A celebration of football legends

*EDITOR'S NOTE:Former NFL running back Butch Woolfolk, a former standout at Michigan, played for the Giants, Oilers and Lions and has made his home in the Houston area since he retired from football. Woolfolk's views do not necessarily reflect the views of the organization.

*QUESTION: What looks like an NFL football player, walks like one, quacks like one, but is not one.

ANSWER: An ex-NFL football player.

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At halftime of the Texans game against the Buffalo Bills this Sunday, more than 100 ex-gridiron greats will be recognized for their contribution to the game. We're talking former All-Pro guys, Super Bowl participants and even some Hall of Famers. The mention of their names brings back fond football memories of yesteryears.

The majority of these retired players reside right here in the Bayou City. There are more than enough of them here to create a roster of at least 10 more NFL teams. A pick of the litter would be a dynasty if they could magically be given back their youth. Of course, they would need a crate load of extra cartilage, bone fragments and some joint regeneration formula.

It is a rare occasion when the veterans of the game can get together. In fact, it would never happen for this many guys in one bunch had it not been the brainchild of the Houston Texans organization. Surprisingly, when the legends of the game gather together, they spend only a few minutes reminiscing, the rest of the time they spew their opinions of the game today and particularly the Texans.

"Man, I wish I was playing today with the luxury facilities they have and all of the money they are making," said Mike Rozier, former Oiler and 1983 Heisman Trophy winner. "Man, these guys are living like kings. Average guys are getting rich sitting on the bench as backups."

"The City of Houston deserves a winner in football," said NFL Hall of Famer Kenny Houston. "I know the Rockets and Comets have done it, but the city would go crazy if the Texans won a Super Bowl."

There is an amazing amount of insight that retired players offer, but it gets wasted in circulation amongst them. Occasionally, jealousy will arise in someone's comments, sprinkled with envy of the current regime of players. The older players will always favor their years of contribution to the game. But that is expected. Hey, I prefer Sean Connery and Roger Moore over today's weak James Bond 007 characters.

I asked several of the guys what were their fondest memories of playing here in Houston.

"The 1990 game against the Kansas City Chiefs when Warren Moon threw for over 500 yards and could have shattered the NFL record, but he chose to come out the game early," Haywood Jeffires said.

"I always liked the Monday Night Football games," said Bubba McDowell, former Houston Oilers defensive back. "We played a game against the Chicago Bears and I led the team in tackles and I had a 25-yard interception for a touchdown."

It is always a treat to get reacquainted with old teammates and the veterans of the league. I am always shocked at why more of them are not coaching and still involved with the game. Many of them have played the game for 25 years, combining high school, college and the NFL, and have learned from some of the greatest coaches in the history of football. It is inexplicable how so many retired players can completely walk away from the sport and all the knowledge they have amassed.

I guess, like Sean Connery, they too have to move on to a different role.


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