I often get caught thinking about bye weeks.
When the Texans have a bye, it's a weird weekend to just sit and watch other NFL teams. Sundays and the Texans have become so ingrained in our weekly ritual in the fall. I like to sit back and watch NFL RedZone and see the entire league, but it's just strange and it feels like we're not part of the NFL. Then the following Sunday arrives and all is well again.
But what if we had bye weeks in Houston every single Sunday? For three years in the late 1990's, that's all the city of Houston and its fans had each and every week.
There was no tailgating. There was no homefield advantage captain. There was no NRG Stadium. There was no TORO. There were certainly no players for kids to look up to and idolize. There were no sacks, no one-handed catches and no touchdowns. There was no city pride in OUR guys. Heck, there was no "It's Football Time in Houston."
There was, however, envy, more than anything else. Jacksonville had a team. The Carolinas had a team. We didn't. The city of Houston had bye weeks every single Sunday of the NFL season and beyond.
Then on October 6, 1999, in Atlanta, GA, ironically, it all changed. The NFL eschewed the city of Los Angeles (for the time being) and awarded the league's 32nd franchise to Bob McNair and the city of Houston. It took until 2002 to actually see the franchise on the field, but finding out that day that the NFL was coming back gave us all hope... and something to do on Sundays again.
Many in my age demographic have vivid memories of soul-crushing Oilers' playoff losses. It's almost too difficult to discuss all those moments. In 1993, I was a senior in college watching the Oilers from afar. They rebounded from a rough start to dominate the league. They were one win away from getting to the AFC championship game... and you know the rest. That, though, was much better than no team/NFL in Houston, leaving us with nothing but eternal bye weeks.
Bob McNair changed all of that. His hard work and persistence led to that October day in 1999 when the NFL finally saw the light and handed him Franchise No. 32. He did that. He brought football back to this city. So, when you're sitting there on Sunday in Section 140, lounging in a beautiful suite or standing on the sideline with a mic in your hand, consider what this day actually means and why we're all there together.
October 6, 2019: Founder's Day. Twenty years later, we should all give thanks.
In preparation for Mr. McNair's induction in the Houston Texans Ring of Honor, we take a trip down memory lane.