Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Kings For A Week

True story: Ramiro, Brad and I were all at Lucky's Pub in Houston for the Texas Exes Watch Party against Oklahoma on Saturday, swilling down an array of various adult beverages ranging from the ordinary (Lone Star) to the ridiculous (Red Bull & Jameson's before 11:30 AM). The Longhorns were already down 14-3, and I must admit I was having flashbacks to 2000.

It was my senior year in college, and I was a proud intern for 1300 The Zone here in Austin. The Zone is the flagship station for Longhorn football, and I gladly blew off the trip to Dallas so that I could work the station's watch party at a Tex-Mex joint in town. I was up at 5 AM on a Saturday, at Antonio's by 6, ready for the broadcast by 8, and completely jacked up for kickoff by 11.

And then Quentin Griffin scored. And scored. And scored. And scored some more.

Honest to God, other than my cousin Michael's and my grandfather's passings, this was the worst day of my collegiate life. I had gotten up earlier than any college student ever should on a Saturday, and by the time Oklahoma had finally finished off a merciless 63-14 drubbing of the Longhorns, I was breaking down broadcast equipment in a 52-degree driving rainstorm. I can't even express how crappy this day was, and even though, the Longhorns won the 2005 National Championship led by The Greatest Performance Ever, I admit to this day to having extreme, sometimes completely irrational doubts, about the Longhorns' true capabilities. Hell, I thought we would lose five games this year. I had more faith in Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae than I did in Mack Brown.

When we were down 14-3 this Saturday, I immediately harkened back to being the intern, the grunt, hauling out speakers and poles quietly, solemnly and absolutely tired as hell considering what time I got up that morning. I immediately harkened back to stepping outside with microphones and cables, getting blitzed by a swirling rain that tangled my hair in a direction-less mess. I felt like I was being shoved by a multitude of ghosts, random winds, pushing me from countless directions with all that expensive equipment in my arms. I remember getting home and peeling off my prized Longhorn hoodie, which I still have and proudly wear, as it stuck to my skin. Taking it off when I got home was like trying to rip off an upper-torso sized bandage.

"I'll bet you we go down 28-3," I said to Brad.
"I'll bet you a drink on that one," he replied.

No sooner than we made the bet, Jordan Shipley returned a kickoff for a touchdown, and we were right back in the game, only down 14-10.

Our waitress came around and I bought Brad a Double Jack and Coke. I've never been more happy to lose a bet.

True story: Brad and I saw about half of the paying crowd at Reliant Stadium get up and leave when the Texans were down 28-23. They saw what happened last week, and just assumed spare themselves the added misery. From the upper deck of the south end zone where we were sitting, I remarked to Brad: "These people are going to kick themselves for leaving when the Texans win this game."

Sure enough, Matt Schaub inexplicably threw into double coverage again, but Andre Johnson quite literally stole the football from the Dolphins defender. I've seen the replay of that catch at least 10 times now, and I'm still not sure how in the world he managed to catch the football standing behind the cornerback. Honestly, I'm not totally sure if the Dolphins employed the worst cornerback in NFL history or if Andre Johnson is David Copperfield playing wide receiver.

Maybe it's both.

That play, in addition to Schaub's bomb with less than 20 seconds to go to Owen Daniels, set up the Texans' winning play, a quarterback draw from Schaub on fourth down for the touchdown with three seconds to go.

He had thrown two interceptions on the Texans first two possessions. He made more poor decisions with the football than Congress has made with the economy. But Matt Schaub seemingly made all the plays down the stretch, and the Texans somehow defeated Miami 29-28 with only about a quarter of the paying crowd there to see a remarkable finish.

We were getting ready to exit, as so many did earlier, and I turned to Brad confidently exclaiming, "I never doubted it for a minute. Sports Karma rules, man!"

True stories: We walked out of Lucky's Pub triumphant and epic on Saturday. We left Reliant Stadium on Sunday feeling most relieved. We got in the car on Saturday, and listened to Craig Way, the Voice of the Longhorns and a man I interned for at The Zone, speak breathlessly about the greatness of this performance and Colt McCoy. Way even intimated there's the slightest chance that after this performance and several others along the way that Colt might just have his #12 hung next to Earl's, Ricky's and Vince's in the not-so-distant future.

We got in the car on Sunday, and listened to 610 KILT, the Texans flagship station, excoriate and ridicule everything the Texans did. I swear, if you didn't know any better, you'd think they lost by 40. Matt Jackson, the host of the postgame show, damn near said every nasty thing about Schaub except, "His mother was a fat, alcoholic whore." And at the rate he was going, he probably killed his mic and said it under his breath. They ripped the coaching, the offense, the defense, the quarterback play. Everything that the Texans executed poorly, they criticized it. However, everything the Texans did right, including win, they criticized that too.

In so many countless ways, it seemed irrational. Just like me making a foolish bet with Brad. But we've been burned so many times in the past, it's in our blood to distrust and to doubt.

After this weekend, I now know why we must also believe.

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