Every trip into the closet was a horrible reminder that football was wrapped in that most miserable word—hiatus—for David Culley. Sweat resistant polo shirts and long sleeve heat gear, which turned from purple and black to red and blue, hung like the gallows on an iron rod. They were fresh, just like the eggshell white. Lacking body odor, that adage to summer days, they were pleading to be seasoned. A shirt isn’t a shirt until one drop of perspiration instantly makes it reek. On a shelf below were numerous athletic shorts. They too abhorrent, all stiff and empty, all the same size, large, and he had yet to find his favorite one, a perquisite for any wardrobe. Socks that ride up to his ankles to the left, and compression shorts to the right. A row of whistles, lacking spittle, gleamed, strewn out and dangling against the wall. They beckoned him. Moaned for him.
On the top shelf lay his favorite apparel—the bucket hat. Joyous and practical, a personal umbrella for sweltering days. It ordained and adorned his head since his helmet was turned in. His personal symbol for coaching the game of football. Twelve blue ones. You can never have enough for this line of work.
Another day of slacks and a polo. Another day with a naked head. That smile always smiling, but still, it was waxing, lacking the full luster brought out by practice, and sun, and competition.
That changed this past weekend. Rookies reported. The bucket hat landed in its rightful place. Football was back. That most terrible span of the year was gone. Culley could be Culley. The epitome of Sparta, Tennessee excellence.
Afterwards, he was forced to talk to the pestering and the prodding about Houston’s rookie minicamp, and there he was, still smiling, even when forced to do something most coaches resent. During his press conference we learned he loves all the intangibles about Davis Mills, likes Nico Collins’s size, that Garrett Wallow is a football playing Jesse, Lovie loves Roy Lopez, and Brevin James is a no brainer prototype tight end.
Riveting. Yet, none of it compares to David’s love of his whistle, and most importantly, his newfound love of nachos.
David Culley: pro-whistle, pro-nachos pic.twitter.com/9bTUjjGggm— Rivers McCown (@riversmccown) May 15, 2021
The 2021 Houston Texans are going to be bad. The talent level is despairing. The brand new football team they put together includes only a handful of actual football players that are non-playable characters. Nick Caserio reached his goals of turning the Texans from a 62 to a 64 overall, and creating the competition he bloodied his lip lusting for. You won’t care what a Shamu Kroger-Bill is by October. Tae Davis is a trivia question you’ll forget in a single season. Donte Moncrief returned kicks for the 2020 New England Patriots, but he won’t for the 2021 Houston Texans.
Rather than soak the rags in gasoline, light them up, and fire away, the Texans opted to live in the haze of purgatory for another season. Instead of pay their bills, they restructured contracts so they could sign numerous free agents to one year contacts. Rather than try and get a first round pick and scraps for Laremy Tunsil, they kept him on the roster, which now allows them to get an accurate reading on Davis Mills. They continued to give roster spots to veterans instead of cast a wide UDFA net and give the keys to the kids. Deshaun Watson is still on the roster, his trade must springboard to the next ‘good’ Texans team, if not, the dredges are everlasting.
Their offseason plan was ambiguous. Either management told Nick Caserio the Texans are good because of a 2-8 one possession record, despite ignoring this after the 2019 season, and they need to improve their roster to compete this season, or Caserio, just like Jack Easterby and Bill O’Brien, who thought the culture, not their pass defense, was why they lost to Kansas City in 2019, believes culture is more important than the talent and age configuration of the roster. If you build the culture, the wins will follow—something of that nature. For whatever reason, the Texans are a new football team, and without Watson, they aren’t any better.
2-15, 3-14, 4-13, whatever you want to come up with, it’s all in play. The preseason is more important than the regular season for the 2021 Houston Texans. It’s going to be brutal and obscene, a time hearkened back to those malodorous new millennium days. Unlike then, there isn’t a newness associated with the team. The phoenix is welted and withered. It’s year 20, and they are in the same spot once again. They treated the offseason like an expansion draft, without a first or second round pick to supplement it. The top talent this team was built on has been sent away in embarrassing trades. We are currently in a reality where two third round picks are trying to replace what Houston used to have, and a seven sack player is expected to replace J.J. Watt.
The cellar is nothing new for the Houston Texans. It’s where we belong, it’s where our heart is. 4-12 is a return to normalcy. It’s a reminder of what reality really is. 12-4, 11-5, Divisional Round losses, these are blimps and bursts, and are unsustainable arcs for our football team. The well of Texans misery is bottomless. No matter where they’re at, or what just happened, it can always be worse.
None of this is David Culley’s fault. He didn’t build the roster, he didn’t trade for Laremy Tunsil, he didn’t trade DeAndre Hopkins, he didn’t coach the team that led to Deshaun Watson’s trade request, or is the one handling the current sexual assault allegations. He’s just a man with a smile and a whistle, who now loves nachos. A real football coach. Blue collar. Someone who exudes and commits to, not just preaches, accountability, selflessness, toughness, and clear communication. A mirthful soul who will keep things light during this miserable season, the next one, and maybe the next one. His smile will guide our souls along the river until this football team is worth watching, instead of merely being something we watch, because it’s just something we do.
Wring the hate from your heart. Scoop out the corroded spots, soak them in vinegar, and caulk them back in place. Take a toothbrush to your Aorta. Calibrate what you push out of it. Leave the analysis in a drawer. Live, laugh, love David Culley, because if you don’t, you won’t make it through another rebuild.
David Culley loves nachos, I love David Culley, and you should too.