Harris County-Houston Sports Authority Inisder

New class of Houston sports Hall of Fame inductees announced

George Foreman heads the latest Houston Hall class. Gary Miller/Getty Images for Houston Sports Awards

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It was a perfect Saturday morning and the putting green at Champions Golf Club was packed. Some were getting in a little work. Others were waiting for a special moment.

In the middle of the green, Jack Burke Jr had his head down, showing a member how to stroke through the ball. He took another stroke and the ball slipped into the hole.

He turned around and - with Champions green and white balloons blowing in the wind - was welcomed to the 2019 Houston Sports Hall of Fame Class by Chairman of the Houston Sports Hall of Fame selection committee John McClain, and Harris County – Houston Sports Authority CEO Janis Burke.

The 95-year-old Burke joins Houston Oilers Luv Ya Blue quarterback Dan Pastorini, two-time world heavyweight champion and Olympic gold medalist George Foreman and A.J. Foyt, one of the best drivers ever to slip into a race car.

It's hard to top last year's inaugural class of Earl Campbell, Hakeem Olajuwon and Nolan Ryan – Houston's 34s – so we cast a wider net for the 2019 Houston Sports Awards and are celebrating a lifetime of Houston sports, one decade at a time, February 6 at the Hilton Americas.

And it just so happens that Burke, Foyt, Foreman and Pastorini highlight four of those decades as they mark anniversaries of some iconic milestones.

For Burke, who graduated from St, Thomas High School, that means celebrating the 70th anniversary of his first professional win – the 1949 Metropolitan Open. He went on to win 17 PGA TOUR events, including both the Masters and PGA in 1956. And it doesn't stop there. The World Golf Hall of Famer also played on five Ryder Cup teams, captained two Ryder Cup teams and Champions, the club he co-founded with Jimmy Demaret, hosted the 1967 Ryder Cup.

For our 60th Anniversary celebration, it was a no brainer as 1958 was the year that AJ Foyt Made his Indianapolis 500 debut. He would go on to win Indy four times, the first ever to accomplish that feat. He won at every level and is the only driver to win the Indianapolis 500, the Daytona 500, the 24 Hours of Daytona and the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Already a member or International Motorsports Hall of Fame, The Auto racing Hall of Fame, The National Sprint Car Hall of Fame, and countless others, AJ Foyt was genuinely thrilled to recognized by his hometown.

"I'm glad to be in the Hall of Fame here,'' he said. "I was born and raised here and I guess this is where I'm gonna die, but it's great to be here and Houston's been a good town for me.''

50 Years, the golden anniversary. Fitting, since it was 1968 that a kid from the 5th ward in Houston would take home a gold medal at the Olympic games in Mexico City. That kid, George Edward Foreman, would go on to become a boxing legend. Foreman was a two-time heavyweight champion, and has been inducted into the World Boxing Hall of Fame as well as the International Boxing Hall of Fame. Of course if you ask anyone under the age of 30, Big George is best known for his George Foreman Grill.

When Foreman was surprised with the Hall of Fame news, he admitted he wasn't sure he would ever amount to much, let alone become an iconic boxer and Hall of Famer.

"What a tremendous opportunity to have walked the streets of Houston, Texas, where I thought nothing much would become of me, I really didn't,'' Foreman said. "And now to be mentioned in the Sports Hall of Fame in Houston, it really is probably the most important award I've ever received."

It has been said many times that if Earl Campbell was the heart of the Luv Ya Blue Oilers, then Dan Pastorini was the soul.

The first-round draft pick in 1971, Pastorini was the charismatic leader of Bum Phillips' rough-and-tumble team that created an electric movement with its 35-30 win over Miami on Monday Night Football on November 20, 1978. His best season was in 1978 when he threw for a career-high 2,473 yards and 16 touchdowns.

"It means the world,'' Pastorini said of the honor. "Last year, when I had the opportunity to present to Earl it was quite thrilling for me because the 34s (Campbell, Olajuwon and Ryan) should be in there. But to represent the Luv Ya Blue years and our teams back then is very special to me. We don't really have an identity in this city, except for the love and the respect we have from the Luv Ya Blue fans and they keep us alive.

". . . This now gives us permanency in the city. It'll be something we can take our grandchildren to and say – We were here; we were part of this great history of the city of Houston."

Robert Brazile, who was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame earlier this year, was the first to call and congratulate, just moments after Pastorini was notified. Both were very emotional and looking forward to reuniting in February.

# # #

If you love Houston sports, you might want to purchase a ticket for the 2019 Houston Sports Awards Golden Ticket Raffle.

There are only 500 tickets available and the winner will get a pair of season tickets to all Houston Astros, Houston Rockets, Houston Dynamo, Houston Dash and Rodeo Houston home games/events during the 2019-20 season. The winner will also receive tickets to two Texans home games and to the Academy Sports + Outdoors 2019 Texas Bowl.

Raffle tickets can be purchased for $100 per ticket and that enters you into the drawing for all the above-mentioned tickets.

All proceeds from Golden Ticket sales benefit Harris County – Houston Sports Authority Foundation and the winner of drawn at the Houston Sports Awards Wednesday, February 6, 2019 at the Hilton Americas. Winners do not need to be present to win. To enter go to https://houstonsportsawards.com/golden-ticket-raffle/

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A WEEKLY REVIEW OF CRENNEL'S COACHING

Now my job: Texans feast on Lions

Photo by Getty Images.

Thanksgiving is full of tradition. There's the typical family gathering, large meal, and of course, football. Sometimes, new traditions are added and old ones are retired. I think the Texans did both in their impressive 41-25 win over the Lions in Detroit. Old traditions were carried on (Lions losing on Thanksgiving), some were put to rest (Texans not being able to get turnovers), and new ones were started (multiple passing touchdowns by Deshaun Watson in six straight games).

The fact that this defense got three turnovers in the game was unbelievable! They got all three in the first quarter within the span of eight plays. JJ Watt's pick-six was insane. He went for a batted ball, ended up catching it, and ran it in. They forced Jonathan Williams to fumble on the Lions' very next play from scrimmage and recovered it. On the Lions' next possession, the Texans recovered yet another fumble after the challenge was reversed. Great call by the coaching staff to challenge and win. The defense looked good. Tyrell Adams stood out because he was in on those two fumbles, made 17 total tackles with 14 of them being solo tackles. They also brought pressure that seemed to make Matthew Stafford very inaccurate and resulted in four sacks. I give defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver credit for knowing he needs to blitz to get pressure, but the run defense has to improve.

The offense kept the tempo up in this game as well. The spread and hurry-up were used to keep the Lions already staggered defense off balance. Knowing the Lions were without a couple defensive backs, I thought it would be the perfect marriage of their defense and the Texans' offense. A buddy asked before the game about the line (Texans -3.5) and the over/under (52.5). I told him bet the Texans and the over because neither team can play defense and both have good quarterbacks. Offensive coordinator Tim Kelly put together another good game plan and Watson executed it flawlessly. One route combo I saw later on in the game I particularly enjoyed. Two receivers were tight to the left side. Cooks ran a hook/curl and settled in the middle of the zone while Fuller ran a vertical route. Duke Johnson ran a swing route to that same side. It left Cooks wide open as the attention went to Johnson in the flat, Fuller deep, and the action to the other play side. Route combos are important because it gives the quarterback different reads as he goes through his progressions and lets him pick apart the defense based on what he sees. Combine that with Watson's play and the way Kelly has changed his play calling now that he's liberated from he who shall not be named, we're seeing a beautiful thing.

As good as things were, there's still room for improvement. The defense gives up way too many easy yards, both run and pass. They can't get pressure bringing only four and will often give up big plays if the blitz is picked up. Plus the run defense is still an issue as evidenced by the Lions' first possession of the second half. The Lions ran the ball 10 plays straight for a total of 58 yards on that drive. Utterly ridiculous! Watson was good (17/25 318 yards and four touchdowns), but he missed two more touchdowns with passes slightly off, and continues to hold onto the ball too long at times. The difference between these two issues I've presented here is the fact that Watson has so played well, his "issues" are minor and very correctable, while the defense is terrible and there's no easy fix in sight. But let Romeo Crennel and Anthony Weaver tell it, they're getting the most out of these guys and they're playing disciplined.

The thought that this team may actually creep into the playoff picture may take shape better after next week if they can beat the Colts. I doubt it, but it is getting interesting. Let's see what else happens around them because they need help getting there.

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