September 21, 2007
Welcome to the Bandwagon
by Blake Gifford
Hi. My name is Blake Gifford and I’d like to welcome you to the Houston Texans’ bandwagon. Refreshments are in the back. Sorry, we’re plumb out of liquor; we used it all to drown our sorrows the past five seasons. We still have plenty of ice cold beer, though. Drink up and enjoy yourself.
You know, it’s been hard for us Texans fans that have sat through disappointing season after smash-your-head-through-a-wall disappointing season since 2002. At first, no one cared. With family living all across the country, I can’t tell you how many times I saw genuine shock on someone’s face when I told them I was a Texans fan. Some of them acted like they weren’t even aware that Houston had been awarded an expansion team. The national media pretty much felt the same way. Watching ESPN, you’d be surprised to learn that the Oilers had been replaced in Houston by the Texans. The only time there was any genuine excitement about the product on the field was during the 2004 season. David Carr played the best he’s played during that first half and we went into the last game of the year with a chance to finish at .500.
I don’t think I need to relive what started in that 17th week of the 2004 season. It’s still fresh in most of our minds. So let’s fast forward to 2007, shall we?
What a difference a stoned-looking QB and a pressuring defense can make for a franchise looking to find it’s place in the NFL. Especially over that guy with the hands manicured so delicately that he had to wear those oh-so pretty white gloves so the clipboard wouldn’t given him splinters.
Listen, as you’ll gather from my articles, I’m a homer. My glass isn’t half-full, it’s overflowing with the most expensive of wines. Sure, most of the time, that wasn’t wine in my glass, but something far less tasty, but at least I can admit that. Still, I’ve gone into every singe Texans game thinking we were going to win. I knew deep in the back of my admittedly little mind that they were probably going to lose, but I kept the faith. The thing that got me in all those seasons is that, even when they did win, rarely was it one where I didn’t feel they lucked into the win somehow. Either the other team played terribly or we did just enough to hold on.
That all changed on September 9, 2007. I watched from my friend’s seat at Reliant as our offense dominated the play clock and our defense cracked skulls. Holding Larry Johnson to 43 yards after what he did to us two seasons ago? Phenomenal. Holdout be damned. A 77-yard touchdown pass? An actual long pass down the field? Unreal. Holding the Kansas City offense to no touchdowns? Outfreakingstanding. The much criticized former #1 pick recording two sacks and returning a fumble for a touchdown? Orgasmic.
After that 20-3 win, you could feel the tide turning. This wasn’t your typical Texans’ victory. While it wasn’t a perfectly played game, names that rhymed with "Tush" and "Dung" were hardly mentioned on sports radio the following week, except for those former naysayers eating their tiny appetizer of crow.
Still, the optimism seemed cautious. Most people were expecting a tough game the next weekend in Carolina, especially after the Panthers beat the Rams pretty handily in their opening game. In the days leading up to Sunday, I heard mostly predictions of a close loss, but the fans wanted to see the same competitiveness and intensity that was witnessed in week one.
After falling behind 14, I’m guessing I wasn’t the only one who had visions of 2002-2006 in my head.
But something strange happened after that. A Texans team showed poise. There was no panic by the new #8. Schaub quickly connected with Andre Johnson for two scores and the Texans ran away with the victory. The defense, after bending a bit, refused to break and made life miserable for the Panthers after the first quarter. From the start of the second quarter until about midway through the third, the Panthers had accumulated a junior high school C team worthy 16 yards. To quote Moe Szyslak, “WHAAAAAAAAA.”
And from the start, I was yelling at the television more than I ever had in this team’s brief history. I heard national commentators comment that this Texans team could be for real. They’re the talk of the bar I frequent. This is what we’ve been waiting for as Texans fans.
As you all know, we face the defending Super Bowl champs this weekend at Reliant. I found out Monday that I have a ticket, but even if I didn’t, I knew my work would suffer this week. Outside of that first game against the Cowboys, there hasn’t been this much excitement about a pro football game in Texas since the early 90s. Of course, that inaugural game, we were all just happy to see NFL football again. The 19-10 victory made it that much sweeter, but the game on Sunday has real implications. While still early in the season, a 3-0 start including a victory over the Colts will make this wagon cramped. Reliant should be the loudest it’s ever been and hopefully that excitement will motivate the A.J.-less Texans to victory.
I’ll admit, I’ve been a little too comfy with the plenty of space around me. I’m ready for this thing to be crowded.
The hairless wonder Michael Stipe sang it best:
“Come on aboard, I promise you you won’t hurt the horse
We treat him well, we feed him well.
There’s lots of room for you on the bandwagon,
The road may be rough, the weather may forget us
But won’t we all parade around and sing our songs,
a magic kingdom, open-armed
Greet us hello, bravo, name in lights
Passing on the word to fellow passengers and players, passing in,
Until you’re tired looking at all the flags
And all the banners waving
This is some parade, yesiree Bob.
Could we have known?
Yesiree Bob, could we have known?
Look at all the flags and all the banners waving.
Open up our arms, a magic kingdom, open-armed and greet us all
Come on aboard I promise you you won’t hurt the horse
We treat him well, we feed him well
There’s lots of room for you on the bandwagon
The road may be rough, the weather may forget us
But won’t we all parade around and sing our songs and wave our flags.
A magic kingdom, greet us all hello, greet us hello, greet us hello.
No hard feelings towards you guys and gals who’ve waited this long to jump on. Welcome to the Texans bandwagon and be prepared to stay a while. The future is brighter than the orange jumpsuit that O.J. Simpson will soon be wearing, so this should be a long and fun ride.
Blake Gifford would like to wish Dave Sabo well in his future endeavors and thank him for being busy.
Michael Stipe Home