Luv Ya Blue era Oilers, other former athletes give back to the community

Curley Culp is still involved in the community. Adam Bettcher/Getty Images for Taste Of The NFL

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Sometimes things just work out perfectly.

Take it from Dan Pastorini. One minute the heavy rain preceding Monday’s cold front was threatening to interrupt his annual charity golf tournament at Quail Valley. The next, the rain let up and he was rounding everyone up and getting them into their golf carts.

“We just want to give everybody the experience of playing in Pittsburgh in the AFC Championship in1978 so they can appreciate what we went through,’’ he said to some players bundled up for a windy round.

Out on the covered patio, Elvin Bethea and Curley Culp, a pair of Luv Ya Blue’s Pro Football Hall of Famers, chuckled. “I don’t think it’s Pittsburgh,’’ Culp said, ‘’but it is refreshing.’’

The Oilers had back-to-back AFC title games at Three Rivers, both played in freezing temperatures and the second one was known for Mike Renfro’s touchdown-that-wasn’t.

Those were just a few of the tales being tossed around that morning as Pastorini’s event kicked off two weeks of charity golf events in Houston featuring former NFL players.

Pastorini’s event is in its eighth year and has raised approximately $750,000 for Be An Angel. He’s been associated with the charity, which improves the quality of life for children with multiple disabilities or profound deafness by providing needed adaptive equipment and select services, for more than 30 years and was recently named chairman of the board.

“We’ve got a lot of good things happening in the future and the main thing is helping these kids,’’ Pastorini said. “It’s heartwarming. To see what we’ve done for these families is quite an experience and the reason why we do it . . . And seeing the work they do, it’s a no-brainer.’’

Next Monday, the focus turns to Champions Golf Club where Heisman Trophy winner Andre Ware and legendary Chronicle NFL writer John McClain will co-host the Gridiron Legends Golf presented by Academy Sports + Outdoors which benefits DePelchin Children’s Center, the official charity of the Academy Sports + Outdoors Texas Bowl.

“This is what it’s all about – giving back,’’ said Bethea, who plays in about 18 charity events each year. “We’re normal, everyday people. We have issues just like everyone else and we’re happy to be out here to do this and do what we can make everybody’s life a little better than before.’’

Billy “White Shoes’’ Johnson agreed.

“I think everyone – to a man – has someone who has influenced us to get where we are and it’s only right for us to give back,’’ he said. “We’re  talking about being role models and part of that is being benevolent.’’

All of the players have their own charitable efforts, but they all come together for weekends like these two to help each other. Pastorini’s event included a poker tournament, a dinner and silent auction, capped off by Monday’s golf event. Players who turned out included Culp, Bethea, Johnson, Mike Reinfeldt, Mike Renfro, Vernon Perry and Kenny Houston.

“NFL players have always given back,’’ Pastorini said. “I’m grateful for them to come here and join us every year. They see the need and see what it does for the kids.’’

Ware agrees. He and McClain are in their second year as hosts of the Gridiron event. Ware will be joined by – to name a few --  Pastorini, 2018 HOF inductee Robert Brazile, Don Trull, Haywood Jeffries, Kenneth Sims, Jacob Green, seven-time Cy Young winner Roger Clemens, Larry Dierker and Charles Alexander.

“We’re so appreciative of all the guys who come out and support us,’’ Ware said. “We’ve all got a lot of things going on, but we help each other. We’re kind of one of those brotherhoods.’’

Ware plans to increase his work with DePelchin, which was founded in 1892 and takes care of the most vulnerable children and families.

“It has been a humbling experience to see the work they do there,’’ Ware said. “You just realize you’re fortunate enough to be exposed to a lot of things in your life and you hope to be in a position to influence some young people outside your world. And you can give them something to strive for.’

All the players enjoy it because it’s a chance to catch up with each other and spin a few tales. Ware even caught with a distant relative -- former Baylor and 1985 Super Bowl champ Dennis Gentry, who is in Monday’s field too.

“To be able to come out meet new friends and fraternize with old brothers . . . it’s great,’’ Johnson said. “Life owes us nothing. I’m fortunate and to whom much is given, much is expected.

“To be able to give and be in a position to help each other? We are our brother’s keepers. We are called to give back. Just to even make people smile.’’

There’s always one more story, one more flashback to recall, he said. And they can even laugh a little about those two games in Pittsburgh when the Luv Ya Blue Oilers tried to kick in that Super Bowl door and couldn’t.

“I think,’’ Johnson said, “they had a steel door, instead of a steel curtain.’’


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Houston is falling down the rankings

Tigers pound Odorizzi, Astros with homers as Houston drops fourth in a row

The Astros have not looked great in their last four games. Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

After watching their hot start of 6-1 cool down to a 6-4 record with three straight losses, the Astros returned to Minute Maid Park on Tuesday night, looking to do a better job at home against a beatable Tigers team.

Recent games' woes would continue, though, with Houston's pitching getting blasted by the opposing offense and their own bats primarily quiet.

Final Score: Tigers 8, Astros 2

Astros' Record: 6-5, tied for second in AL West

Winning Pitcher: Matthew Boyd (2-1)

Losing Pitcher: Jake Odorizzi (0-1)

Astros score first, then Tigers unload on Odorizzi

Houston looked to have something brewing in the bottom of the second, with three singles in the first four batters of the inning, the third an RBI-single by Myles Straw to put the Astros in front 1-0. However, Matthew Boyd would limit the damage, getting back-to-back strikeouts to end the threat.

After two easy innings for Jake Odorizzi in his regular-season debut for his new team, he would allow a game-tying solo homer to Akil Baddoo, his fourth of the year, in the top of the third. Detroit struck again in the top of the fourth, getting a leadoff double to set up a two-run go-ahead home run to jump ahead 3-1.

They didn't stop there, getting another two-run bomb later in the same inning; a frame that would take Odorizzi 31 pitches to get only one out before Houston would bring in Bryan Abreu to get the last two outs. Odorizzi's final line in his debut: 3.1 IP, 7 H, 5 ER, 3 HR, 0 BB, 4 K, 80 P.

Detroit continues home run parade, Houston loses fourth in a row

Abreu would hope to do what Luis Garcia did the night before, eat up as many innings as possible after a poor outing from Houston's starter. The Tigers would get yet another two-run homer, though, in the top of the fifth, extending their lead to 7-1, with all seven runs coming over a three-inning span. For good measure, they'd knock one more out with two outs in the top of the ninth, making it 8-1.

As far as Houston at the plate, other than their string of hits to bring in a run earlier in the second, they were getting nothing done against Boyd, who would go six and two-thirds innings. Detroit's bullpen would finish things off, despite an all-too-late sac fly by the Astros in the bottom of the ninth, with Houston dropping their fourth-straight game and continuing to lose ground in the division.

Up Next: The finale of this three-game set with Detroit will be an hour earlier on Wednesday, getting underway at 6:10 PM Central. Lance McCullers Jr. (1-0, 1.80 ERA) will try to maintain his perfect record and improve upon his two five-inning one-run starts for the Astros, going opposite of Michael Fulmer (0-0, 2.57 ERA) for the Tigers.

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