Andre Johnson couldn't pick me out of a lineup. Neither could Kareem Jackson, or Derek Newton or even Ryan Mallett.
Even though they don't know me, the balance of their football careers played a profound part on my emotional state the past 48 hours. I'm sure I'm not the only one.
The word 'fan' is short for fanatic, which by definition means a person filled with excessive and single-minded zeal. I've never thought of the word zeal when it comes to the teams I follow (or work for), but it actually makes sense. True fans metaphorically live and die with their teams, and in the professional ranks, that means coming to grips with additions...and subtractions.
The ability to be totally engrossed with your favorite squad has never been easier, thanks to the constant stream of social media. The start of NFL free agency technically began yesterday at 3 pm, but in reality the carousel started days ago. Any true football fan has spent the past hours glued to all the possibilities, as players futures seemed to be decided in real time online.
Tuesday the official fun began. The Texans announced the signing of Kareem Jackson and Derek Newton, solidifying two key positions for the 2015 season. Jackson flashed his trademark smile as he signed his deal (picture below), while Newton talked about how much the day meant to his family. As Drew Dougherty mentioned, both of these players faced their share of criticism in past years, so to see them coming back was nice.
During the season, we see the players here in the building often. You see the hours they put in, the amount of time required for them perform at their best on Sunday. It is only natural to root for them to succeed. While I obviously have no bearing on whether the team wins or not, we all are a part of the organization. The connection doesn't go away.
An hour later, the excitement over Newton and Jackson gave way to sadness. I'm not sure I can say it any better than my boss and voice of the Texans Marc Vandermeer did. Andre Johnson was being released.
I've haven't been here long (18 months), so I can only imagine the feelings of those that have followed the Texans from day one. The finality of it was jarring. As I got the release in my inbox, my feelings went in a million different directions. We'd all heard that it was a possibility, and perhaps even a certainty, but actually seeing it in print made it real. It was actually happening.
A main part of my job is to promote and disseminate our Texans content to the fans. That means on our website, on social media and even on your phone. I've sent out many important stories in my career (this one comes to mind), and few have had the emotional impact of #80. It literally took me a few extra seconds to actually push send, knowing that once the word got out everything would change.
I took a deep breath, hit the button.
18 hours later, the next move was made. Ryan Mallett was staying in Houston. The former Arkansas Razorback talked about wanting to be here, and how important it was he remained a Texan. Just like that, the mood lightened. There was good news to share.
This is how it will be over the next week. Players we know will leave and others will join the family. While it may seem trivial to those outside of sports, for us, it means so much more.