Texans Ramblings: On The 2010 Season And Fandom

Normally, I'd do a Post-Game Breakdown about the last game (and a victory to boot) of the 2010 Houston Texans season. Really, though, what can I say that hasn't already been said dozens of times this season, save perhaps that Trent Edwards looked more like Rusty Smith than any other QB Houston faced this year? Arian Foster is incredible. Matt Schaub is a very good QB. Matt Turk doesn't consistently punt the ball as well as he once did. The secondary drives me nuts. You've heard and read that all before.

Therefore, I'm going to ramble about something else that I've been pondering since Sunday's season finale. An analysis of fandom and how we express it awaits your perusal after the jump.

A few weeks ago, one of my buddies--a diehard, frustrated Texans fan and season ticket holder--came up with the idea of getting t-shirts made to express the disappointment so many Texans fans have felt year after year. I'm sure he would have preferred an audience with Bob McNair, Gary Kubiak, Rick Smith, or Frank Bush, but he didn't have that option available to him. What he came up with was a simple white t-shirt that said "Houston Texans" across the chest and "Laughingstock Since 2002" below it. I bought one of these shirts from him and wore it to Sunday's season finale.

I thought it'd be greeted with laughter and a shake of the head. I mean, the worst kept secret around Reliant Park was that Gary Kubiak and Rick Smith, men who had presided over a five (5) year reign of 36 wins (37 after Sunday's win) and 43 losses with nary a playoff appearance to show for it, had earned a sixth year running the show. Even if you're a Smithiak supporter and quickly cite the offense's potency or the dearth of talent that they inherited from the 2005 2-14 squad, there's no getting around the reality that the two men Gary Kubiak hired to run his defense were abject failures at the job and/or that the talent deficiency on the defensive side of the ball is significant. If that's not cause for termination, it is at a bare minimum cause for frustration.

I was surprised at the negative reception the shirt received from a few people. Personally, I found (and continue to find) the shirt funny. While some people laughed and others asked where they could buy one, some fans were patently offended and disgusted that I, a professed fan of the Texans, would wear a shirt like that. Questions I was actually asked by those who had a problem with the notion that the Texans are a laughingstock, or that I would dare wear clothing that trumpeted that idea:

1. How could I? How could I mock a team I allegedly support? How can I call myself a real fan?

A: I'll tell you how I could wear that shirt: Because the shirt speaks the truth. Even the most ardent Texans fan would have to admit that the team has been a laughingstock since its inception, at the very least from the most vital standpoint of wins and losses. Since 2002, the Texans are 55-89, which is good for a winning percentage of .382. Expansion team or not, that's horrible. Even if we take out the Capers/Cassery Era (absurd, I know), the Texans have won only 46% of their games since Smithiak rode into town. Again, that's embarrassing.

It's also downright laughable, so why not have some fun with it? Why not wear a shirt mocking the reality that a team we all devote significant time and resources to has won less than 40% of their games in the last nine (9) years? Better to laugh than to cry, isn't it?

I don't, and never have, subscribed to the theory that fandom means you have to blindly applaud every move your team makes. It's perfectly within your rights to criticize, to complain, to object, to whine, and/or to moan. You don't have to cheer everything, and you certainly don't have to pretend that failure, mediocrity, or falling short is acceptable. To that end, expressing your disappointment or frustration (within legal bounds) is perfectly acceptable. Feel like writing a FanPost wondering how the Texans could have possibly decided Kareem Jackson was more pro-ready than Devin McCourty? I salute you. Want to wear a shirt that, sans profanity, criticizes management? Go for it. Want to boo a player? That's your right. It doesn't make you any less of a fan than the guy who convinces himself every week that the Texans have turned the corner.

2. What would potential free agents or draftees say if they saw Texans fans wearing that shirt?

A: I imagine they'd say, "Who gives a flying (insert expletive here) what this guy thinks? Now show me that offer sheet again, Mr. McNair." Texas doesn't have a state income tax! The cost of living in Houston is nearly unparalleled, especially for a city with this much to offer! The Texans have amazing facilities! There's enough talent on the roster to rationalize that this team will make the leap!

I submit that any free agent who makes the decision where to sign based upon the clothes worn by the fans has his priorities grossly misaligned.

3. What if you met Andre Johnson wearing that shirt? What would you say to him?

A: I'd say, "Sir, it has been a privilege watching you ply your trade on the football field these last eight years. You are truly the best in the world at what you do, and I couldn't be happier that you've done it as a member of the Houston Texans. I trust you understand that I believe you could not be any further from a laughingstock, but the organization that signs your checks, as a whole, has earned that label. I hope that one day you're given a postseason stage on which to excel, because you have done things the right way the entire time you've been a Texan."

Yours in the Comments, BRB. Do you have a problem with what the shirt said? Would you have answered the questions I was asked differently? Think I'm out of line? Share with the class, please.

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