By Eric Schmidt

With all of the free agent signings and player movement, television analysts have been hard at work to praise and criticize NFL teams at the drop of a dime. The excitement coming out of the city of Houston, Texans’ fans are looking cautiously optimistic with the potential in their draft class and acquisitions of free agent defensive back Johnathan Joseph and Danieal Manning.

Like every NFL team in the league fans can get crazy and sometimes obsessive over their team and players, and when an outsider attacks the team and calls them “soft”, things can get pretty crazy. NFL Network’s Michael Lombardi drew a line in the sand when he said (On ESPN’s Bill Simmons Podcast);

“No, because I thought the quote of the year was Eric Winston when he found out about the new practice rules he said ‘you know, look, we have the leading rusher in the league and we never went in pads’ and to me it proves why I don’t like Houston as a team, they’re not physical…….they’ve got to prove to me they can do some things that can be effective down the line in terms of they’re physical toughness, and when I read the Winston quote I was like, this to me would be evidence to prove my point about the Houston Texans….They think they’re being physical, when in reality they can’t get physical because they never practice physical.”

Talk about a slap in the face, but what makes it worse is the fact that Michael Lombardi has never seen the Houston Texans practice and defintiley not felt the Texas heat during the months of July and August when training camp is full tilt. Dont believe me? A Texas high school coach passed away during a high school football practice because of heat exposure after a morning practice session. The heat has no friends in Texas and the Houston Texans take every precaution to take care of their players and staff to prevent tragedies, especially death.

The Texans break up their practices into two session, one in the early morning outside and the second in the practice bubble, which majority of the work is accomplished out of the eyes of the public. To call a team soft is a brave statement considering these players strap it on for a preseason and a 16 game schedule. Like ALL NFL teams, safety is a major concern, but to call out a team that you have never been to a practice of screams stupidity.

Starting right tackle Eric Winston responded to Lombardi’s comments after a practice session (from Playmaker Magazine) :

“I know this, you don’t luck into 1,660. You don’t luck into 2,000 yards rushing as a team so you can call it whatever you want, you can call it finesse, you can call it whatever but, I’ll take those yards, I’ll take those touchdowns and I’ll take that production so Mike Lombardi can call it whatever he wants. He can come out here; I’ve never seen him at practice before so, he might have a different take on it if he’s not 2000 miles away commenting on something he’s never seen before. That’s kind of the old school mentality on this as well, if you’re not hitting every day, if you’re not doing that I guess you’re not tough but I’m not going to worry about that; that’s something that if we can go out there and get Arian Foster over 1,600 yards again, if we get Matt Schaub to 4,000 (yards passing) and we can score those big touchdowns in key moments than he can call us whatever he wants.”

To make matters worse co-worker and NFL Network host Kara Henderson is backing up Lombardi’s statements. Once again Henderson is joining a cause she hasn’t seen either. Texans fans have rallied around their team and blistered Lombardi’s twitter account with disapproval of his comments, and even has responded to some of the tweets from angry Texans’ fans.

The Texans may not be the toughest team in the NFL, but they did boast the NFL’s leading rusher in Arian Foster which did not happen by leaning on people. It’s one thing for one NFL team to call an opponent soft because they have an idea what it takes, but for a on air analyst to call out a team that he has never seen practice is a embarrassment to the NFL Network. You think Lombardi would make it through a training camp with the Texans or any other team in the NFL?

Michael Lombardi has become Houston’s public enemy #1 with his brash and uniformative comments, and like all fans to their respective team, the fans’ of Houston have come to the defense of their hometown team. The Houston Texans have a lot to prove coming into the 2011 NFL season and can silence Lombardi with a playoff spot. I think the Green Bay Packers were called soft at one point also during the 2010 NFL season, and ended the season with a Super Bowl victory. Isn’t football season great?

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