HOUSTON – The start of training camp. It is a time of year when NFL teams leave the offseason behind. It is a time when the proverbial rubber meets the road. All the new hires, the new players, the draft picks…they finally get a chance to integrate with the current team. It is a time of new beginnings and for optimism, for in training camp, every NFL team can hope and dream that the combination of players (old and new), coaches (old and new) and schemes (old and new) will fuse together to create a team that can find a way to make it to the mountaintop that is the NFL Championship.
For 31 teams, that is the case. Start with the Champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers, with their veteran team, led by veteran starting quarterback and candidate to host the next White House Correspondence Dinner (should that ever happen again) Tom Brady. Look to last year’s runner-up, the Kansas City Chiefs, looking to bounce back from the Super Bowl pratfall with their literal Big Daddy QB, Patrick Mahomes. The preseason is even a time for perennial also-rans to think that there is hope for the future, as is the case with Jacksonville, armed with one of the most hyped pairs of college prospects in recent memory: Trevor Lawrence and his well-travelled mane of glorious hair and Urban Meyer, who wasted no time in making Jacksonville feel just like his other collegiate coaching stops. Yes, for 31 of the NFL’s franchises, this is a time of optimism, when all hopes and dreams are fair game.
Then there is the 32nd franchise. The Houston Texans have their own goals and hopes as well. However, the end-game might be a little different from the other teams:
For 1st time General Manager Nick Caserio: “I hope that the 79…wait, just made ANOTHER trade…ok, EIGHTY, EIGHTY [Easterby] moves before training camp bear some fruit or can at least put together something resembling a competent team.
Wait a minute…oh, I can make training camp moves!!! I can do that, before cutting players with force lightening? Who knew? Ok, what can I do? What can I dooooo….oh, yeah, that Cobb dude. $10M cap hit, and I just traded for a cheaper receiver? DONE!!! GT[E]OH!!!! Say hi to Shailene for me. Really hope I get to work with her in the next Jurassic World!”
[We later received reporting from our colleagues at TMZ that Shailene Woodley threatened to ask for a restraining order, given that quite a few players were flooding her social media accounts, begging her to put in a good word with her fiancée in order to facilitate a trade, all while keeping their good money from Houston. There was also reporting that she was revolted by a particular head shot from someone wanting to work with her in future endeavors]
For 1st time Head Coach David Culley, the hope would seem to boil down to a simple prayer: “Dear [Easterby]…(actually, you know what, given the nature of his contract, that is exactly who is at the center of that prayer…so, TAKE TWO). Dear Easterby, please let me at least make it through one regular season game.”
For top draft pick David Mills: “I hope that Mommy was right, that I will have a good time at camp, that I will make new friends, and that the scary bald man won’t be so bad.”
For LT Laremy Tunsil: “I hope that that new gas mask works A LOT better than the last time. I think I am going to need this year…REALLY need it.”
For OLB/DE Whitney Mercilus: “I hope I can actually make a play on the field this year…wait, I am still on the Texans, right? Wait a minute…I still exist, right? I mean, I think, therefore, I am...but if I don’t think I do...I just don’t know!!!”
With many of the players, there was quite a lot of hope for the season. All this will play out on and off the practice field. There will be some instances where some dudes go on some injury list. Some players get waived, seeing the last shreds of their live-long ambitions for NFL glory and athletic prowess, spending the entirety of their lives working towards the dream of dreams, only to see it buried beneath the gigabytes of data on sports writing and hot takes…but anyway, enough about that.
The bigger story was the return of someone in the quarterback room. Apparently, the starter from last year’s team decided to check in, just to see what the place looked like. “I am just checking in to see what the team is doing, and it has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that I could lose $50,000 a day if I don’t. Nope, definitely not about the money. Nothing to do with the fact that I am down a ton of money from all those lost endorsement deals. Absolutely not related to the rather large legal bills I am racking up with that big shot lawyer…nope…it is all about the team and the guys…yep, glad to be with team…which is the…the…[Easterby] it, I used to remember…let me check my social media feeds. Uh…guess they aren’t there anymore. Can you give me a hint?”
Meanwhile, as last year’s starting quarterback continues to work through some selective memory issues, we will continue to watch the on and off-field action. Will all the hopes and prayers survive the pre-season? Who will survive? Who will thrive? Will we figure out what is going on with last year’s starting quarterback? Will last year’s starting quarterback figure out who he was playing for? Will Caserio finally get the dramatic role his is looking for, preferably without any law enforcement issues? Will Sal find out that it is not his wife Linda who has been thwarting his massive corporate takeover ambitions, but her doppelganger Bertha, who has been secretly in a romantic relationship with Sal’s receptionist, who just so happens to be his long-lost twin sister Connie, who is double-crossing all of them in a long-distance relationship with a Fortnite gamer named Kyle? Stay tuned for next week’s installment of Totally Not Fake News.