Rivers' exquisitely crafted note of gratitude to Wade Phillips gave us an idea. For the next several days, we'll periodically be posting entries thanking various people who had a hand in making the Texans' 2011 season as enjoyable as it was. The season's over, which blows, but there's a lot to appreciate, and it's a loooooong offseason, so let's do take a minute to say thank you.
Gary, I would like to start this thank you note with an apology.
I was one of those that called for you to be fired last year. I questioned your sanity when you allowed Frank Bush to continue to stand on your sideline. I called you out when you stopped feeding Arian Foster, when you mismanaged the clock, and when you threw unfounded challenge flags.
While I always respected your ability to gain the trust of your players, I did not believe that you were the coach that would ultimately take this team to the promised land.
And these are all ultimately the reasons that I owe you a heartfelt thanks.I still feel that, considering the information available at the time, the past criticisms of your coaching style are founded. Your loyalty, while it built trust within your organization, has allowed some mediocre (to be kind) players and coaches to retain their jobs for far too long.
This off-season, however, your humility allowed this team to reach heights many of us only dreamed about.
You identified your faults on defense and instead of trying to prove that you were right, you acknowledged a mistake and made the changes that needed to be made. You brought in Wade Phillips and allowed the draft to be dominated by defense (though still forced a diversion from the trend by drafting T.J. Yates). While other coaches may have struggled to accept the error, you willingly and selflessly addressed it.
Yet throughout it all, you still retained that loyalty to your players and have earned their loyalty in return -- not to mention the loyalty of Bob McNair. These players love you. They bleed for you. The postseason was peppered with quotes about how they want to give everything for you.
Perhaps that's what has made you a successful coach. You have evolved into a leader that has demanded respect from your peers, employees, players and bosses. You have overcome a profession stereotyped by egotistical monsters to become a humble, self aware, and self criticizing leader who has not only developed a winning team, but also a team that the City of Houston can be proud of.
These traits allowed you to keep the team from imploding in the face of all the adversity you faced this year.
Even more so, you have given us hope. For the first time in team history, we are not entering the off-season with unfounded hopes and dreams of what the future may hold. Those dreams now have roots in reality.
Whatever mistakes you may have made as a coach, or whatever concerns we have had as a fan base must be set aside as we say, "Thanks."
Thanks for the greatest season in Texans history. Thanks for a home playoff game. Thanks for giving us hope.
Despite the shortfalls of seasons past, you have willingly set aside your own ego to be the leader of men that this city can be proud of.