I wish I could say that I’ve been a Texans fan, let alone a football fan for a long time, but I can’t. Writing this post has granted me the opportunity to gaze back to bygone years of childhood and adolescence, revealing a timeline devoid of the Matt Schaub, Andre Johnson, and Gary Kubiak-shaped constellations that dot the skies of fellow authors. This lane houses only a mild interest in football at all, and then in the color of Steelers black and gold, my hometown team. The biggest names during my youth weren’t Dan Marino or John Elway, but Tom Brady and Troy Polamalu. It was not until just a few years ago that my interest in football went beyond the Super Bowl and the headlines in the muddy bumper sticker and front porch flag waving “Steeler Country.” Even then, this allegiance was one that I only fully embraced during Super Bowls XL (Seahawks v. Steelers), XLIII (Cardinals v. Steelers), and XLV (Packers v. Steelers), all of which occurred before I even entered middle school.
One of the only strong football related memories I have of this period was when our family decided to see Punxsutawney Phil on Groundhog Day, February 2nd, which happened to be the very day after the Super Bowl. We spent the night before huddled inside a small motel nearby Punxsutawney, watching the big game on a tiny television that was likely installed during the Reagan administration. I still remember all of us screaming with joy during James Harrison’s amazing interception return, the silence that followed as the Cardinals stormed back in the second half, and the impossible Santonio Holmes toe-tap catch to win the game, putting an exclamation point on what is still the greatest football game I have ever watched. The early morning after, originally expected to be a miserable wait in the tundra for a groundhog to come out of its hole to tell thousands of attendees the weather (as I read this, I realize how incredibly strange this must sound to anyone not from Pennsylvania), but it ended up being a sort of outdoor Super Bowl celebration, complete with chants and high-fives and the like.
This was the extent of my football history, until a fateful day in November 2017. That was the month my interest in football and the Texans sparked.
I was a junior in college and had my interest piqued by a few game highlights recommended to me on YouTube. I still remember one of the first ones I watched, the Texans/Seahawks highlights. Ohhhhh, MAN! Beginning of the game, Deshaun Watson launches a ball into the stratosphere to a bolting Will Fuller for a 59-yard touchdown. Second Houston possession, big-time interception by Earl Thomas returned 78-yard for a touchdown. Watson responds with a march downfield to take the lead again. Seattle ties it up, Watson starts the second quarter sprinting downfield, throwing a dart to DeAndre Hopkins, and then throwing ANOTHER deep touchdown pass to Will Fuller.
Back and forth and back and forth, the entire game is a frantic offensive showdown with the Seahawks ultimately beating rookie Deshaun Watson 41-38. Disappointing ending, but oh my GOD, Deshaun Watson is amazing! Over 400 yards and 4 touchdowns (3 interceptions too, but who cares?). I must’ve watched that specific game 100 times in a row, I couldn’t believe a rookie quarterback was absolutely dismantling the Legion of Boom like they were a scrappy college team. That sort of offensive tapestry was all that was needed to manifest a Texans fan with a sort of unbridled avarice scarcely felt since I was a child.
The rest of the week was spent feverishly consuming game highlights; SB Nation’s very own Jon Bois. Chart Party and Pretty Good hooked me nearly as bad as the Texans did. Within a week, I had watched, read, or listened to an incalculable amount of football and Texans content. It was amazing. Sitting in my room, just absorbing a mountainous amount of football information like a sports vacuum, was legitimately one of the most exhilarating experiences I’ve had in a long time. While this style of engagement in football may seem pedestrian to many, it by no means dulls the excitement; it is inevitably one of the most popular methods of consumption by newcomers to the sport (not only that, but also the most acceptable given the context of the world we currently live in).
The childlike joy that fuels my passion for all things Texans and football has yet to dissipate, and as long as Deshaun Watson continues to shock the world, I will continue to sing his praises. While my youth may come as a surprise to anyone reading, so does the introduction to a new generation of Texans football.
I also made a new and shiny Twitter account for Football, Texans, and other nonsense: @JoeCritz