Game Time: Inside The Mind Of The Houston Texans Fan

Pretty much every social instinct I employ comes from George Costanza of Seinfeld fame.  (... and yes, the fact that it's been 11-plus years since the Seinfeld finale means I officially have to remind people who George Costanza was.)

*"Whatever your instincts tell you to do, do the opposite."

"It's not a lie, if you believe it."

But my favorite Costanza-ism of all time is George's parting shot in any relationship on which he has soured ... "It's not you, it's me." You see, despite the fact that George hates almost everyone, he can't stand to have people hate him, so he just tells his soon-to-be-discarded significant other "It's not you, it's me".

TRANSLATION: This relationship ending is completely a result of my gross dysfunction; you're fine, you're great, you'll find someone better than me at any deli checkout line.

The relationship Texans fans have with their team is not unlike a boyfriend/girlfriend relationship -- the highs are very high, the lows are very low, we constantly question what the hell we're doing in this relationship, and we threaten to break up at least three or four times a month. (By the way, the same can be said for nearly every NFL team and its fans.) Of course, inevitably, most of us stick around for more abuse, because even in years like 2005 where we only "got laid" twice, the hope that there would be years where we "get laid" 10, 11, hell maybe even 12 times (!) is too enticing to walk away. (Let's not even discuss the whole "getting laid in late January on South Beach" thing ... baby steps, people.)

In seasons past, if the breakup between a Texans fan and the team were to occur, there would've been no need to drop Costanza's "it's not you, it's me" mantra on the team. From 2002-2008, any breakup would be completely justified. The Texans would've been completely at fault. From 2002-2008, they were essentially the love child of Brooke Hundley, and ... well, Brooke Hundley.

But I am here to tell you, Texans Fan, this season is different, and seven games in with 10 wins a realistic possibility, how you choose to view this team is entirely about you, not the Texans. In other words, if you decide to cut bait now, "it's you, not them".

Texans fans tend to fall into two categories -- glass half full and glass shattered on the floor. The former is pathologically hopeful, is able to find the good in things like rush hour traffic and air pollution, and may or may not work for Sportsradio 610. The latter can name every second-half play of the Bills-Oilers playoff game in '93, will tell you that Mike Renfro caught that ball against the Steelers, and (let's face it) is probably a Texans season ticket holder.

And you know what? In all fairness, thus far this season, both camps have a point ....

GLASS HALF FULL: The Texans are two plays away from being 6-1.
GLASS SHATTERED ON THE FLOOR: The Texans are a few plays away from being 2-5.

GHF: Matt Schaub leads the NFL in TD passes.
GSOTF: Matt Schaub has started all seven games this year, so history tells us we only have four Scahub starts left before it's Rexy Time.

GHF: The Texans have playmakers at all of the skill positions, including the best wide receiver and tight end in the AFC.
GSOTF: The Texans offensive line is a circus with two new starters at guard.

GHF: Steve Slaton leads the league in catches for over 20+ yards by a running back.
GSOTF: Steve Slaton leads the league in fumbles.

GHF: If you combine rushing and receiving, Steve Slaton is still averaging over 90 yards a game.
GSOTF: Steve Slaton is averaging 3.1 yards per carry.

GHF: Yeah but, Steve Slaton is ...
GSOTF: Sean, enough about Slaton. We know you like him. Move on!

GHF: Brian Cushing is a rising star and the heartbeat of this defense. And it only took him seven games to establish that!
GSOTF: ... exactly, it only took him seven games to become the Texans best defensive player.

GHF: Bernard Pollard has brought a physical presence to the secondary and become a tone setter.
GSOTF: ... yeah, great waiver wire pick up of someone who was cast off ...by the Chiefs.

GHF: Owen Daniels rocks!
GSOTF: Great! Get a long term deal signed with him!

GHF: If there were an Academy Award for NFL drafting, Rick Smith would be Sean Penn.
GSOTF: If there were an Academy Award for free agent pickups, Rick Smith would be Seann William Scott.

GHF: They have wins over Cincy and San Fran, two decent teams.
GSOTF: Uh huh, and wins over the Titans and Raiders, two garbage teams.

And therein lies the rub, that last comparison where we're looking at who the Texans beat. Any dissection of a team's schedule needs to be done with the understanding that the NFL this season is basically two elite teams (Indy and New Orleans), a few teams banging their head on the Colts/Saints glass floor (Minnesota, Pittsburgh, a New England team that's getting cranked up, and MAYBE a Denver team that has a "team of destiny feel"), and a handful of craptastically wretched teams (St Louis, Kansas City, Oakland, Cleveland, Tampa Bay, Washington, maybe Detroit and Tennessee). That's a total of 14 teams, which means the other 18 teams are all just a few plays here and there away from being two games different, either way.

My point is, we're all too busy comiserating over exactly *how *the Texans won and *who *they beat, rather than just accepting the fact that "a win is a win, and let's go get another one next week". In a weird way, isn't the fact that we're all slightly pissed that "they let San Fran back in the game, but still found a way to win" progress? We're worried about how they
won. Really?

Probably no other Texan can appreciate the "just win, baby" sentiment more than Texans back-up QB Dan Orlovsky, who had the ignominy of suffering through the only 0-16 season in NFL history with Detroit. After the game yesterday, he and I talked about the fact that the game yesterday wasn't pretty. He just smiled and said "Try going 0-16; in the NFL, all wins are pretty."

Seven games in, the Texans are in the mix. Most of the time, they're fun to watch. The highs are very high, the lows are incredibly low, but there have been more highs than lows so far. You will question your sanity at least four or five more times this season, and who knows, you may even break up with them. But I'm cautiously optimistic now, that if you choose to break
up with them, you're probably a "glass shattered on the floor" type, and "it's probably you, not them."

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