The life of a sports fan is a wild roller coaster of emotion. You have a little extra pep in your step when your favorite team is kicking ass, but when they let you down, it can rock you to your core, genuinely ruin your mood, drive you to drink, and negatively impact your entire outlook on life. Pathetic? Probably, but this is America, and if you don’t care way too much about sports, then you can get out.
For the first team in my life, which makes me spoiled by some standards, I am experiencing an unfathomably disappointing and genuinely heartbreaking season via my hometown’s NFL team, the Houston Texans. The Texans struggled through nearly a decade of painful mediocrity after joining the NFL as an expansion team in 2002 before finally breaking into the playoffs two years ago. The future seemed blindingly bright, and I was certain we had a few years of deep playoff runs, and at least one Super Bowl appearance to look forward to. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Now my favorite franchise’s proverbial sheets have been smeared brown with feces from the most irritable of bowels. They shit the bed like a 6-year-old who washed down several Taco Bell burritos with a bottle of laxative just before going night night.
To demonstrate just how bad things have gotten, I will walk you through my most recent Sunday.
I slept in, rolled out of bed, took a shower, and left my apartment to catch the 12:30pm showing of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire at Alamo Drafthouse. This is highly unusual behavior for me on a Sunday during the NFL season, especially when the Texans are kicking off at noon. Although I now live in Austin, I’m a season ticket holder, and would normally be making the 150-mile drive back to Houston for a home game like this one. But not even the most demented of masochists would subject himself to that torturous trip in the midst of an incomprehensible eight game losing streak for a game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, a team that was previously considered the worst in the league.
It should be noted that I haven’t read a single page of The Hunger Games books, and while I enjoyed the first film in the series, it certainly didn’t blow my mind. I say this only to further demonstrate how horribly wrong this season has gone for the Texans. I couldn’t even bring myself to watch the fucking game on TV. I chose instead to see a movie that I couldn’t care less about. Things only got worse from there. On my way to the theatre, I got an iPhone notification informing me that the Jags had already gone up 7-0. I shook my head in disbelief, turned off my phone, and laughed like Walter White in the crawl space until I entered the theatre and took my seat in the front row. The front fucking row.
The movie was cool, but immediately after exiting the theatre, turning my phone back on, and seeing that the Texans had dropped their ninth straight game to the worst team in the league at home, Katniss Everdeen’s piercing blue eyes were the furthest thing from my mind. Nine fucking games in a row? It doesn’t get much worse than going from being considered a Super Bowl contender by most analysts, not to mention every single member of your naive bandwagon, to dropping nine in a row, including one at home to a team that has been the laughingstock of the league all season. If you had somehow placed a $100 parlay wager that the Texans would lose all nine of those games, it would’ve paid out $222,483 according to the Houston Press. Man, I wish I’d made that bet instead of taking the Texans against the spread for the first five weeks of the season before finally learning my lesson.
Now the Texans hold the dishonorable position of dead freakin’ last in ESPN’s NFL Power Rankings. The conversation has shifted from “Who will they meet in the Super Bowl?” to “Are they a real contender?” to “Can they still make the playoffs?” to “Why hasn’t every single member of the coaching staff been fired?” to “Who will they take with the first pick in next year’s draft and what’s the easiest way to commit suicide?” They didn’t just shit the bed; they shit the bedside table, all over the bedroom floor, walls, ceiling fan, and the fucking windows. There is poop everywhere. One of my best friends that still lives in Houston stuck a Fathead of the Texans logo on his office’s lobby window at the beginning of the season. On Monday, he shamefully removed it.
My God, what a disaster of a season it has been. After these last few Sundays, I found myself asking, “Why the hell am I still letting myself get so upset?” I guess it’s because I’m an American man, and this is what we do. We love our teams, even when they rip our hearts out of our asses, defecate all over them, and then shove them down our throats, in hopes that one day they’ll win a glorious championship and all the pain and suffering will have been worthwhile. This is the life of a sports fan, and just like in life itself, you have to ride the wave through the good times and bad, and try to get your kicks in where you can. Sometimes there’s butt jam smeared all over the sheets, and sometimes there’s magnificent confetti raining down from the ceiling.
I will still be attending this Sunday’s game against the Patriots when I’m back home for Thanksgiving (mainly so I can see Tom Brady methodically shred our once respected defense in person), but of the many things I’ll be giving thanks for this year, the Texans are not one of them. I still stand by my decision to see The Hunger Games: Catching Fire over watching last week’s game, as embarrassing of an admission as that is, and part of me wishes every single member of our roster would be sent to that arena from the movie and forced to fight to the death. We all know how that would end, though. With JJ Watt covered in the blood of 52 other men.
At least the NBA has started. Don’t let us down, Dwight Howard. You’re my only hope. Shit.