November 4, 1990.
I was a kid. The Houston Oilers were playing a 3PM west coast game against the Los Angeles Rams during a CLASSIC Houston Oilers season (they were around .500 at the time, finished 9-7, and got gutter-stomped in the first round of the NFL Playoffs in Cincinnati by a score of 41-14. Oh, classic Houston Oilers).
The Rams led late in the game 17-13. Warren Moon drove the team down field and got inside the 10-yard line. It is either fourth down, or it’s the final play of the game (or both). I recall the end of the play as if it happened five minutes ago. I don’t exactly recall how the it developed, but to the best of my memory—Moon took the snap and kept his attention on the right side of the end zone. On the TV angle, everyone can see RB Allen Pinkett standing all alone near the front corner of the of the left side of the end zone. Moon FINALLY turns, sees him, fires the ball - and at the last possible second, a Rams defender tips the ball right before it hits Pinkett in the chest (GO TO THE BALL, PINK!)
I was devastated. It was after 6PM and the sun had been going down for a while. I was so upset that fat child me went outside and SPRINTED around the block twice. Well - I sprinted the first tenth of the block, jogged the rest, and on the second lap just kind of dragged myself along. My fat child self just crushed, slovenly, wheezing, dressed as if color blind, sweating, flapping about all the while, pondering my permanent existential crisis that somehow began at birth and continues each day.
That was me as an Oilers fan. A win, and it made my week. A loss - it destroyed me so much that (one time) it made me exercise.
Now I’ve joined the #olds and my my, much has changed (not the existential crisis, of course).
The Oilers are long gone, replaced by the Texans. I have responsibilities and frankly, a lot of issues. I used to wear Oiler Zubaz and paint my face at Oiler games as a child; the thought of doing that now makes me laugh.
I care. I definitely care. I love the Texans and I always will...but something in me changed. When they win, it definitely makes me happy and I can coast on that all week during football season (until the “issues” began; now nothing matters and I stare at the sun all day). But when they lose, I’m “upset” in the moment, but the SECOND the game is over, I just think “wow, Chris, you know you have many things in your life you need to do, and son - you got problems.” The losses leave my head instantly.
To be perfectly honest, the trades of Jadeveon Clowney and DeAndre Hopkins upset me SO MUCH more than anything that has happened on the field in recent years.
That’s where I am as a fan now. The wins are great, and I love them as much as I ever have. But the losses leave my brain and have no negative ramifications.
I put this question to the BRB staff, open-ended. They could speak on their Texans fandom, their fandom in general, etc. Let’s see what a select few members had to say.
Titan Matt Weston, Huge Fan of the Texas Rangers and Blade Runner (1982) Greatness Denier:
The biggest change for me is I don’t care as much about who wins or loses. I’m more interested in watching for certain things that I’m interested in, like if Josh Allen can figure out how to throw a deep ball, or if Houston builds an offense around a vertical passing scheme, or which linebackers are best at playing the rat in the hole, or Taylor Lewan-Roger Saffold outside zone double teams. These silly, specific things keep me interested and enjoying the game, no matter what happens to Houston week to week.
All of that up and down heart string yanking doesn’t really exist anymore when I watch sports. I just like the game. Well, all of this true until Houston goes up 24-0 in the Divisional Round.
As a fan, the last five years have broken me. It’s incredibly difficult to get excited to watch a team that’s so poorly coached on the offensive side of the ball. Watson is a miracle worker, it’s true! But watching RBs run up the middle feebly 20+ times a game is trash.
Then, at least we had a good defense to watch! Well, not so much anymore.
I used to be passionate about the Texans. Now? I just want this phase of crippling incompetence and mediocrity to be over.
At the start of my relatively young fandom, I was too invested in the outcomes of games. When the Texans would win, I’d be over the moon for a day or two. When the losses came pouring in, you would think that I had lost a $20,000 bet. I vividly remember that when the David Garrard Hail Mary happened; I screamed, hollered, maybe even threw a chicken nugget or two.
Nowadays, I’d like to think I’ve grown out of those tantrums. The wins are just as exhilarating as the day I started watching. The goofs in-game still elicit some insults and reactions. When a loss pops up, I remind myself that there’s always another week. There’s always another season. Football was here before me, and I’d expect for it to be here after me.
On the other hand, I’m sticking my face into a ceiling fan if Deshaun Watson leaves Houston without a ring.
I grew up a Broncos fan, endured many frustrating years of mediocrity and heartache, and then enjoyed back-to-back Super Bowl championships, only to see John Elway retire and the roster go through a painful reboot as Terrell Davis, Rod Smith, Ed McCaffrey (the papa to the current NFL star Christian McCaffrey for you youngsters out there), Shannon Sharpe, Bill Romanowski and so many others rode off into the sunset as I relocated to Houston.
The Texans were an NFL fresh start for me and my wife, who grew up an Oilers fan. We jumped in with both feet, bought PSLs in 2000, and didn’t miss a home game for the first decade. What a brutal test of patience and loyalty it has been for now going on two decades. I have to say that there’s always a flicker of hope inside me with Watson and Watt, but I just don’t get too high or too low anymore with this team. Apathy has certainly helped to keep me sane through the Bill O’Brien era.
O’Brien has broken my fan spirit in ways I didn’t know were possible. Suddenly, and somewhat rudely with the “this is a business” mentality of running off Andre Johnson, the LONE superstar worth watching for the first half of this franchise’s existence, was poorly handled by a Bill Belichick disciple who had only just begun to amass power and control in Houston. Wrecking Arian Foster in a meaningless play in Miami foreshadowed just how foolish he is at managing in-game decisions. The Clowney and Hopkins trades were the final straw for me to have any real hope in this team until we move on to the next chapter of leadership. Meanwhile, I’ll tune in for the train wrecks and snore-fests because there’s always a chance Watson will put a smile on my face even for just a brief moment and against all odds.
As a kid, I didn’t really pay much attention to following the NFL until I started playing football around 8 years old. Then it was often an all-consuming dream to be a player who caught the game winning touchdown in the Super Bowl. By the time I was in high school, it was obvious I’d never be a pro baller, and my interest waned for awhile until I settled into my post-music career life. As I tend to go all in on things, I nearly gave myself an ulcer over Barret Robbins, the only All-Pro center who could slow down the Tampa Bay pass rush, disappearing the week of the Super Bowl and leaving his Raiders teammates to get utterly destroyed by the Buccaneers.
Between the Tuck Rule, that loss, Al Davis’ constant off field drama in the last decade of his life, and a buddy who insists to this day the NFL is rigged for gambling purposes, my fandom faded for a few years until I fell in love with the Texans. While I’m not nearly as “emotionally ruled” by the outcome of the game, like Chris mentioned and I had been in the past, I’d be lying if I didn’t admit the way a Texans game plays out either brightens or darkens my day a little bit.
I’ve been an Astros fan since I was old enough to know what baseball was, and seeing them finally win the World Series was utterly amazing. Watching the Raiders do it when I rooted for them was also really cool. Now, the sports fan part of me wants nothing more than to hear the words “Your World Champion Houston Texans.”
At 13 years old, seeing J.J. Watt pick off Andy Dalton in the playoffs was epic. I still remember that day very well. Nothing could bring me down.
Then, in high school, I remember when the team would have embarrassing losses to the likes of the Falcons and Dolphins. I cannot remember a time where I was more frustrated as a fan. Losing by 30 at home in the playoffs was brutal.
However, in college, once I became a journalist, I began to see my teams from a more objective point of view. I see losses not evoking as much emotion as they would when I was younger. When the Texans lost to the Chiefs in January, I was incredibly frustrated, but not as much as I was when they lost to them in the playoffs with Brian Hoyer at quarterback. When the team traded DeAndre Hopkins, I saw it from a business perspective and less from an emotional perspective. Don’t get me wrong; I’m still salty that O’Brien traded away Hopkins, regardless of the returning compensation. However, I see it from a more objective point of view and I understand it more than I would if I were a kid.
Growing up, football was instilled in me like a baby bird learns to fly. My dad taught me everything he knew about football and had me wearing football pads during Halloween. As a kid, football was me copycatting my dad and embracing a family love of football. My earliest memory of my intense fandom was when I was gifted a chessboard where all of the pieces were football players. While watching a real game, between plays I would line the players up and reenact the play that just occurred. Now, instead of reenacting the players with chess pieces, I break down plays with video and words on BRB.
For the Texans in particular, my fandom really developed in two parts. First, going to Texans games with my dad every Sunday during the season was as sacred as anything could be for a kid. That was our time and I miss going to games.
I played into high school, where I was not very good but knew exactly what was happening. My fandom was crystallized when I started calling out plays before they happened during the Gary Kubiak era. Frankly, there were only five or six plays to choose from, but when you start “seeing” the game, it becomes a whole lot of fun.
The second part where my fandom grew was as a freshman in college. I was placed in a unique program where I was attending both Austin Community College and UT at the same time. Going from the prestige of the UT campus to ACC, which was built over a former high school, was thoroughly difficult for me. Not a single thing against anyone who attended a community college - I learned more about myself and other people that year than ever before. But the only way I could get through that 30-minute walk was by listening to Marc Vandermeer and the Houston Texans’ broadcast crew. It connected me to home, but also grew my connection to the Texans.
What do you have to say about how your fandom has changed? I put the question to you, BRB, to address in any manner you feel.