Tex­ans owner re­ceives fi­nal trib­ute in sta­dium

San Antonio Express-News - - NFL - By David Bar­ron david.bar­[email protected] Twit­ter: @df­bar­ron

HOUS­TON — As the city con­cluded a week of re­flec­tion and re­mem­brance Fri­day, the nor­mal tu­mult of NRG Sta­dium gave way to the strains of hymns and gen­tle words of praise for Bob McNair, the soft-spo­ken but deeply in­flu­en­tial owner of the Tex­ans.

With Tex­ans play­ers and coaches and sev­eral of his fel­low NFL own­ers in at­ten­dance, McNair, who died Nov. 23 at 81, was eu­lo­gized by for­mer Sec­re­tary of State James Baker, NFL com­mis­sioner Roger Good­ell and oth­ers as one who em­bod­ied the same traits as the late Pres­i­dent Ge­orge H.W. Bush of hon­esty, hard work and love of coun­try.

With McNair’s death in such close prox­im­ity to that of the late pres­i­dent, Baker said, “Hous­ton has lost two of its very great­est and most ad­mired adopted sons.”

Baker’s re­marks were the key­note of an hour-long ser­vice at­tended by about 1,000 peo­ple seated on the floor of the sta­dium — de­scried by Baker as “the house that Bob McNair built” — that Sun­day will host the Tex­ans’ game against the In­di­anapo­lis Colts.

With a vic­tory Sun­day, the Tex­ans will ex­tend their win­ning streak to 10 games and take an­other step to­ward a play­off berth and what sev­eral speak­ers de­scribed Fri­day as McNair’s ul­ti­mate goal for his adopted home­town.

And while the fo­cus of the ser­vice was on McNair’s faith, phi­lan­thropy and love of fam­ily and of Hous­ton, of course there had to be at least a lit­tle foot­ball talk.

“Not to put any more pres­sure on you, coach, or the team,” Good­ell said, re­fer­ring to Tex­ans coach Bill O’Brien, “but you know how much Bob wanted to win a Su­per Bowl.”

The me­mo­rial ser­vice for McNair, who paid $700 mil­lion in 1999 to bring the NFL back to Hous­ton, prompt­ing the con­struc­tion of NRG Sta­dium as a home for the NFL and the Hous­ton Live­stock Show and Rodeo, re­flected his char­ac­ter­is­tic traits of which Baker and oth­ers spoke.

Fri­day’s eu­lo­gies were pre­ceded as guests ar­rived by a mon­tage of photos of McNair and his wife Jan­ice, with Tex­ans play­ers and fans, in­clud­ing the late pres­i­dent and Pres­i­dent Ge­orge W. Bush. Among those on hand were Dom Ca­pers, the team’s first head coach, and Charley Casserly, its first gen­eral man­ager, along with the cur­rent play­ers and coaches, who filed onto the sta­dium floor en masse min­utes be­fore the me­mo­rial ser­vice be­gan.

“He was a good boss,” Tex­ans de­fen­sive line­man J.J. Watt said of McNair after the ser­vice. “He was al­ways around. He wanted to know how things were go­ing.

“All he wanted was to win, and that is why it’s fun to be on a nine-game win­ning streak, be­cause we know that is what he would want. We hope we can keep it go­ing.”

If they do, per­haps in the off­ing will be an­other en­counter with Texas’ other NFL team – the Dal­las Cow­boys — and their owner Jerry Jones, who had tears in his eyes as he spoke of McNair.

“The only other time I teared up was right on this field, when the Tex­ans and Bob kicked our butts in the first game that was played in this sta­dium (in 2002),” Jones said. “It was a glo­ri­ous night to be­gin the Tex­ans.

“Bob was so spe­cial. I was ex­cited for Hous­ton to get an NFL fran­chise, and I was par­tic­u­larly ex­cited when I saw the char­ac­ter of the per­son who was go­ing to lead the way in Bob. … He will be missed. He will be an in­spi­ra­tion. He loved his play­ers and was al­ways so sup­port­ive of the NFL, the play­ers and what we could do to make it good for the play­ers.”

Brett Coomer / Staff pho­tog­ra­pher

NFL com­mis­sioner Roger Good­ell joined Tex­ans play­ers, coaches, fans and NFL own­ers at NRG Sta­dium in Hous­ton on Fri­day to cel­e­brate the life of team owner Bob McNair, who died Nov. 23.

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