EDITOR'S NOTE:**Texans fan Alan J. Burge continues to write his "Voice of the Fan" column for HoustonTexans.com. His latest installment is below. Alan's views do not necessarily reflect the views of the organization.
*Little did I know the intensity of the storm raging outside as I sat and watched comedian Frank Caliendo deliver a side-splitting show at the Improv on Friday night. I never knew how George W. Bush, John Madden, Al Pacino, Adam Sandler, and the cast of Seinfeld could all get together on the same stage at the same time and carry on an hour long non-stop monologue….ah yes, a nice escape but back to reality.
Sure, I heard the early rumors of the Mario Williams signing as I worked my way through Galleria area traffic Friday evening, but was this real? All I could do was shake my head in disbelief. What in the world was happening?
Wasn't all this Mario talk just a not-so-subtle smoke screen designed to force Reggie Bush's agent into lowering his asking price? Was there anyone in the country, including Williams and his agent, who saw this coming?
It seems like so long ago when we were all consumed by the emotional debate over a certain Longhorns quarterback and a running back that was being compared by some to Barry Sanders and Gale Sayers.
And then came the bombshell. Mario Williams, with the first pick overall?
Even the most diehard burnt orange fans (except for a few who were still taking out full-page ads) had come to grips with the notion that Reggie Bush was going to be the first pick of the Houston Texans on Saturday. But who in the world could have predicted this? If you're raising your hand, please sit down because I don't believe you.
This is yet another in a long line of Texans draft day decisions that have been difficult to reconcile. But in terms of value, Williams was rated as the best defensive player on the board by many. He was poised to be selected by the Saints at #2 so it's not like the Texans reached.
So what's the problem?
It's just that most of us had been conditioned and prepared for the pick we thought was obvious, at least after management came out and said they weren't selecting Vince Young. Reggie had a buzz about him. He was someone who people were ready to latch on to.
I'll admit that I had gotten myself pumped up for Bush. Way back when, I touted Young, but when the Texans extended David Carr, it became obvious that quarterback was not in the draft plan. The part that's deflating is that after weeks of warming up to the thought of having Bush as a versatile offensive weapon, it felt like the Texans did a complete 180 on us and selected a pass rusher at the last minute. That's what people are having a hard time dealing with.
Was it because of money? Was it because of recent questions about Bush's family living in a rent house provided by a prospective business associate? Who knows, but it's been quite the range of emotions for Texans fans over the last 24 hours.
I have a feeling that Williams will be a great defensive player on a team that desperately needs defense, so I'm not planning any knee-jerk protests or threatening to burn my season tickets any time soon.
Speaking of unruly fans, the Texans draft party was very well-attended even though all the suspense of the first pick was eliminated the night before.
I had the pleasure to sit and talk with other fans, but most of all I just listened and soaked it all in. It seemed like we all were in the same state of flux and disbelief and needed a massive Dr. Phil session.
I heard fans say that we needed a superstar to take us to the next level and Bush would have done that. Would he have? Maybe. Playing devil's advocate (it drives my wife crazy), whenever I heard someone say "how can you pass on the next Barry Sanders?" I asked how they knew he wasn't going to be the next Eric Metcalf. I received many blank stares and luckily no black eyes as a result.
I heard a loud chorus of boos when Williams was selected. I have a few thoughts on that which I'd like to share. If you're booing the selection, fine. Send letters to Bob McNair or Gary Kubiak but please don't boo this young man who did nothing other than be the best defensive end prospect coming out of college in past four years. I don't know about anyone else but I plan on cheering Williams this fall.
I heard another loud chorus of boos as general manager Charley Casserly was shown being interviewed on ESPN. Casserly is the lightning rod for scorn even though most believe that Williams was head coach Gary Kubiak's and owner Bob McNair's selection. Someone sitting behind me at the SportsRadio 610 broadcast station said "that's an Aggie pick for ya."
As I sat there and watched and listened, I realized how tired I've grown over all the negativism among the fans. You all have worn me out. First, we suffer through a 2-14 season, then four months of VY vs. Reggie, and now this. Yes, we pay our hard-earned money for season tickets, seven-dollar beers and expensive parking, so we have a right to complain, but things have gone beyond ridiculous.
Even the sports writers got into the act on Saturday morning as Richard Justice of the Houston Chronicle criticized McNair. Is that really necessary, Richard? Can we be civil and not act like Raiders, or worse, Cowboys fans?
I receive e-mails and see people on message boards bellowing about how they are canceling their season tickets or switching allegiances to other teams. To you, all I can say is adios and don't let the door hit ya. I'm hanging with the home team as I always have. We'll see you again when the team starts to win. And yes, it will happen.
I heard a mouthy Saints fan yell repeatedly "rebuild the city baby" after Bush was picked by New Orleans. When is New Orleans going to pay us back for all this kindness? And I wonder what Deuce McAlister thinks.
Then, of course, the loudest cheer of the day was for Vince Young when he was selected by Bud Adams' Titans. What a kick in the gut.
There are few things I hate more than seeing people in opponent's jerseys celebrating at my draft party, especially when they are Steve McNair and Eddie George jerseys.
While most people remained fixated on the No. 1 overall, there was much more to fret about as the Texans second pick neared. Would the Texans pull another cute trick like they did a few years ago when they traded away 1/3 of their draft picks to move up and select Jason Babin?
Luckily, that wasn't the case as the Texans continued to bolster their defense by selecting linebacker DeMeco Ryans from Alabama. The Texans closed out the draft by selecting two offensive linemen, Charles Spencer, a guard from Pittsburgh, and Eric Winston, a tackle from Miami. Winston, a Midland Lee product, was an excellent pick at the beginning of the third round and I'm sure Carr was happy to see a couple offensive linemen picked after Williams and Ryans were selected.
With the first pick on Sunday, the Texans are poised to have a very good draft class, despite the fact that they passed on two fan favorites.