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| || Championships
|| Front Office
Coming off their best record in team history -- an 8-8 campaign -- and with two All-Pro second teamers in defensive end Mario Williams and linebacker DeMeco Ryans, the Houston Texans enter the 2008 season with promise and, as always, question marks.
Returning Football to Houston
In 1997, the Houston Oilers left town for Nashville, leaving Houston without a team. With Los Angeles also without an NFL presence, it seemed unlikely that the sport would return to Houston any time soon. However, Bob McNair, an oilman, and his partner, Chuck Watson, were focused on bringing an third professional sports team (to complement the Astros and Rockets) to the city. Indeed, originally, the duo wanted to bring a hockey team to Houston, but the NHL passed over McNair and Watson.
On March 23, 1998, the NFL voted to expand into Cleveland, re-creating the Cleveland Browns. With the league now at 31 teams, adding another team (making the league have both an even number of teams and a base-2 amount) seemed inevitable. By May, Michael Ovitz (of Disney fame) put together a $750-million stadium proposal for Los Angeles; Houston responded by putting together a retractable roof stadium plan of their own.
In March of 1999, the decision came to a head. Los Angeles was a clear favorite, but the city's stadium and ownership plan was poorly organized. The NFL expansion committee voted 29-2 to give L.A. until mid-September to get their plans in order; if they fail, Houston will be awarded the team. On October 6, 1999, NFL owners vote 29-0 to make the heretofore unnamed Houston Texans the 32nd team in the league, to start play for the 2002 season.
Building a Team
On January 19, 2000, Bob McNair announces Charley Casserly as the team's first general manager. Casserly was recently the GM of the Washington Redskins, a title he held for 10 years. He brought an additional 13 years of front office experience -- all with the Redskins -- to the new franchise.
By February, the logo and name process was in full effect. NFL-sponsored focus groups narrowed the name to five choices: the Apollos, Bobcats, Stallions, Texans, and Wildcatters. By April, the Bobcats and Wildcatters were dropped from contention, and on September 6, 2000, McNair announces the new team name and logo in front of a crowd of thousands at a downtown rally on Texas Avenue. To celebrate, McNair goes to Enron Field to throw out the first pitch of a Houston Astros game, lobbing the first Texans football to Astros owner Drayton McLane.
Simulatenous to the logo/name process was the building of a new stadium. Ground officially broke on Reliant Stadium on March 9, 2000, and on October 26, Reliant Energy purchased naming rights to the stadium -- and to the Astrodome and other facilities in the area.
The Texans opened 2001 with another hire: Don Capers as head coach. Capers, the former coach of the then-expansion Carolina Panthers, was serving as Jacksonville Jaguars defensive coordinator at the time. Two weeks later, Chris Palmer, formerly head coach of the Cleveland Browns, is named offensive coordinator. And a year later, on January 14, 2002, Vic Fangio is named the team's first defensive coordinator.
On February 19, 2002, the team partakes in their expansion draft. Selections of note include wide receiver Jermaine Lewis and linebacker Jamie Sharper from the Baltimore Ravens, cornerback Aaron Glenn from the New York Jets, and oft-injured tackle Tony Boselli from the Jacksonville Jaguars. Boselli, the first pick in the draft, went on injured reserve and retired, never playing a down for the Texans. A few weeks later, the team signed former Indianapolis Colts offensive lineman Steve McKinney -- the team's first ever free agent signing.
On April 20, 2002, with the first pick in the 2002 NFL Draft, the Texans selected the face of the franchise: Quarterback David Carr. The team was beginning to take shape, with the season just a few months away.
2002: The First Season
The Texans played their first game ever versus the in-state Dallas Cowboys, and opened up Reliant Stadium at the same time, on September 8, 2002. They became the first expansion team in over forty years to win their inaugural game, and finished the season with a 4-12 record. Quarterback David Carr set an NFL record by being on the wrong end of a sack 76 times.
Current Players of Note
Rookie of the Year
- DeMeco Ryans, 2006 AP Defensive Rookie of the Year