DONE DEAL

Inside Deshaun Watson's emotional press conference, one of many surprises

Photo by Getty Images.

HOUSTON — "What's up, D-Dub?" Clemson's head coach Dabo Swinney said with excitement late Saturday evening. The two-time national champion as head coach of the Clemson Tigers was one of several individuals who made a surprise guest appearance via Zoom to congratulate Deshaun Watson on his recent accompaniment.

Nearly nine hours before Swinney jumped on the call, Watson and the Houston Texans agreed to a four-year $160 million contract extension. Under his new deal, Watson can make up to $177.54 million, with $111 million in guarantees. The two parties made history by making Watson the second-highest paid player in NFL history — trailing only Patrick Mahomes and his 10-year contract worth up to $503 million.

Swinney went on to reminisce about Watson's growth from a freshman quarterback who tore his ACL to a national champion as a junior during his three-year collegiate career at Clemson. After Swinney ended his call by telling Watson, "you've got to go perform now," Houston Astros' pitcher Justin Verlander made an appearance to congratulate his good friend.

Inside the NRG Stadium, Watson displayed the same poise the Texans have become accustomed to as his former high school assistant coach, Michael Perry, and good friend Ethan Hughes stopped by to show their admiration towards the two-time Pro-Bowl quarterback. Already high on emotions, it wasn't until Watson saw his family flash across the screen is when the tears began to flow.

"I mean, that's really the only reason why I'm crying is just the moments, the good, the bad, the ugly, the sacrifice from day one, since I was a little kid in Gainesville, Georgia, until now," Watson said while trying to fight through tears. "Like I said before, the money is fine. It's cool. Like [I] told my family told me last night, I didn't do it for the money. That's just something that comes with it. I mean, it's just — it's a lot, for sure."

The words congratulations Deshaun filled the audio call yet again. In the midst of this, a family member encapsulated Watson's full journey by shouting out, "All that grinding, glad it paid off, boy. I'm proud of you." That same grind that began with humble beginnings in Gainesville resulted in the Texans' decision to draft the 6-foot-2 Georgia native with the 12th overall pick during the 2017 NFL Draft. Three years later, his grind led to the McNair family extending their belief in Watson as Houston's franchise quarterback through 2025 — at the very least.

"The biggest thing is for the McNair family, O.B. [Bill O'Brien], and Jack [Easterby] to just trust in me and believe that I'm their guy, I'm their quarterback is the biggest thing that really touches me," Watson said. "Growing up from where I'm from, there's not too many people that make it out, and so for them to just trust me really means the most. That's the biggest thing."

Obviously, Watson earned his contract extension due to his on-field talents. Since his arrival in Houston, Watson has already established himself as the Texans' best quarterback in franchise history. Bouncing back from a knee injury that limited him to seven games during his rookie season, Watson has recorded a career 9,716 passing yards with 71 touchdowns, while setting a franchise record 14 rushing touchdowns for a quarterback.

However, it was his character off the field that furthered solidified the Texans' decision to extend their confidence in Watson. Head coach and general manager Bill O'Brien said Watson's persona and hard work embody the model of the type of player the Texans want to have within the organization. Executive Vice President of Football Operations, Jack Easterby, raved about Watson's gift as a good friend, great communicator and a leader both on and off the field.

With a lengthy contract extension, Watson will continue to focus on building his legacy in a city he is happy to call home. It's a winning legacy that has witnessed Watson capture a state championship at Gainesville High School and a national championship at Clemson.

Through the tears of joy that filled the Zoom called, Watson said his mother, Deann Watson, reminded him that the journey to lead the Texans to their first Super Bowl championship continues this Thursday against the Kansas City Chiefs.

"She [Deann Watson] said, 'Congratulations, but you've got a game to win Thursday and you've got a championship to go get.' And then she started getting into all the other stuff. I mean, having that mother that understands my priorities and my goals in life, I mean, it's amazing. It makes life a lot more easier, so it was awesome." — Watson.

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Yuli Gurriel had a monster night at the plate Friday. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images.

Although they lost the series 2-1, the Astros ended their road trip with a nice win over the Yankees to head home on a positive note. On Friday, they welcomed in the Toronto Blue Jays and former teammate George Springer, currently on the IL, to start a three-game series and long homestand. They had an excellent night at the plate, along with a strong start from Jose Urquidy, cruising past the Blue Jays to take the opener.

Final Score: Astros 10, Blue Jays 4

Astros' Record: 17-15, third in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Jose Urquidy (3-2)

Losing Pitcher: Ross Stripling (0-2)

Jays strike first, then Houston responds and never looks back

It first appeared that Urquidy may be in for a long night, giving up two solo home runs early in Friday's game, one to Bo Bichette in the top of the first with one out to put Toronto up 1-0, then another to Danny Jansen in the top of the third. However, Urquidy would lock-in, and his offense would back him up strongly.

Houston ended up sending nine batters to the plate in the bottom of the second, getting two runs on a homer by Carlos Correa, then later loading the bases to set up an RBI walk by Alex Bregman. In the bottom of the fifth, with a one-run lead at 3-2, Yuli Gurriel expanded the lead to three runs on a two-run shot.

Gurriel went on to have a fantastic night, going 4-for-4 at the plate with 4 RBI. His third of those came in the bottom of the seventh, extending the lead again with an RBI single to make it 6-2. Kyle Tucker made it a five-run game that same inning with an RBI double, then more insurance came in the bottom of the eighth. They reached double-digits that inning, with Alex Bregman, Yordan Alvarez, and Yuli Gurriel, his fourth of the night, all getting an RBI to make it 10-2.

Urquidy finishes seven, then Emanuel finishes it off

Those gave Urquidy plenty of support, though he would bounce back after the two early homers and have a nice night on the mound. He allowed just two other hits, working around both, en route to a seven-inning two-run performance to earn him the win. His final line: 7.0 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 2 HR, 84 P.

He likely could have gone longer, but Dusty Baker turned the ball over to Kent Emanuel to wrap things up with the significant lead. He did so, despite allowing a two-run home run to former-Astro Teoscor Hernandez in the top of the ninth to make the score 10-4. The win kept the Astros above .500 and two games back of the A's, who sit atop the AL West standings.

Up Next: The middle game of this series will be a 6:10 PM start Saturday night. The pitching matchup will be Steven Matz (4-2, 4.78 ERA) for Toronto and the electric Cristian Javier (3-0, 1.75 ERA) for Houston.

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