Every-Thing Sports

Comparing Houston sports teams and players to everyday items

Yes, there is a Texans crock pot. Jermaine Every/SportsMap

I got off work Monday and Mad Dog texted me to pick up some eggs because she wants to make cornbread since the wife was making loaded baked potato soup for dinner. She’s pretty good at making cornbread for a 12 year old. As I walked into the grocery store, I saw the picture you see above. Yes. Someone actually thought about putting a Texans logo on a crock pot. If I remember correctly, it was priced at about $49.99.

We often see players, teams, and leagues peddle different items with their faces and/or logos on them. But this one got me to thinking: what everyday items do some of the local players and teams compare to? When my mind wanders, it can go in some pretty strange places. Let’s take a look where it wandered pondering this question:

James Harden is…an electric car

The electric car, and its close relative the hybrid, are the new wave in the auto industry. Sure they have been around for years, but they have recently become cool thanks to better looking designs (such as Teslas), as well as their environmentally friendliness. However, electric cars can only go about 200 miles or so before you have to stop for an hour or more to recharge them. Sound familiar? See every Rocket playoff run since 2012.

The Astros are…Netflix

Netflix has been around since 1997 and launched on April 14, 1998 as the world’s first online DVD rental company. It moved to a subscription-based operation the following year and has constantly evolved. Over the last few years, its popularity has grown immensely as it has offered new, fresh, exclusive content. The Astros have enjoyed a similar arch. They took their time to build a machine that appears to be built for the long haul.

The Dynamo are…after-market phone charger cords

I’m not talking about the cool ones that you get online. I’m talking about the ones you see at the gas station or drug store counters. They are reliable, sturdy, offer a new twist, but are underappreciated. The Dynamo won the MLS Cup in their first two seasons and have been a steady competitor ever since. The atmosphere at a Dynamo game can be felt all over EaDo. Why this comparison? My gas station charge cord is longer and more durable than the one that came with the phone, yet the factory version costs three times as much to replace. Go figure.

The Texans are…knock off purses

At first glance, one might not know the difference. They have the same logo, same size, they may even weigh the same. However, upon further review, the stitching is a different color, the leather is actually “pleather”, and the metal emblem is spray-painted stainless steel. It only takes a keen eye to be able to tell the difference between the real deal and a knock off. Most Texans fans don’t realize this team was bought online from China because they get fooled every year into thinking this team has a legit shot. Here’s how you spot the difference.

The Rockets are…cubic zirconia

Once again, another fake luxury item most people can commonly get confused. There have been a high number of people fooled by thinking they have high quality jewelry, when in fact they don’t. The Rockets year after year make it to the playoffs, but can never close the deal. It’s almost as if a guy proposes to a girl with a cheap ring prompting her to say yes, only for the relationship to soon crumble when she realizes she’s been had by phony jewelry.

JJ Watt is…pumpkin spice (fill in the blank)

The whole pumpkin spice flavor craze hit its peak a few years ago. When it first hit, people went crazy for it! It was a new twist on something we’ve had before. Next thing you know, it was infiltrating everything. Now, it’s just about run its course and is starting to get annoying. Hopefully it takes a break and comes back strong.

Jose Altuve is…the old school metal can opener

It’s small, reliable, and often taken for granted. Then comes that special time of year when you’re cooking all sorts of food and your fancy electric can opener can’t quite get the job done. You can always rely on the old school metal can opener. Altuve is a throwback hitter that hits for average and makes contact on everything, just like that can opener that can open any can.

I know some of you won’t agree with what I’ve written, and I don’t care because you clicked on the link and have read this far. Those of you that do agree I love y’all. And for everyone in between, pick a damn side, but by all means keep reading my stuff either way you feel.

 

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Rootes began writing The Winning Game Plan last March. Photo via: NRG Park/Facebook

Football players, coaches and general managers have come and gone, but only one person has been running the business side of the Texans, well, even before they were the Texans. Jamey Rootes has been President of the Houston Texans since 1999, when an NFL team in Houston was still just a gleam in owner Bob McNair's eyes. That's before the team adopted the name "Texans" in 2000, before there was NRG Stadium, which opened as Reliant Stadium in 2000, and before they became serial champs of the AFC South, six titles between 2011-2019.

The precise date was Oct. 6, 1999 when NFL owners voted 29-0 to award the NFL's 32nd and newest franchise to Houston. Not only that, Houston was awarded the 2004 Super Bowl. Rootes, 34 years old with no NFL experience, had his work cut out for him. Before taking the job in Houston, Rootes was team president, general manager and CEO of selling peanuts and popcorn for the Columbus Crew of Major League Soccer.

Major League Soccer, with all due respect, is not nearly a national obsession like the National Football League.

"I wasn't intimidated," Rootes said. "There's a quote that I love, 'Do the thing you fear and the death of fear is certain.' I've always been a purpose-driven person. As for the step up to the NFL, I went from knowing nothing at the start of my time in Columbus to five years later thinking, OK, I've got this sports thing down. Actually, I had a very significant reduction in my responsibilities in Houston. When I was in Columbus, I ran the stadium, I ran the team's business, I was the general manager so I did the talent side of it, too. When I came to Houston, all I had to do was the business, so that was great."

Rootes has captured his remarkable journey from the soccer team at Clemson to grad school at Indiana University to the business world at IBM and Proctor & Gamble to the Clemson Crew, to ultimately being named President of the Houston Texans in his new book, The Winning Game Plan: A Proven Leadership Playbook for Continuous Business Success, available next week.

I've known Rootes from his day one with the Texans, but I still had to ask: everybody knows what the general manager does, and what the head coach does. What exactly does the President of an NFL team worth $3.3 billion do?

"I like to use the parallel of a pharmaceutical company to describe my job. There are two sides to that company. First you put scientists in one building and you leave them alone. They create products, which is what our football team is. The football side has a coach and general manager and all the people who prepare the team to play on Sunday. But getting that product to market is done by the business side, traditional business disciplines. Those are the things that fall to me. Basically, everything between the white lines is run by the football side. Everything outside of those lines, I do," Rootes said.

Between 1999 and 2002, when the Texans played their first game (let the record show the Texans defeated the Dallas Cowboy, 19-10), the team was essentially a massive start-up project. First orders of business for Rootes involved building a new stadium, developing relationships with suppliers, contractors and government officials, preparing for a Super Bowl and, most important, developing a relationship with fans.

Rootes began writing The Winning Game Plan last March, but it's really an accumulation of lessons learned and behind-the-scenes stories about building the Texans from scratch into one of the most admired and valuable franchises in all of sports.

"I've always been a meticulous note-taker. I've kept every presentation I've ever done. I took all of my notes and concepts and put those down on paper," Rootes said. "To be a good leader, you need a wild imagination. You can show me a blank piece of paper, but I don't see it as blank. To me, it's a finished product that hasn't been created yet," Rootes said.

Rootes lays out his leadership strategy in seven chapters: Are You a Manager or a Leader, Get the Right People on Your Team, Build a Winning Culture, Create Raving Fans, a Winning Playbook for Adversity and Success, Your Leadership Playbook and Play to Win.

He learned lesson No. 1 the hard way. A friend once counseled Rootes, "your staff doesn't like the way you're all up in their business, you need to back off." Rootes took that advice to heart.

"It was an epiphany. I wasn't a leader. That's when I truly began thinking about leadership. I say this all the time, I don't do anything. All I do is create an environment where exceptional people can be their very best self. I know what's going on. I'm fully informed. I leave every game day exhausted. I get there early. I do the things I need to do. I kiss babies. I shake hands. I present checks. I entertain clients. I'm dialed in. It absolutely wears me out because I love this organization so much. I am so proud of what we've been able to do for this great city of Houston."

I asked Rootes, as someone who lives for Game Day and a packed NRG Stadium, are you devastated by 2020, the year of COVID-19 and small crowds limited by Centers for Disease Control guidelines?

"I don't look at it that way. I think there's a song by 10,000 Maniacs that said, these are the days that you'll remember. I told my staff, I know you're all going through hell right now, but later on in life, you'll talk about this year. Things that are important are memorable, for the positive and those things that leave a scar. You learn from adversity and you're a better person for enduring it. Victor Frankl said 'We can discover meaning in life in three different ways, by creating a work or doing a deed, experiencing something or encountering someone, and by the attitude we take toward unavoidable suffering.' Suffering is part of life. He should know, he survived a Nazi concentration camp," Rootes said.

H-E-B President Scott McClelland wrote the forward to The Winning Game Plan. Rootes dedicates the book to late Texans owner Bob McNair. Rootes' book is a fun read. All I kept thinking was, where was this book when I needed it? And before you buy too much into Rootes as a leader, consider that Rootes admits that he had to ask for wife Melissa's permission before he could accept the Texans job.

Personal note: I believe that a big part of leadership is the ability to keep a promise. Several years ago, I was riding my bicycle with my dog Lilly on a leash. It was the only way I could keep up with her. Well, one time Lilly saw a squirrel and pulled me off my bicycle. I tumbled a few times and rolled next to the curb. When I looked up, there was Jamey Rootes. I told him, "There's no need for you to tell anybody about this." He never said a word.

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