I generally don't have a lot of use for pride as an emotion. At least not pride in my own accomplishments. All it does is get in the way of fulfilling your objectives. You let your head swell with pride and the next thing you know you're living on the faded glory of past achievement. And who needs that?
Pride in other people's accomplishments, on the other hand, is (to me, anyway) more palatable. My sons took a few extra minutes to be nice to a new kid on the school bus a few days ago. I'm proud of them for that. My wife managed to parallel park the car in under five minutes last week. Super proud.
And so it goes without saying that, among the many positive emotions I felt this morning (yes, my watching the Texans involved getting up at 3:45 this morning) was pride. And not just in the Texans. Let's talk more about this after the jump.
To me, there are two parts to this. One of them is the pride that comes from being a native Houstonian. It may sound a bit chauvinistic to the many Texans fans on these pages that are not native Houstonians, and for that I apologize and promise that I won't devote too much time to this part of my post. But it comes down to this: you cannot change where you are from. I am from Houston. I was born there and lived there for about twenty years. Even if I could change that, I wouldn't. I am immensely proud to have been born in such a wonderful, diverse, unique city. And as a native Houstonian (and Texan) football is in my blood, as I suspect it is in most of ours. It's as much a part of us as our friendliness, our occasional cockiness and our zest for life.
I'll never forget how wound up the city got when the Oilers returned to the playoffs, winning a nailbiter against the Seahawks in the Wild Card round. At the time, of course, no one could possibly know how much heartbreak lay in store for Houston football fans. But life was good. I remember the Rockets' amazing runs to the NBA Championship and the Astros amazing, and ultimately heartbreaking, series against the Phillies and Mets. I remember the Astros choke job against the White Sox.
As much as those things brought the city together, I would suggest that a long, deep run by the Texans would put them all in the dust as far as uniting the city. Especially these Texans, seeing as how they are led by two men of great integrity who also happen to hail from this city, and all the heart and determination they have shown in overcoming a truly mind-blowing amount of adversity to do what had not been done in many, many years: win a playoff game.
I think it's ok to feel pride in this situation. And to thank the Texans for being such good ambassadors for the city I am proud to call home.
The Texans aren't off the congratulatory hook, though. Now that I'm done giving my hometown its due, it is time to turn my gaze elsewhere. This little corner of the internet has a reputation for wit and self-deprecation that can only come from being forced to sit through misfortune after shocking misfortune. Our owner, as noble a man as ever has trod the earth, has been frustratingly slow to change mistakes. When it works out, it's wonderful. But until then, we are left to deal with a laundry list of soul-crushing failures long enough to hold the entire text of War and Peace. I'm not going to go into those, however, because I think we all know what they are.
But this is a fact: we aren't bandwagon fans. Not yet at least. A team has to be good to have bandwagon fans, and before this season our team has given us very little to reason to call itself good. We're not fans of a perpetual winner (again: not yet). We're not Patriots fans. We're not Yankees fans. We're not Lakers fans. Well, maybe some of us follow those teams as well, but hopefully you get my point.
We're fans of a team that, until this season, has had precisely one winning season in its brief and not-so-illustrious history. A team that has done more heartbreaking than heartwarming. A team that has, well, failed spectacularly time after time.
And yet, here we are.
And I know that when I tell you that, sitting all alone in my living room, wrapped in the seeping semi-dark of the breaking dawn, jumping up and down with my hands in the air as I realized that the perfectly-arced ball sent by Taylor Jonathan Yates toward the endzone was headed to the mighty hands of Andre Lamont Johnson, you will understand perfectly why there were tears trickling out of my eyes. I won't need to tell you why or what it meant because you know. We know. Not just how good Andre Johnson has been, but what this franchise has been (and continues to go) through.
For a moment, a blessed moment, it seems that sometimes there is a reward for suffering. The pain caused by the Rosencopter may never fully go away, but I would offer that the pain is much less than the glory we get from watching moments like that. Our faith in our team - and our faithful criticism - is repaid. Beauty does exist in the world - Arian Foster and his cutbacks inspired by Neruda are proof. The center holds - and he still can't keep JJ Watt from bending the laws of physics like Neo at the end of the first Matrix movie. You just have to hold on long enough to see it happen. But when it happens, man what a ride.
Let's be honest here: our beloved team has a tough assignment ahead. Let's hope that the outcome is the same as this last game. But also like this last game, let's enjoy the shit out of this one.
And be proud of our team.