While MDC's Pregame usually "stokes the hate flame" this week's game is deserving of an early start. Consider it your appetizer of loathing before your hate steak.
My father is a CPA who runs his own small accounting firm. His clients are primarily small businesses who hire him to handle bookkeeping, payroll, and tax issues, and as a small business owner himself, my dad obviously has to deal with these issues for himself.
Being the type of person who has the type of personality to become a successful professional accountant, my dad is naturally quite organized about these matters. So it came as a bit of a shock when, about a year ago, the IRS sent him a notice that he hadn't paid a quarters worth of taxes.
Unconcerned, because he has the character traits I described above, my dad simply produced a copy of the documents proving that he had in fact paid these taxes (documents that I'm quite certain he kept hard copies of in triplicate, as well as multiple soft copies saved on multiple computers).
The IRS, however, is apparently the type of place where accountants without the character traits I ascribed to my father go to die. Before they die, however, they live out their lives as horrible accountants.
And so, the dance between the competent and the incompetent began. For the last year, the IRS has continued to insist that my dad has not paid his taxes while my dad has continued to provide evidence to the contrary. Throughout this time, neither phone calls, emails, nor letters have not dissuaded the IRS from their ineptitude. If any of you have ever had dealings with the IRS, I'm sure you're nodding your head as you read this.
Then last week, the IRS did something inexplicable -- they actually pulled the funds directly out of my dad's bank account without permission or notification. The best way for me to illustrate the reaction from my parents is to note that my typical response to an idiotic Texans play is an inherited quality.
Infuriated, my father began calling the IRS to complain about the injustice, and was told that the office in charge had no telephone number and no alternative way to contact them, so he had to trust in those in the other offices -- yes, those same people who have been unable to understand the most basic of tax documents -- to pass on the message.
The battle rages on.
The key takeaway here, at least as it pertains to this discussion, is that there exists an office where the most despised government organization hides their most incompetent employees to perform activities of questionable legality. And they don't have a phone.
I'll give you one guess as to which state houses this office.
Yes, my e-friends, it's Tennessee week.
No matter how good the Houston Texans may be, or how bad the Tennessee BESF may be, this game always carries extra importance.
Twice a year the Texans and Titans stage a battle that transcends the standings and truly brings out the extreme emotionalism of both fans and players (or in the case of the BESF fans, a marked increase in home amphetamine production).
We all know how the stage for this play was set: a heartless owner was spurned in his demands for a tax payer funded stadium and essentially took his ball and went home.
The best analogy I can think of is if you were dating a girl who was kind of crazy, but you had a lot of history together and you didn't want to break it off. She kept pushing for a ring though, and, in what alcoholics refer to as a moment of clarity, you said no. She got all crazy and ended up leaving you for a weird hillbilly with no teeth just because he gave her a ring, while you were left stranded. It hurt, but in the end it worked out. The ex-girlfriend got fat and lost her teeth as well while you ended up with the rich supermodel who is also really cool and smart. And you gave her the ring.
Yet, the conflict has evolved since then. It's not just the angry former fanbase against a divisional rival. It's more than that. From the overtime Vince Young run (still the highlight of his career -- if only he could afford to buy the game tape) to the conversion of Finnegan to Innegan the match-ups have elevated the rivalry from simple anger to true abhorrence.
The odd thing is that neither team has really been that much more successful than the other. The Titans have only been around a few years longer than the Texans (no, I do not consider the Oilers franchise to be part of the Titans history as the majority of people who suffered with that franchise are now committed to the Texans).
The Titans made the Super Bowl in 1999, where they came hilariously short of a championship, but have since been less than successful. In fact, since the Texans came to be, the Titans have a grand total of one more playoff victory than the Texans. This despite the fact that they did not have to spend any appreciable amount of time as a) and expansion team or b) led by Charlie Casserly and Dom Capers.
**I guess you could add c) with David Carr as quarterback, but that's kind of a subset of b).
The last of those playoff wins was also eight seasons ago in 2003 -- a drought exceeded by only eight other NFL franchises.
The Titans have won 14 of the 21 head to head match-ups to date, but since 2008 the season series has been split each year (including last year where the Texans decided that resting a third string, rookie quarterback was more important than treating the Titans like a real live NFL team). A trend likely to end this weekend.
So in essence, any argument by a defender of the Titans organization that the Titans are a more successful franchise is based solely on the years where the Texans were a growing expansion team. Even if you were to include the Oilers history (which would be an affront to the vast majority of those who actually cared for the Oilers), it wouldn't exactly vault the franchise to the NFL's elite.
Looking forward, however, it's hardly a stretch to imagine a world in which the Texans gain the upper hand in the head to head record and exceed the Titans all time playoff win total (which stands at 5). In fact, I would argue that it is more of a stretch to think that this wouldn't happen. The Texans have a stable and effective front office, a competent owner, a reliable coaching staff, and arguably the most well rounded and talented team in the NFL, complete with legitimate superstars in key positions on both offense and defense. Many who are just now entering their prime.
The Titans, on the other hand have an inept owner, an uncertain coaching staff, and legitimate questions about the future of key positions. Whereas the Texans are poised to be Super Bowl contenders for years to come, the Titans are trapped in a cycle of mediocrity -- not bad enough to earn a top draft pick, but not good enough to compete for anything outside of the occasional Wild Card spot and subsequent first round playoff loss.
The simple fact of the matter is that while Texans' fans endured a longer period of growing pains than do most franchises, our loyalty and patience is finally being rewarded with a team that can truly compete against the best and that is well positioned for the future.
So bask in your glory, Texans fans. Enjoy the game this Sunday. A game that will most likely see the Texans improve to 11-1. Yet, even if the Titans were to pull an unexpected upset (like the Texans did the last time the Titans had such a record), when Monday morning rolls around, you'll still be a Texan looking at the playoffs, and they'll still be a BESF looking forward to the draft.
The dance between the competent and incompetent begins anew.