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All Eyes on Mario

The Houston Texans better pray that Mario Williams turns into the next Reggie White. Or Julius Peppers. Or Lawrence Taylor. Actually, the Texans better be praying that Williams becomes as good as White, Peppers and Taylor combined! Otherwise, the inexplicable drafting of Williams over Reggie Bush may trump the selection of Sam Bowie over Michael Jordan as the biggest blunder in the history of professional sports drafts. 

Fans of the Texans sat through four months of agonizing football last fall, with the only light at the end of the tunnel coming when they realized that, were they to finish with the worst record in the league, they would be victors of the “Reggie Bush Sweepstakes.”

Bush, considered by most scouts to be the best college prospect of the past 30 years, would give the Texans instant credibility. He would fill the seats at Reliant Stadium each week. He would give battered quarterback David Carr an extra option and take some serious heat off of the quarterback who has been sacked more times in his first four years in the league than any quarterback in history. And, most importantly, given the fact that the Texans lost three of their last four games by three points or less last season, Bush, with his quick-scoring threat from a variety of positions, would give the team a few more victories than last year’s abomination.

But that was just the prevailing logic around 95% of the football world. Apparently Bob McNair and Gary Kubiac were in the minority, because they stared in the face of logic and facts and a pile of numbers and blinked. Or rather, did not blink. They were adamant that they needed to improve their defense. The choice had nothing to do with Bush’s character or signability, they said, and everything to do with taking a defensive player around which they could build a championship caliber defense.

That’s funny, North Carolina St., of the rather average ACC, was not able to build anything resembling a championship defense around Williams, finishing 6-5 last year. McNair said that the move was purely a “football decision.” Then he tried to sell the Houston fans some oceanfront property in Oklahoma. 

How does taking a kid who was not an All-American over a runaway Heisman Trophy winner who averaged almost 9 yards per touch represent the most sound football decision? By confessing that the move had nothing to do with money or Bush’s involvement in a scandal involving a lawyer and a shady real estate deal, the famously straight-laced McNair is either being intellectually dishonest or he is just a flat-out liar. McNair quit dealing with Bush without even giving the talks a chance to reach a point of agreement between the two sides. He low-balled the #1 prospect in the draft because he was scared of going into draft day without having his pick signed. Not smart, Bob.

Now his franchise, about which fans have been talking since the day of its inception seven years ago, is in danger of becoming the laughing stock of the league. Williams, who did not have a sack in any of his three games against Division I-AA opponents over the past three years, is a project. He will not drastically change the face of the Texans, and by no means will he account for a few wins all by himself, as Bush would have. 

Kubiac seems to feel that, after having turned a handful of rushers in Denver into 1,000-yard backs, that his system I s what wins games and the components are in place for Houston to be able to compete each week. So he wanted defense. Then why not trade the #1 pick and stockpile several defensive players who could make an impact over time, as opposed to putting all of the pressure on one man?

Williams went from relative obscurity six months ago to being the most talked about name in football, next to McNair, possibly. Now, sadly for Williams, the pressure will be all on him to help save the Texans, and as unfair as that may seem for a player who had no control where he was drafted, he will soon come to realize that it’s a lot easier for fans to boo players on the field than it is to jeer a man sitting in a glass-enclosed luxury suite.

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