HOUSTON -- Eight months ago, Texans owner Bob McNair sent his private plane, armed with general manager Rick Smith, to Atlanta to collect one of the best safeties to ever play the game.
The Texans' official Twitter account tweeted about the journey. Ed Reed's former college teammates were dispatched on a recruiting mission. Houston was a place Reed wanted to play, to win a championship with his friend Andre Johnson and show the Baltimore Ravens they made a mistake in failing to re-sign him.
It didn't work. Today, the Texans finally admitted their mistake.
The Texans, who are on a seven-game losing streak, are releasing Reed. They're doing so two days after Reed was limited to just 12 snaps. Two days after he declared that the Texans were "outplayed and outcoached" in certain situations. One day after interim head coach Wade Phillips said the Texans preferred to keep opinions like that in house.
Reed's time in Houston never went smoothly. He showed up with a torn labrum in his hip that the Texans missed during their lengthy physical before signing him. Once he was healthy, his snaps were still limited. By now, the Texans have gotten to the point where they feel more comfortable starting Shiloh Keo at free safety than a future Hall of Famer.
Reed never bought into the idea that his limited role was best for the team. He began to express his frustrations after the Texans' 27-24 loss to the Colts on Nov. 3, claiming it was the first time since his sophomore year of college in which he didn't start despite being healthy.
Sunday, though, he admitted this about his play: "I'm not perfect. I know I'm held to a high standard because of what I've done in the past, but that was the past. I'm a totally different player now."
It's likely that had Reed kept quiet, he would still be on the team as a backup. The Texans like to control the message about their team, and Reed has always been someone to speak his mind. He didn't let his new location change that, and bravo to him for that.
But the fact remains the Texans didn't sign Reed to be a backup.
They thought he would replace Glover Quin, a good, young player who went to Detroit for less yearly money than Reed got and is having a solid season. Quin would have provided stability in a secondary that had developed good chemistry in two years together. His agent told me in March the Texans never even made an official contract offer.
Reed was supposed to be one of the missing pieces on a team that fell just a few players away from a championship. The truth is, no team is ever just a few players away from a championship. Each season starts anew.
It's a lesson the Texans are learning the hard way.