I walked into our Texans Radio studio on Friday morning in anticipation of the first day of training camp (for us, anyway). As I plopped into my seat in the studio, I found a half empty water bottle (that's Marc) under my chair...from the day that we found out that the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo was cancelled. That's how infrequently, we've been in our home away from home. Of course, as we all know, life around the world changed that week of the unfortunate Rodeo cancellation. The building shut down. The world shut down. Closer to our work home, so to speak, questions as to whether the NFL could hold a draft, much less a practice or a full 16-game season, raged throughout the league's fandom and organizations. We walked smack dab into a pandemic and didn't know what the future held at all.
I say all of that because I didn't know that today was going to be possible. The Texans organization, led by the McNair family, helped to make this day happen, along with the leadership of Commissioner Roger Goodell, the league office and 31 other NFL organizations. I'll admit when I walked into the building on Friday morning, I looked up and the sky was dark, the moon shone on NRG Stadium and for the first time in a long time, things felt, well, good, perhaps ever normal. I got a bit emotional because that's how much this all means to a lot of people, honestly.
Now, no matter how today transpires, it will always pale in comparison to my very first day of NFL training camp (tongue now lodged firmly in cheek). This is my kick off into training camp, honestly, and it's my annual tradition...
When Sean and John were asked to move the goal posts.
So, John is me, of course, and Sean is the esteemed Sean Pendergast, longtime outstanding radio host on our flagship Sports Radio 610. In 2007, as mid-to-late 30 somethings, we both moved back to Houston to start our radio careers together on a brand new station. Training camp practice was slated to open on a Saturday, in the morning, say around 8 am or so. Neither of us had been to a training camp practice or an NFL practice, for that matter, so we were a bit eager to say the least.
The night before we sat down for our quick travel plan.
"Okay, practice is at 8. It's about 12-15 minutes over to the Teal lot near the practice facility."
"But, hey, remember traffic, too." one of us brilliant newbies proclaimed. Ah yes, of course, that vaunted Saturday morning traffic in Houston, right?
"Alright, so, let's meet here at 6:15 and that should get us there on time."
Oh, we got there on time...in about 10 minutes from the station. We pull into the Teal parking lot like Chevy Chase and Beverly D'Angelo at Wally World approximately 6:25 am. Of course, we look at each other like "we're a couple of idiots." But, we were at least there and wouldn't be late.
We then closed our eyes to get a few winks because, well, we now had nearly 90 minutes before practice even kicked off and what else do you do to kill time? It was about ten minutes later that I heard this huge F-150 truck pull up alongside me. The guy motioned to me to roll down the window and I looked at Sean like "you know, this is how most horror movies start, no?" Regardless, I rolled down the window.
"YOU GUYS HERE TO PUT UP THE GOAL POSTS?"
It was about the last thing I thought he was going to ask, so I couldn't come up with a witty answer or anything clever, which I regret to this day.
"No, sir, that's definitely not us. We're just a bit early. We're media."
Then, he doubled down.
"Yeah, pal, I'm sure."
Five minutes later, we see that guy walk over and erect some sort of goal post mechanism. He then drives off with a job well done.
On the first day of training camp every year, Sean and I remember that story and always will. This morning, the first tweet I saw when I woke up at 5:15 am was whether I had left for the Stadium yet...from Sean, of course.
"15 minutes, bro." I responded. I mean, who else is going to put up the goal posts?
I'm just thankful there's a day in which to tell this story again. Let's GO!
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