An interesting question to ask yourself is this: when did you become a fan of a sports team that you claim to follow? And no, not just a general time period like "when I was little kid," I want a specific date. Can you do it? This question may be impossible for you to answer.
For many of you, including me, your favorite team (or teams) was chosen for you at birth by a parent, grandparent, sibling, or friend. For me, it was my dad.
My dad was, and still is, the biggest Tennessee Volunteer fan you will ever meet. Every fall Saturday consisted of my dad and I waking up early and watching Lee Corso put on a team’s mascot head while the fans around him cheered and/or booed. Then, we’d watch every football game throughout the day with growing excitement for the Tennessee game that usually came on at night during prime time. (Some may forget, but when I was a kid, the Vols were pretty good, so they got prime time games).
When the game finally came on, my mom, brother and I would sit on the couch while my dad spent the next three hours pacing and screaming at the TV. After the game, we would either stay up late and watch more football games (if they won) or go straight to bed and skip church the next morning (if they lost). We did this every Saturday until I eventually left for college.
So, if you were to ask me the exact date of when I became a Tennessee Volunteer fan, I could not do it. It’s just something that happened over the course of my childhood.
But, if you asked me when I became a Houston Texans fan, I would immediately answer, “December 13th 2010”. It was a Monday Night Football game that pitted the Texans against the Ravens. It’s a day that I will always cherish and hold dear.
My family raised me to hate the NFL. They told me the athletes don’t have heart, they’re overpaid, they’re lazy, etc. Any flaw my family found with the NFL, even if false, was quickly and constantly brought to my attention. Since we lived in Nashville, this hate was even stronger for the Titans. My family and I hate the Titans, and we always will.
My junior year of high school, my friend convinced me to play fantasy football with him. Initially, I did not want to since it involved the NFL, but I eventually gave in. I ended up drafting Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson as my first two picks, both who played for the Texans.
Throughout the season, I was constantly watching the Texans because of Schaub and Johnson. Eventually, I started to get a little crush on the team. I was happy when they won, since it usually meant that Schaub and Johnson had solid games.
My team eventually did well enough to grab the last spot in our fantasy playoffs. In the first round, I drew my best friend’s girlfriend and she was throttling me after all of Sunday’s games. My only hopes were Schaub and Johnson, who were playing on Monday Night Football the next day.
The Ravens were ruthless. They took a 21-7 lead into halftime and returned the opening kickoff in the second half for a touchdown, going up by three scores. After a couple of field goals, the Texans cut the score to 28-13. I went and checked my fantasy score and I was still getting hammered, so I decided to just turn my computer off, forget about fantasy football, and just hope for a good game. And boy, did I get one.
A 99 yard touchdown drive in the fourth quarter cut the deficit to eight points with about three minutes left. A pitiful Ravens drive resulted in a quick punt, leaving the Texans 95 yards away from tying the game.
The drive consisted of ridiculous catches and fourth down conversions that had me on the edge of my seat. And as the drive went on, I found myself cheering. Not for Matt Schaub or Andre Johnson. I was cheering for the Texans. The Texans scored a touchdown with less than thirty seconds left when Johnson made an insane catch off of a Schaub pass. But I did not care who threw it or caught it; all I knew was the Texans had scored!
The Texans converted the two-point conversion and the crowd went ballistic, as did I. The energy and excitement of the crowd was incredible. I had been raised to think that NFL players and fans did not have heart. But I saw the Texans’ players and fans and learned that the previous statement did not apply to this team. This team had heart.
Overtime ensued and the Ravens won the toss. But the Texans’ defense stepped up and forced Baltimore to punt. The Texans got the ball back and everyone knew that Houston was going to pull this one out. The Texans offense was unstoppable in the second half and the energy of the fans and team was immense. There was no way the Texans would lose this game.
Then, Matt Schaub threw a pick six on the second play of the drive. Game over. Ravens won. I could not believe it. I sat in my bed, depressed, for the next hour, thinking to myself, “why am I so depressed? It’s not the Vols. Even worse, it’s the NFL! I should not care for any NFL team!” But I did. I had become a Texans fan.
Today, I'm still a Texans fan and still a Vols fan. People often ask me which team I am a bigger fan of. I tell them to think of it this way. If you ask a mom which of her two kids she loves more, she will undoubtedly say both and then slap you for even considering such a question. I love both teams the same; length of fandom does not influence the amount of love for each team that I have.