It’s easy to no longer care about the 2017 Houston Texans. With key injury after key injury, this season’s team is going no where, with practice squad guys and guys off the street playing in prominent roles.
But Sunday’s 26-16 loss to the San Francisco 49ers proved that attention should still be paid, even to a team essentially running down the clock on a lost season. There were two moments that were concerning, and both had little to do with the actual game.
The most notable moment was how quarterback Tom Savage was handled after a scary head injury, during which his arms appeared to seize up. Somehow, the team’s doctor cleared Savage to re-enter the game after that before later deciding that Savage, indeed, had a concussion and removed him from the game (Savage also was, reportedly, trying to conceal that he was spitting up blood after the injury).
“The evaluators made the determination to put him back in the game, and then he went back in the game,” Texans head coach Bill O’Brien said. “He came out, and they evaluated him a little bit more, just because of what they saw, and that’s where it’s at. … That’s all I really know about it.”
Yes, Savage got the doctor’s clearance to re-enter the game, but common sense should have prevailed here, and Savage should have never been put back into harm’s way. I respect Savage’s toughness, but there’s being tough and there’s putting yourself at risk for real, major damage. Someone, anyone — a coach, a trainer, a fellow player — should have kept Savage from returning to the game.
“He doesn’t want to come out of the game, but, again, that’s in the medical people’s hands,” O’Brien said. “They try to make the best decision for the player.”
Another irksome sight occurred before the game when linebacker Brian Cushing was welcomed back with open arms — the same Cushing who had to serve a 10-game suspension after testing positive for a banned substance for the second time in his career. Despite this, Cushing was announced as one of the team’s captains.
I get it. Cushing is one of the longest-tenured players on the Texans roster and a leader of the defense. But he also put something in his body that caused him to be away from the team for 10 games. One would think Cushing would have to forfeit his team captaincy after doing that.
The Texans’ mishandling of these two very different situations reveals a bit about the current administration’s culture of accountability (or lack thereof), and it’s a bad look on both accounts. And that’s a reason to still be paying attention.