May 2, 2006
Kubiak is a Real Texan
by Keith Weiland
Let me state this emphatically: I have never been more encouraged by anything the Texans have done in their brief history than by what they did late last week, making North Carolina State defensive end Mario Williams their number one pick in the 2006 NFL Draft. While owner Bob McNair required his blessing before the selection was made final, Williams is clearly the decision of head coach Gary Kubiak.
That’s an onerous task for a rookie head coach, especially when millions of others, including myself, think they can make the right decision themselves. Kubiak has yet to earn a single tick mark on either side of his won-loss ledger as an NFL head coach, but he is already proving what it truly means to be a Texan.
And what does it mean to be a Texan? Is it the clothes we wear? The food we eat? The way we mangle the English language? No, it ain’t any of those things.
It’s not an easy thing to define, our Texan-ness, but I like the words McNair used when he first introduced the name of his expansion team: courage, pride, independence, tradition and strength. Those words are a big part of what makes us Texan, and they are certainly the words I think of now when I reflect on Kubiak’s first draft as a head coach.
With the top pick, selecting either the local favorite, Vince Young, or the national favorite, Reggie Bush, would have been a safer move than taking Kubiak’s own favorite, Williams. In drafting Young, Kubiak would have added a hometown hero and a quarterback to grow with early in his career. In drafting Bush, Kubiak would have done what everyone else thought was best for his team.
But neither would have been the best for Kubiak.
Instead, Kubiak had a Texan’s courage to do what he thought was best for his team. He took pride in his authority as the team’s new leader, and he had the backbone to stand up for what he believed to be the right decision.
It takes an inner strength to follow one’s own belief, especially when swimming upstream against a current of groupthink and peer pressure. But Texans, like Kubiak, take an immense amount of pride in their independence which gives us the strength to do what in our hearts feels like the right thing to do.
“We’re Texas” says the ad campaign of Young’s alma mater. While the university uses the slogan to attract students and faculty to their institution, “We’re Texans” also applies to how an Aggie is defining his career in Houston.
We’re Texans and we’re gonna do things the way we think is best.
An entrepreneurial spirit and an unwillingness to simply follow the herd is what often separates the good from the great. Taking risks based on your gut feeling gets to the heart of independence. Few would have taken the risk of drafting Williams like Kubiak did on Saturday.
So make no mistake, just as the success of Williams hangs in the balance, so does Kubiak’s. His own decisions as a head coach will be twitching in a hot Texas wind if they fail to work. But for Kubiak, having the courage to succeed and fail based upon his own choices is a far better way to go than to hang based upon someone else’s.
That, my friends, is undeniably Texan.
Would I and millions of others have made the same decisions that Kubiak has made since McNair hired him? No, but I can respect him and the right he earned to make them. At a time when many Texans fans (and would-be fans) are jumping off the team’s bandwagon, I can’t think of a better time to hitch a ride on top of it.
Kubiak is a real Texan, and finally, as Clay Walker croons inside Reliant Stadium on game days, it’s football time in Texas.
Keith Weiland is addicted to Tex-Mex. If found incapacitated and unconscious, apply copious amounts of chips and salsa.
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