The still young history of the Houston Texans began in 1997: After the Houston Oilers – now the Tennessee Titans – had left the biggest city in Texas’ after the 1996 season, no one really expected that pro football would be return to the in the “Space City” soon. But in 2002 it was time again: The Houston Texans entered the NFL as the most recent AFC South expansion team.
It was not only the year in which the Houston Oilers left the city to find a new home in Tennessee, it was also the year in which the billionaire Robert C. McNair failed in an attempt to lure a professional ice hockey team to Houston. Without much hesitation, McNair now decided to seek an NFL franchise for Houston.
The chances of bringing an NFL team to the Gulf of Mexico, were rather badly at the start, because the NFL focussed on a new team in Los Angeles. Since 1995, when the Los Angeles Rams moved to St. Louis and the Los Angeles Raiders returned to Oakland, the NFL didn’t have a team in the second-largest television market in the United States any more.
Despite the bad chances, the NFL took Houston’s application into the selection process, as a backup candidate, so to speak. In March 1999, however, the team owner of the NFL voted with a clear majority for Los Angeles as the home of a new team. However, they gave the investors there a period of six months to solve the many outstanding issues, such as the stadium question. But the deadline was not met and on October 6th 1999, the NFL team owners decided unanimously to sell the rights for the 32nd team of the NFL for $ 700 million to Robert C. McNair.
For the two most important positions in the new team McNair contracted two old NFL pros: He hired Charley Casserly, a general manager, who had won the Super Bowl in 1992 with the Washington Redskins. And Dom Capers was hired as head coach, who had served as the first head coach of the newly founded Carolina Panthers in 1995.
The year 2000 was all about the search for the team name. In a complex process dozens of names have been tested, five of which were in the elimination stage: Apollos, Bobcats, Stallions, Texans and Wildcats. In September 2000, it was done: the new franchise was named the Houston Texans and people were able to watch american football in Houston again.
In Expansion Draft, the Houston Texans secured Tony Boselli, one of the of the best offensive linemen of the 1990s playing for Jacksonville Jaguars, who, however, had to declare his resignation a year later due to injury problems. And with the first pick in the college draft in 2002 they got with David Carr, the quarterback that should be the center of the new team.
Three years after the foundation of the team in Houston it was done: In the newly-built Reliant Stadium, the first championship game of the Houston Texans took place. And they achieved what no other expansion team had achieved in 41 years before them: They won their first game with 19:10. Moreover, the Texans didn’t win the game against a weak team, but against the rivals from the same State, against the five-time Super Bowl champion Dallas Cowboys. A promising start, which the team, however, wasn’t able to live up to: The Houston Texans only reached the playoffs in its tenth season for the first time.