November 15, 2001
The More Things Change…
By Dave Sabo
They don’t look like the Houston Oilers. They haven’t played a home game in the Astrodome since December ’96. Their GM hasn’t dropped his pants at any wedding receptions recently. Their head coach wasn’t fired after a playoff appearance. However, rest assured, they are still the Houston Oilers.
They traded the derrick for a flaming thumbtack, they play outdoors and they’ve trashed the Run and Shoot for a bastardized version of the West Coast offense, but they’re following the same script that we all know by heart. First, come tantalizingly close to winning it all. Next, build up expectations. Then, drop off the proverbial cliff. Finally, flounder around in mediocrity (or down right putrescence) for the next decade or so.
While this is the script followed by a number of teams in all sports, the “Oilers” manage to throw in a distinctive touch that is all their own: the impending drop off the cliff is always signified by a devastating and humiliating loss in which defeat is snatched from the jaws of certain victory.
Now, for most of you, I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know. There are, however, a number of folks out there that are either unaware of the “Oilers'” M.O. or are a little slow on the uptake. It is these lost souls to whom I speak.
Fans of the Tennessee Titans, er, “Oilers,” fall into one of two categories. The first category is made up of Houstonians who, for some reason (most likely, they’re feeble-minded), continued to follow the Oilers once they shuffled off to Nashpatch. It’s imperative that I point out that the season following the “Oilers” departure, fans in this category numbered in the teens. Amazing how their numbers increased after Super Bowl XXXV. Regardless, it’s safe to say that there are a few hundred native or long-time Houstonians who still consider themselves fans of the “Oilers.”
Many of you may be asking, “Dave, why the low opinion of these obvious dolts?” Well, first off, they’re blatant front-runners (Houston fans? Front runners? Nooooooooo!) and, secondly, they’re well obvious dolts. See, any right-thinking person in America roots for the team in their home town. You were born and raised in Pittsburgh? The you’re a Steeler fan (Pirates and Pens, too). Cleveland? Browns. Green Bay? Chicago? Packers. Bears. Los Angeles? Hmm, you’ve probably got something better to do on a Sunday and you’d show up late anyway so, who cares. But, you get the point.
So, here you have some HOUSTON Oilers fans who, after watching the team they used to follow make a Super Bowl run in the name of some second-rate burg in Tennessee, figured they could co-opt some of the glory. They ran right out and bought up a bunch of flaming thumbtack bedecked apparel and started talking about how “their” team was going to the Super Bowl.
“Their” team?! Yeeeeeah. Riiiiiiiight.
Of course, we all know how that affair ended. Amazingly, all of these people were surprised. By what, I have no idea. Then again, we’re not exactly dealing with the sharpest tools in the box. People this dense deserve what they get and with the “Oilers,” what they get is yet more misery. Basically, these people are too stupid to live.
The second category of “Oilers” fan consists of denizens of Nashpatch and the outlying areas. With the exception of about 20,000 gluttons for punishment who saw that the Oilers were coming, looked at their sordid and dismal history, said, “Hey, this looks good!” and sat through two seasons of vintage Oiler suckitude, the fans in this category couldn’t have cared less about this team. Until they changed their name, logo and uniforms, that is. Evidently, they’re now under the impression that, by making those changes, they got a new team. Fools.
After Super Bowl XXXV, the “Oiler” fans of Nashpatch were under the mistaken impression that their team was going to be a force to be reckoned with for decades to come. A soft schedule against one of the worst divisions in football, a relatively injury-free line-up and having every break imaginable go their way did nothing to dissuade them. Neither did their mediocre play on the field. Additionally, the “Oilers” would lose in such a manner that it always left plenty of opportunity for excuse-making which usually took the form of blaming everything on Al Del Greco.
By the time they rolled over at home for the Ravens in the divisional game last year, “Oiler” hysteria was at a fever pitch. Once the game ended (with the “Oilers” as losers), Nashpatch fans managed to convince themselves that they had actually won the game. Sure, Baltimore beat ’em by 13 points, but they hadn’t actually won the game. See, scoring points wasn’t the important thing, winning the statistical battle was.
Armed with such logic, Nashpatch fans greeted the current 2001 season in grand fashion. Not only would the season end with the “Oilers” hoisting the Lombardi Trophy in New Orleans, it would end with them sporting a 19-0 record! Steve McNair would prove that he is one of elite quarterbacks (if not THE elite quarterback) in the NFL today! Eddie George would flirt with 2,000 yards! And the entire NFL world would bear witness to the real “America’s Team.”
(In all seriousness, at some point in the preseason every single one of those statements was made on one message board or another. I weep for our future.)
Well, looky here, friends and neighbors. At the halfway mark, the “Oilers” are an unmitigated disaster. Free agency and the salary cap cost them key starters and, more importantly, depth. They failed to address their woeful situation at wide receiver. They opened the season with no fullback. They gave the NFL’s 25th-ranked QB a ridiculous Kelvin Cato-like contract. They made Samari Rolle the highest-paid defensive back in the league. They lost their defensive coordinator. In short, their off-season was a total cluster hump.
Then, once the season got under way, “Oilers” started dropping like flies. Their lack of depth was immediately exposed in the defensive secondary. New DB’s and corners don’t even get their names stitched on their unis, just the word “TOAST”.
Eddie George is averaging around 50 yards a game and he’s still got another beating to endure at the hands of Pittsburgh’s stud run D and Cleveland gets to whale on him twice. He’s yet to rush for 100 yards in a game this season.
They’re 1-4 against the Central, and 1-5 against the AFC. The combined record of the teams they struggled beat is 7-17.
Guys like Stacey Mack and 74-year old Terry Allen have run roughshod over, around and through their porous, sieve-like defense. Kordell Stewart positively shined in dishing out an all-too familiar Monday Night beating.
While nothing is impossible, all but the most crack-addled of mouth-breathers on the planet realize that the “Oilers” are most likely looking at a pretty high draft pick this spring. In Nashpatch (mouth-breather central), however, scenarios in which the Oilers go 7-1 to close out the season are being bandied about. While they concede the fact that Oakland will crush them, they’re not all that impressed with Green Bay. They are beyond deluded and seem to be impervious to logic no matter how basic.
What it comes down to is that these folks refuse to realize that what they believe to be a new team is merely the same old sorry Oilers that many of us knew and loved. And dropped like a bad transmission as soon as Bud decided that embarrassing the city of Houston was no longer as lucrative as he’d like and set out to embarrass Nashpatch.
In regards to the question in the title of this column, I’m quite confident that the collection of dimbulbs that follow this team would offer in response their heartfelt support. They would passionately declare their admiration for the heart and courage that their heroes display. They would profess their undying love for them
Additionally, they’ll offer myriad excuses as to why they tackle like women, can’t catch balls that hit ’em in the numbers and can’t pick up six inches on a QB sneak with the season on the line. They’ll chant the words of losers everywhere, “If”, “But” and “Next Time”. They’ll assure you that it is they, and not NFL Director of Officiating, Mike Pereira nor Referee Bernie Kucha,r who are infinitely more qualified to decide what happened on the last play of Monday Night’s definitive “Oiler” loss. And, most importantly, they will deny, vehemently, that “Oiler” head coach, Jeff Fisher, looks exactly like your local Domino’s Pizza manager.
To the Nashpatch dimbulbs I offer this advice. Support your team. But, please, stop acting like you’re the only people who have ever supported a bunch of losers like the current “Oilers.” And trust me, they’re losers. They’ve been losers ever since they joined the NFL. They were the last AFL team to reach a Super Bowl where they, what else, lost in typical pathetic, humiliating and devastating Oiler fashion. Let me let you in on a little secret that you donkeys have failed to catch on to: Nobody admires, emulates or aspires to be like the Super Bowl loser. Reaching the Super Bowl and losing impresses nobody but the fans of that team. Back-to-back 13-3 seasons sans Lombardi Trophy doesn’t mean squat. That and a buck will get you a Big Gulp at 7-11. Also, enough with the excuses and whining. That’s the mark of losers and crybabies.
Finally, you’ve endured a half-season of typical Oiler ineptitude and already people are ready to jump ship. You better sack up cuz it’s gonna get worse. And with a sweetheart like Bud running the show, more expensive to boot. Man, did he see you suckers coming. Enjoy!
Dave Sabo, an archivist residing in Frederick (AKA Fredneck), MD, realizes that he’s almost a week late with the 2nd Annual Davey Awards. However, judging by the thoroughly tepid response to last years awards he doubts that anybody else has realized it. Eddie George Return to Houston Pro Football If you have a question, comment or suggestion, contact Dave Catch up on past installments of The Armchair Quarterback