WARNING: Following the instructions I'm about to give you will cause great mental pain and anguish, but damn, if everyone's pissed at Matt Schaub, let's go all the way in. No half steppin'.
Flashback to March 2012, the Peyton Manning Sweepstakes.
The future Hall of Famer was coming off of career-threatening neck surgery and a reasonably respectful sendoff (as NFL sendoffs go) in Indianapolis as they prepared for Andrew Luck's arrival in April. Despite a one-season medical hiatus at the age of 35 for Manning, a gaggle of NFL franchises were lined up to put the welfare of their franchises in his hands.
For some teams, the upside of what at the time was a highly risky Manning signing far outweighed whatever hope their current quarterbacks inspired. In short, banged up, possibly noodle-armed Peyton "greater than" (picture the ">" sign here) Jake Locker, Alex Smith, Tim Tebow or anybody wearing an Arizona Cardinals uniform.
One name conspicuously absent from that list of teams: your Houston Texans.
We all remember the Texans' narrative at that time, which went something like this:
"The Texans are one of the best teams in the AFC. With a young, hard-hitting defense and some of the best skill guys in the league, the only thing that was holding them back from the Super Bowl last season was an injury to quarterback Matt Schaub!"
All of which may have been true, none of which meant that Matt Schaub was a better solution than Peyton Manning. Perhaps it should have been a red flag at that time that missing games drove Matt Schaub's stock higher than anything he did actually playing in games.
At the time, the Texans were mentioned prominently in the Manning Sweepstakes, largely because the rumor was that Peyton Manning wanted to play for the Texans. At the time, Texans owner Bob McNair was asked about the possibility of Manning becoming a Texan, and he had several thoughts on the topic.
In an article that I was able to dig up off of NFL.com, McNair discussed Peyton Manning and the Texans' 2012 offseason. This is not to pick on Bob McNair, who on the scale of owners is about as good as a city could ask for, but let's see how many things we find "wrong" with the article.
Yes, after Peyton Manning just finished off a torrid three-game start and Matt Schaub finished off a game where he didn't throw a ball farther than 15 yards down the field, I want to do this. If you're scared, I got no need for ya!
[This is where I take out a bottle of Gentleman Jack and a shot glass to help make it through the article]
Here we go....
Houston Texans owner Bob McNair understands why so many people believe his team is the logical new home for Peyton Manning.
The Texans should enter the 2012 season on the short list of Super Bowl contenders, boasting a top-tier defense, a healthy Andre Johnson and having already advanced to the AFC divisional round with rookie quarterback T.J. Yates subbing in for an injured Matt Schaub and Matt Leinart.
McNair, however, isn't preoccupied with the quarterback position, but focused on re-signing outside linebacker Mario Williams, who will become an unrestricted free agent unless he can reach a last-minute deal with the Texans. Otherwise, Williams would probably become the most coveted defensive player on the market.
Now I don't know how much truth there was to the "focus" of the Texans being Mario Williams, at least to the extent that it would distract from a move that would significantly upgrade another position. To me, it always felt like the Texans' offer to Williams was going to be just good enough to where Mario wouldn't feel insulted, but not enough to keep him, and then they would let him walk. However, I have to DING any paragraph that discusses Mario Williams as being the "most coveted" or "best" or any superlative. He may have been "most coveted," but in retrospect, that was wrong.
We continue.... [I take a shot of whiskey]
As for the Manning derby, the Texans are perfectly content with their current starter whom they feel can lead them to Super Bowl glory: Schaub.
I realize it looks like piling on to be pointing this out now, three days after Schaub had his 30-9 clunker against the Ravens and two days after Manning completed perhaps the best three-game stretch of his career to start the 2013 season (12 TDs, 0 interceptions), but that sentence, which already looked crazy to Schaub realists in 2012, looks certifiably insane at the moment. Equivalent Mad Libs for the above sentence:
As for the deep dish pizza derby, fat guys are perfectly content with their current starter whom they feel can lead them to nourishment glory: dry toast.
As for the Lamborghini derby, drivers are perfectly content with their current starter whom they feel can lead them to driving glory: Ford Taurus.
As for the Xbox Live derby, video game dorks are perfectly content with their current starter whom they feel can lead them to some kind of glory: Atari 2600.
Let's move on.... [I take another shot of whiskey]
"If there were an ideal club for him to be with, if it was just his decision alone, it would be the Texans because that gives him the best chance to win and that's really what he's looking for," McNair said Tuesday during a radio interview with KILT-AM. "But, we have a quarterback that we're happy with. Now the teams that he's talking to are the teams that don't have a quarterback and they're taking the risk of bringing a player in that they haven't even worked out."
To be fair, Manning was viewed as a risk at the time, and probably rightfully so. It wasn't assessing Manning as a risk that was the issue; it was assessing the risk of signing Manning as greater than the risk of relying on Schaub.
[Another shot of whiskey]
One of the teams Manning has been linked to is the Tennessee Titans. If Manning ends up back in the AFC South, McNair later said during a news conference that he wouldn't be concerned about facing the four-time MVP twice a year again.
"It really doesn't matter," McNair laughed. "We beat him when he was healthy and we'll do it again."
Yes, that is true. When this statement was made by McNair in March 2012, the Texans had beaten Peyton Manning when he was healthy. Twice, in fact. Once in 2006, and again in 2010. Way to go.
[I take 14 shots of whiskey, one for each time Manning beat the Texans as quarterback of the Colts.]
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"I hope he's healthy," McNair added. "I hope he plays because he's a great asset to the league."
DING! Be careful what you wish for, Bob....
[I chug the rest of the Gentleman Jack straight from the bottle and fire up the DVR of Monday's Oakland-Denver game one more time. And cry.]
Listen to Sean Pendergast on 1560 Yahoo! Sports Radio from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays and nationally on the Yahoo! Sports Radio network Saturdays from 10 a.m. to noon CST. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.