Well, almost ten years. Nine years, plus 13 games.
For the first time in franchise history, your Houston Texans will be playing postseason football.
They'll be doing it without Matt Schaub, Mario Williams, and who knows who else. Somehow, your Houston Texans are 10-3 despite their best player, one Andre Johnson, missing seven games and counting. The Texans are 2-0 in games started by T.J. Yates (3-0 in games in which he's played), a rookie who this time last year was preparing for the Music City Bowl. Hell, Yates hadn't even dressed for a Texans game before November 27, 2011, and now he's quarterbacking a playoff team.
Soft schedule, no Peyton Manning to deal with, the law of averages, whatever...10-3, with a seemingly new season-ending injury every week, defies all logic. In fact, that complete defiance of reason has only served to make what we're witnessing all the more special. No one could have foreseen how resilient this team has had to be to get where it is, and seeing Kubes' charges respond the way they have is the kind of stuff that we'll be talking about for years. This season is the kind of season we'll remember fondly for the rest of our rooting lifetimes.
You won't hear me say or see me write that Texans fans somehow "deserve" the success that the team has had this year. None of us are promised anything, and suffering through a nine-year playoff drought doesn't make us any more entitled to a glorious season than any other fan base. What it may do, however, is make us more grateful, more appreciative, and more joyful about what we're experiencing as it occurs. It can be extraordinarily difficult to truly embrace the moment as it's happening; it's far easier to look back after the fact and say, "Man, that was something else." After the first nine years of Texans fandom, we're all intimately familiar with how rare a season like this can be. Let's bask in every second of it.
So many of us have lived and died (well, mostly died) with the Texans since they first took the field in 2002. Whether you were fortunate enough to be at the stadium every week or were forced to stare at a computer screen on the other side of the world, a season like this is why you care so much. It's why you follow the team year-round. It's why you buy Texans merchandise. It's why you debate whether the team should keep seven offensive linemen, five wide receivers, four running backs, and so on. It's why you argue that J.J. Moses was a better return man than Jerome Mathis. Or vice versa. It's why you choose to spend who knows how much time reading and commenting on BRB (thanks again for that, by the way; the interaction with other Texans fans is why this community is so exceptional).
All too often, fandom can be a thankless venture. The Texans go 2-14, or 6-10, and we wonder why we care as much as we do. It can seem like a one-way street. You give and you give, yet all you have to show for it is another five months of draft speculation.
This season is why we care. Watching this group of players continue to battlefight every week, even as the tale grows more and more improbable, is why we care. Listening to Bob McNair, Gary Kubiak, DeMeco Ryans, and any number of Texans players talk about how happy they are for Houston fans and the city, is why we care.
Finally, it's reciprocity. Finally, it's the organization saying, "Thank you. Here's what you've been waiting for." Finally, it's us saying, "No, thank you. Instead of watching some other team, we get to watch our team in the playoffs."
Your Houston Texans are going to the playoffs. We don't know what'll happen there, but we know the Texans will be involved. That's pretty damn cool. Savor it.