Diehard Texans Fans: Explain Yourselves

Cal McNair, left, took over after his father, Bob McNair (right), passed away. Still, things remain stagnant.
Cal McNair, left, took over after his father, Bob McNair (right), passed away. Still, things remain stagnant. Photo by Eric Sauseda
Anyone who understands the basic ethos of Texas recognizes the power of football in the state. When many of us were kids, people used to start looking at their watches in church if the preacher went a little too long with his sermon on Sunday morning fearing they might miss kickoff. Next to religion, the temple of choice around here is a football stadium.

When the Oilers took their pads and their much-hated owner to Tennessee, rabid football fans remained in Houston. It was inevitable that another team would eventually find a home here. And, sure enough, the Texans emerged to tremendous fanfare and sellout after sellout after sellout.

They have managed to win a few playoff games and have a few exciting seasons, but the promise of a new team in Houston has fallen flat, even flatter than the team that left here for Nashville — and that's saying something.

So, we really were curious about something, Texans fans. Why aren't you sick of it?

If you are a huge fan of JJ Watt or Deshaun Watson or one of the other stellar talents that grace the roster, we completely understand and you are excused from this discussion. Sometimes, you ride or die with your guy and that's just how it goes. And, in all honesty, we don't blame the players. Most of them only spend a few years with the team anyway. They are unwitting victims of the same organization that has created this problem. It's the organization that caused Duane Brown to want out, to waste the career of one of the greatest receivers in NFL history in Andre Johnson. It's the same group that has assembled one of the worst offensive lines in the league to protect one of its most promising quarterbacks. Isn't it getting a little tiring?

The Texans have offered you hope for 17 seasons. They have also provided you with brutal letdowns. And in a city that has been rife with sports heartbreak for decades, that's cruel and unusual punishment. It's like the light you see at the end of that bleak football tunnel is a speeding train, and the engineer is team owner Cal McNair whooping like he just won the Super Bowl.

And, look, we don't blame you for loving football. We do too. What they put on the field turf at NRG, however, is often only football in the sense it is played on a field with an oblong leather ball against a team from another city. Of course, it is field turf because the original idea of grass was abandoned after myriad number of complaints. Anyway, they can't grow grass in a stadium with a retractible roof that is never retracted. Even if it is sunny and 70 degrees outside.

If you really do love those guys on that field, don't you owe it to them to demand more from their bosses? And, if that is the case, it might be time when you get a phone call from the Texans season ticket office to respond with, "Call me when you have decided to finally change your culture, or at least open the damn roof once in a while."

It seems incredible, almost irresponsible, that fans continue to pack NRG. It's like your kid kicking you in the groin every day for 17 years and you hand him an ice cream cone every time. You can have better. Look no further than the Astros, who have been relentlessly brilliant for three straight seasons including a World Series win in 2017 and a franchise record 103-win season in 2018. That was after three self-inflicted seasons of 100-plus losses they had to suffer through to set a standard and a culture on which to build their future.

Even the Rockets, who may have not won a title since the '90s, but their aggressive, no-holds-barred approach to acquiring talent and throwing themselves into the deep end of the "new NBA" tells you right up front they care more about winning than anything else.

What exactly is the Texans identity? Does anyone know? They have had nearly two decades to define it and the front office hasn't been able to muster a response.

As a big time fan of this woebegone organization you have a right, even a responsibility, to demand better; not just with your voices but with your wallets. Next time you fill up the call-in lines of local sports to talk about the depth at offensive line, consider the alternatives. Maybe if the only fans who showed up to Texans games were wearing bags like they used to do at the Astrodome for the Oilers, the message will finally get through to the people who make the decisions. Maybe it will convince them enough is enough.

It's either that or keep your fingers crossed and hope something changes with absolutely zero evidence to the contrary. Because right now, Sunday after Sunday, those not tailgating and piling into NRG Stadium are in church, checking their watches in anticipation of kickoff, giving the Texans no reason to be anything other than what they have been for 17 seasons. And we can't for the life of us figure out why.
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Jeff Balke is a writer, editor, photographer, tech expert and native Houstonian. He has written for a wide range of publications and co-authored the official 50th anniversary book for the Houston Rockets.
Contact: Jeff Balke