by Matt Topolski
@TopolskiOfficial on Instagram
A couple weeks ago, star wideout for the Houston Texans DeAndre Hopkins posted a familiar image on his IG, posing the question: “Who would like to see this?” Among Houston sports fans this infinitely became either one of the dumbest or rhetorical questions posed in recent memory.
At roughly the same time, Houston’s Superman and most likely to win the Walter Payton Award every year for the remainder of his career, J.J. Watt chimed in with a coy reply to the NFL’s IG account wishing him a “Happy Birthday” with: “Gift idea hint: Get the Titans to give us the rights to the Houston Oilers throwback uniforms.”
And yet, there remains that little roadblock (not him) standing in the way of Texans fans getting their potential two week furlough a year from the blind date/arranged marriage they agreed to in 2002, when the Texans made their NFL debut. Its always felt like a bitter pill for so many Houston sports fans old enough to remember,”Love Ya Blue” and Howard Cosell’s soundtrack over Earl Campbell’s 4 TDs on Monday Night Football. The idea that you could lose something you love so much and have it replaced with the girl you’ll have to, “learn to love” is a difficult prospect for anyone – but for Houston, its just that much more difficult.
Need proof? Spend an hour in any smoky pool hall in Houston and after a few shots of their finest well whiskey the truth will emerge from the locals like cracked daylight peering under the front door. The name “Texans” is unimaginative, the logo has always looked a failed attempt at a Madden custom franchise mode, and worst of all, the history of the Oilers has not and cannot exist in the same cannon as the Texans franchise. You think the DCEU is a mess? What the hell is this?
Its for these reasons and others, that two of the Texans’ top stars are actively lobbying the NFL, and thus indirectly lobbying the Tennessee Titans to end the madness and return the oil derrick to where it rightfully belongs, H-Town.
In 2017, the Tennessean newspaper and online publication asked the question, “Should Titans return ‘Oilers’ to Houston?” A typical reply to this question from some of the aforementioned native Houstonians shooting pool would probably sound something like this…
“Does a bear shit in the woods?”
“Is the pope catholic?”
“Does Grizzly Adams have a beard?”
“Is a frogs ass water tight?”
And last but certainly not least, “Does Dolly Parton sleep on her back?”
The Tennessean reported, “Warren Moon stood on the field at halftime of a game against the Dallas Cowboys in Nashville, foreign territory to one of the greatest football players of all time.
It was 2006, and the Tennessee Titans were retiring his No. 1 jersey.
Earlier that year, Moon became the first black quarterback inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He retired with the third-most passing yards and fourth-most touchdown passes in NFL history.
Moon spent 17 seasons in the NFL — the first 10 with the Houston Oilers — but had never played on this field, in this city, for these fans. And the home team’s uniform? Its logo? He never wore those, either. His was Columbia blue. The helmet bore a derrick. ‘Strange,’ Moon called the moment.”
Sounds about right. One of the most celebrated black athletes to ever play the quarterback position was reduced to a one word response of his jersey retirement, “Strange”. And yet for reasons beyond our comprehension, call it the bitter ghost of Bud Adams or simply an unsolved mystery, but the Titans will not relinquish the claim to the Houston Oilers and their history; which goes largely ignored and unappreciated in Nashville. Or perhaps the answer lies with Amy Adams Strunk, daughter of the late Bud Adams. She called the possibility of this happening, “a hard NO.”
Strunk went on to say, “the Oilers don’t have anything to do with the Texans.”
So what is a franchise, its players and its fans to do if they’re clamoring for something that will never materialize? Take a knee during the anthem? Worked for Kap and Geragos, but they claimed higher morality, which always gets owners to fork over $60 to $80 large bills, but grant history back to its rightful owner? Probably not. Stage a protest outside Nissan Stadium in Nashville? Unlikely, the tailgating is light enough already, hard to imagine it would make a dent.
Its an empty feeling for Houston sports fans knowing they hold no cards in this blackhole of football history. A blackhole that sees no end thanks to a franchise which insists on retaining the rights to a trademark they won’t use but will leave in the vault because Houston called Bud’s bluff and he ran out of room to blackmail the city for more upgrades. In full transparency, there was plenty of blame to go around on the Oilers departure, but its history belongs in the place the history occurred, and that place is a far cry from Nashville, Tennessee.