The Houston Texans is a professional American football team based in Houston, Texas. They are currently members of the Southern Division of the American Football Conference (AFC) in the National Football League (NFL). The Texans joined the NFL as a 2002 expansion team. The city's previous franchise, the Houston Oilers, moved to Nashville, Tennessee in 1997, changing their name to the Tennessee Titans in 1999.
Barely two weeks later, the fourth-largest city in the United States found itself without professional football for the first time since 1959 as Houston Oilers owner Bud Adams got the final approval to move his team to Tennessee. A lawsuit filed by the city of Houston, Harris County, and other parties was settled with Adams paying millions of dollars for leaving town. In an interview with the Houston Chronicle, local entrepreneur and San Diego Padres owner John J. Moores, whose name was often attached to efforts to return the NFL to Houston, said that the city’s football fans would be in for a long, dry spell without football and that he did not foresee another league expansion in the next 10 years. While efforts to get an NHL team in Houston faltered, McNair made his decision to set his sights higher and founded Houston NFL Holdings. Steve Patterson, who had been working with McNair in an attempt to bring NHL to Houston, was immediately named as head of the new organization.
Now committed to the task at hand, McNair and Houston got an immediate morale boost in October 1997, when the NFL Stadium Committee reported to Commissioner Paul Tagliabue on the current attractiveness of Cleveland, Los Angeles, and Houston. Cleveland had lost the Browns in 1995 and had been promised by Tagliabue that the next expansion team would play there, bringing the league total to 31 teams. A future expansion to 32 teams seemed both logical and destined to happen, and Tagliabue praised McNair’s strong initial efforts. Encouraged by the commissioner’s strong words, local support for a return of the NFL to Houston spread like wildfire across the city. Two days later, Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo (HLS&R) officials announced they would push for a domed stadium as part of the bid to lure the NFL back to Houston.
In late October 1998, Tagliabue announced that the NFL owners would have a decision by April 1999 as to which city would be awarded the NFL expansion franchise. Both Bob McNair and Ovitz stated they needed to know the situation by the first quarter of the new year, lest they lose public support as a result of long delays while the league developed. Ovitz now had competition coming from his own city, however, as real estate developer Ed Roski threw his hat into the ring to bring another team to Los Angeles. Roski’s proposal centered around putting a 68,000-seat stadium inside the shell of the Los Angeles Coliseum.
When the NFL officers returned to Los Angeles in late May, Ovitz had changed his tune, unveiling plans to turn the area around the Coliseum into a 60-acre complex of parks, parking garages, shopping areas and a brand-new stadium. Tagliabue and the NFL officials were pleased with the look, but daunted by the cost, including $225 million for parking garages that was not available from either the city or the state. In June Tagliabue expressed his frustration with Los Angeles’ inability to get a plan together and advised McNair to resume his discussions with the expansion committee.
On September 9, 1999, the league’s expansion committee indicated that McNair and other Houston officials should be prepared to attend an October 6 meeting of the NFL owners in Atlanta. L.A.’s effort was not completely dead, as Ovitz, Roski, and newcomer Marvin Davis all scrambled to find the right deal to woo the league back in the last six days before the deadline. In the first week of October, Ovitz announced that his group was prepared to offer $540 million for the NFL franchise. Later that week, McNair’s Houston NFL Holdings proposed a bid of $700 million to the owners.
On the morning of October 6, 1999, in Atlanta, the NFL owners voted 29–0 to award the 32nd franchise and the 2004 Super Bowl to Houston.
That spring, Houston NFL 2002 celebrated the official groundbreaking of Reliant Stadium. The 69,500-seat state-of-the-art facility would become the NFL's first retractable-roof stadium.
After almost a year of speculation, the worst kept secret in Houston became reality as the team was officially christened the Houston Texans during a downtown celebration in September 2000 that included NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue and Bob McNair unveiling the new logo.
Victories over the New York Giants in Houston and the Steelers in Pittsburgh (despite just 46 total yards of offense – an NFL low for a winning team) and the Texans finished the season 4–12, sending two players (Gary Walker and Aaron Glenn) to the Pro Bowl, the most ever by an expansion team. The season was deemed a success despite David Carr being sacked an NFL record 76 times and the realization that Tony Boselli, the man they had hoped would protect their young quarterback, would never play a down of football for the team.
During the next two seasons, the Texans made steady progress. In 2003, they started out much as they had done in 2002 by shocking the heavily favored Dolphins in Miami to open the season. No other expansion team had ever won the season opener in each of its first two seasons. The Texans would only improve their record by one game in that season, but after a victory over the eventual NFC champion Carolina Panthers and a tough overtime loss to the eventual Super Bowl champion New England Patriots, optimism was high going into 2004 that they could compete with any team in the league. That optimism soured, however, after the Texans started the ’04 season 0–3 and for the first time fans began to question the direction in which head coach Dom Capers and the front office were taking. No other expansion team had taken so long to win back-to-back games and expectations in the third season were growing. Finally, after their first victory of 2004 in Kansas City, the Texans came home and defeated the Oakland Raiders the following week to secure their first win streak in franchise history. After sweeping division rivals Tennessee and Jacksonville and another impressive pair of back-to-back wins late in the season, the Texans were poised to finish the year 8–8. All they had to do was beat the 3-12 Cleveland Browns at home. The Texans came out flat and unprepared, however, and fell to the Browns 22–14. The game served as an omen of bad times ahead. On the bright side, second year receiver Andre Johnson was selected to his first Pro Bowl and as of 2007, and it was the only season the Texans did not finish last in the AFC South.
Despite the disappointing end to the 2004 season and a troubling preseason, a playoff push by the Texans in 2005 still seemed likely. They got hammered by the Bills in Buffalo 22–7 to open the season and then humiliated by the Steelers at home 27–7 the following week. As the losses mounted, whatever optimism that was left over from the previous year faded away. Offensive Coordinator Chris Palmer was replaced before the third week and media and fans began to point to questionable personal decisions and lackluster draft picks by General Manager Charley Casserly and doubt about Dom Capers ability to lead the team in the future began to surface. They started the season 0–6 before beating the Browns in Houston only to follow that up with another six game losing streak. By the end of the season most were calling for Dom Capers and Charley Casserly to be fired. Conspiracy theories that the Texans were tanking games to secure the number one pick after several close losses late in the year culminated with the “Bush Bowl” in San Francisco during the last week of the season. The Texans and 49ers came into the game with the two worst records in the NFL and the loser would “win” the right to choose USC running back Reggie Bush in the 2006 NFL Draft. The Texans lost 20–17 and finished 2–14, the worst in the league. One bright spot was the sensational rookie season by kick returner Jerome Mathis who returned two kicks back for touchdowns, including one for 99-yards against Kansas City. Mathis was Houston's only player in 2005 to be selected to the Pro Bowl.
After finishing 2–14 in 2005 the Texans fired Dom Capers and most of his staff. General Manager Charley Casserly was spared, but would eventually leave after the draft, replaced by Rick Smith. Gary Kubiak, offensive coordinator of the Denver Broncos, was hired to take over and the franchise headed into the most controversial off-season in team history. While most in the national media believed that the Texans drafting Reggie Bush in the 2006 Draft was a no-brainer, many in Houston began to voice their desire for the team to draft hometown hero Vince Young after his performance in leading the University of Texas to victory over Bush's USC team in the Rose Bowl, that year's NCAA National Championship Game.
In February, after a vote of confidence from Gary Kubiak, the Texans exercised an $8 million bonus option for David Carr, guaranteeing he would be a Texan in 2006. Still, the debate between Bush and Young raged on for months over local sports talk radio and internet message boards. While support for Vince Young was mounting, most still thought Reggie Bush would eventually be drafted by the Texans.
In a stunning turn of events, however, the Texans shocked the NFL world on the eve of the NFL Draft by announcing that North Carolina State defensive end Mario Williams - not Reggie Bush or Vince Young - would be the team’s choice for their number one pick. Fans were angered and shocked, many booed the choice during a public draft party at Reliant Stadium and the Texans were ridiculed by the national media for committing what many believed was the worst mistake in NFL Draft history. Comparisons to Michael Jordan and Sam Bowie were immediately being made and the endless second-guessing began. Reggie Bush fell to the New Orleans Saints and Vince Young was taken by the Titans. By drafting Williams, the Texans addressed their greatest need, yet it would turn out to be a public relations nightmare that would haunt them for much of the 2006 season. By the end of the year Bush and the Saints were on their way to the NFC Championship game and Young had won the Offensive Rookie of the Year Award. Mario Williams finished with 4.5 sacks and 47 tackles despite suffering from plantar fasciitis for the entire season.
The Texans went on to suffer two heart-breaking losses in their final eight games because of a weak defense, which proved to cost them their first breakeven season. They first allowed the Buffalo Bills to score a go-ahead touchdown with just nine seconds remaining, and then three weeks later Tennessee Titans QB Vince Young ran 39 yards for the winning touchdown in overtime, escaping the outstretched arms of Texans DE Mario Williams. To make matters worse for the Texans, some fans, who thought Houston made a mistake by not drafting him instead of Williams, showed up wearing Vince Young jerseys and cheered as he scored in overtime. A week later, the emotionally exhausted Texans showed up in Foxborough to face the New England Patriots and were hammered 40–7.
The Texans made the most of the remainder of the season as Carr led the team to victories in what would prove to be his final two games as a Texan. Snapping a nine game losing streak to the Indianapolis Colts, the Texans stunned the eventual Super Bowl Champions 27–24 as Carr went 16–23 with 1 TD and no interceptions or sacks; and finished the game with a 6-play, 31 yard drive to put Kris Brown in a position to kick the winning field goal. Carr finished the season by beating the Cleveland Browns in Houston; giving the Texans their first back-to-back wins in two years. The Texans finished with six wins in 2006, four more than the previous year. Had it not been for the last minute defensive failures versus the Bills and the Titans, the Texans would have finished with their first breakeven season at 8–8, on the back of their rapidly improving offense.
In terms of individual performances, David Carr finished the season with a career high 68.9% pass completion percentage and tied the NFL record of 22 for consecutive pass completions in the game versus the Buffalo Bills. The Carr-to-Johnson combination again proved to be formidable, as Andre Johnson led the league in receptions with 103 and was selected to his second Pro Bowl. Finally, the Texans got contributions from all seven of their 2006 draft picks, including DE Mario Williams, TE Owen Daniels and LB DeMeco Ryans - a second round pick who was selected as the NFL’s Defensive Rookie of the Year.
For Matt Schaub and the Texans, the 2007 season started on a high note. They extended their franchise record two-game winning streak from the end of 2006 to four with victories at home against the Chiefs and on the road in Carolina. After the 2–0 start, however, the Texans would be plagued with injuries and turnovers. Matt Schaub proved not to be as durable behind the Texans ever-changing offensive line as former QB David Carr, missing five full games and major portions of two others. Former Pro-Bowl receiver Andre Johnson missed 7 games due to a knee injury. Dunta Robinson was lost for the season after a leg injury in a Week 9 game against Oakland, starting Center Steve McKinney suffered a season-ending injury in the third game of the season, and Ahman Green, who was signed in the offseason to a large contract, rushed for only 260 yards, missed several games and finished the season on IR. Despite all of this, the Texans would have one of the best seasons in franchise history, finishing with a .500 record for the first time ever, including going 6-2 at home and setting several team and individual records. Due to a more talented receiving corps, the Texans had their best offense, setting team highs in points, average yards per play, total touchdowns, passing touchdowns, total yards and passing yards. Andre Johnson finished with a career and franchise high 8 touchdowns. Mario Williams set a franchise record with 14 sacks, finishing first in the AFC and tied for third in the league and DeMeco Ryans was selected as a starter in his first Pro Bowl. The Texans posted a 1–5 record, finishing last in the AFC South, and a 7–3 record outside of their division.
The Texans opened the 2008 season with consecutive losses to the Pittsburgh Steelers 38-17, and the Tennessee Titans 31-12. Returning from an injury plagued 2007 season, Texans QB Matt Schaub continued to struggle behind the Texans offensive line, being sacked eight times and throwing five interceptions in the first two games.
On September 6, 2000, the NFL's 32nd franchise was officially christened the Houston Texans before thousands at a downtown rally on Texas Avenue. Before unveiling the logo Bob McNair described the colors as "Deep Steel Blue", "Battle Red" and "Liberty White". The logo was abstract depiction of a bull split in such a way to resemble the flag of Texas, including a lone star, the five points of which representing pride, courage, strength, tradition and independence. A year later the Texans unveiled their uniforms during another downtown rally.
The Texans' helmet is dark blue with the Texans bull logo. The uniform design consists of red trim and either dark blue or white jerseys. The team wears white pants with its blue jerseys, blue pants with its white jerseys, and on occasion they will wear all-white or all-blue. In 2003, the Texans introduced an alternative red jersey with blue trim. In 2007 the Texans introduced red pants for the first time, pairing them with the red jerseys for an all-red look.
In 2002 the team wore a patch commemorating their inaugural season.
Like many other NFL teams located in subtropical climates, the Texans traditionally wear their white jerseys at home during the first half of the season — forcing opponents to wear their dark ones during the hot autumns in Houston. The team will still wear white jerseys during those early regular season games even though the retractable roof of the club's home field, Reliant Stadium, may be closed. In the preseason, the Texans wear white at home.
(* as of December 30, 2007)
|= Pro Bowler|
|2002 Exp||1st overall||Tony Boselli||Offensive Tackle||University of Southern California>Southern California|
|2002||1st overall||David Carr||Quarterback||Fresno State|
|2003||3rd overall||Andre Johnson||Wide receiver||Miami (FL)|
|2004||10th overall||Dunta Robinson||Cornerback||South Carolina|
|2004||27th overall (from Tennessee)||Jason Babin||Defensive end||Western Michigan|
|2005||16th overall (from New Orleans)||Travis Johnson||Defensive tackle||Florida State|
|2006||1st overall||Mario Williams||Defensive end||North Carolina State|
|2007||10th overall (from Atlanta)||Amobi Okoye||Defensive tackle||Louisville|
|2008||26th overall (from Baltimore)||Duane Brown||Offensive tackle||Virginia Tech|
|Dom Capers||January 21, 2001||January 2, 2006||18||46||0||0|
|Gary Kubiak||January 26, 2006||Present||14||18||0||0|
Spanish language radio broadcasts of the team's games are aired on KLAT La Tremenda 1010AM.