Game Time: Texans Sign DeMeco Ryans, Their Dwight Shrute

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When a big sports news story breaks, my tendency is to spend about eight seconds internalizing it and wondering what it means to the subject of said news and what it means to me as a fan. From second number nine forward it's time to figure out other angles the news puts into play, what other people are affected by whatever earthshaking occurrence just took place. It's the nature of talk radio -- find a news item, analyze the obvious, then turn your brain into vanilla pudding trying to find five or six other profound ways a news item affects the well being of sports mankind.

The DeMeco Ryans story yesterday was an easy one. The first level of thinking -- "How does this affect DeMeco and how does this affect me as a Texans fan?" -- was pretty simple. DeMeco will be picking up the check on the next few trips he makes to Morton's and his grandkids shouldn't have to worry about getting what they want for Christmas. And Texans fans? Well, we have one less thing to complain about. Dunta's not here to kick around anymore, DeMeco is now a multimillionaire, thank God the Texans are still slow-playing Owen Daniels. We need SOMETHING to bitch about, dammit!

As for the "next level" thinking with the DeMeco story, my co-host John Harris' first thought was to San Francisco 49er Pro Bowl linebacker Patrick Willis, who will soon be heading toward his second contract (or at least an extension of his first contract) and you know the old adage -- the people you want to see get paid, in order:

1. Yourself
2. Comparable players at your position
3. Your friends

(For the record, the bottom three on that list are as follows:
1. The government
2. Reality TV stars
3. Tracy McGrady)

That said, Harris' point is a good one -- other than for DeMeco Ryans and Karlos Dansby themselves (Dansby, if you recall, and if you're a diehard Texans fan you do, got a virtually identical contract to the one DeMeco signed yesterday from the Miami Dolphins in free agency earlier this offseason), the winner yesterday was Patrick Willis and any other young, aspiring inside linebacker that has "sign eight-figure contract" on his bucket list.

For me, my first "next level thought" was actually not even of another Texans player, or even someone in football at all. I thought about Astros' General Manager Ed Wade. As sports fans, we like to constantly assess the people running our teams because...well, frankly, we all think we could do a better job. The fact of the matter is unless you live in the same town as a team for which Isiah Thomas is the GM, you're probably wrong, but it doesn't stop us from making the buck stop, so to speak, with a team's upper management.

Look at our teams in Houston -- Daryl Morey, through his own keen acumen and the generosity of his owner, is able to piece together virtually any type of deal he pleases. Rick Smith finally showed yesterday that he has the chops and the bankroll to get a deal done with one of the core pieces of what we all hope is a playoff team. And then there's poor Ed Wade, who is stuck in his third year of purgatory (Purpura-gatory?) making the personnel decisions for the Astros, completely hamstrung (no pun intended) by big contracts to Roy Oswalt (maybe still worth it), Lance Berkman (rapidly becoming not worth it), and Carlos Lee (never will be worth it).

If Ed Wade were a high school student competing to get into an Ivy League school, he'd be like Corey Haim's character in the movie Lucas...probably smart enough and naturally curious enough to get in, but unfortunately he is growing up in a trailer with a demented, semi-maladjusted old man of a father so he's entering the playing field severely handicapped. Meanwhile, Rick Smith just bought another Beemer yesterday...a $48 million one, to be exact.

Here in Houston, we're fired up about the DeMeco signing, and with DeMeco having been to a couple Pro Bowls now, this moves the meter nationally for the Texans; also, It's not ultra-sexy, but it's a sign that the core players want to play here and that management, when it makes sense, will pay for production. You have to follow the Texans week to week to know what DeMeco means to this team and the defense. He's a little like Dwight Shrute that way; if you watch The Office, you know what I mean. Michael Scott (Steve Carrell) is the face on the marquee, but also the one with the lowest floor and highest ceiling and the one who frankly makes us most uncomfortable defending his actions. Michael Scott is Mario Williams. Andy "Nard Dog" Bernard is fantastic, but he wasn't here in the beginning so our bond with him doesn't run quite as deep. Brian Cushing is the Nard Dog.

But Dwight Shrute brings it week in and week out. When The Office is bad, and it has been way too often in the last couple years, it's because the Michael Scott character has been a little uneven or because we're just fed up with being force-fed Jim and Pam (oh, Jim and Pam are Dunta Robinson, did I mention that?). Nard Dog is amazing, but he wasn't here during the beginning, we haven't quite fully invested in him yet. But Dwight...even during bad episodes we come away saying "Yeah but, Dwight Shrute was still hilarious." Shrute is the unsung glue holding together that ball of dysfunction known as Dunder Mifflin. And for four years, Ryans has been the Texans' Dwight Shrute.

Trust me, DeMeco, it's a compliment. You didn't need to write a damn thing on your shoes. Rick paid the right guy.

Now the question becomes "Who is the Texans' Todd Packer?"

Listen to Sean Pendergast on 1560 The Game from 3-7 p.m. weekdays on the
Sean & John Show, and follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.


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