Hollywood is littered with some all-time, classic movies about revenge. Charles Bronson’s Deathwish series, the Kill Bill movies, Taken, Gladiator, Princess Bride, basically every Clint Eastwood western ever. And how could we forget Oldboy, the Korean original not the considerably worse Hollywood remake.
But I’m not sure I’ve ever seen or heard of a revenge story as spiteful as what Lovie Smith did to the Houston Texans on Sunday afternoon.
Amid all the playoff implications taking place on the final weekend of the regular season, forgotten in all the post-season shuffling was what would happen to 2022’s losingest teams, that being the Chicago Bears and the Houston Texans.
The Bears entered Sunday 3-13 and were staring an almost certain loss to the Minnesota Vikings squarely in the face. The Houston Texans, who all but owned the rights to the top pick in 2023, entered Sunday 2-13-1. A Houston win combined with a Bears loss, an inconceivable outcome as of 12:59 on Sunday afternoon, would transfer the rights to the top pick of the draft over to Chicago. But there’s no way Houston would try and win an otherwise meaningless football game, right? Not one that could potentially sway the direction of the franchise.
Of course, they would.
After taking a healthy lead in Indianapolis, Houston coughed up that lead late in the game. It looked like the Texans would have their final loss, and that top drack pick. Until they didn’t.
Wouldn’t you know it if Lovie engineered a drive… THEN WENT FOR TWO… giving Houston a lead they would not relinquish. Down by 7, ESPN’s otherwise irrelevant statistical department gave Indianapolis a 97% chance of winning that game. Clearly, they didn’t consider Lovie Smith’s taste for vengeance. Even a tie would have retained their rights to the top pick. The two-point conversion sealed their fate… and the number two pick, hand-delivering the Bears the top pick in the draft. Revenge is a dish best served Chicago cold.
Chicago, seemingly happy with their quarterback Justin Fields, is likely not going to select one of the long list of quarterbacks available at number one, a position Houston so desperately needs, but rights to the top pick will give the Bears maneuvering room that Houston would love to afford. Well, they got it, all thanks to former Bears head coach Lovie Smith.
We talk a lot about tanking and how players are on the field to win the game. We talk about how they’re not going to intentionally lose, or not try, even if it means a franchise-altering pick hanging in the balance. We also know that’s all bullshit. Number one draft picks can change everything.
Don’t believe me? OJ Simpson, Terry Bradshaw, Jim Plunkett, Lee Roy Selmon, Earl Campbell, John Elway, Bo Jackson, Troy Aikman, Peyton Manning, Michael Vick, Matthew Stafford, Cam Newton, Joe Burrow and Trevor Lawrence were all number one draft picks. I’m not saying a player of that caliber exists in this draft but you certainly want the option if you have it.
Here’s Lovie giving his own personalized history on what number one picks mean to a franchise. Makes sense of it as you will.
Was the outcome of this game discussed? Did Houston ownership bring Coach Smith into their office and have a closed-door discussion about losing this football game? Did they instruct him to do so? Did he intentionally flaunt their instructions knowing he likely wouldn’t be back to coach this team? Can they justify firing him after his first season if any of this is the case? And if these discussions did not take place, how out of touch are the Houston Texans when it comes to running a franchise?
A Bears guy through and through, Lovie is cleaning out his desk with a vengeful smirk while the McNair family wonders what the hell just happened.
I don’t recall the last time a franchise bungled away the future of their franchise, but Lovie Smith might just go down as one of the most vindictive mothers in NFL history. And if Hollywood is looking to revive the Deathwish series, I know just the guy to serve as lead.