The Houston Texans are everything the NFL could want in an expansion club. A large-market franchise with plenty of football crazed fans ready to pay through the nose for PSLs, ugly apparel, and $6 cups of beer. A veteran head coach with a successful startup record in Carolina. And an impressive roster fueled by salary cap lawn sales and a thriving free agent market.
In short, the Texans are everything the Cleveland Browns weren't when they entered the league in 1999. There's just one problem. The Houston Texans are working from the Enron book of fiscal management. And the league is finally catching on.
Results of a government investigation, released just hours before game time, reveal what everyone has suspected all along. The Houston Texrons aren't just over the cap, they've gone all around it. Government auditors find cap dollars stashed in at least three Canadian Football League teams, a Gaelic Football franchise in Galway, Ireland, and an obscure Australian-rules football league in New Zealand known as the Jedi Football Conference.
The NFL moves to enforce its cap rules, but it doesn't happen in time for the game in Cleveland. The Texrons roll into town with rookie QB David Carr and a $26 million sideline cheerleader in the form of offensive tackle Tony Boselli. Dom Capers is his usual self, which is to say he's screaming at players, chewing out the press, and frightening small animals and children.
Capers certainly has plenty to shout about in the first half. The Browns tee off on a well-regarded Texron defensive squad, rolling up 1,500 yards of total offense in the first 30 minutes of play. Linebackers Jamie Sharper and Jay Foreman both collapse from exhaustion in the second quarter. Cornerback Aaron Glenn leaves the game with severe leg cramps.
Hoping to stem the tide, Capers decides to unleash his super-secret Nancy Boy Defense, lead by the fabulous foursome of Jeff Posey, Erik Flowers, Kailee Wong, and DeMarcus Faggins. The Nancy Boy unit buys the Texrons a break early in the third quarter, following a fumble by William Green. Browns guard Ross Verba recovers the ball, but quickly coughs it up in the pile when he is groped by Faggins and Posey.
Verba earns a four-game suspension for bludgeoning Posey and Faggins with his helmet, but the ruling is overturned just two days later. League review of the video results in a year-long suspension for both Faggins and Posey. The incident gets huge coverage on the gay-related Outsports.com web site, where Faggins, Posey, and Capers' Nancy Boy Defense become the objects of cult worship.
None of this affects the outcome of the game. Tim Couch is so exhausted from throwing in the first half that the Browns—fearful of exposing Josh Booty to a sexually charged environment—call on Brian Sipe to take snaps. Inducted at halftime into the Browns' Legends Club, the 51-year old Sipe is inked to a three-hour, $15,000 contract minutes before the third quarter. In just 30 minutes of play, Sipe sets personal bests for yardage and touchdowns, passing for 468 yards and five TDs. Sipe sends his last throw—a 12-yarder toward a well-covered Andre Davis in the back of the end zone—into the stands.
The game is over, and so, it seems, are the Texrons. FBI agents have surrounded the Houston home of Texrons owner Bob McNair. He and buddy Ken Lay are holed up with enough guns and ammo to hold off an army division. But they can't stop the NFL from shuttering the Houston franchise. Two weeks later, former WorldCom CEO Bernie Ebbers pays $800 million for the rights to move the Texrons to L.A.
And that's the way I see it. GMD