HARRIS COUNTY - HSA INSIDER

A weekly look at all things Houston sports from the Harris County-Houston Sports Authority: A big season for awards

Jose Altuve and J.J. Watt. Sports Illustrated

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Humbled & Honored.

Short and sweet. Simple and honest.

But, most of all, J.J. Watt’s opening line was straight from the heart.

So was the second.

Houston, this is for you and this is for the hundreds of thousands of people who donated from all over the world.

What followed on his Twitter feed Tuesday was an exclamation point to 2017 – a cover shot of the Texans defensive end and Astros second baseman Jose Altuve with their arms thrown around each other’s shoulders having a great time posing for Sports Illustrated’s Sportsperson of the Year issue.

If ever a year belonged to one city, this year was it.

An August to forget. A late October to remember. #HoustonStrong

And now an awards season like no other.

Everywhere you look, the city’s top athletes are taking center stage.

Watt raised the city on his shoulders after Hurricane Harvey and raised more than $37 million for relief effort before a freak knee injury ended his comeback season. Altuve, the Astros pint-sized American League batting champion, captured the hearts and imagination of the country as he led the Astros on an amazing run to their first World Series Championship.

SI honored the duo’s power which was unmatched in September when the city started to bounce back from Harvey, which devastated neighborhoods and caused close to $200 billion in damages.

The Astros, meanwhile, took down Major League baseball’s elite teams in the playoffs – Boston, the New York Yankees and LA Dodgers, in order – and simply dominated the MLB awards:

*Altuve won the American League MVP and shared best postseason player with teammate Justin Verlander.

* A.J. Hinch was named manager of the year and General Manager Jeff Luhnow took executive of the year honors.

* George Springer was the World Series MVP and Alex Bregman owned the moment of the year with his 10th inning walk-off single in Game 5’s 13-12 Astros win.

* Carlos Beltran won SI’s Hope Award for his hurricane relief efforts in Puerto Rico.

* The MLB even honored Houstonian Kirk Head with catch of the year when he took Yasiel Puig’s homerun ball from his sister-in –law Sarah and threw it back onto the field during Game 5 of the World Series.

* University of Houston sophomore Ed Oliver won the 2017 Outland Trophy Thursday night, was named 2017 American Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Year and is a finalist for the Bronco Nagurski Award.

* And, if he hadn’t torn his ACL in practice in early November, Texans quarterback DeShaun Watson would likely have been in the running, at the very least, for rookie of the year.

Now, as we prepare for 2018, there are still a few awards left to hand out.

All those national award winners above could also be among those taking bows at the inaugural Houston Sports Awards Feb. 8 at the Hilton-Americas Downtown. But, with 10 different awards, you’ll see many more outstanding Houston athletes walking the red carpet.

"The athlete and executive that may win the award may very likely win it in their league as well," Rockets president Tad Brown said when the Awards were announced in September. "That shows the quality of teams that we have here."

Brown was, to say the least, prescient.

From three different Athletes of the Year to Executive of the Year, Fan of the Year and Event of the Year, Houston Sports Awards ballots will be stacked with talent, heart and must-see moments.

You already know the event is honoring Houston’s famous No. 34s – Nolan Ryan, Earl Campbell and Hakeem Olajuwon – and we’ll add a few more names to the mix soon. Plus, we’ll be revealing the nominees for seven categories next week, so stay tuned.

For everything you need to know about Houston Sports Awards – everything from categories to how to purchase tickets -- go to www.houstonsportsawards.com

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Always wanted season tickets? Each time you purchase a 2018 Houston Sports Awards Golden Ticket Raffle, you buy a chance to win a pair of season tickets to all Houston Astros, Houston Rockets, Houston Dynamo, Rodeo Houston & Houston Open home games/events during the 2018-19 season. In addition, the winner of the drawing receives tickets for two Houston Texans home games, the 2018 AdvoCare Texas Kickoff and the 2018 Texas Bowl. Information is available at www.houstonsportsawards.com

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Another tough loss for the Texans. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images.

The Houston Texans started fast but faltered late as the New York Jets hand Houston their ninth loss of the season 21-14. Here are 11 observations from the game.

1. Starting safety Justin Reid was benched for the game. David Culley said after the game it was his decision as head coach and he would keep the matter internal with Reid.

2. This is the third defender benched for disciplinary reasons this season. Reid joins Zach Cunningham and Desmond King as players who missed time for discipline.

3. Justin Reid told Fox 26 he was benched because he had a disagreement with the coaching staff. He also said he was shocked the Texans benched him. You have to wonder if the “culture” the team is building is right when one of the more likable and personable players falls victim to their rules. Reid, who is a free agent this offseason, could leave the Texans.

4. Tyrod Taylor had a couple of nice plays early on for the Texans. His willingness to take some shots downfield was refreshing and led to a touchdown pass to Brandin Cooks.

5. Rookie tight end Brevin Jordan found the end zone. He has played well in recent weeks after finally getting on the field. Jordan is playing over Jordan Akins as Akins was a healthy scratch again this week.

6. Tytus Howard started at left tackle with mixed results. Howard has struggled to find his way at guard but could be a long-term option at tackle if given the chance.

7. The offensive line overall played poorly after some early success. The pass rush of the Jets got going and the run blocking was poor again. Lane Taylor played at left guard some, with Max Scharping also playing some at that spot.

8. The offense was horrendous after the two scoring drives. The Texans amassed 202 net yards with 91 yards coming on those two scoring drives. Houston gained just 49 net yards after their opening three drives.

9. After the game, I asked David Culley if he would be making a change with his play-caller. Culley stood behind offensive coordinator Tim Kelly and said he would remain the team’s play-caller.

10. Second-year defensive lineman Ross Blacklock had two horrible errors that handed the Jets a chance to turn three points into seven points. Blacklock got a personal foul on a field goal attempt giving the Jets a first down. The very next play his offsides penalty erased a sack. Each week Blacklock falls even more behind a bevy of players drafted after him who contribute positively on a regular basis.

11. The loss to another bottom-dweller has the Texans back in the second spot in the 2022 NFL Draft order. It also feels like the deflating nature of this loss erased some of the good feelings after the victory over the Titans. The Indianapolis Colts come to Houston next week to begin December’s portion of the schedule.

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