December 21, 2005
The Push for Bush
by Ric Sweeney
Well played, Texans… well played! Like a seasoned criminal, the team threw conspiracy-minded, game-throwing detectives off their trail with an impressive win Sunday. And though it decreased their margin for error in their final push for the draft’s top slot, their “stirring” win at the hands of the Cardinals likely bought them enough space to get back to the task at hand: Losing enough games to secure Reggie Bush.
The downside to their sudden reversal of fortune, of course, is that it has cast the 49ers in the role of Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn, crashing the party and making things needlessly interesting down the stretch. But the Texans needed to send a definitive message to the rest of the league in the wake of three suspicious losses that had more than a few wondering if maybe, just maybe the team was trying to position itself for the right to draft the Heisman-winning love child of Gayle Sayers and Barry Sanders. (And I say “right” because we all know the current, still-employed-for-now incompetent front office is going to ultimately squander the opportunity, trading the pick for some unheralded, unknown, one-armed directional school star with loads of potential and a lot of tattoos that Mel Kiper had projected to go in the fifth round… of the 2006 CFL Draft, eventually making the Texans’ current regime the subject of a future episode of ESPN Classic’s The Top 5 Reasons You Can’t Blame… after Bush sails into the Hall of Fame in 11 years.).
So by continuing the city’s recent cruel treatment of teams nicknamed the Cardinals, the team made everything seem right again. To wit, from Tom Jackson all the way to the local paper, people stood in line to praise the Texans for playing hard, allowing the Texans to dance in the glow of their own denials. “Lose? Us? Did you see what we did to Arizona and their nineteenth-string quarterback? How dare you make such accusations. Now if you’ll excuse us, we have to get back to attacking our offensive starters with pillow cases full of soap…”
Bravo, I say. Bravo.
The final week of the season, in which the Texans travel to San Francisco, now looms as a must-lose affair, and I’m pretty much filled with giddy at the prospect of the two teams trying to out roll-over-and-die the other.
And yes, I’m openly and unabashedly cheering the prospect of my self-professed favorite team losing. You should be, too – yeah, you with your nose stuck so far in the air it’s snowing on your brain. Spare me any talk from atop your high horse: This is EXACTLY what Bob McNair wrought the minute he made the decision to let lame duck coaches and lame GMs finish out the season without having to pay for their sins in doing whatever the opposite of build is to this franchise. If the team is content merely playing out the string and waiting ‘til next year, then why should the fans invest in them? With Bush on the line, at least the 2005 season became engaging, giving us a reason to care, even if the team had to tumble into laughing stock’s zip code to accomplish it.
And that’s because Bush was starting to feel more and more like a blinding light at the end of a long tunnel. His various sashays across collegiate football fields all over the West Coast were the equivalent of hitting a three on the river after pot-committing your pair of threes with aces, kings and queens dotting the board. The prospect of chasing this elusive carrot sure as hell jazzed me more than beating, say… oh, I don’t know – the Arizona Cardinals.
Honestly, does anyone really feel any better this week than we did the past six? Did beating a perpetually woebegone franchise lift your spirits? Did anyone get caught in long lines at the local Academys, waiting for officially licensed, “Let’s Go For Two in a Row!” locker room t-shirts to be released? As a buddy of mine once said to me after some team lost a 32-point playoff lead, “I’d rather lose historically than simply lose.” In a strange, kick-to-the-groin kind of way, he had a point. Right now, there is no difference between 1-15 and 4-12. If you think there is, then quick, tell me the Oilers’ season-by-season record between 1982 and 1986. As Chandler once rationalized to Monica after telling her she gave bad massages – Yeah, but you’re the BEST worst-massage giver. There’s dignity in being historically bad, people, so let’s embrace this rare opportunity and ride it all the way to area code 619.
Because this franchise doesn’t need wins – it needs Reggie Bush. It needs to goose the fan base’s excitement. Maybe he ultimately joins the scrapheap currently being maintained by Ki-Jana Carter and Blair Thomas and other top-flight, franchise backs that never materialized. Maybe he really does become the next Barry Sanders and toils gallantly on a consistently underachieving team. But whatever fate awaits Bush, it must be realized with a red, white and blue bull on his helmet. Period. End of story.
Bush is that kind of player. Houston is that bad a team. So, sure, I’d love to see David Carr progress these final weeks. And it’d be great if players like Vernard Morency and Jason Babin and others emerged. Just as long as they do it in a gutty, but ultimately fruitless battle in which the other team wins. That’s the only way this Texan season could possibly be considered a success. Winning three of their final four games against equally also-ran teams accomplishes zero.
So with a win scraping the skeptics off their backs, it’s time for the Texans to get back to doing what they’ve done better than any team in football this year. Next up, Jacksonville! Go Jags!
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