Matt Schaub knows the question is coming.
Standing at what’s normally center field at Minute Maid Park for Opening Night of Super Bowl 51, he takes a deep breath, and shifts his weight. As a Houston reporter begins his line of questioning, he can sense that, eventually, the white elephant will make its way into the conversation.
So if you were to win a Super Bowl, as a backup, in Houston, where you used to be the starter, wouldn’t that be… bittersweet?
“No, it would be nothing but joy and elation,” he said.
He seems to be telling the truth, but you have to wonder, How?
After coming to the Houston Texans via trade from the Atlanta Falcons, Schaub became the closest thing the franchise had, and has since had, to “the guy.” From 2009 to 2012, he led the team to three winning seasons, led the NFL in passing yards once, and after back to back playoff berths in 2011 and 2012, gave the city hope that, maybe just maybe, their first pro football championship wouldn’t be far away.
Then, 2013 happened.
Now with the Falcons, Schaub and his role on his team have evolved. Where he used to take nearly every rep at practice, now, he has to run through it mentally. With little time to prepare, Matt Ryan needs all the work he can get. In the meantime, Schaub takes a crash course in the New England Patriots offense, and against his own team’s starting defense, tries his best to mimic Tom Brady — the other team’s “the guy.”
If any of it gets to him, Schaub doesn’t show it. He wears a warm smile and calm demeanor. He doesn’t seem agitated by the subject — or anything, really. Even as a reporter from a German TV station jumps in to ask him if he knows that “Schaub,” who is German, is a German last name. He simply stays in the moment, as he likely will when kickoff starts.
“To be a part of this team, and what we’ve done this season, it’s remarkable. Because it’s not easy. Every game is challenging, and to get to this point, it’s very, very difficult. To have a little piece of that, and know you contributed in any way, whether it’s in the room, game planning, helping the coaches out, helping Matt (Ryan) get ready, helping the defense get ready by giving the best look I can of the New England offense. Everyone’s got a piece of this game. Whatever role I can play, and whatever I can do to help that is what I’m willing to do.”
Matt hosts Saturdays from 1-4 pm on SportsRadio 610. You can, and totally should, follow him on Twitter @MattHammondShow