I visited with Houston Radio veteran Rich Lord on the latest Vandermeer’s View podcast and was thrilled to harken back to the early days of Houston sports talk and also his days as a sideline reporter on Texans Radio.
Rich was at Sports Radio 610 as it got started in the mid 90's and remembers well the five years in Houston between the Oilers' departure and the Texans' arrival. That's five years with no local pro football to talk about for a fledging sports talk station (gulp).
I'll never forget, a few days before the Hall of Fame game in 2002, the first time the Texans took the field, Rich saying on the air "in three days we'll have an actual NFL game to talk about."
Well, fast forward to this year and it appears we won't have an actual NFL game to talk about until the regular season, based on media reports that the preseason is unlikely to be played. Of course we'll wait for the official announcement before really diving deep into this but it will certainly make for a very different August.
It was good to visit with Rich though, for perspective. When the Oilers left, there was no guarantee that someone like Bob McNair would come along and put up a record sum of money to bring the NFL back to this city. He was awarded the team in 1999 and the rest is history.
Year 19 is about to begin and it's going to look very different. The limitations on fan capacity will create a never-before-seen look on television. We're not used to seeing acres of empty seats at NFL games. We're used to hearing roars from the crowd, not cheers. This is uncharted territory.
The biggest thing is just being able to keep everyone healthy and get to the playing field each week to keep the action going. We still don't know exactly how 2020 will play out with the pandemic in progress. But the league is headed for the starting line and the excitement is building.
I'd love to rush ahead 20 years and look in the rear view mirror to see how this all transpired. Right now we're part of a unique time in history. We're all getting through it to the best of our ability. The NFL will do its best to be there to entertain and distract, all while doing the best job possible to keep the people involved as healthy as possible under the circumstances.