HOUSTON -- Jake Delhomme had told some other teams no. There were a couple during training camp, and one during the season. He was content being a dad. Had moved from Cleveland back to Louisiana. Wanted to get his kids home, he said. That was going to be the deal. Dad was going to be home, being dad. He doesn't need the money.
And yet he watched every game, every Sunday. Once a week, he would go out and throw the football. It has been a long career, but Delhomme is still just 36.
But then the Texans called. The Texans are 8-3, leading the AFC playoff race.
"This is my 15th year, and I can vividly remember all the times you're making a push," he said. "There's nothing like it. It's the best."
Delhomme played in a Super Bowl with the Carolina Panthers at the end of the 2003 season. He led them to the playoffs again in 2005 and 2008, when he threw five interceptions in a playoff loss to the Arizona Cardinals, a performance from which he never seemed to recover. In the season opener the next year, he threw four interceptions, got benched, then returned and kept throwing interceptions. He spent the 2010 season with the Cleveland Browns, throwing seven interceptions and two touchdown passes in five starts and was released this summer.
The Texans have no immediate plans of putting Delhomme into a game. Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons they will start rookie T.J. Yates, who, until Matt Schaub and Matt Leinart were lost for the season, was the team's No. 3 quarterback. Behind Yates it is Delhomme and Kellen Clemens, who signed last week.
Rather, Delhomme is a contingency plan, an old dog who doesn't need to learn any new tricks. He is the opposite of Yates. Delhomme, of course, does not know the Texans' offensive terminology, though he expected that at some point this week he would present Houston's offensive staff with a list of plays he felt comfortable running.
So for the foreseeable future, Delhomme will be little more than an insurance policy. But as the Texans have learned, the future is not foreseeable. With the Texans in a playoff hunt, it is conceivable Delhomme could play at some point if Yates is ineffective.
In a sweatshirt and sweatpants, Delhomme basically looks like he is in shape, which is to say he has not gotten fat. He says he has equipment at his home with which to keep in shape, though he did not exactly try to pass himself off as a model of physical fitness.
He was content with how his NFL career had turned out.
"I wasn't sure if I was ever going to play again, and I was OK with that, I was fine with that, I was at peace," he said. "When you can come and be a part of a team that's making a push, there's nothing like it."
One day in, Delhomme had that feeling he was looking for.
"There's some kind of sense around this team," he said. "It's kind of nice."