We sent our top writers from the Battle Red Onion to follow and record how the Houston Texans spend their time off the gridiron. The content is raw, unedited, and potentially leaves us open to lawsuits. But we felt it was worth the risk. We wanted to get to know the players behind the mask.
The locker room was almost entirely empty. After a win against the Jaguars, it smelled faintly of victory, sweat and sadness; sadness because the season was officially over for the Houston Texans and the lone man remaining in the locker room: Andre Johnson. Johnson quietly packed the contents of his locker into a garbage bag. He paused to look at a picture taped to the back of the locker. It showed a group of kids surrounding him. They're all wearing Texans jerseys with his number "80," Santa hats on their heads, and wide smiles on their faces. A gentle smile formed on his own face as he thought about the toy run he sponsored on Christmas.
Johnson shook his head and turned around. Even though he has been called "Caveman" by fans, Eric Winston looked nothing like his Cro-Magnon brethren in his gray pinstripe suit, which must have easily cost $2,000.
"'Dre, we're going to get some dinner tonight to celebrate the win. You in?"
Johnson tossed the picture into the garbage bag with the rest of his stuff.
"You know it. I'm just about finished here, so I'll meet y'all outside."
Later that night, Johnson, Winston and a dozen of the Texans offensive players went to dinner at Morton's. The table they sat at was soon covered with several plates of the finest quality steak available in the state; and that was just what Winston ordered for himself. The other players sat down to plates of ribs, chicken, fish, and of course, dessert. Johnson ate his fill and fended off Winston's attempts to steal his dessert away from him. Generous that he is, Johnson paid for the meal, which elicited a sigh of relief from Winston. He also paid for the meals of everybody who was eating at the restaurant that night.
Once the bill had been settled and the waiter realized he could retire from the tip he received from Johnson, the Texans walked down McKinney shooting the breeze. Matt Schaub did his best imitation of Kareem Jackson by letting the group get 20 yards in front of him; making everyone in the pack laugh mightily and talk about whether or not Frank Bush would be fired.
The sky was black as pitch with the occasional large cloud wafting by. The darkness was pierced by a blinding light shining from Chase Tower. The light moved through the sky looking for an errant cloud as the Texans wondered what was going on. The spotlight hit the clouds, forming a large "H" in the sky. Johnson's eyes widened.
"You know what, guys? I think I have to cut tonight short."
The guys groaned and pleaded to change Johnson's mind.
"Sorry, y'all, I'm beat. I'll see y'all later on."
The Texans walked on without him as Johnson sprinted in the other direction toward Chase Tower. The thick glass doors were locked and the only person he could see was the janitor buffing the floors. Johnson pulled out a black card with a blue stripe and waved it in front of a small metal plate. After a quick beep the doors unlocked and he ran through them and into the nearest elevator. He pulled off his suit jacket and tore off his shirt. Underneath the shirt, he wore a rubber suit with a big blue H in the center. He pulled his mask, a small piece of blue cloth, out of his pocket and tied it around his eyes and nose just as the elevator doors opened on the roof.
He jogged out of the elevator with his blue cape fluttering behind him in the breeze. Two of Houston's finest moved the spotlight and a third officer with a lot of fruit salad on his chest waved to kill the signal.
"You called for me, Chief?"
"Thank God you're here, Haymaker. We have a situation on our hands. He's back."
"You don't mean..."
"I thought I put him away months ago!"
"Well he's back. He and a few of his cronies are robbing Houston Federal Bank, and we're still waiting for the cable guy to show up at the station. Could you take care of him for us?"
"Not a problem, Chief. I'll have them wrapped in a pretty pink bow in front of the police station in half an hour."
Johnson ran to the edge of the tower and jumped off, using his cape to navigate the treacherous downtown Houston crosswinds. He swooped over Houston Federal Bank to do some brief reconnaissance on the robbers. There seemed to be half a dozen of them, all dressed in obnoxiously bright green suits and wearing big, stupid-looking hats.
Like a magnificent hawk, Johnson swooped down and landed on the lookout waiting by their green Lincoln, which was likely their getaway car.
The other robbers heard the noise and froze in place as Johnson leapt through the glass window.
"Aw, crap! It's Haymaker!"
Four of the green-clad henchmen approached him with their fists raised.
"Hold it!" the ringleader bellowed.
He was an ugly little troll. He couldn't have possibly been any taller than six feet, and that was mostly from the stilts he probably stood on. He had the kind of hair that looked like it could reach out and grab you by the collar which was made only worse by its unnatural looking orange-brown hue. His face looked like a connect-the-dots puzzle gone horribly wrong with all the freckles he had. He wore the same shade of green as his flunkies but was also studded with green sequins, in case he didn't stand out enough.
"Surprised to see me again, Haymaker?" the ringleader asked with a forced Irish lilt in his voice.
"You should have stayed in prison, Leprechaun. Now I'm going to have to knock the 'F' out of you again."
The Leprechaun cackled madly. "Oh, you do dream big, don't you, Haymaker? Get 'im, boys!"
The henchmen circled Johnson, who put up his fists, "Game on, suckers!" It was the worst mismatch of his entire career. Four of the Leprechaun's flunkies against him. He dispatched them using only three punches.
Leprechaun then yanked on Johnson's face mask and let it snap back, which stung Johnson's nose something fierce. The fight lasted for several minutes, which was far longer than Johnson had anticipated. Johnson pummeled Leprechaun on the face while the verdant villain spent most of the fight curled into a ball, whimpering. Leprechaun blew green glitter into Johnson's eyes, blinding him. This gave the Leprechaun all the time he needed to put on his oversized green shoes and do a jig on Johnson's feet while laughing like a hyena on angeldust. The punches he landed with his fists o' bite-sized fury did little damage to Johnson, who furiously flushed the glitter out of his eyes, reared his fist back, and delivered the finishing blow.
The Leprechaun went reeling backwards and landed face down on the floor.
Several minutes later, Johnson knocked on the door to the police station and fled the scene. The officer who opened the door found the Leprechaun and his lackeys unconscious, gagged, and bound in a pretty pink ribbon with a note attached. It read: "We are bad men in ugly suits, please throw us in jail. Yours, The Leprechaun."
Johnson dashed as fast as he could back to Chase Tower and posed on the edge of the roof with his cape flying in the chilly Houston winds. When asked why he does this, he replied, "The Leprechaun and other members of the evil Bud-head's criminal empire need to know that justice doesn't sleep. As long as Houston needs protection from these villains then there will always be...Haymaker. Besides, it seemed like something that's expected of us superhero types."
Which Texans player would you like to see in the next installment of "Behind the Mask"?
Matt Schaub (7 votes)
Arian Foster (24 votes)
Owen Daniels (2 votes)
Eric Winston (2 votes)
Vonta Leach (12 votes)
Amobi Okoye (2 votes)
Eugene Wilson (2 votes)
Brian Cushing (5 votes)
Bernard Pollard (6 votes)
Glover Quin (1 vote)
Kareem Jackson (5 votes)
DeMeco Ryans (1 vote)
Other (Leave in Feedback Section) (2 votes)
71 total votes