I spent the majority of one of my pre-high school summers in Fredericksburg, Texas. Two cousins of mine from Kansas were here for the summer, staying with their sister. The male, who was around my age, would come to San Antonio for a few days, and when he was picked up to go back that little hill country town, I would tag along and go up there with him.
Most of our time was spent playing Halo inside, soaking up the mobile home air conditioning, playing basketball, swimming, cursing, and talking about girls. Occasionally we would patter around spats of land his brother-in-law’s family owned. One was a house being built that had a catfish pond. We would use cheese and grasshoppers to try and catch those ancient deep water monoliths. Another had a creek of some sort we swam in once. When he got out, he was covered in black tubes attached to him like holly on a Christmas tree.
The other piece of land had their primary house. That house had a dog. It was a droopy, red-eyed boxer. His jowls hung like a conservative senator’s. He was white and had big black spots attached to him. I’d put the rope in my mouth, get on all fours and play tug of war with him around that hot, dry and exasperated, sticker-riddled, empty yard.
One day we got a call that the dog was dead. Stroke. I guess boxers have issues with blood getting to brain once they become eight years old or so. They needed us to go help bury him. We went over there and he was in the doghouse. A stake was in the ground with a chain tied to it with the end clasp hooked to his collar, keeping him contained in a fenceless yard, and led the way now to his corpse. The old man pulled on the chain and slowly he was extracted. He came out on his side, still in a seated position. Rigid and stuffed.
It was the first time I had ever seen death in anything I had direct contact with. That image of him, with an underbite clasped, moving in a way only possible in death, has always been in me. Yesterday it came seeping out.
Yesterday, Tom Savage was hit and he fell directly on the back of his head. The 6’4”, 230 pound tree fell hard, with his head snapping back and down into the turf as if he was falling off a rail-grinding skateboard. He attempted to get up but could only roll off his back slightly and push his right side off the ground. His fingers curled. His entire body shook like he had sleep paralysis. His torso became stiff and rigid. His eyes were filled with despair when he looked up and at the referee for help. He was a soldier in a movie, spitting blood, and telling someone to tell someone else that he loves her.
Tom Savage hits head on ground, appears to have seizure while ref looks on, comes back in the game 5 minutes later. pic.twitter.com/gW9lYxDIwQ— TheRenderNFL (@TheRenderNFL) December 10, 2017
After the nightmare subsided, Savage got up and walked to the sideline. They pulled him into his home away from home, the blue medical tent. After a brief test, he was cleared to play. Savage played one more series and didn’t look right at all. When he tried to come back out for the next series, the team held him back and folk hero T.J. Yates came in with a mandolin.
In all the time I’ve watched football, it was the grossest and most disgusting thing I’ve ever seen. The direct effect the impact had on Savage’s body, the way it tensed up, they way he shook, the complete failure of the league and team doctors, the quick trip to that stupid tent, the blood seeping out of his mouth that he attempted to hide, all of it, was despicable.
Things like this can’t happen anymore. We know what CTE is, and we know what concussions do the brain. A player can’t have a seizure-like trauma and get cleared from an independent doctor to keep playing. Even if this phrenologist clears him, the team doctors can’t let him go back out there.
There’s no question what happened. Something like this can’t go unseen. If the NFL can’t get a backup quarterback off the field in a game between two teams with a combined seven wins in a meaningless December game, they have no control over player safety or, even worse, they simply don’t care.
The Texans need a complete overhaul of their offensive line and secondary. They don't have a first or second round draft pick. The person making the final call on personnel is Rick Smith and/or Bill O'Brien.
*Unzips leather pouch, removes syringe*
Today's game was difficult to watch and even harder to listen to, thanks to the FOX clowns assigned to the broadcast. Tom Savage almost died and then enthusiastically clapped his hands as they were pulling the blue tent over his head.
*Wraps rubber tube around arm, taps for a vein*
T.J. Yates outplayed Tom Savage.
*Melts through the ceiling*
It's beyond puzzling to me that, given last week's near-/likely concussion for Savage at halftime, that this team didn't have three quarterbacks active. I can't believe we watched T.J. Yates play in the NFL in 2017. I don't care how he performed. This offense since the overhaul to be pitch-and-catch rather than relying on deep routes and the terrible offensive line to hold up has been pretty easy to rack up yardage in.
Kevin Johnson is a JAG since the injuries. Kareem Jackson is a JAG as an outside corner. I wasn't willing to jump on the critique Rick Smith for not franchising A.J. Bouye train at the time because I thought they'd bring in the Brinks truck for Tony Romo, but man does that look crappier every week as hindsight grows.
This is not a smart football team. And I'm not even talking about how they deal with concussions, which is by far the dumbest thing that happened yesterday.
It's a good thing Deshaun Watson plays here, because without that carrot for next season, I'm willing to say we should all spend our time writing about the Astros and Rockets.
I realize this team has a lot of injuries. I fully get it.
That said, what remains on the roster, aside from a few key guys like DeAndre Hopkins, Benardrick McKinney, D.J. Reader, Nick Martin, and the occasional appearance of Will Fuller, sorely lacks in talent.
Heading into 2018, the following positions all need an upgrade: CB1, CB2, CB3, SS, DE opposite J.J. Watt, LT (LTs are important? Who knew?), RT, LG, possibly RG, and TE. That constitutes nine (9) out of 22 positions that need immediate addressing (no, FBs still aren't people, so CB3 gets that spot). That speaks volumes about the poor roster management, injuries or no.
As for the game against the 49ers? It was fun having T.J. Yates to Andre Johnson flashbacks. Brian Cushing actually did a thing. But the Texans still gave up a tremendous game to Jimmy Grapplinghook, and even with the Yates-to-Hopkins magic could only drop 16 on the 30th ranked-by-DVOA defense.
But, hey, Bill O'Brien won a challenge, so let's sign him to a lifetime deal ASAP because the team hasn't quit on him because a team with fewer wins that totally quit on their coach beat them or something.
Jimmy Garoppolo did good things on the field at NRG Stadium. Had the front-office powers that direct this franchise selected him instead of Xavier Su'a-Filo, that statement might have been a weekly installment in favor of the Houston Texans. Yeah, I know, this is just beating a dead horse, but it is a horse worth beating when you consider the condition of the roster after so many years.
Now don't get me wrong, I'm ecstatic about Deshaun Watson leading this team for the next decade and beyond, and there's a possibility that doesn't happen if Jimmy G. were under center, but that still doesn't excuse the fact that XSF has been a massive pile of goo after being selected with the 33rd-overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. It doesn't excuse the fact that this team has had absolute garbage for special teams for the entirety of its existence, mostly due to terrible evaluations and selections after Round One of most drafts. This team has an incredible star-studded list of first round picks who can generate "oohs and ahhs" in highlight clips, but that is followed by a laundry list of "just a guy" (JAGs) warm bodies who wouldn't make the practice squad elsewhere. Houston lost too many A-list stars this season, and now it can't keep one of the worst teams in the league from beating them at NRG Stadium.
This is not a war cry to #FireRickSmith, but it looks long overdue for the owner to bring in a consultant to help sort out what is broken with the formula that has the organization where it is today. MANY NFL teams have been able to turn things around in a matter of one or two seasons. This team needs an infusion of talent to support the clutch of stars, because injuries are part of football. This team, more so than many others in the league, is simply not built to survive an injury to more than one star. THAT is on the front office.