By Adam Harris
The fans cheered. My Facebook wall began to fill with grateful posts. I stared at my TV, stunned at what I was hearing. It didn’t seem to match up with what I was seeing on the screen. Houston Texans quarterback Matt Schaub gripped his ankle in pain as I felt ashamed to be a Texans fan.
For the first time since the 2010 season, the Houston Texans are coming off their fourth loss in a row. For the third week in a row, Texans fans have amazed me with their lack of class regarding the team they claim to love.
In a game where the team was favored heavily, the St. Louis Rams blew out the Texans on their visit to Reliant Stadium. It was already over when Schaub went down with an injury to his ankle.
Trainers checked on him as he listened to a concentrated community rejoice in his pain. If there was an issue of confidence with Schaub before this week, I can’t imagine what that moment could have done to help him.
Texans fans, including myself, are used to winning seasons at this point. Back-to-back AFC South Divisional Championships have given fans a sort of swagger that seemed unattainable in the David Carr days. It took the Texans five years to even gain a .500 record.
In 2007, Schaub was a welcome surprise to fans. He delivered the first non-losing record to the city and things started looking different for the team. Aside from the 2010-11 season, in which the Texans broke records for how bad their defense was, Schaub has led the team to an above .500 record. This isn’t a jaw-dropping statistic by any means, but for a team so used to losing, Schaub was finally a quarterback worth rallying around.
He could get the ball to future Hall-of-Famer Andre Johnson consistently. Add undrafted free agent superstar running back Arian Foster, who ran behind a pro-bowler-filled offensive line to the 2010 rushing championship. Add the Defensive Rookie of the Year, linebacker Brian Cushing, and Defensive Player of the Year JJ Watt, who came together to lead one of the NFL’s most powerful defenses.
All those elements joined forces to create that swagger in Houston, but only one is sending fans into an uproar in a season of uncertainty.
In week four, Schaub threw an interception that led to an overtime loss against the Seattle Seahawks. Fans in the parking lot of Reliant Stadium doused the quarterback’s jersey in lighter fluid and burned the uniform. This isn’t the first time this has happened, and the burning of a jersey is an age-old display of crowd displeasure. I didn’t take this to heart and just assumed no one actually owned a Kareem Jackson jersey.
Schaub was back at it again the next week in San Francisco, as he threw an interception returned for a touchdown for the fourth week in a row on his first pass of the game. My stomach sank. The team couldn’t score and San Francisco running back Frank Gore ran all over the defense. That week, I really started to worry. It seemed like a logical approach. Fans flip their panic switch when things don’t go the way they’re expecting. Texans fans, however, seemed to flip a rage switch.
Later in the week, I thought I saw the low point of the Texans community. Reports of fans showing up at the quarterback’s house to voice their dismay had me scratching my head. I couldn’t believe these “fans” would have the audacity to show up at the Schaub family residence just to tell him what he’d been hearing all week.
The act was classless, and I started to wonder how anyone could behave so ridiculously. Then this week happened.
Late in the third quarter, the Texans found themselves in a hole. Puzzling play-calling and penalties at key moments assisted a St. Louis offense that made Houston’s defense look weak. Schaub, however, completed 15 of his 21 passes for 186 yards and no interceptions — quietly one of his better games of the year.
Schaub’s ankle twisted as he was sacked, and suddenly Texans fans showed me exactly how terrible they can be. The crowd resembled the audience in the coliseum, cheering for a fallen gladiator. Their quarterback was injured and the standard silence expected was replaced by a jovial reaction ushering forth the next victim to a ruthless band of mindless critics.
I looked at my Facebook wall as people thanked God for injuring the quarterback. I was amazed at the way “fans” reacted to a man having his livelihood potentially put on the line.
TJ Yates entered the game for the injured Schaub and quickly showed why he was the backup. A 98-yard interception return led to a 38-13 slaughtering of a Texans team with some problems to work out.
The team will work out its problems. I have faith in that. What I’m losing faith in is the mentality of a community that I include myself in. The fans seem to have a short-term memory problem and can’t remember the woes of yesteryear. The problems that existed at the beginning of the franchise are huge compared to the ones the team faces today. A bump in the road doesn’t warrant excitement for an injury.
As this season progresses, I’ll stay with my team. After Yates’ performance Sunday, I’ll stick with Schaub and hope for a speedy recovery on his part. As for the classless fans that left me in awe in front of my TV: The community would be better without you. Sunday’s actions displayed the Texans fan base as barbaric.
On behalf of the sane and reasonable fans that exist in the community, I apologize for this pattern of embarrassing activity and certainly hope it won’t continue.
Adam Harris is a senior journalism major from Sugar Land. He is a reporter for The Lariat.