As a sports fan, I've lost two teams in my lifetime to the ultra-painful franchise relocation bug. The first happened after I moved to Houston in 1994, and within a year of my arrival, Bud Adams was backing up moving trucks and searching real estate in the Nashville area. Since I wasn't a lifelong Oilers fan, that one hurt only insomuch as I was excited to live in an NFL city for the first time since I was eight years old and booing the Eagles (with love!) in Philadelphia as a youngster.
My second franchise exodus hurt more emotionally, even though I wasn't living in the city anymore. I was a Hartford Whalers season ticket holder growing up as a kid, and spent countless nights, some good and some bad, in the Hartford Civic Center emptying my hockey soul. In 1997, the Whalers moved to Carolina, became the Hurricanes and all I was left with was a bunch of blue and green gear and some memories. I was living in Houston by then, but it still hurt.
Sometimes, though, you need to let these things play out. Much like that girl who broke your heart in high school but turns out 25 years later to be thrice divorced and alcoholic, sometimes these things work out for the best, which brings me back around to the Oilers. We all remember when Adams took the team north to Nashville and we were scared we'd never love again. Thankfully, Bob McNair made bold moves, juked out Los Angeles and stole an expansion franchise for us, so we had football again.
Still, for longtime Houstonians, memories of Luv Ya Blue, Bum and Earl, and the Run and Shoot all elicited the Pavlovian nervous stomach of love lost. "Sure, it was nice having the Texans, but they are not the NFL team of my birth," many of you would say. Over time, regular fandom set in, and the gratitude of merely having NFL football gave way to laments that McNair was too patient with Gary Kubiak and "When the hell will O'Brien settle on a franchise quarterback?!?"
So I post this to remind you, me, all of us, that sometimes we need to emerge from the doldrums of our shortsightedness and see the forest for the trees. Are the Texans perfect? Of course not, not even close. Were the Oilers fun to root for back in the day? Sure they were. However, we've now had nearly two decades to watch our old Oiler girlfriend do her thing up in Nashville, and I am happy to say, she has devolved into a hideous Medusa.
After Bud Adams passed away a few years ago, his family took over the team, and they've essentially turned it into the NFL's version of Dunder Mifflin. In the past two weeks alone...
1. They've removed the interim tag from head coach Mike Mularkey and made him and his 18-39 career record the full-time head coach
2. Amy Adams Strunk, Bud's daughter, skipped an important meeting here in Houston at which all the OTHER NFL owners decided on the future of NFL football in Los Angeles, which is twice as funny when you consider Strunk lives in Houston
3. They've hired Terry Robiskie as the offensive coordinator, who will oversee the development of Marcus Mariota, which is a little like choosing the next Bachelorette to oversee a space shuttle mission
4. They've trotted out team president Steve Underwood (and his amazing mustache) to tell all of Nashville that everything is just fine!
How bad has it gotten in Nashville? Well, they've reached the "bad rap song begging the owners to sell phase," which is the worst of all the fan DEFCON stages.... (h/t Outkick The Coverage)
I post all of this to remind you, Houston, that 20 years later, these would undoubtedly be OUR problems right now — disengaged, incompetent ownership, uninspired coaching choices, picking first overall in the 2016 draft and appearing to be attempting to do so again in 2017. Is life as a Texans fan sheer bliss? No, it's a long way from that. But, thankfully, it's also a long way in the other direction from the steaming pile of football turds they now must endure in Nashville.
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Sometimes, being average can feel okay. The time when we can point at Nashville and sarcastically scream "You're welcome!"...that's one of them.
And yet, we can both still point at Cleveland and laugh out loud...because, Cleveland...
Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 2 to 7 p.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanTPendergast and like him on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SeanTPendergast.