc, etc, etc have all been there and done that. What surely felt like an honor to Schaub yesterday, has devolved into Carson Palmer's and Ben Roethisberger's sloppy seconds, and before you know it you're in a threesome with Vince Young.
Just be careful when VY asks you to take off your shirt, Matt. Resist the urge.
Listen to Sean Pendergast on 1560 The Game from 3-7 p.m. on the Sean & John Show, and follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.
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