Fantasy Football

Sports stars turn out for Fantasy Football Draft Night, but brothers steal the show

Hurricane Harvey may have caused a delay, but couldn't put a damper on the fifth annual Boys and Girls Harbor Houston's Fantasy Football Draft Night. Although the event had been postponed due to the storm and the NFL season has already started, the sold-out crowd of 450 sports fans, clad in their favorite sports team jerseys, turned out in force in support of the nonprofit. 

“It’s been a rough month or so since Harvey landed … it’s an important event and we were a little unsure about how it would all turn out, but we thank you all for being here,” said event chair Bill Lehner, who addressed guests onstage along with co-chairs, his wife Vicki Lehner, and Diane Englet.

The fun-filled night, held at the club level at NRG Stadium, featured a fantasy football competition, especially thrilling thanks to the roster of veteran athletes on-hand, offering tips.

Famous faces advising were Boys and Girls Harbor board member and Olympic gold medalist sprinter Fred Newhouse; former Houston Oilers head coach Ed Biles; former Olympian and current track and field head coach at the University of Houston Leroy Burrell; former offensive lineman for the St. Louis Cardinals, Houston Oilers, and Cleveland Browns Doug Dawson; and former wide receiver for the Houston Oilers and Boston Patriots Charlie Frazier.

Also in the lineup were former cornerback for the Buffalo Bills, Washington Redskins, and Detroit Lions Donovan Greer, Hall of Famer and former safety for the Houston Oilers and Washington Redskins Kenny Houston, former wide receiver for the Cleveland Browns and Houston Oilers Gerald McNeil, former Houston Texans offensive lineman Chester Pitts, and sports radio talk show host Vince Rachal.

When the final whistle blows at the end of the season, the winner of the contest will receive two tickets to Super Bowl Super Bowl LII in Minneapolis.

Stealing the spotlight from the moment they hit the stage were brothers Tony Winrow and Kente Winrow, alums of the Boys and Girls Harbor Houston program. Their heartfelt words and appreciation for the nonprofit, about how it not only changed their lives for the better, but also those of their children by breaking the cycle of abuse, touched those in the audience and received a standing ovation. 

KPRC Channel 2 sports director Randy McIlvoy emceed the evening’s draft activities, sponsored by H-E-B, Houston businessman Gary Peterson, SB Nation 1560 AM (soon to be SportsMap 94.1 FM), and ESPN 97.5 FM.

Including money raised from a wine pull and silent and live auctions, the evening raised more than $250,000, bringing the grand total to $1,000,000 raised since its inception in 2012. Proceeds go to help Boys and Girls Harbor Houston reach their goal to provide healthy, comprehensive residential care for children who are victims of abuse, neglect, abandonment, or family hardship.

Seen in the crowd: Karen De Geurin, DeeDee and Clay Rawlings, Arthur Mooradian, Gretchen and John Hodge, Melinda and Keith Landsness, Suzanne Skie-Azizi and Mir Azizi, Laura and Wayne Kinningham, Rhonda Newhouse, Don Sweat and his wife Diane Sweat, Claudia Pardivala, Ken Sellars, Monica and Joe Casiano, Ashley and Chris Petersen, and Bill King.

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Originally appeared on CultureMap.com.

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It's all systems go for the Houston Texans! Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images.

It was 2002 and the city of Houston was rewarded with the NFL's 32nd franchise. I remember the newspaper special section with all the info points on the new team. There was even a full page graphic explaining how the grass plates were constructed. (Side Note: We should've known right then and there it was going to be disastrous!) There was a level of excitement unseen since the Rockets won a title, I'd assume. People were wearing “32, Houston” jerseys. There was more Battle Red, Deep Steel Blue, and Liberty White around town than a Fourth of July day parade.

The next time the city was excited about Texans football involved the Gary Kubiak days of making the playoffs. After that, Bill O'Brien hung a few division title banners as well. That's when the lull came. It all came crashing down, swiftly and mightily. The death of Bob McNair may have played a part in things deteriorating so quickly. Whether blame is placed here or there, changes needed to be made. Cal McNair was seen as incompetent. In comes Nick Caserio. He had a mess to clean up. The last two seasons were awful, but necessary. After back-to-back one-and-done coaches, Caserio has hired his guy.

Enter DeMeco Ryans. The former Texans great linebacker was the 49ers defensive coordinator the past two seasons. He took over a great defense and kept it going. From the moment he stepped on campus at Alabama, he commanded a different level of respect. Not only was he good, but he was a leader. Nicknamed “Cap” because he was a captain on and off the field. That followed him to Houston. His presence was felt everywhere he went. It was known before his career ended that he'd most likely be a coach one day.

This moment in time right now is giving 2002, Kubiak playoffs, and O'Brien playoff vibes but amplified. Why? Because one of this franchise's own has come home. Ryans was the most desired candidate this coaching cycle. Sean Payton may have had the bigger name, but Ryans was the one the Broncos tried to go back after, then settled on Payton. Teams he turned down had to move along and find other candidates to fill their vacancies. HE CHOSE HOUSTON! Nothing like feeling desired and being chosen!

I believe DeMeco will turn this franchise around and make them a contender. It's very rare that you have a star athlete turned sought after coach and NOBODY has a bad word to say about him! Social media has turned things into a 12-hour news cycle. Yet you've NEVER heard or seen DeMeco involved in any foolishness. He's been a model citizen, while also maintaining a high level of play and now coaching. When people respect you for your football acumen AND your character, that says a lot. Whoever said nice guys finish last obviously hasn't met DeMeco.

Armed with some cap space, draft capital, a capable GM, and ownership seeking a fresh start, DeMeco is set up to succeed. It's up to him, and Caserio, to finish what was started two years ago. Currently, the house on Kirby has a few more improvements to make. Some paint, redoing the floors, new landscaping, and new furniture. The kitchens and bathrooms are done. It needs the final touch. DeMeco is that final touch.

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