HALL PASS

Fred Faour: Houston's Sports Hall of Fame is a great idea, but they better have a LOT of room

Hakeem Olajuwon is perhaps the greatest athlete in Houston's history. Photo by Tim DeFrisco/ALLSPORT/Getty Images

Last week’s Houston Sports Awards were a rousing success. Several of Houston’s best were honored, including the three “34s,” Hakeem Olajuwon, Earl Campbell and Nolan Ryan. As an offshoot, the Houston Sports Hall of Fame was announced, with those three as the first inductees.

The Hall is an excellent idea. It will be a cool addition to Houston’s downtown area and a great way to highlight Houston’s greatest. There will be no shortage of deserving athletes. As with any Hall, the question will be who is voting, what is the criteria and who will be eligible?

Campbell and Olajuwon are no-brainers. Ryan’s selection is a little questionable, as he had his best years in California and Arlington and is in the baseball Hall of Fame as a Ranger. But he is a legend in the city and would no doubt be inducted at some point, and he played into the “34s” theme, so no real complaint there.

But who else should be in there? You could induct more than 30 additional athletes/contributors right now. Astros Hall of Famers Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell are locks. So, too, is Warren Moon. The Rockets have no shortage of additional potential honorees such as Clyde Drexler, Yao Ming, Rudy Tomjanovich and Calvin Murphy. Olympian Carl Lewis might be the most accomplished athlete this city has ever seen and gets overlooked in any “best of” list. Mary Lou Retton and Laura Wilkinson should make it as Olympians. If you consider Tara Lipinski as part of Houston, she is in. Simone Biles has already done enough.

Andre Johnson will be the Texans representative. The Oilers could also offer up Robert Brazille, Dan Pastorini, Bruce Matthews and Mike Munchak.

You could also devote an entire wing to University of Houston quarterbacks. Andre Ware won a Heisman. David Klingler shattered many records, including Ware’s. Case Keenum’s UH career topped them both. Greg Ward, Jr. was the most successful of all of them.

The Cougars also had several basketball players who belong besides Drexler and Olajuwon. Elvin Hayes and Don Chaney in particular should be in.

As for coaches? Guy V. Lewis and Bill Yeoman. Wayne Graham at Rice. Bum Phillips. Dave Williams, the legendary UH golf coach.

If you put in owners? Les Alexander was already honored with a lifetime achievement award and would also belong. So, too, would Bob McNair, simply for bringing the NFL back to Houston.

Boxer George Foreman and race car driver A.J. Foyt are Houston legends and absolute locks as well.

In 2004, the city saluted 38 legends as a tie-in to Super Bowl 38. You could certainly argue against many on that list, but there have also been several new faces since then. After all, that was 14 years ago.

As John Granato wrote last week, the city has more star power than anyone right now, so when the current crop becomes eligible, you already have several players who would be first ballot, starting with Jose Altuve, J.J. Watt and James Harden. DeAndre Hopkins, Jadeveon Clowney and Deshaun Watson are Texans who could someday make enough of an impact to qualify. The Astros are loaded with young talent and could easily dominate the Hall in a few years. Having already won a title, guys like Carlos Correa and George Springer are well on their way.

For a city short on championships, Houston has no shortage of great athletes. The Hall of Fame better have a lot of room.

 

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Composite image by Jack Brame.

There's an elephant in the room when it comes to the Houston Texans. No, it's not Bill O'Brien. He's the ominous black cloud that hoovers over the whole building. That cloud is like a slow moving weather system that's constantly dumping rain and flooding the city. Eventually, it'll pass, we'll rebuild and recover from it.

It's not even the McNair family. Cal and Janice are the building itself. It exists, but needs people around and operating it in order for it to fully function. Sure, it could use some work. After all, it's almost twenty years old and could probably use a facelift. It happens when buildings age and are only taken care of or held to minimal standards.

The elephant in the room is Deshaun Watson. More specifically, his progress as a franchise/superstar quarterback. I've heard different people talk about this in one way, shape, form or whatever. AJ and Fred covered it on ESPN Houston's The Blitz. My friend @itsDanielBsr tweeted it and brought it up as well. There were others who talked about this topic, but these were the two places I encountered it in which I could pay closer attention.

When it comes to Watson, most people believe he's a great talent. However, there is a growing sentiment that it's time for him to take the next step. Watson turned 25 on September 14. He signed his four-year extension about a week before his birthday. When you're getting paid like a top quarterback and people recognize you as one of the better young quarterbacks, there comes a time when you need to poop or get off the pot.

When calling Watson to the carpet, people will call O'Brien into question. O'Brien is a factor in holding Watson back some. He's been the play-caller his whole time here in Houston up until this year when he allegedly turned it over to Tim Kelly. We've all seen how that has gone. O'Brien is also the general manager that traded away Watson's top target in DeAndre Hopkins. These type of things can hinder a young quarterback's growth and development, but at what point do we stop blaming O'Brien and start looking at Watson?

Some will point to the offensive line as a key factor as to why Watson isn't progressing. We've seen him escape sacks and create plays out of thin air. But when is it time to call him to the carpet for not going through his reads and/or making a check-down? He often escapes sacks and looks downfield, but should he be looking to scramble more often? Should he be reading progressions better? These intimate details are answers we won't ever get, but we hope we can understand that Watson is making his reads and decisions the way he's supposed to.

Whether it's his big extension, his bumbling idiot of a head coach, his lack of protection, or his lack of weapons, fans will eventually stop giving Watson a pass. Del said it best on ESPN Houston's The Bench: When will people stop bringing up Clemson when talking about Watson's greatness? NFL quarterbacks have their college career talked about in their rookie seasons. After that, it's all about what have you done for me lately. I sincerely hope Watson realizes his tremendous potential. He's a star now and a superstar in the making. The one thing that he needs is the success on the field that will catapult him into the upper echelon of the other top talents at his position. Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, Pat Mahomes, Russell Wilson, and Lamar Jackson all have either a league MVP award and/or a Super Bowl ring. If Watson is to be mentioned in that rarefied air, he needs to start taking the necessary steps. The clock is ticking and people are watching. Your move Deshaun.

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