As Rivers FanShotted earlier today (that's right...I made FanShot a verb), Steve Slaton is no longer a member of your Houston Texans. While this is a moment that the vast majority of the fan base thought was long overdue, I found myself surprisingly nostalgic when I heard the news. As Slaton was totally ineffective from 2009 to 2011, the only explanation for the onset of this odd feeling was how amazing Slaton's rookie campaign in 2008 truly was.
Take a look at Slaton's game log from 2008. Quick summary:
-1,282 rushing yards (good for 6th most in the NFL).
-4.78 yards per carry (thanks in no small part to a 14 carry/156 yard effort against the Colts).
-9 rushing TDs.
-377 receiving yards.
-1 receiving TD.
That's a helluva season by any standard. It's especially impressive when you consider that Slaton was a rookie who was drafted and thought to be, at the time, a third-down back. Watching Slaton that year, I remember thinking that the Texans had their RB for the next three to five years. Alas, it was not to be. Steve Slaton got hurt, had surgery on his cervical spine, and was never the same player. 2008 became a memory he wouldn't even sniff again.
Two final, tangential points before The Steve Slaton Era in Houston truly expires:
1. Compare Slaton's excellent 2008 season with what Arian Foster did in 2010. It's a nice reminder of how otherworldly and exceedingly rare Foster's 2010 campaign was. It also probably gives you a new longing for Foster's return.
2. Remember how Slaton fell off the map every time people talk about how a team needs to lock a running back up after a successful season. Say what you will about Smithiak, but it would have been very easy (and applauded at the time) for them to have signed Slaton to a reworked, reasonably high guaranteed dollar deal after his rookie year. They wisely didn't do it (which Slaton could have made an issue, had he held out before the 2009 season in an attempt to better his lot), and that's deserving of recognition.
Makes you wonder how much, if any, Slaton's career path influenced the Texans' handling of Arian Foster after his phenomenal season last year, doesn't it?