If you asked most adult sports fans why they follow a particular team or sport, my guess is their answer would be something along the lines of "It/they provide a distraction from my boring everyday life." In fact, maybe we can get Family Feud to ask this as a question on the show someday -- "Top 5 answers on the board...here's the question..." -- if for no other reason than to see how close "degenerate gambling" would come to eclipsing the "distraction" answer.
Unfortunately, there are two kinds of distractions a sports team can provide. The first is a pleasant, sometimes euphoric feeling where their success provides an oasis of sorts in our otherwise mundane existence. The other is admittedly less enjoyable, a mere swapping out one pain for another, whereby we trade time spent worrying about life for time spent commiserating about our team. Best way to put it -- you know how sometimes you get a migraine and it makes you forget about how much your back hurts?
Yeah, kinda like that.
Unfortunately, there's no denying the fact that the Texans have spent the better part of their history providing the latter type of distraction for their fans. To wit, I arrived at some pretty chilling numbers when it comes to just how little time Texans fans have spent feeling good about their team. Behold....
-- There has not been one point in their eight year history when the Texans have been three games over .500. They've never started a season 3-0 or 4-1, nor certainly been in a spot late in the season like 8-5 or 9-6. In fact, they've only been two games over .500 a whopping three times in their history -- 2-0 in 2007, 5-3 in 2009, and 9-7 to end the season in 2009.
-- In the eight years they have been in existence, the Texans have spent a total of eleven weeks over .500. Eleven. And I'm not talking waaaay over .500, just a mere one game over .500. To put that in perspective, Peyton Manning usually has eleven weeks of being over .500 knocked out each season by...well, Week 11.
-- Since 2002, the Texans' first season in the NFL, every team in the league has made the playoffs except for three: the Buffalo Bills, the Detroit Lions, and your Houston Texans. Buffalo and Detroit are two places you never want to be brushing up against -- not literally, not metaphorically and certainly not in any conversation having to do with football success in the 2000's.
So despite all of this, not only do Texans fans keep buying gear, buying tickets, buying...well, really buying a whole lot of Texans-related shit, but many of us (yes, I count myself a fan of the Texans) are picking them to make the playoffs this season. I was asked on Sports Sunday this weekend by Channel 2's Randy McIlvoy if I think the Texans are a playoff team -- without hesitating I said "yes," and then started to give my reasons why....
-- "Their talent level is the highest it's ever been"
-- "I've been to the practices, and they pass the eyeball test"
-- "They can score points with anyone in the league."
-- "David Anderson is fucking hilarious!"
(Ok, the last reason really doesn't matter, but it is true. D.A. is pretty funny.)
On my way home, I started thinking about my evidence to support my answer to that question -- "Do I think the Texans are a playoff team?" -- and I realized that it all really just boiled down to blind faith with this group. There is zero evidence to suggest that Gary Kubiak can be anything other than a coach of a team who chases every up with a down and every down with an up. Every season under Kubiak, at some point, the team puts itself behind the eight ball, and then they have to scramble to give everyone a sliver of hope heading into the off-season.
It's really no way for any of us, least of all Kubiak and the players, to be living.
Some will point to the parity in the NFL as a reason to believe the Texans can play a couple weeks into January this season -- the last three Super Bowl winners won 8, 10, and 8 games respectively the year before winning the big prize. So the Texans -- 8-8, 8-8, and 9-7 the last three seasons -- seem like a nice sleeper. What parity lovers fail to mention is that those 8, 10, and 8 win teams that became Super Bowl Champions were a playoff fixture (Giants, 2007), a recent Super Bowl champion already (Steelers, 2008), and a team who'd made an NFC Championship Game run a couple years before (Saints, 2009).
In other words, those teams had all tasted success.
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The Texans? Well, they did roll through Seattle, St. Louis, and Miami last December. Yaayyy!! (saracstic clap included)
So have I talked myself out of the Texans making the playoffs? Probably not. My predictions for the season, game-by-game, will appear in the September 2 edition of the Houston Press, so I have a little time to re-assess. But I realize now, after some careful examination, that not only is any Texans playoff prediction not grounded in any real solid analysis or historical data, it actually flies in the face of a Terrance Cody-sized mountain of evidence that paints as bleak a sports fan experience over the last eight years as that of any in team sports.
Indeed, there's belief, there's blind faith, and then there's myopia. Admittedly, when it comes to the Texans, I'm probably guilty of all three.
Listen to Sean Pendergast on 1560 The Game from 3-7 p.m. weekdays on the "Sean & John Show" and follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.